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Joe and Kate - Windjammer and BVI - Sept '99
Under some cover at the beach

On the Deck At the Helm - Captian Kate The Virgin Gorda - The Baths ===> More Pictures:

Windjammer Journal

Kate and I just got back from our 15th Anniversary trip. We went to the British Virgin Islands (BVI). It was a great trip. We both had an interesting adventure. It was the most time we spent together since we were married with out kids. It was a little "Iffy" just before we went. My mom had her Gall Bladder taken out 3 weeks earlier. As a real trooper, she came through; she looked good when she arrived, and kids helped out a lot too. Joe and Michelle are great kids when it comes to helping out.

Before I get to the trip, Other News:

Joe will be getting his "STAR" ranking this month in scouts. He is very proud of it, and has been working real hard. He has 11 merit badges and just kicking butt.. Starting in 2 weeks, we have a basic campout, then in the first week of November, we are canoeing down "The Big Thickett" in east Texas. But, this year we are camping on the riverbanks, so that means we have to take all of our equipment, too. I will bet half of the scouts will be wet before we make it to our camp. It’s going to be a long weekend.

The scouts are also going to go to the USS Air Force Naval Ship Lexington in Corpus Christi, Texas… It’s a WWII Aircraft training carrier. We get a tour and sleep on the ship that night. I was on the ship about 5 years ago. I just remember hitting my head a lot.

It was Michelle’s birthday on September 24th. She turned 11 years old. We took her and 3 friends to a Rock Gym. She would climb up a 20-foot wall then repel down the wall. They all had a great time. Late that night we went out to eat, and got home very late. Michelle’s girl friends stayed the night. Everyone went right to sleep…. Thank God…Michelle continues to play the piano to my total amazement. I love to listen to her play. She gets better every week and you can hear it.

Anyhow, about our, it was a lot of fun. The Windjammer Cruises are a blast to be on.

Built in 1935, for the French Navy, Oisseau des Isles (Bird

of the Islands) served as a cadet training ship. During World War II, she posed as a decoy, spying for the Allied Forces. After the war, she was used to transport cargo along the Baja coast. In 1968 she joined the Windjammer fleet. Completely refurbished with modern amenities,stained glass windows and a spiral staircase, she proudly

sails the B.V.I. for more information

We had 49 passengers, with a crew of about 25 on the Ship. The Ship is about 210 feet long with a 36-foot wide span in the middle. The lower cabins are very very small. The ship was great to be on during good or bad weather…. And NO, we did not get sick. But, a few people did from drinking too much.

After flying American Airlines to Dallas, we connected to San Juan. American Airlines screwed up our connection to Beef Island, at the British Virgin Islands (BVI). We made it to the gate, and the damn attended would not hold the flight just 5 min. so we could board. We ended up staying and not getting to the ship till 12:00pm mid-night…. I WAS PISSED. We missed our $100 stow away party too… American Airlines is not my favorite carrier. Anyway, I’m on vacation, I’m going to have a good time.

We sat on the pier waiting for a launch to come and take us to the ship anchored in the bay. We were tired and just wanted to go to bed. The purser, Donna, greeted us as we boarded the ship. She said we could take care of the paperwork in the morning and showed us our cabin. They kept our dinner warm and we chowed on a most excellent midnight supper aboard the Flying Cloud.

At 7:30am every morning, the most annoying sound is barked down the halls of the ship for breakfast. Think of it, like a chicken clucking and saying "Breakfast Time" in a high pitch voice. At the same time, this person has a little tiny bell ringing. Small enough to annoy you, and loud enough to wake anyone up. We learn quickly that if you wanted to sleep in, you would miss breakfast. We missed breakfast a couple of times. Heck, I’m on vacation.

After taking our first semi-warm shower on the rolling ship. We missed the Bloody May’s for everyone in the morning. We made our way up to the galley for breakfast. We see the islands outside for the first time, and Wow, we finally see Tortola Island. It was so different from other adventures. To start off, every other island I had ever visited was flat, and I’m looking at huge mountains popping up all over the place as little islands. This is cool…

On board ship, everyone goes barefoot, and everyone is gathered up on the deck at 9:00ish for "Story Time" with the captain. Captain Adrian likes to take time every morning to talk about the up coming events and choice for dinner. At first it is entertaining, he has an interesting British wit about him. He would say " GOOD MORNING", The passengers would say, "Good Morning Captain, Sir", we call him sir and he then called us anything he wants. He would say everything would depend on the " Weather", Weather he would want to sail or not.

We started off Monday with a tour of Tortola Island. A Mr. Styles took us with 12 others on a wild ride up and down the island. We learned about the plant life, what they can cure, and explored a beautiful beach called Cane Garden Bay. We swam for about an hour, then had to get back to the ship. It was leaving for Peter Island at 1:00 ish as the captain would say.

