Friday, September 30, 2016

Nine Days in Paradise: Day 1

In January of 2016, my family and I chartered a catamaran in the Virgin Islands for a week. This article is one of a long overdue series of posts detailing the trip. You can view the entire series here. Over a period of a few weeks, new entries in the series will appear for your enjoyment.

When doing the preliminary planning for this trip, we were unable to find a flight that would get us to the boat early enough on Saturday to make full use of the boat and get to our first destination. Therefore, we chose to fly in a day early and spend a night in a hotel to get a full day on the boat.

We departed Baltimore on an early flight - with a layover in Miami. The flight down to Miami, the transfer, and the flight to St. Thomas were relatively uneventful.

At the airport, we gathered our bags and hailed a taxi to get us to the hotel. The ride across the island was interesting and it was great to see a bit of the non-tourist areas on our way to the hotel. The first order of business was to stop by hotel bar and get welcome drinks. Dylan and Mitchell had their first "legal" adult beverages, as the drinking age in St. Thomas is only 18.

The Marriott Frenchman's Reef
Dinner at the Sunset Grille
We stayed at the Marriott Frenchman's Reef, a very nice resort style hotel on the east side of Charlotte Amalie Harbor. Our room had a nice view of the ocean. As we were only staying a night, we didn't have much time to explore the resort or use any of the amenities (other than the bar). We had a very nice outdoor dinner at the Sunset Grille and then a late walk around the hotel before hitting the mattress. A long day of traveling and schlepping through airports had us all wiped out. Yet another good reason to fly in a day early!

Early to bed, anticipating a busy day on Saturday...

Thursday, September 8, 2016

How many points do you have?

A while ago, I read an interesting article about the Black Box theory. I filed it away in my memory banks but recently I came across it again. It had to do with accumulating "points" for doing something proactive and "seaman-like" in preparing or maintaining your boat. Rather than elaborate further, or be accused of plagiarism, I'll point you to the original article, here.

I have experienced the very thing that John Vigor refers to numerous times over my boating career. I always assumed it was just plain old luck. But after growing up in a boating family, and learning proper preventive maintenance and seaman-like practices under the expert tutelage of my father, I think maybe it's the Black Box points keeping me safe.

Many years ago, when I was sailing one of my first boats that I officially owned (prior to that I sailed boats owned by my father), I had taken my Hobie 14 sailing on the Gunpowder river. The ramp at Gunpowder park has a very small beach next to it which was bordered by a retaining wall made out of rocks. At the end of the day's sail, I was approaching the beach to get the boat ready for the trailer. The point of sail I was on was dead down wind. Due to the layout of the ramp and the surrounding geography, I was unable to come in at a different angle. Just as I was about to make landfall, the wind shifted slightly and I jibed unexpectedly. This caused the boat to change course and I found myself suddenly heading for some very ugly looking rocks. I immediately threw the rudder over hard to avoid hitting the rocks and guide me back toward the sandy beach. To this day I have no idea how I managed to avoid crashing that day. I can only assume black box points of some kind.

Which reminds me - I need to go to the boat soon and give her some TLC.

See you on the water!