44' Luxury Catamaran Mustang Sally

Doug, Wendy and Mustang Sally cruise the Virgin Islands. Follow along on their adventures meeting funky local characters and visiting hot spots and hidden treasures with links to our favorites websites and additional interesting information.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

SHOTSKI ANNOUNCEMENT


Good afternoon to the captain and crew of Mustang Sally! I msut comment after having recieved your email. The shotski looks to be a useful tool to ensure boredom on the high seas won't take hold. However, I have sailed on this fine ship and never once did I feel the party needed a kick-start to get going. From what I recall, which is not much it, started at the dock and never stopped. The shotski, I believe, will have a multitude of uses; it could be used to welcome your guest upon boarding, or as a morning kiss to shake off the festivities from the previous night, could also be used for the removal of swim wear, could be used not just to get things started but could be used to ensure things continue, or if over used, could insure things could end, could be used as a gesture of kindness or a peace offering.

Let me just say "Welcome to the Shotski!! and let the games begin!" Woo Hoo!

Chris Leader
very sastisfied past (and future) guest.

Monday, September 21, 2009

THE WILLIAM THORNTON Floating Bar










For those of you who have been here you know exactly what I am talking about. This bar is the best party bar I have ever been to. I don't know why exactly, perhaps a combination of things.

People are on holidays when they come here and so are ready to let their hair down (or tops/shorts, as they case maybe), maybe that's why. Or perhaps it is because the Willy-T (as it is affectionately known) is on Norman Island and so you can only get there by private boat (there is no ferry). Or maybe it is because of the great music pumping out of the speakers. You can't help but dance to it. Also, the bartenders are the best. Todd, Zeus, Simon, Al .... So charming, fun and extremely helpful when applying temporary tatoos in all manner of places, especially on pretty ladies. (Guys you put on your own tatoos!).

I know the food is outstanding, I have eaten there many times and have always been impressed. Lots of fresh fish, great french fries, and outstanding specials. Maybe that's why....hmmm ....what about the shotski? That has to be it....right? That old ski that has been modified to hold 4 shot glasses usually filled with some horridly strong concotion that you must shoot down your gullet. If you don't time it perfectly to "shoot" at the same time as the other 3 on the shotski with you, or, you are much shorter than your compatriots you will wear the drink instead of drinking it. (Another good reason to take your sticky t-shirt off and get a tatoo! I did!)

The last but certainly not the least important reason the Willy T is the best party bar I have ever been too.... me! Whenever we go a party seems to erupt. I wonder if it has to due with me enjoying all of the above to the max?
So, maybe next time you are there you will find the crew of Mustang Sally kickin' it up a notch... and don't worry what happens on the Willy-T stays on the Willy-T...... most of the time.

P.S. check out the photo album behind the bar.... see if you can spot me.

For the history and other info on the Willy T check out http://www.williamthornton.com/

Friday, August 28, 2009

Interesting Character - Barefoot Davis




One character that we have gotten to know well here in the Virgins is "Barefoot Davis".

Barefoot Davis Murray, is from Massachusetts but has been in the islands for about 20 years. He is well known in the Virgin Islands as the long-standing fleet captain for the Caribbean 1500 Cruising Rally. He's logged over 100,000 ocean miles between the rally and six transatlantic crossings.

We first met Davis back in October '06 in Hampton, Virginia when we were getting ready for our offshore leg with the Caribbean 1500 Rally. He's one of those guys that seems to know everything about anything and can fix almost anything. This proved to be quite handy for us a couple of times that Doug needed a hand. Davis volunteers in the rally to help prepare the sailors, some first timers, like us back then, for their first offshore adventure.
He is sought after by many in the boating world from commercial vessels to pleasure boats for a number of marine talents (boat builder, rigger, rudder replacer, single side band pro,boat delivery captain, etc) but also because he is one of the only professional commercial compass swingers (intrigued?) in the islands and the U.S.East Coast. He sailed in the Worrel 1000, which is an arduous 1000 mile offshore sailing race from Miami Beach to Virginia aboard a 20' beach cat (yikes!). He can join people in matrimony. Add to this long list, Davis is a real bonafide treasure hunter! One of very few people down island that has the authority from the governments to search land for archaeological treasures (read pirate loot). You can check out his finds at The Pirate's Bight restaurant in The Bight at Norman Island, B.V.I.
During the training for the Worrel 1000 Davis picked up a second-hand guitar for $200 and learned two cords, then three cords, and soon a whole song. Davis started writing his own songs and soon his reputation as a musician was known up and down the east coast. "I call my music 'Island Country'," he says. "The lyrics for all of the songs I've written have come from a particular experience, or something that was special to me, or about someone I met".

