Below is the travel log from one of our returning guests that vacations on FREEDOM every two years. This is un-edited and in their own words.
THE LOG OF THE ICC WILD BUNCH’S SAIL ONBOARD FREEDOM IN THE BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS, PART DEUX – REVENGE OF THE ZODIAC
Friday, May 22, 2015 St. Thomas
The first day is in the books and if the rest of the trip is as good, the group is in for a funtastic 7 days. The group, Andy, Pete, Keith, Steve, and Rick all flew down on the same plane without any of the drama of the last trip of cancelled flights, NASCAR in Charlotte, et.al. which is not to discount the two large parents from Tortola with a 6 week old baby that Rick sat next to on the 3 hour flight to St. Thomas. It was great to see our old friends from the Freedom… Capt Fredrick, Barbie, Len, and Lili. Lili is going to be a welcome addition and fits right in. She is taking a break from culinary school in Germany and helping Barbie cook and clean up after 5 guys on vacation.
After a few cocktails on Freedom everyone less Len went ashore for Happy Hour. First stop was Greengo’s a little hole in the wall Mexican bar (the best kind) along the waterfront, down an alleyway in a small building hundreds of years old, with walls two feet thick built from cobblestones brought from Europe that were used as ballast in the bottoms of ships venturing to the Caribbean Islands. Excellent margaritas and nachos and a very good guitarist who played great tunes from our era. After a few hours we headed back to the boat but not without a stop at Big Kahuna’s Rum Shack, you know whose idea that wasJ, which was conveniently located right across the street from where Freedom was tied up. Since the night was still young we headed out to Fat Turtle a local watering hole that Pete and Andy visited on our last trip. It was hosting a wedding reception that was very inclusive of whoever happened to be there. Chivalry takes many forms…opening a door for a lady or in this case drinking the extra Fireball shots a bartender is trying to give to one of our crew. Pete stepped up and did the chivalrous thing tonight but it was not without a price. Finally, we headed back to Freedom where most of us called it a night even Pete though he thought sleeping on deck would be a good idea but got tangled up in the details. However, a couple brave souls decided to do some exploring in the neighborhood around where Freedom was tied up. They found some interesting places….writing technique 101, keep the reader wanting more.
Saturday, May 23, 2015 St. Thomas
After a great breakfast of cinnamon apple cheddar quiche’ we were underway from St. Thomas for the west end of Tortola to check in through British Customs and Immigration and get started on our second sojourn exploring the many things the BVI has to offer. It was a bouncy trip that took a little longer than expected and helped Mr. Fireball come back to life but not yet ready for food. We had a light lunch of strawberry spinach salad with a side of white albacore tuna before heading to Norman Island to kick things off. We arrived in time for happy hour at Willie T’s floating bar & restaurant. Torn between snorkeling the Caves which are truly beautiful and happy hour at Willie T’s in the end it was no choice….Willie T’s. After all we are on vacation. After a few drinks we all dove off the second deck as a matter of tradition and local custom and headed back to Freedom for a dinner of Lionfish, fruit kabob and a vegetable risotto that was to die for all packed down nicely by Key Lime pie. It was the end of the day for most of us but those who were not in a food coma headed back to Willie T’s for some entertainment that turned out to be a mooring ball lashed to the overhead, the ceiling for you non nautical types, that served as a disco ball that you could swing from…interesting. No harm and no fouls from what we heard. All were safely back onboard well before we were underway for the Virgin Gorda.
