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February 25, 2003
Viva Reunion

After a few days of reclusive recovery from all our recent visitors in Saint Thomas, we caught up with our friends Viva!, Second Kiss, and Ripple on the SSB one morning. We hadn't seen Viva! since we left Porlamar for Saint Martin before Christmas, and when we heard they were just over in Caneel Bay, we made a last minute decision to weigh anchor and sail on over to Saint John to see them.

We joined Pam and Steve for cocktails on their boat that evening, and there were so many stories to catch up on, we could barely get through one before leap frogging to another. It made me consider what it will be like when we return back to California, and people ask, "So how was it?" How do- where do you even begin? It was so great to see them and have all the details filled in for stories they'd alluded to on the radio. Our conversations on the SSB are somewhat akin to trying to talk on a phone with a really bad connection- so often, the most we can get across is where we are and that we're safe.

The next day, Pam rounded us up to go snorkeling in the anchorage, and surprisingly with all the traffic of underwater tourists, it was pretty good. We even got to see some squid up close and personal, and they didn't seem to mind if we floated beside them and watched them bobbing there above a rock. We use squid lures all the time on Force Five, and I always assumed they were merely caricatures of the real thing, with exaggerated eyes and obscenely bright colors. In fact, our lures look just like the real thing.

It was a beautiful, sparkly afternoon, and it seemed to call for a celebratory happy hour ashore. A bit of a reunion hurrah for the four of us. We chose Woody's purely for economic reasons- dollar drinks from 3-6:00pm! You don't hear of that very often around these islands! But whatever we saved by the cheap per drink price, we made up for in the quantity of dollar drinks we imbibed in. We sat in the late afternoon sun on the sidewalk, loud disco and pop 80s music pumping from the restaurant, among the bustle of foot traffic on the streets, and lost track of just how many we were putting away. It wasn't long before we needed to get some food in our bellies, and we managed to find a great Italian restaurant with terrific pizza on one of the side streets.

The pizza must have gone a long way towards numbing the morning after headache, because Viva! was rough and ready, and off on her way over to Charlotte Amalie Harbor on Saint Thomas to get ready for their daughter, Lisa's arrival next week. Or perhaps they were running scared, afraid we'd talk them into a do-over of the night before?

Though Viva!, Second Kiss, and Ripple, were all heading back over to Charlotte Amalie, Curt and I had had our fill over the last few weeks being there, so we opted to explore Saint John a little further. An art festival was going on in Cruz Bay, which we perused that afternoon. A cruise ship was in, and the bustling parade of quintessential cliche tourists in the streets provided more fun people watching than listening to the band or looking at the crafts.

February 26, 2003
Salt Pond Bay for Turtle Watching and a Strange Dinner

We raised our anchor the next morning and headed for the south side of the island, no particular destination in mind, but rather we thought we'd see what harbor might catch our fancy. We found a neat little out of the way spot called Salt Pond Bay where we picked up a mooring in a flat calm, thirteen feet of water. It was so crystal and blue, it wasn't long before we found ourselves drawn out to the reefs for some snorkeling only to discover sting rays, squid, and enormous parrot fish amongst the usual cast of characters we find on our underwater adventures. But this particular day held an even bigger treat. As we headed back to the boat, I happened to glance off to one side at just the right moment to notice two sea turtles on the ocean floor. We see them all the time around here when they pop their heads above water like a little periscope, but they dive before you can get anywhere near. I quietly motioned to Curt to come over and see- hoping not to scare them off. Infamously shy, these two turtles didn't seem to mind us as we floated at a respectful distance above and watched them munching on the sea grass below. We stayed until they had their fill, and glided off into the blue… propelling themselves along like seabirds riding a light breeze.

As the sun neared the horizon, we grabbed a bottle of wine and our fishing poles to go trolling for dinner around the point… a ritual, I reminded Curt, that has yet to ever produce a supper. Wouldn't you know, no sooner had I grumbled that we were never going to catch anything, when Curt got a bite on his line? He reeled in a strange looking thing- a serpent type of fish, with a long snout and lots of razor sharp teeth. He seemed to remember reading in our new fish book which tells which fish are edible, that this was one you could eat. I was skeptical, but low and behold, we got back to the boat to read further and find that, if in fact it was a Houndfish… we could eat it. I tried to push the vision of the creepy looking character out of my mind when he showed up on my plate. Its peculiar appearance aside… it was actually a decent meal. Curt had proven me wrong on two counts that evening.

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