Davis says, "the Caribbean is an atmosphere conducive to music. No propane heaters. No frozen fingers. No TV news. No stateside politics. I'm in my element and I like the comfortable sound of life here." We totally agree!

Whenever we are in St.Thomas or close by at Christmas Cove we call "Splinter Beach" on the vhf to see if he can join us for a coldie and some storytelling or to find out where the Barefoot Davis Band is playing next so we can catch the show.

If you play an instrument you can join the band as they are always happy to have visiting musicians join them on stage. Davis and the gang play every Monday nite at Latitude 18 in Red Hook on St. Thomas. Last year the band was also playing on the beach at The Elysian (also located in Red Hook) every Sunday afternoon....hopefully he will be there this upcoming season again. Nothing better than sitting in the warm Caribbean sun on the beach listening to great island tunes sipping on a coldie!
To down load his great island tunes and to see where he is playing check out http://www.barefootdavis.com/

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Change in the B(LOG)

For 2009/2010 we have decided to change the blog. Since we are no longer cruising the islands of the Caribbean and will be staying in the US/British and Spanish Virgin Islands the blog will have a new use we are very excited about. From now on the blog will feature funky local characters, and there are lots of them, hot spots and hidden treasures that we find, and links and other good sailing and travel info.We hope you will find this new blog interesting and usefull. The first few features will be out in the next few weeks.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

