Happy snorkelers!
Jane and her sister Mary, as you can see here, had a wonderful week of snorkeling and swimming at every opportunity in the US and British Virgin Islands.  Mary was able to stay 8 days, so we could go more places and hit the snorkeling highlights.  The very best was the Indians in the BVI, followed by Leinster Bay on St. John.  We swam with loggerhead and hawksbill turtles, saw rays from the boat and while swimming, and even had to get the underwater guide to corals and fishes out to identify all the things we found.  Since Mary is having a partial knee replacement in a week, walking was out but swimming was fantastic.  No pain with no gravity to push those bones together.  Plenty of rum and tonic,  good food, and good books to read in the afternoon "siesta" time made the time pass all too quickly.

Now it is time to say good-bye to the Virgin Islands and begin our trip to the west and the north.  Tomorrow we will sail to Culebra, one of the "Spanish Virgin Islands" and part of Puerto Rico.  From there we plan to go to Vieques and then along the south shore of Puerto Rico before jumping off for the Bahamas.  The next update will be from new cruising grounds, since we want to go to some of the places we missed on the way down in 1999.
Mary Ellen at the helm
Yes, this is really Mary Ellen, at the helm of CORMORANT.  Back in 1999 she and John came for a visit, and we took them on an overnight crossing of the Gulf Stream from Florida to the Bahamas.  What a poor decision that was, because they were both sick and we thought they would never return to the boat!  Well, as we said in the last few posts, the Virgins are perfect for fun sailing for almost everyone. 

We spent 5 packed days exploring St. John with Harry's "little sister" Mary Ellen.  At Leinster Bay, we hiked the Johnny Horn trail, up and over the top of the island to Coral Bay, where we had lunch at the famous "Skinny Legs" bar.  We hiked an extra mile on the way back, taking the Brown Bay trail and avoiding the 1/2 mile of straight up on the Johnny Horn.  Age has helped us make some better decisions, we hope!

Besides hiking, we had some fantastic snorkeling.  In my memories from our last visit in 1999, the corals were mostly dead and although there were lots of turtles, the reefs were colorless and fish were few.  Last week, we saw a beautiful spotted eagle ray, Mary Ellen got to swim with a turtle, and the reefs were colorful and full of all kinds of odd and brightly colored fish.  Although we hate the bumping of the mooring balls on our hull, it is evident that preserving the seabed from anchor damage does help restore fish and coral.

The $1, $2 Safari Bus
This past week has been one of relaxing in beautiful Brewers Bay, doing maintenance chores, and the spending a wonderful day on an island tour with our friends Andy and Dianne.  It was great to have friends with a car to drive us places we could not get to by ourselves, but we would have to say that the transportation highlight of the week was the day we spent riding all over (to find Home Depot and Budget Marine of course) on the safari buses.  Basically a truck with open air bench seats in the back, these "buses" travel a set route along the island.  If you go halfway along the island, it is $1.  If you go over half, it is $2.  You just pay the driver when you get out.  With steep, winding roads up and around the hills, the views are magnificent and the price is certainly right.  It doesn't take much to make cruisers happy.

This afternoon, Jane's sister Mary is coming to visit for a week.  We have an excellent weather forecast--as always here--so we are off to find some anchorages and snorkel spots we haven't yet discovered.