As we left port, we headed southeast toward Peter Island. Kate and I were in the Net at the forward point of the ship. The net extents out about 20 feet, where 4 people can sit above the water in front of the ship. Not more than 20 mins along we headed right into a thunderstorm. The ship sails were at full mask, but, the ship is also being powered by a 500 horsepower 1943 old diesel engine. Who cares, we are going forward…

As the rain came down, everyone scattered into the galley and/or on the side of the ship to take cover. The rain was moderate, and you could still see the Island go by… Then, in one of my wild modes, I took my shirt off, and told Kate, if there was ever a time I would love to steer the ship, it was now….in the rain, with the wind blowing in my face. Everyone looked at me as if I was crazy.

I asked the first mate if I could take the helm. Reluctantly, he passes the helm wheel to me, showed me the instruments. I had to keep track of the direction/degree indicator, watch the angle of the rudder, and keep track of the depth of the sea. The ship would move slowly as I would constantly adjust the helm. My direction was at 200 degrees heading southeast. The ship would move from 195 to 205 slowly zig zagging with the current and the wind. The bow was moderately going up and down. This was the biggest thing I ever had control of. Of course the first mate is right next to me, helping out. For about 10 mins the winds and rain hit my face, as I would fight to keep the ship on course…. The rain let up, and it became sunny in just seconds. I had a great time… Im sure the first mate could see it was clearing; else I don’t think he would have let me take the helm. It felt neat for the first at the wheel.

We anchored at a bay within Peters Island, most of us jumped ship to take a swim. Had a great dinner that night, and started meeting more people. We met a bunch of people mostly from the East Coast. New York, Florida, Georgia. There was 2 other couples from Texas, even 2 from California. Average age was about 40+ with a few young honeymooners, and a few old folks too. I told Kate, its like summer camp, your stuck on the boat with 49 soles whom you will never see again. Some you like, some are ok, some are real assholes… all in all, most of the people we hung around were great. The assholes were informed of the status and pelted with dinner rolls, in hopes that this disciplinary action would remedy the situation.

Tuesday morning started off raining, but, Kate and I went a shore to snorkel around the beach and rocks. Only one other guy, Tony from Florida, and with a very strong Jersey accent, got in the launch to shore with us. It was just a light sprinkle, but a little cold. The water was warmer than the air temperature outside. By mid morning the rain stopped, and by the afternoon, more sun shines. The snorkeling was good, but not great. We all knew, the next day at Virgin Gorda, "The Baths" were going to be great. Snorkeling there is excellent.

By Tuesday night, most of us knew everyone pretty well. The activity director, Jessica, was talking to me at the bar on the top deck about that night’s plan. The previous night, we played, "Naughty Nautical". This is where the shipmates give us a nautical term, and 3 groups came up with an explanation what is was…. I will say it got pretty rank, most of the people that night retired early, so only about 15 of us played. Let me say this, our team was called "Wet Dreams"…

Jessica was talking about doing a "Newly Wed Game ". She was a little nervous about the questions. So Kate, Jessica, and myself worked on some new questions before dinner. Of course, with a few PCs, (Pina Coladas) and other assorted tropical drinks under our belts, and noticing the fear of her being in front of the contestant. I offered to be the " BOB EUBANKS" on the show and Kate the beautiful assistant.

We put together 12 question, 6 for the males and 5 for the females plus a bonus question. The questions were tamed, example:

Is having whoppy with your spouse like a): A speed boat, b): A Cruise Ship c:) A row boat d:) a dingy

Best question: If making whoppy was a holiday which would it be: A) Forth of July, the fireworks B) Halloween – Some time scary C): Thanksgiving – Gobble Gobble D): Memorial Day – so long I forgot …. And you guessed, 2 of the 5 wives said Memorial Day…. The ship went wild ….

Then next morning at 5:30am, we set sail for the Virgin Gorda. Of course we feel the boat start to move that early, but we slept end…. Even past the annoying "Breakfast Time" bark of the shipmate. At 8:30 before we go ashore, the Captain gives his story time…. BORING… get me on the beach. By 9:00am, after covering everything under the sun, and listening to stupid questions, it was time to hit shore.

We went straight for "The Baths". The beach is full of huge 50ft granite boulders on the beach and in the water. The snorkeling was incredible. The bay was filled with tons of different fish and colorful coral. We stayed on the beach all day, took lots of pictures, which you can see on our web-site: ( )… drank our PCs, and laid in the sun. YEAH MON … This is the life….

That night, after dinner, sails were lowered and the beautiful sky was full of billions of stars. About 20 of us, at the aft of the ship, started telling jokes. This went on for about 2 hours. It’s was like being at the Comedy Store. I would have paid for the performance of this group. One person would stand under the mast, which was the stage…. Some would tell long jokes, just sucking you into to a great story, others gave quick ones. You heard jokes, that I had not heard for years, other with a slant, which was extremely funny. We laughed all night… you know you had a good laugh, when your cheeks hurt from smiling too much… it was fun.