LOS ROQUES, VENEZUELA - SINT MAARTEN
























































September 20th, 2008 Los Roques, Venezuela – Sint Maarten, November 6th, 2008

I left off the last log in Carenero, Venezuela where we had hauled Mustang Sally and anti-fouled for another year and did some other general maintenance etc. Once we splashed and had received our renewed passports we made tracks for Los Roques, the beautiful out islands of Venezuela that Doug has wanted to see for years. I must admit I was pretty curious to see them as well as this is where the rich Venezuelans head to for their weekends in their large sport fisherman’s, yachts or to stay for an entire week in the beautiful posadas (guest houses). Los Roques is considered to be very safe as it is 200 nautical miles north of the mainland of Venezuela. The islands are an atoll (reef islands, not volcanic) consisting of 15 or so small islands with long white sand beaches and lots of great reefs to snorkel with fish seemingly on steroids. Make sure you take everything you will need for your stay as there are no stores to buy much with the exception of a small store on Gran Roque.
We motored all nite to arrive in the morning. Unfortunately there isn’t much wind in the summer so we seemed to motor pretty much everywhere. We watched numerous electrical storms in the nite sky that gave us quite a light show to watch, the moon was close to full and also illuminated the nite sky and the water was very calm reflecting all of it. We enjoyed all of this while we took our turn on watch and listened to some great music.
Once we arrived at Los Roques we hooked up with what seemed to be a Canadian convoy of boats. Gypsy Blues, Meggie, Tyee III, Spyglass and our one token American boat, Sunrise were all anchored close to each other. Altho we were tired from our nite travel we were more than happy to get together for a potluck aboard Tyee III that evening to catch up with everyone and find out what their next travel plans were. Los Roques seemed to be the point for some boats to continue westward, and some to head back east.
We spent the next week enjoying the company of our friends, snorkeling and having lots of potluck cocktail parties and dinners. The weather was very hot and sunny with the occasional squall and reverse winds which always made the nites very interesting. These squalls never hit thru the day when you can see your point of references on land, only at nite, of course.
We said good bye to our friends who were all headed in different directions while we had the pleasure of enjoying the islands for 3-4 weeks before we had to start out trek back to Isla Margarita and then north. Meggie was headed further west to Bonaire, then Jamaica and further westward again to spend Christmas in Guatemala, while Gypsy Blues and Spyglass were heading into mainland Venezuela to have their boats hauled for antifouling and miscellaneous other tasks.
Our water pump broke on one of our engines and we did not have a spare. Altho we had two engines and therefore no biggie, it was a bad place for this to happen as there are no part/repair stores out here and we still had a long way to go to before we could replace it. Doug got on the single side band and asked for help. In a few days we learned of a boat, Mystic Journey, headed to Bonaire from Grenada who would be able to obtain the part and bring it to us on their way thru less than a week later. Very kewl.
While that was going on we worked hard polishing the cat and getting ready for the upcoming season. I would jog on the beautiful beaches early in the mornings, while the pelicans would dive into the water from high in the sky in pursuit of breakfast. We would also work on the cat in the morning and then call it quits in the afternoon as it was simply too hot. We spent the afternoons reading or snoozing in the hammock. Temperatures were well above 50* Celsius without a breath of wind and the days were spectacular with sunshine all day, no rain and beautiful starry nites. We enjoyed dinner out a few times on Gran Roque enjoying the quaint, high end boutiques and restaurants on sand streets where no cars are allowed (or needed).
After four lovely, leisurely weeks it was near time to start our trip back to Margarita but tropical waves had begun moving thru the islands one after another. Every morning we were up early to listen to Chris Parker give the weather reports over the single side band radio so we could determine when we would have a good weather window. Unfortunately, for many days, there was nothing but low pressure systems and tropical waves and the weather just deteriorated from bad to worse. Squalls would roll thru nite after nite with winds of anywhere between 30-50 knots. We had moved to a well protected anchorage which would keep us safe from the large swells produced by the storms and some of the wind and we put out a second anchor, a Danforth, in addition to our 60 lb “Brucie baby” which brought the total of our anchor weight up to 100 lbs. Those 100 lbs. did not count our all chain rode we had paid out at 10-1 ratio which brought the grand total on the seabed to approximately 800 lbs. We felt we were as secure as we could be. The bad weather was becoming rather tiresome tho and we were tired from sitting anchor watch most nites. After a few days and nites of this we learned tropical storm Omar was headed our way before tracking north east with 50 knot winds plus. Of course, this was the beginning of Hurricane Omar who would become a category 3 hurricane which would head north and cause a great deal of damage to St Martin and numerous other islands. We weathered the storm quite well and MS didn’t budge although at times it was quite hairy. We listened to the weather report the next morning we realized that Omar who was now well north of us had called all of the low pressure systems in the Caribbean to him like a dog on a leash and so now it was clear for us to head to Isla Margarita 160 NM to our east. Heading east from Los Roques to Isla Margarita means that like many easterly routes, we would have the prevailing winds and equatorial current against us until we hit the lee of the Windward Islands. Of course it meant a motor the entire way but at least there wasn’t much wind on our nose as there was no wind at all. The trip was uneventful and we managed to duck a few local squalls. We did have a visitor on board, a very large land bird who had been blown off land during the big winds. We determined to the best of our ornithology abilities that he must be some type of hawk. He was desperate for a place to rest and so hung on to MS enough time to get some much needed rest before heading off again, hopefully to land.
