St Thomas for New Years

We had a nice small weather window leaving Culebra, and got to sail a lot of the way to St. Thomas. Not the prettiest weather, but it was nice to have the wind behind us for a change.

It was a good thing we did, too, because on the way out of the harbor, we smelled smoke. Forensics after the fact suggest this most likely story: the positive connection to the alternator loosened, due either directly to vibration or because the isolation washer had started to vibrate apart. The loose connection point became resistive and started to heat up. Then the heat finished off the washer, leaving the connection nice and loose, and able to sporadically vibrate into contact with the case, causing arcing.

Altogether, not great. So we rescued the old isolation washer from the old alternator, clamped it down nice and tight, and made a note to order a spare when we have a mailing address. And to replace the wire ASAP.

With that patched up, we anchored by the airport in Brewers’ Bay, next to the University of the Virgin Islands.

We took the dinghy into shore, and walked over the hill to the Safari stop at the end of the line. Safaris are the public bus system, such as it is, and will take you as far as you like along their figure-9 route for a flat $2.

So we rode as far as the nearby marine hardware store, and took another ride to the old downtown to be tourists. There’s some nice scenic old areas, and the harbor view is lovely. The main-est part of downtown seems to be mostly about the duty-free shopping, and as a young couple walking around, we were frequently asked to come in and look at the nice diamond rings. So we mostly avoided that area, and after we saw the sites, we walked through some more colorful neighborhoods to find dinner in the French part of town.

The next day, we replaced the rogue wire, and made some other electrical upgrades. Captain tried to help, hopping into the engine compartment and earning himself a good wipe-down.

We had a nice walk along the beach, and then picked up our anchor and headed to the main harbor, for better access to a new years eve party we’d found. There were a lot of cruise boats.

We were treated to a surprisingly nice sunset as we got ready – we’d thought that the mountains would block our view, but it turned out not to matter.

And we had a good time at the party, which was up a hill (via gondola), again with another surprisingly nice view, this time of the lit-up harbor with the cruise boats pulling out one by one.

We mostly forgot to take pictures, which is why there are only a couple of them. I’m not sure why the random kids we passed on our way home wanted to be in our selfie, but that’s about where we were.

So we woke up, slightly bleary, and headed to Christmas Cove to visit the pizza boat.


  1. If you find yourselves in Virgin Gorda, BVI look for the Bitter End Yacht Club. It was demolished in the hurricane but they are rebuilding. Richard & Wendy are the owners and Lauren, their daughter, manages it now. If you see them, tell them Brion (their cousin) & Kat say Hi!! They are lovely people and are really trying to help the entire community while rebuilding their family business. (Oh!… Larry Page has a neighboring island to BEYC and so does Charles Branson)

    1. We actually pulled into Gorda Sound a couple of hours ago! We’ve been under the impression that BEYC and the couple of things surrounding it are still closed and down for the count. If the wind behaves, maybe we’ll swing by there in the dinghy and see if anyone’s around.

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