Sunday, May 24, 2015 Norman Island and the North Sound of Virgin Gorda
We decided to get an early start at 7:00 AM to do some scuba diving at the Indians, an outcropping of rocks next to Norman Island that proved to be a good first dive for those who were going to be scuba diving this trip (Andy, Keith, and Steve). Before setting sail Capt Fredrick cooked up a breakfast of eggs benedict, salmon, tomato, steamed spinach and béarnaise sauce on an English muffin that was as good as any you’ll get in the best restaurant you can name. We spent the rest of the day sailing under power and sail to Liverick Bay Resort on the North Side of the Virgin Gorda to attend a large party at the end of a Poker Run. As explained to us a Poker Run is a bunch of powerboats that race through the BVI stopping at various bars where they pick up one playing card from an oversized deck of regular cards and the first one back to Liverick Bay with the best poker hand wins. Some of these power boats were truly impressive in looks and speed. We had a lunch of chicken tarragon in a pita pocket with pineapple and walnuts while we watched the powerboats race by. After lunch we just chilled on the boat having decided to wait until after dinner to go ashore and join the party. Dinner was some delicious barbeque ribs on the grill and southern/Alabama style potato salad in celebration of Memorial Day Weekend. After dinner the group headed ashore to join the party. Turns out the powerboats we saw leaving while we were eating dinner was a sign that the party was breaking up – so after a short time everyone returned to Freedom with the consensus being that we hadn’t missed much.
Monday, May 25, 2015 North Sound Virgin Gorda and Anegada
We awoke to a picture perfect day with great winds for our sail to Anegada. But before heading there we made a quick stop to snorkel for lunch on the north side of Prickly Pear Island where the bottom is covered with Conch. After we had secured three good ones from the batch that we caught it was time for another of Capt Fredrick’s specialties. To fortify us for our sail Capt Fredrick put on his cooking hat and made some fabulous French toast that had a little custard filling and was topped with banana slices and almond slivers that you topped with some homemade Black Strap rum syrup. The sail to Anegada was perfect with the winds giving us a broad reach that did not require us to tack even once. While our involvement in driving Freedom was non-existent on this trip we helped in other little ways like rubbing sun screen on the crew members who needed itJ. We anchored on the west end at Pomato Point with a view of one of the prettiest beaches in the BVI. Lunch was ceviche made from the conch we caught that had been marinated in citrus juices combined with white fish, bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes. You can’t get a fresher meal. Our second dive of the trip was on a barge wreck that was only a few hundred yards from where we were anchored. After the dive everyone needed a drink and that it coincided with Happy Hour was pure coincidence. Capt Fredrick introduced us a to a dice game from Thailand called “Shut The Box”. It had various different rules and variations and with a few drinks helping our imaginations we had some fun with it…. Since Anegada is the source for Spiny Lobsters throughout the BVI we decided to eat ashore at the Pomato Point Museum (a small room with some broken glass and crockery) and Restaurant directly across from our anchorage. After the Zodiac, which sounds much more masculine than Dingy, deposited us ashore, Rick just a little shy of shore,…leave the reader wanting more…, we had a lobster meal that did not disappoint. We each had a whole lobster that was about 3 pounds which was perfectly cooked over a 50 gallon barrel filled with wood. The cook was a 78 year old native of Anegada who was truly amazing. No one went back to the Freedom hungry. After a night cap and some star gazing which is truly amazing because of a spectacularly clear sky with no light pollution. Something we never see in the Washington DC metro area. Great Day!!!
Tuesday, May 26, 2015 Anegada
Just another day in paradise started with another of Capt Fredrick’s breakfast specialties…breakfast burritos made to order. Very, very good way to start the day. We decided to explore Anegada by renting a pick-up truck and doing a shore dive and some snorkeling. We pretty much circumnavigated the entire island stopping at Loblolly Bay and Flash of Beauty reef. It had some very interesting coral formations and varieties and as always beautiful and colorful fish. Lunch came next at Flash of Beauty Restaurant and Bar a nice spot on the beach. We then travelled down the beach a bit to the Big Bamboo, a bigger beach bar, where we left a piece of wood with “ICC Wild Bunch on Freedom 2015″ burned into it with a magnifying glass that is nailed in a prominent place in the tiki bar’s roof to mark the occasion. We ended up at Potter’s by the Sea Marina and Restaurant where Len picked up Steve and Rick and some of the diving equipment and returned to Freedom. Andy, Keith, and Pete returned the car and Len picked them up at Pomato Point restaurant where we ate the night before. Happy hour continued onboard and segued nicely into our Mexican themed dinner with some Latin music and dancing. Dinner consisted of burritos, Spanish rice, and refried beans plus a “few” margaritas. Finished the night again star gazing the amazing sky. We all could get used to this.