We arrived back in Porlamar, Isla Margarita after dark and managed to find a good spot to anchor in the busy anchorage, ate a bit of din din and crashed after 36 hours of motoring. The next nite we hooked up with our good friends Alex and Maria for dinner and got caught up with them. We enjoyed being back in some form of civilization and went grocery shopping and had a few dinners out while waiting for Doug’s Mom, Kathie to fly in from Canada to sail north to St Martin with us and visit for 10 days. We also continued to keep a sharp eye on the weather in preparation for our 400 NM trip north east, which we estimated would take us 3-4 days with winds predominately out of the northeast, of course.
I spent an entire day cooking hearty one pot dinners and casseroles and freezing them so that we could pop dinner in the oven while underway, making our lives as easy as possible. Doug spent that same day going thru his engine checks and changing belts, oil, etc. so that the girls were in top form when it was time to go.
We determined we had a good weather window the day after Mom (Kathie) arrived which was perfect. It would give her a chance to recover from her long flight and we could also enjoy some very fresh octopus and cervesas, Venezuelan style, for lunch and a delicious dinner of beef medallions and wine aboard MS before leaving early next morning. We said a teary good bye to Alex and Maria who had handmade us beautiful wind chimes of sea shells as a going away present.
Our first day out was beautiful and sunny with head seas running about 7-8 feet and head winds anywhere between 10-15 knots. A bit bouncy but all in all not bad and MS had no trouble keeping us comfy while we enjoyed good sailing. We had the pleasure of having dolphins joins us for awhile which we consider a good omen. That nite we encountered one squall after another but managed to dodge most of them with the exception of one that came upon us very quickly while I was on watch and brought big gusty winds from all directions and lots of sleeting rain. I hollered for Doug to help me as the wind continued to build and the sails backed. Thank goodness for the double reef that we always put in right before daylight disappears. We did a little 360 pirouette to get the sails set right again and as soon as the squall showed up it left. I was drenched but after a hot cup of tea and a light breeze I dried out in no time. Whew! What fun!
Second day was another beauty of a day with gorgeous sunshine and nothing but water everywhere. We were 150 NM offshore directly west of St Lucia making good time. Had the pleasure again of visiting dolphins thru the day and saw three freighters in the nite. We had hoped the head seas and headwinds would have lightened a bit but we were pointing well and averaging 7 knots so we were happy.
Third day was another treat and we were still making very good time averaging 150-160 NM per day. We had planned on anchoring over nite at Nevis but just at dark the winds switched to the beam so we decided to take advantage of this good point of sail and keep her going, headed for St Barth’s. The head seas diminished considerably and it was perfect sailing on flat water with a fresh breeze. Woohoo!
Mom was amazed at this passage making experience never having done anything like this before. She was a real trooper as it can be a little overwhelming when you realize that there is no one to help you if something bad happens and you can’t get “off” if you want. A couple of times she asked thru the trip “Where are the other boats?” Not sure if it is something she is eager to do again anytime soon but she told us it was an adventure she will never forget and one she is glad she experienced. Now she can envision our travels clearly in her mind.
We arrived at Ile de Forchue, St Barth’s at 10 a.m. on another beautiful day. We were very happy to be there but a wee bit tired so we all enjoyed a lovely, silky swim, and a nap. Then of course we celebrated with Caesar’s all around (Bloody Marys with slight Canadian adjustment for you Americans!)! We lolled about the remainder of the day; BBQ’d a delicious and well deserved dinner and had a solid nite of sleep.
We had a leisurely downwind morning sail next day to St Martin and headed into the lagoon so we could be ready for the work that we were about to start the next day. Over the next week we had the mast stepped for some work, had our favourite mechanic, Pedro, trouble shoot some issues and give both of the girls a tune up and installed top of the line refrigeration that now means we can keep ICE CREAM in the freezer!! The week was a jumble of work, work, work. Provisioning, cleaning, fixing, breaking, installing, blah, blah, blah. We did manage to enjoy a fun Halloween nite at a few different costume parties (Mom was a ghost while we were lame-ass pirates) and a couple of fabulous dinners with Mom during this frustrating, crazy time before she had to fly back home and thank goodness for those few quiet times as the rest of the week couldn’t have been much fun for her. Big thanks to her for her patience and understanding. Hey!! You’re hired Mom! You’re good crew!!
I will sign off for now … next log is out trip back to the beloved Virgins Islands and the start of our visiting guests. Partee!!
Fair winds …..

