Home. At least seven months and 10,000 miles of land and ocean stand between me and home.
I’ve been thinking about that more and more this last week. God knows I’ve had the time to think about it. 4 hour-long night watches on a small yacht in a big ocean ensure that. What will I do when I get home? A real job?
I’ve also been thinking a lot about Japan. I become more and more convniced that Japan is where I would like to be living. Dunno why…
But for now, the immediate challenge that stands in my way between here and home is about five days more of sailing, before the challenge of 6,000 miles of skateboarding begins. I am crew aboard the delivery of Irish Jester II, a 38 foot French-made Kinnex sailing catamaran, from the US Virgin Islands to Alabama, USA. I will be getting off the boat in Key West at the southern-most tip of the state of Florida, USA. I will skate north through the Florida Keys, dodging aligators all the way up to Tampa, my first point of call in the US. In Tampa, I look forward to meeting up with Rick Smith, a good friend from my days as an Outdoor Educator in Switzerland. I also look forward to new cramic skateboarding bearings that have been kindly supplied by Bones Bearings.
The original plan was to try to get on a yacht from the British Virgin Islands to Nassau, in the Bahamas, so that I could go to the US Embassy there and apply for an extended US tourist visa. On a standard visa waiver, I can only be in the US for a maximum of 90 days. It will take more than that to skate across the US.
However, right now is not the season for yachts going north from the Virgin Islands to the US. So basically I had to take whatever came up. So the deal at the moment is that I have a 3 month stamp in my passport for the US. At some stage in my journey across the US, I will need to leave the US, and re-enter at some stage. This will most probably be somewhere like El Paso, in Texas. Pop over to Mexico for a couple of days and then re-enter for another stamp to finish the US leg off. At least I think that this is how it will all work. I’ll worry about the logistics of all that when the time comes.
Right now I am typing this on Captain Debbie’s laptop, aboard the Irish Jester II, in Ocean World Marina near Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. Yes, the marina where I lost my visa card about a month ago. I imagine that my next update will be from Florida. Until then, along with Captain Debbie and crew Connie, we will be fighting the strong northern Atlantic swell all the way to Key West. Send some flat-water-vibes my way!
Click for a short video update
Four weeks in the waiting, I am finally on my way. Through the wonderful assistance of John and Rich at The Moorings Yacht Brokerage in Road Town, Tortola, I have tracked down a captain taking a boat up north.
Captain Debbie is her name, and she is a delivery captain who does many deliveries for The Moorings. She is delivering a 38 foot mono-hull yacht from St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands to Alabama, USA. She is going via the Bahamas, so I am joining the crew to there. I am excited to be finally moving. The USA and 4 months of human-powered adventure await.
Across the USA by skateboard only. No vehicles. No backup vehicles. Solo and supported only by the kindness of strangers I meet along the way.
A massive thank you to all those people who have helped me while I have been in the British Virgin Islands: Horizon, Jo, The Moorings, Jeremy at the Trellis Bay Cybercafe, Aragorn and Fredrica, Dorothy, Silvia, Shamla, Megan, Jean, Todd, Lesely and Martin, Johnny, Alex and Laura, the Thursday night Peglegs volleyball crowd, BVI Yacht Charter Society, Chater Port, Southern Traders…and so many others.
Unfortunately I will be missing the much talked about Full Moon Party at Trellis Bay. Fireball sculptures, awesome music and entertaiment. If you’re there, take a look at the wood burning – I cut a large bunch of it up!
I was getting rather attached to the people of Trellis Bay, and I would like to be back one day…
Trellis Bay Cybercafe owner Jeremy on his catamaran
Trellis Bay is all rather photogenic…
Aragorn Dick-Read is an artist with close links to his heritage as a Tortolan. For most of his adult life he has been cultivating the West Indian heritage of the people that live in the Caribbean. Today I had the privelage of helping him transport an important part of that heritage to his beach-side studio on Beef Island in the British Virgin Islands.
