Sunday, August 12, 2007

Stocking Up for Hurricane Season

For exactly half the year, from June to December, Saharan wind storms and warming seas make the Caribbean vulnerable to hurricanes. In the two years that I've lived here on St. Croix, the most I've seen are tropical waves: choppy seas with darkened skies full of rain and thunder, lasting one or two days. Lucky for us, and unluckily for Florida and the Gulf states, these waves have grown into full hurricanes well west of us.

But for St Croix residents, these calm years hardly erase the memory of Hugo, the Katrina that devastated St. Croix 18 years ago. As newcomers to the island, we notice the still-frequent references to Hugo by long-time residents, and we pay attention. We are lucky to live in a new house that was built with hurricanes in mind, so we have a hurricane shelter, a water supply stored in cisterns, a generator, windows and doors designed to withstand flying objects, and concrete walls that transform this place into a fortress.

In case of a big bad storm, or the aftermath in which food may be scarce, I've learned to stock up my pantry. I buy enough canned foods and goods to sustain us for a few weeks if necessary. Come December, I start using up all the goods in the pantry, and in June the restocking resumes.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sailing the BVI

Last week we spent it sailing around the British Virgin Islands, one of the world's top sailing destinations and conveniently near St Croix. We flew to St. Thomas (here's a view of our St. Croix neighborhood from the plane) and chartered a 40-foot catamaran there. Then we sailed to St. John and worked our way up the island chains with stops in Jost Van Dyke, Tortola, Virgin Gorda and Anegada.

Days were spent sailing, swimming, snorkeling, napping, drinking and eating great food on board and at local restaurants, taking pleasure in the magnificent scenery and simply relaxing with our friends. Here are some of us enjoying happy hour on the boat.

For me, the best part of the trip was reveling in the full moon glow over the water, swimming with sea turtles and feeling Poseidon's expansive embrace. My favorite spot was Loblolly Beach in Anegada, pictured here. Anegada in general is a spectacular place. Very flat and very small (only about 200 residents), very shallow (hundreds of ship wrecks, making for great diving) and fabulous snorkeling. Not much to do but admire the surreal colors of the island.

The day of our return to St. Croix reminded me of what a wonderful place this is. We began the day on St. John with fabulous snorkeling in Great Lameshur Bay. We sailed back to St. Thomas and returned the boat. A 20 minute plane ride took us back to St. Croix. We went home, dropped off our bags and headed out to Coconuts on the Beach in Frederiksted to get our Kurt Schindler fix (our favorite musician, pictured here). Bob and I left the show midway and drove 10 minutes over to the Whim Museum grounds for a performance of Bluegrass music under the stars. When Bluegrass was over, we returned to see Kurt finish his last set.

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