Monday, October 20, 2008

MEDREGAL, CUMANA, TORTUGA & CARENERO, VENEZUELA



































Log # 15 – Medregal, Cumana, Tortuga & Caranero, Venezuela








July 31 to September 20, 2008








Hola amigos!
After all of the excitement at Porlamar we were more than happy to get to a quieter locale; one without gun shoot outs for starters. Both of our nerves were a little raw, mine more that Doug’s, I am sure. We staged at Coche to get ready for an early morning departure (4.30 am!) to Medregal Village which is at the easterly end of the Golfo de Cariaco and 50 NM from Coche. Medregal Village is a small resort/boatyard located in a very remote area. There is only one road to the resort and it is a dirt road with numerous ruts and floods and it is a full day bus ride to anywhere of consequence. A few cruisers we knew were planning on hauling out there to perform the annual ritual of cleaning the bottom of their boats and applying numerous coats of antifouling in the hopeless assumption that this antifouling will keep the barnacles off. We had originally planned on hauling MS there but we found out in Porlamar that the new catamaran lift that was to be ready for our arrival was still months away from being ready (manana, manana, we’re in Venezuela, whaddya expect!). So we had to find somewhere else to haul but until that time we thought Medregal would be a good place to hang out for awhile with some fellow cruisers we knew and do the potluck/drink thing a few times. We had heard that it is an easy going, small resort where boats could rents rooms with air conditioning while working on their boats and escape the whole living aboard while “on the hard”. Believe me, we can speak from experience, that is no fun. Medregal also had laundry facilities, clean showers, an “on your honour” bar system (kewl) AND it was complete with an in-ground pool (yay!), which would be perfect to tackle that incredible afternoon heat. Sounded like heaven to us.
Our trip there was pretty uneventful. There was not a breath of wind and so it was a motor the entire way. Because there wasn’t any wind the water was like glass and we could see hundreds of jellyfish near the surface. Once we rounded the point headed east into the Golfo we were joined by hundreds of dolphins (not kidding). There were so many dolphins we were surrounded by them for a mile or so and they jumped and frolicked at the bow of the cat for a long time. We took many pics and we were lucky enough to actually see them in the pics and not just the surface of the water as is usually the case. We arrived at Medregal in the mid afternoon and noticed that there were dead fish that looked like large sardines floating all over the anchorage. I made up my mind pretty quick that I would not be swimming in that mess. Thankfully there was a pool.
We did our grand tour of the resort and saw the laundry facilities which consisted of one sorry looking washing machine that worked only occasionally. Then we eagerly went to check out the pool. What a letdown. The pool hadn’t been cleaned for months and it was full of green sludge. Not swimming there either. Hopefully the showers were half decent….thank God, they were okay. The “on your honour” bar was okay too but it only stocked small bottles of cervesa or very cheap rum. Oh well. We would make the best of it. The lift was not working, and Meggie, who had hauled out a month ago, had been waiting for over two weeks to be put back in the water when we arrived. Mike and Kylie were a bit frustrated, to say the least and the level of frustration continued to grow for them and other boats waiting to get hauled. It was another four weeks before the lift was repaired for a total of 8 weeks inoperable. Cruisers learn real quick to be patient in Venezuela.
After a few days we also quickly learned that Medregal and the eastern end of the Golfo have their own unique weather system. Every day, without fail, the heat would build and build until it became unbearable and then huge thunderheads would accumulate until, finally, around 3 p.m., reverse winds out of the west (not the prevailing easterly wind) would put all of the boats on a lee shore. The wind speed was anywhere between 20-40 knots accompanied by large breaking waves traveling the length of the Golfo, some 20 miles. These squalls tended to last ½ hour to an hour and, although short, were vicious. Not fun but after awhile you saw the clouds starting to form and you got prepared. There were lots of flies and other bugs here as well. This place was not what we thought it was going to be but there wasn’t any crime and considered very safe so that was a big plus to us after what we had experienced in Margarita, for a time.
