Thursday, December 13th to Sunday, December 16th

Don and Julia from Quantum Sails at Nanny Cay visit Cutter Loose at her slip early on Thursday morning.  They announce their arrival by rapping on the deck and shouting “CUTTAH LUZE, CUTTAH LUZE”!  They are here today to take measurements for mesh sun panels that will provide additional shade in the cockpit, particularly in the early morning and late afternoon when the sun is low on the horizon.  We agree to return to Nanny Cay next week to take possession of our new shades.

Cutter Loose is underway from Nanny Cay at noon on a downwind sail to Francis Bay for a rendezvous with friends Cary and Tom aboard Dragon’s Toy, one of our buddy boats in the Bahamas last winter.  Californian’s Tom and Cary arrived in the BVIs about 10 days after our arrival.  There is lots of catching up and planning to do.  Like us, they are sailing the Leeward and Windward islands this winter.  In a few days, these folks will be aboard the silver bird to the west coast for the holidays. We bid them a safe journey and agree to meet again at Foxy’s on Jost Van Dyke in observance of New Year’s Eve.

Friday morning calls for a return to Red Hook.  Another session with Neal has been scheduled on Friday afternoon to coax the chart plotters to display the Navionics nautical charts that enable us to navigate.  The software update is a success.  But in an unanticipated outcome of the process, these two computers are now having a spat.  They are pretending that the network to which they are both connected does not exist.  They have ceased to communicate.  Only the geniuses at the Raymarine headquarters in New Hampshire can write the code that will reunite this partnership.

Our friends Tom and Cindy agree to meet us at the local Italian restaurant for dinner on Friday night.  This establishment is staffed almost entirely by Pennsylvanians.  In fact, our waitress is from my childhood town of West Mifflin, PA.  Red Hook is a lively place on a Friday evening.  The restaurants are full and Main Street is laden with traffic.  Live music wraps up at about 3 AM at the waterfront bars.  At 6 AM, the morning shift announces its arrival on the jobsite with loud conversation.  Recorded music wafts over the marina from the local breakfast gathering place.  It is anything but a restful night at American Yacht Harbor.

To his credit, Neal arrives promptly at 9 AM on Saturday to install the new masthead anemometer.  He announces that the weekend began early for the geniuses in New Hampshire.  The factory’s software fix for the communication breakdown on Cutter Loose must wait until Monday morning.  In the meantime, we have 48 hours of freedom before the next repair session. 

Rather than remain at a noisy marina in Red Hook for the weekend, we opt instead to enjoy the relative solitude of the south coast of St. John.  The wind today is less than 10 knots, which makes for a perfect opportunity to visit Salt Pond Bay.  At the entrance to the Bay are some nasty-looking rock outcroppings protruding above the brilliant aquamarine water.  Once inside, however, this spot is delightful, but only in very settled weather. 

Cutter Loose is one of only three boats anchored in this picturesque bay.  The snorkeling here is excellent with an abundance of large and small fish feeding in the cracks and crevices along the reef.  Donkeys graze on the white sand beach that encircles the bay.   From our anchorage, the mountaintops of St. Croix are visible 40 miles to the south.  The relative absence of wind is an open invitation for tiny flying insects to share our anchorage.  After a fiery sunset, the insects force us to retire below reading books and listening to Garrison Keilor’s A Prarie Home Companion

After a peaceful night’s sleep, a beach landing in the dinghy followed by a hike through rugged terrain leads us to Café Concordia for Sunday morning brunch.  We are rewarded with a delicious meal, some mellow acoustic guitar melodies and an outstanding view of Cutter Loose anchored in the bay below.

A few miles to the west is Little Lameshure Bay, which beckons our attention.  Cutter Loose shares this remote anchorage with one other boat on Sunday afternoon and evening.  The snorkeling here is not quite as productive as Saltpond Bay, but the surroundings are spectacular.  The past two days on the south coast of St. John have been the perfect antidote to unresolved boat issues.  Being here is a vivid reminder of the delights of cruising. Tomorrow it is back to American Yacht Harbor in Red Hook for yet another day of problem solving with Neal.

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