Next morning OK, our destination was Jost Van Dyke. We sailed until 11am that morning. It was a great day. On the way, Kate and I saw where we were going to stay at the Frenchman’s Cay Resort. The boat sailed right by the resort. It was on the far west end of ortola Island.

As we approached White’s Bay, on Jost Van Dyke, we looked at a huge white sand beach with almost no one on it. Our ship docked about 200 yards off the shore, and then…….. "Story Time" with the captain…. Crap, get me on that beach….Ok, after 30mins of total "who gives a rat’s ass stuff", we get on shore…. This place was primitive, unspoiled, and just beautiful. Right out of Gilligan’s Island. The sun was hot, the water was warm, and the snorkeling was fantastic. We swam with billions of little minnows like fish, then, a Tarpen would appear and swim with us. A Tarpen is a about 50-60 pound fish, 4-6 feet long and about 1 foot wide and tall… its silver in color, and looks rather mean, yet it would come about 3 to 6 feet next to us. The Tarpen would swim along side then disappear in the sea of little fish.

We sat on the beach until 4:00pm, laid on shore, drinking Caribe beer after beer. We got back to the boat for crab races. Yes, we got to bet on crab races, here is the hint, vote for the smallest crap, "Captain’s Pinnis" , they win. We sailed again into the next bay, called Great Harbor, and half the group went ashore for Lobster Dinner at a shack/restaurant. Kate and I stay on board for dinner and sure enough, more jokes started coming out, good company, but, we called it an early night.

On Friday morning we sailed to Norman’s Island and spent the day on the beach. The snorkeling was ok, but was nothing compared to the Virgin Gorda. We left for Tortola Island at 5:00pm and we harbored late that night off Roads Town for a final fare well party, complete with steel drum band. They let us hit the steel drums too.

Everyone stayed that night on the ship. Kate and I were one of the first to get up the next morning. The trip on the Windjammer was over for many, but not for Kate and myself. I remember looking at the ship and the Purser, Donna says, " How come your leaving so early?", I said, " I have a 2000 sq. foot villa and a private beach waiting for me on the other side of this island, and that’s better than the 200 sq. foot cabin I have been in… Its been great. Too Hip GOTTA GO"… it was time to go… The trip was a lot of fun, but now we needed our space.

Our taxi drive to Frenchman’s Cays Resort started first at the grocery market for some munchies and supplies. The resort has only 12 villas, and it had been closed for September. We were the first ones to rent a villa for the first 2 of 3 nights there. The villa set on the side of the hill. A 2 story with master upstairs and living room dinning, kitchen and a great back deck looking down the hill at a small beach and breakwaters. We were on the windward side of the island, so a constant breeze kept hitting the villa on the hill. You can hear the waves crashing the beach all night. No one was on the private beach the first 2 days. It was heaven. We laid in the sun, read magazines, and sat back and enjoyed.

That night, Kate and I walked to Sopher Hole harbor. It’s a small harbor, with docks and drop lines for about 2 dozen catamarans and large sailboats. The dockside had small shop and a place to eat. We ate at Pusser’s Cafe. The food was good, the atmosphere was better. We had a quiet dinner area on the second floor deck overlooking the harbor.

By the end of the second day, we were bored and went over the hill to Long Bay. We swam in a beautiful bay with a long white sand beach. We spent the latter part of the day and dinner there.

The last night was spectacular. We walked about 1.5 miles to the Jolly Roger Inn and Restaurant. We got there in time to watch a thunderstorm with killer rainbows come toward us, and over us, and toward St. Johns Island. We were outside on a covered porch by the waterside of the bay. Looking at Sopher’s Hole harbor and docks. The food was outstanding. We ordered fresh Swordfish and Tuna steaks. Mine was almost rare, like sushi… it was out of this world. Kate had the swordfish, the size of a huge T-bone. We order T-shirts for the kids, dessert to go, and headed back to our villa. On the porch, Kate proceeded to kick my ass in 500 Gin Rummy. Damn she was hot that night. I lost 6 straight games, but a lot of fun, too. It was a great way to end the trip

By Tuesday, our last day, we got up very early, took a walk down to Sopher’s Hole. Then got a taxi to Road’s Town for breakfast at the Bayside Marina. Then to the airport. We got home about 12 hours later through San Juan PR and Miami…

Next time we go to the BVI, we know where we want to stay. I’m so glad we did not stay on St. Johns or St. Thomas on the US side. You can see the islands and the population of the islands too. It reminded me of San Diego from the sea. Rolling mountains with homes all over it. Too crowed over there MON.

In the NEWS

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