For some unexplainable reason we are in good spirits and not hungover. We checked out of the Hummingbird House and went directly to Sunsail to make sure that everything was ready for our noon pick up. First we were informed that they couldn’t find our reservation, I reminded them that they were able to find the reservation yesterday and the day before when I checked in with them to make sure nothing went wrong today. Finally the employee behind the counter said yes here’s your reservation, come back at 6 we’ll have the boat for you then. I then had to inform Sunsail that we had paid extra to be able to board the boat at noon so we could start sailing today. After picking up a couple of cases of beer and lunch, Sunsail was ready for us to board and inspect the vessel – Lady Meta. There were problems.
1> The automatic bilge pump didn’t work, I was able to determine that the power wire had become disconnected and demanded that they get somebody to fix it before we left the dock, or hand me a crimper and a butt splice so that I could fix it myself.
2> There was no chart on the vessel
3> There was no emergency tiller
4> The fuel tank was not full.
After a run to the grocery store, Sunsail had resolved all but topping off the fuel tank. When the fuel tank was full we promptly left the harbor and set sail for Norman Island arriving just before sunset. We took the RIB to Pirates Bight for marvelous meal, returning to Lady Meta in pitch dark with a new waning crescent moon. I realized that this was the fourth day of my vacation and the first time I’ve set my foot in sand. Once back onboard we dropped a fishing light in the water and watch the tuna swim through and feed for a while. After killing the white light we were able to see the biolumenescent organisms in the water and played with them for a bit. Then I decided it’s time for me to update the website before I forget the details and now that I’ve done that I’m off for some badly-needed sleep. Lots of sailing and scuba diving planned for tomorrow.
We slept in and started the day off easily, checking in with both Sunsail and SC divers to make sure that everything was still in place. Once we were confident with that we took off to wander through town and made our obligatory stop at Pussers bar for a painkiller, a much better drink than I expected. We only have the two shot version because we had some adulting to do at 4pm with a sailboat briefing at Sunsail. After the briefing was finished, we decided we have had enough adulting and headed back to the Watering Hole, it was pizza night and we made many new friends. Once We were sufficiently liquored-up we decided it was time for us to head home. Somehow we found ourselves back at Pussers bar ordering the big painkiller, containing 8 shots of rum to finish off the night.
We grabbed a bite at the Bunker Hill Hotel before checking out and making our way to the ferry dock in Charlotte Amalie. After a 45 minute boat ride to Road Town, we hit the ground running, checking in to the Hummingbird House, Sunsail, and SC Divers. Everything seems to be in place. At the Moorings/Sunsail base, we met a local artist named Sis who did a fantastic job working on Shelbys dreadlocks. After pulling on a Shelbys hair, Sis drove us to Maria’s by the Sea for a great meal. We finished the night off with some drinks at the Watering Hole. This was definitely a locals place, it looked like we were the only tourists there.
Ferry-Charlotte Amalie>Road Town
Spent the day wandering around, apparently today was to cruise ship day. Very very busy in the morning with lots of tourists everywhere. After wandering down the main shopping street filled with Gold, Diamond, and Platinum outlets, I found myself in the local market filled with Street vendors and local goods made by people in the islands, much more my to my liking. I made my way down to the waterfront where I grabbed an exceptional meal at Hook Line & Sinker. Shelby flight made it in around 3pm, and a friend of a friend that she met through Chattanooga circles packed both of us in his Jeep and drove us around the island for some exceptional views. He then took us to French Town, where we visited a brewery and grabbed a bite and some great belgian ales at the Pie Hole.
Made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare for my 6am flight AA checked my carry on bag all the way for free. One stop in Miami, then I’ll be in the Virgins!
The flight crew on my American Airlines flight from Austin was great this morning, here’s three of the announcements they made:
”Welcome to Miami, we have delivered you 30 minutes early, please go home and tell your friends!”
”Anything left on board will be divided up between the flight crew, this does not include spouses or children.”
and “Last one off has to clean the plane!”
AA upgraded me from an Economy seat to Main Cabin Extra for the MIA>STT flight. Much more room and more comfortable seats!
Safe and sound in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI. Made it to the Bunker Hill Hotel and promptly caught a nap. Woke up around 5:45 and wandered around town for a bit. Dinner was at the Green House, apparently happy hour is 2 for 1 drinks, and Tuesdays are Lobster Mania! Wonderful meal then back to catch up on my beauty sleep.
Searching for return airfare, I found that I could save $350 if I picked up a flight (on Frontier – eek!) from Charleston, so Roger and Kim dropped me off in downtown Charleston on their way back to Savannah. I grabbed an afternoon flight so I had the day to wander around and explore the historical area and see the sights. Lots of wonderful art, buildings, old cemeteries and history to wander around. This is one of the buildings that I strolled by.
Alchemy is now in the boatyard, on closer inspection of the rudder, it is clear to us how lucky we were that Alchemy returned us safely to port. This was a close call.
The next steps are to remove and replace the rudder, we don’t think that repair is possible. A vehicle has been rented and transportation plans are being made for all of us to depart and return to our respective homes.
Thanks for the short but educational experience, I feel that I am a better sailor now having taken this journey.
I jumped in the water (Their story is that I jumped, I’m claiming I was thrown in!!!) to take a look at the rudder and see if I could see any problems. Right off the bat I saw this and surfaced to grab the camera. Captain Noble was calm and collected though his face demonstrated that he understood the severity of the situation. I snapped this photo and showed it to Roger. He promptly started getting the wheels in motion, contacting his insurance company, a boatyard, and a towing service.
What you are looking at here is the top of the rudder, that dark hole is the INSIDE of the rudder post that had shredded at sea the day before.
This trip is over, Alchemy will be on the hard for an undetermined amount of time while assessments and repairs are made.
After examining the options, Captain Noble decided that the best course of action was to head to shore. We promptly found our way, under our own power and steerage, to the Portside Marina in Morehead City NC. Once there we secured the vessel, showered, then found a bite to eat at the Sanitary Fish Market and returned to Alchemy for some badly needed sleep.
Winds picked up to steady 20-25kts. We were flying along at ~7kts when the autopilot and control of the rudder went berserk. After looking at it for an hour, we decided to limp into Moorehead City NC to work on this and other repairs safely in harbor.