Wednesday, May 27, 2015 Anegada and Marina Cay
We have really lucked out with the weather. The seas are very calm which is going to facilitate our open ocean dive on the Chikuzen a Korean-registered refrigerated ship that caught fire and eventually sank in about 75′ of water. In a race to the mooring ball that marks where she went down we beat another powerboat dive boat. They were not happy but Capt Fredrick allowed them to tie off our stern which diffused any tensions. Some among us proposed a hostile boarding of the interlopers boat, but clearer heads deemed taking their wenches as anti-social. A smart call I’m sure. Because we were underway early and were diving we had a light breakfast of yogurt and granola. After the dive which everyone liked especially being able to penetrate the hull, we headed to Marina Cay where we would remain overnight. It was a very picturesque setting with many of the colorful buildings and homes that you see so often in the Caribbean. Lunch was meatball subs with some mushrooms, peppers, and provolone cheese on a whole wheat sub role. Delicious! We decided to chillax, a Freedom term, the rest of the afternoon sitting on the main deck forward and just enjoying the view. Dinner was a treat with grilled whole triggerfish served by Lili in a traditional French Sailor’s outfit which was really cool. She then expertly filleted each fish and served it to each of us along with sides of white rice and black beans with papaya. I’ll bet this is the best any of us will eat for 7 continuous days. After dinner we decided to go ashore to Pusser’s Restaurant where the world famous Pusser’s rum got started. We each had a “Painkiller” which has Pusser’s rum as the main ingredient. We were the last customers and headed backed to Freedom but not before Rick provided some entertainment by falling, gracefully by most accounts, trying to get into the dingy, I mean Zodiac. Pete was hoping that Rick’s time underwater wouldn’t need mouth to mouth resuscitation because nobody was volunteering. Fortunately the water was only 4 feet deep but Rick is convinced that Mr. Fireball would have come through. Rick then “gracefully” boarded the Zodiac from the water none the worse for wear. Hard as it may be to believe excessive alcohol consumption was not a contributing factor! Day 5 in the books…
Thursday, May 28, 2015 Marina Cay and Cane Garden Bay
Today was a full day by any standard. We got an early start snorkeling a 1-mile shallow-water drift snorkel, along the channel at Marina Cay. The heavy, constant water flow creates the perfect environment for abundant marine life and huge coral growth, not normally seen except in deeper water SCUBA diving explorations. After an hour drift snorkeling, it was just a short ride to Monkey Point to do some more snorkeling after a breakfast of waffles, eggs to order and a delicious fruit salad. Then it was off to the dive site for today…the Playground, a vast area of rocks and boulders just off the north side of Green Cay that is considered an open water dive because it is exposed to the Atlantic Ocean. The divers all liked it. It was the first time Len and Capt Fredrick dove it and they were impressed. Right next to Green Cay is Corona Island where they filmed the commercial of a guy and gal alone on a small island enjoying their Coronas. We Zodiac’d ashore and took a couple of six packs of Corona. They tasted better than at any bar I’ve ever had them. Also, at Capt Frederick’s suggestion some of us filled an empty Corona bottle with sand from the beach. Great idea!! Something for our man caves. When we returned to Freedom Capt Fredrick had grilled up some chicken fillets with his own special blend of spices that tasted amazing on top of a Caesar salad….all while anchored off Corona Island. Next stop was Cane Garden Bay where would anchor and remain overnight. This was a happen’n place in no small part due to about 20 charters all flying the flag of MIT…yes that MIT with each boat having 8-10 students. The ICC Wild Bunch went ashore for a reconnaissance mission that happened to coincide with happy hour…well planned. Andy was particularly happy when he talked to a few students and decided to write off the trip as visiting a Job Fair. We didn’t make it past Myett’s bar and restaurant which had music and the best Happy Hour prices we had come across. After a few drinks we headed back to Freedom for dinner. What a feast awaited us…Shrimp Athena, a three-cheese tortellini, tomato and Broccoli salad loaded with Mediterranean Jumbo shrimp served with fresh Rosemary Olive loaf. For our dessert we had our choice of 3 types of cheesecake. No one left the table hungry. For the more adventurous the night was still young as the kayak was deployed and beach bars were under full assault again. And when the bar hopping ended they switched to boat hopping and playing different drinking games on each boat. Those college kids can be creative especially those from MIT. Finally safely back on Freedom, a busy day was complete.
