- It has to taste good
- It has to be made with ingredients that are readily available on island.
- It cannot be too sweet. No one really wants all that sugar anyway.
- It cannot be heavy - it must be light. Painkillers are great, but they're heavy and after a few, I tend to get pretty full, and that's no fun.
- It cannot be weak or too strong. It needs to be "strong enough". Remember, drinking on a full day boat charter is a marathon, not a sprint.
Pretty simple requirements, actually, but it took quite a bit of "testing" to zero in on the recipe we use on the boat. We only use Cruzan rum. It's made on St Croix, is easy to get, and quite frankly, we think it's the best.
Side note: If you ever have the opportunity, visit the Cruzan Rum distillery on St Croix and take the guided tour. The tour guides are great!
Anyway, we think our rum punch recipe is perfect for a day on the water. Give it a try and see for yourself. And if you don't finish it all, you can take the rest with you and drink it the next day on the beach Cheers!
Yes, the BVI are open as of 10/1/2021, and that's great news, however there are some very specific requirements for entry that are posing challenges for US based day charter boats and their guests. Here are the highlights:
- All travelers into the territory on a day charter MUST BE FULLY VACCINATED
- All travelers must show a negative PCR or Antigen test that is no older than 5 days
- All travelers must pre-register for a rapid test to be taken at West End Customs upon arrival into the territory using their online portal
- Travelers must purchase travel insurance which covers COVID 19 medical costs, doctor visits, prescriptions, medical repatriation, and quarantine accommodation costs.
- All travelers must, upon arrival at the West End Customs, take a rapid test, and if negative, will be free to enjoy their day in the territory. This test costs $50/person and is in addition to the normal customs fees.
- Minors under the age of 17 need to present a negative PCR or Antigen test that is no older than 5 days and be accompanied by vaccinated parents or guardians.
These are just a few reasons why you should book a private boat charter on your next vacation. Give it a try - you won't be sorry!
Many people come to St John for the natural beauty and are amazed to find all different types of animals as well. One that stands out the most is the donkey. The donkey is a non-native species dating back to the "plantation days" when the sugar mills ran on donkey power. When the sugar mills stopped running, the donkeys were set free to roam the island.
If you are interested in learning more about them or helping to protect these lovable donkeys, reach out to the folks at Carolina Corral in Coral Bay where they run an animal rescue farm providing a home for domestic animals in need.
We've been coming down to the Virgin Islands for years now, and I always chuckle to myself when I see people at the airport or on the ferry struggling with these HUGE suitcases. (Picture a family of 4 or 2 couples with 4 big bags, 4 carry-on size bags and an assortment of "personal items''.) I realize it's probably just human nature to overpack when you are unsure of what you really need in a place you may not be familiar with...so that's why I decided to write this quick post about how to pack light for a weeklong trip to the Virgin Islands. I should point out that even after many trips, I am _still_ refining my packing list. Let's get into it.
- 4 pairs of underwear (remember we have laundry machines)
- 2 pairs of athletic socks for morning workouts or hikes (my sneakers and 1 pair of socks are on my feet and I only wear them for traveling or working out/hiking)
- 2 pairs of athletic shorts
- 4 bathing suits (I could get away with 2 but I like having a variety)
- 3 pairs of shorts (i.e. khakis) for going out to dinner
- 5 t-shirts for the beach/working out
- 5 t-shirts for going out to dinner (these are slightly "better" than my beach t-shirts)
- 1 collared shirt (my wife makes me bring it). Apart from the plane, I almost never wear it out to dinner. Really depends on where we are going.
- 1 long sleeve shirt for the beach
- 1 wide brimmed "lifeguard" hat (Yes, this fits inside my backpack. I usually stuff the hat with socks or underwear to fill it up then place it flat in the middle of the backpack and pack around it. Works great - no damage.)
- 2 pairs of sandals/flip flops. Once I arrive on island, I wear flip flops the majority of the time. The only time I wear sneakers is on travel days and on hikes or during workouts. Why 2 pairs? I recently started bringing 2 pairs because I didn't like putting wet flip flops on when going to dinner. So now, when I get back from the beach, I let my wet flip flops dry overnight and I wear the dry pair out to dinner.
- Toiletries (I buy my sunscreen after we arrive)
On November 5th, we flew down to St Thomas in anticipation of Island Girl's arrival between 11/6 and 11/8. Shortly after we arrived, the shipping company informed us that our freighter, Sea Steamer, was delayed due to bad weather in Turks and Caicos which was preventing them from unloading a large boat there. So, we waited around for a few days...mostly just sitting on the beach- St Thomas isn't a terrible place to kill some time. We were staying at Sapphire Beach Resort and made good use of the beach and their awesome resort style pool. On Monday, our freighter arrived and while we were originally scheduled to be unloaded at 3:30pm, Island Girl wasn't lowered to the water until after 11pm. We grabbed a slip at Crown Bay Marina and returned the next morning to move her to her new home at Oasis Cove Marina.