Every Saturday (supposedly) there was a “bus” that took any of the cruisers that wanted to go to the Cariaco market where we could buy provisions. We all stuffed ourselves into the back of some rickety truck that had been outfitted with hard benches in the bed and hung on tight for the bumpy, dusty hour long ride thru floods from the previous afternoons deluge and huge ruts left by large trucks trying to transit the dirt roads bringing necessary product to the remote villages. The market is very colourful with fresh produce, fresh fish complete with heads attached (we had no idea what kind of fish some of them were) and all sorts of hanging slabs of meat dripping blood on the concrete floor. Not exactly your gourmet neighborhood grocery store. The market is also noisy and confusing with the Venezuelan farmers yelling back and forth and loud traditional Venezuelan music blasting out of huge speakers. One elderly woman wearing an apron spattered in blood, holding a large meat cleaver and missing all of her teeth, sang a little Venezuelan ditty while standing beside a pen of live chickens (who seemed quite frantic), and holding a large meat cleaver. Kewl.
Of course, there isn’t any refrigeration at the market, so flies are having a field day all over the meat and fish and you have no idea how long it has been unrefrigerated for. Yum. With that in mind we bought a large amount of pork ribs for next to nothing (see pic, I look really confident in my purchases. LOL!). We did manage to find one store that had refrigeration and bought ground beef there. It’s difficult when you’re in a strange place and you don’t speak much of the language but it certainly was interesting. I got to practice my broken Spanish and between that and my ridiculous hand signals they seemed to understand what I was saying. Hey, how ‘bout that?
We hung out at Medregal for four weeks (your probably wondering why) as we were waiting for mail from Canada to reach us before we left. It took the full 4 weeks to arrive and once the mail showed up we hightailed it outta there. (To be fair the pool was cleaned the second week we were there and we did en joy it most afternoons.) We headed for Cumana for a short provisioning and diesel stop and then to Tortuga, one of the legendary out islands we had read and heard so much about.
We were in Cumana for two short days working as fast possible to get out of there as it is unsafe, and there were large rats and flying cockroaches at the marina where we MS was docked. Yuk. We made sure to keep MS locked up tight, which made it hot, but better that than the invasion of these nasty critters. We couldn’t wait to get out of the stifling heat of the Golfo and get out where the wind blows thru the cat and you can jump into clear turquoise water whenever you like. We had arranged to have MS hauled on the following Tuesday, in Carenero, which was further west down the coast of Vennie. That gave us 5 days to enjoy and hang at Isla Tortuga before the dirty, hot work would begin.
Again, we motored the entire 60 nautical miles to Tortuga, which laid to the north west of Cumana, as there was not a breath of wind. We arrived in the dark. This is a no no, but we were delayed getting diesel in Cumana that morning and couldn’t leave as early as we would have liked. Thankfully, Tortuga is a very straightforward approach. We couldn’t see anything of our surroundings when we arrived so we hit the hay and the next morning we were exhilarated to find ourselves in spectacular surroundings. An incredibly long white sand beach, azure waters, turtles poking their heads up to say hello and a very much-appreciated breeze. The first thing we did was jump in the water starkers. Woohoo! After the dark, murky waters of the Golfo and the stifling heat with no wind (except for the violent storms!) this was like heaven on earth.
For the next handful of days, we relished the beautiful scenery, snorkeled, kayaked, and generally just lolled about on noodles in the water or snoozed in the hammock. While we were snorkeling, we would poke our heads into all of nooks and crannies looking for lobster. Lobster are out of season in the summer months and so off limits but it still fun to spot their antenna sticking out of a hidey hole. We did notice the French boats were also snorkeling for lobster but they were taking them and enjoying lobster for lunch and dinner. That seems to be the French way from what we have seen in our travels as cruisers. The rules are in place for a reason to give the lobsters a chance to grow and become plentiful.
Sadly, it was time to leave this lovely place and sail southwest to Carenero to have MS hauled and commence the dirty hot job of antifouling the bottom. I won’t go into much detail about it except to say that we both worked very hard for 3 days to get back into the water as quickly as possible and we crashed every nite. The boatyard, Astillero de Higuerote was more than satisfactory, clean and professional and we were very happy with some gel coat work we had done (the price was excellent) and with the staff overall. If you ever find yourself in Vennie needing to haul your boat this place is worth checking out. As soon as we were finished we made tracks for Los Roques!
I will leave off here but stay tuned for log #i 16, Los Roques, out very shortly.
Ciao!

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