Along with Aragorn, his sons Xantie and Saba, Dominicans Johnny, Moses, and Greg, I tagged along to help relocate a small three man dugout canoe from near Trunk Bay in Tortola. We all piled on to Aragorn’s powerboat, with Xantie at the wheel. It was a short 20 minute blat to the seculded bay where the canoe was.
The approach to the bay was shallow rocky reef, so Aragorn, Greg, Xantie and I had to swim from the boat about 50m to the shore. “Just watch your feet. There are sea urchins around here,” Aragorn warned. Aragorn was born and raised in this area, so I assumed he knew what he was talking about.
We trod carefully across the reef to the sandy shore, and there it was. A colourful canoe covered in canvas to keep the water out.
We removed the canvas, and discovered something that Aragorn had forsawn before we even got to the canoe. Termites. Luckily the oars were the only things affected. “If we left it here for much longer, it would have been eaten up completely!” Xantie observed.
A whole nest of ants had made their home in the coil of rope that was attached to the anchor. ‘Tickling Ants’ Aragorn called them as they crawled all over our arms and chests as we heaved the heavy canoe off the beach and into the water. Johnny, manning the helm on the powerboat was waiting 100m off shore, away from the dangerous reef that would have grounded the powerboat. It was up to us four with the canoe to sail and paddle it out into the open water off the coast.
Our first few attempts at getting the canoe moving ended in it almost capsizing. Xantie and Aragorn bailed furiously to remove the water that had flowed into the open top canoe. Greg and I paddled to gain distance from the rocky shore.
Once we were out far enough, Aragorn began skillfully sheeting the sail in and out according to the wind, and we began making way, relatively balanced with the push of the wind in the sail.
We stopped for an hour or so, rafting the canoe up to the powerboat, in order to do some fishing. We caught a few, before Aragorn and the boys took over the canoe, steering it as we towed it in the powerboat.
By the time we approached Trellis Bay on Beef Island, it was getting dark. Aragorn and the boys decided to sail the rest of the way back, and us powerboat boys dropped anchor and fished until well after dark, ending in a good haul of fish including Rock Hind, Dog Snapper, shark, and bar jack.
I am stagnating.
I need to get out.
Need to get out of the British Virgin Islands.
That’s not to say that I don’t like the place. What a great place this is. I have spent the last week staying in Trellis Bay on Beef Island, at the western most point of Tortola. I have slept in Aragorn’s Studio Pottery Studio. Order a t-shirt. They are cool.
I am now however staying on a boat in Trellis Bay that is kind of owned by the owner of Trellis Bay Cyber Cafe, Jeremy Wright. Jeremy is a couch surfing host, and an all round great guy.
There is much more to my story over the last few weeks, as would be expected. However those stories are for another time. All will be revealed in due time.
The story for now is that I have been here far too long, and it is time to move on. I have been trying to find a ride up to the US on a boat, however this is not the season for masses of boats heading up north to the US. Despite this, I have two good leads for boats going up north, those leads I came upon today.
One was from the good people at The Moorings Yacht Brokerage – John and Richard. They are selling boats all the time here in the British Virgin Islands, and some are taken up to the US by their owners. There may be one going up next week that I may be able to get myself on.
Another possibility is a 68 foot powerboat heading to the Bahamas. Time will tell whether the skippers of these boats will need an extra hand for the trip.
In the mean time, I am biding my time here in Trellis Bay. My tourist visa is valid until the 28th of November, so I may need to leave the BVIs and head over to the US Virgin Islands by ferry, and carry on my boat searching there also. All a bit of a rigmarole, really.
And yes, I have considered flying, and have even been one click away from booking a flight to Miami, Florida. However I have so far been able to resist the urge to give up on the mission of sailing the rest of the way across water that is in my way on my way to New Zealand. How long that lasts depends on how much longer I can afford (dollar-wise) to hang around without working.
By the way, got in the paper again: http://www.vistandpoint.com/content/view/293/29/. They got a couple of details wrong (like skateboarding across 29 countries), but…
Went sailing again. This time with Todd and friends. Thank you Todd!