Over the next 2 weeks, we had a lot of work to do, things to get, and people to talk to. The boat was filthy and covered with metal shavings, dirt, and grease. We managed to get that all cleaned up and detailed the entire boat. We met with our insurance agent as well as the folks who helped us with our business license. Most importantly, we spent a lot of time with our captain, Kirk, running the boat and getting it ready for charters.
After 17 days, we returned home to MA and left Island Girl in Captain Kirk's capable hands. He's wrapping up a few maintenance items on the boat as he prepares for our first official charter next week!
Sea Trials Part 2
A couple of weeks ago, we flew down to Fort Myers, FL for 3-4 days of sea trials on Island Girl. Because the fuel in the tanks was over a year old, there was some water in the fuel and we got off to a rough start. (Water in boat fuel tanks is a "normal" thing.) Anyway, once we sorted all of that out, we spent the rest of our time running Island Girl and testing all of the new systems on the boat. She ran fantastic! The motors are quiet and really efficient. The new seats came out awesome. The 2000 watt stereo system sounds terrific. We have 4 different speaker zones that are individually controllable, so tons of flexibility. Guests will be able to connect to a private WiFi network so they can listen to their own playlist. We tested the new power steering, the anchor windlass, the freshwater rinse down system, and the retractable shade over the entire rear deck of the boat. We also did some testing of the built in coolers; our beers stayed really cold so, yes, they work just fine. Besides testing all of the new systems on the boat, we also had a goal of putting 20 hours on the new engines so we could get through the break-in period and have the first scheduled maintenance done before we shipped her to St Thomas. (20 hours is a long time, by the way.) We initially wanted to run down to Key West for lunch, but the marine forecast on the Gulf wasn't favorable for a long journey such as that. We ran in and around Fort Myers, Sanibel and Captiva Islands and even made a run up to Cabbage Key for lunch.
There were a few small issues that needed to be addressed, so when we left, we handed the list to the great folks at Twin Screws Marine Service and went to the airport for our trip home.
This past weekend, I flew down to Florida so we could move Island Girl from the Fort Myers area to Port Everglades in preparation for shipment to St Thomas later this week.
We decided to take the shorter, inland route which involved transiting the Okeechobee Waterway through the middle of the state and Lake Okeechobee and the Intracoastal Waterway on the east coast - approximately 210 miles. Our day started early; we were underway by 7:30am with a goal of being at the first lock by 8am. (There are 5 locks on the route and they are used to control the water height on the waterway and the flow of water from Lake Okeechobee.) It takes anywhere from 15-20 minutes to an hour to go through a lock. You communicate with the lock tender via VHF radio - he calls the shots. When it's time to enter, the light turns green, the gates open and you enter the "chamber". After putting fenders out, you pull the boat alongside the concrete wall and grab hold of the lines that are dangling over the side. Once all of the boats are in the chamber, the gates close again and the lock tender either raises or lowers the water in the chamber to match the height of the water on the other side of the gate. Once the water is at the right height, the gates on the other side open, and you're on your way again.
The trip through the middle of the state was beautiful and the flat, calm water gave us an opportunity to let Island Girl stretch her legs! We made great time.
After 3 locks, we entered Lake Okeechobee. Because the water level in the lake was high and because Island Girl doesn't draw much water, we cut straight across the lake (instead of the longer route the bigger boats take) and shaved 30 miles and at least 45 minutes off our journey. We then made our way through 2 more locks and entered the St. Lucie river and eventually the ICW on the east coast for the 80 mile journey to Port Everglades. The ICW was calmer than the Atlantic so it made for a smoother ride, but it wasn't without its challenges. There were numerous no wake and "Manatee" zones which forced us to go slow and often for extended distances. There was a LOT of boat traffic as compared to the occasional fisherman we saw making our way through the Okeechobee Waterway. There were a handful of low bridges requiring us to request and often wait for a bridge opening. Then there were the rain squalls and thunderstorms which added to the fun. We finished the last few hours of our journey in the dark with our running lights on. We pulled in to a marina close to Port Everglades where we had a slip reserved a little after 9pm. We buttoned up the boat, gave the keys to the security guard and headed to the airport where we picked up our rental car for the long ride back to Fort Myers. Our day ended at around 12:45am.
Island Girl will be loaded on a freighter later this week with an expected arrival in St Thomas somewhere around November 6-8. Fingers crossed for a safe and uneventful journey.