Friday, May 29, 2015 Cane Garden Bay and the Soggy Dollar
The early morning starts have become a nice pattern that really allows us to do a lot of things. First up today was our fifth and final dive at Brewer’s Bay East. Keith, Steve, Len, and Capt Fredrick enjoyed it even if it ended up being a long swim. After diving we had a fantastic egg soufflé with mushrooms, sausage, and peppers. Breakfast’s variety and superb taste never ceases to amaze us. Then we were off to probably the most famous bar and restaurant in the BVI, the Soggy Dollar but in a perfect example of the Freedom’s mantra as the charter that never says no, we asked them to make a slight detour to Sandy Cay to do the Wine Walk. It is a small island that was donated by the late Lawrence Rockefeller around 1980 and has a nice nature trail that you can walk around in about 45 minutes. It’s called the Wine Walk because by custom you are supposed to take a bottle of wine with you and finish drinking it by the end of the walk. Some of us kept in the spirit by taking a refreshing “Hurricane” in our water bottles. We were then off to the Soggy Dollar to chill out on the beach and have one of their famous Painkillers. After the crew skillfully anchored us among all the charters that filled up White’s Beach everyone, except Len, went ashore with our own portable bar and had a lunch of Soggy Dollar’s Fish and Chips courtesy of our wonderful crew. After hanging out for most of the afternoon everyone except Keith and Rick returned to Freedom. They took a taxi and went to visit Vinnie, the owner of Corsairs and a friend of ICC member, Frank Nadal. It’s a beach bar and restaurant at Great Harbour which is next to White Beach. They had a couple of drinks J some ceviche and ahi tuna and then returned to Freedom for dinner which was grilled Caribbean white fish with plantains and rum cake for dessert. We all reposed to the salon to watch the videos of the dives we’d done on the big screen TV. This information is second hand as Rick fell asleep early into the viewing and is taking everyone’s word for it.
Saturday, May 30, 2015 Soggy Dollar and St. Thomas
I’d like to add to the list of sure things, i.e., death and taxes…good times must eventually come to an end. Today is that day for us. We set sail early for St. Thomas while Barbie put out an array of breakfast foods one last time…left over egg soufflé, fresh fruit salad, cereals, bagels, homemade muffins…you get the picture. We all relaxed and enjoyed the sail back to the real world. Capt Fredrick pulled out some rare coins and other paraphernalia such as a 1618 Spanish coin, cuff links, and a gold button off a uniform worn around 1898. Some truly interesting stuff. Most of which he found with an underwater metal detector while snorkeling in the Caves of Norman Island. As we motored to moor at the seawall Pete showed us all that he has no rhythm as he danced one last time with the ladies of the crew to “FireBall”, our unofficial theme song for the cruise. We finally arrived in St. Thomas and tied up in the same spot from which we left seven days ago. Went to clear customs and then returned to Freedom to pick up our gear. We said our goodbyes and left knowing that “our” boat Freedom has a great crew to take care of her until we return for our next trip.
It was off to the Marriott to ease back into the real world. We had limited success to start out as our level of sobriety was only marginally better that what it had been on Freedom. We grabbed a taxi to a local watering hole for dinner but it did not come close to the great food and drink that we had become accustomed to but it did allow us to finally ease into reality albeit slowly.