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Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor




Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 62
February 1 1996

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Last update 28 Jan 2100 utc

WWW SITES: GOOD NEWS

The call last month for reliable WWW sites proved very fruitful. In early January Rik Spink at Straight Line Medium in VA offered the services of their WWW Site. They are the folks who produce the CD-ROMs entitled Villas of the Caribbean and Resorts of the Caribbean.

In addition Gert van Dijken at Paradise, an organization in Texas which provides luxury accommodations in St. Martin Saba and Culebra, also offered a permanent site for the CTR.

The CTR now has two very reliable sites on the WWW.

CTR WORLD WIDE WEB SITE ACCESS

  1. http://www.best.com/~paradise/ctr/
  2. http://www.slmtravel.com/~slm

Anonymous FTP: Text files of the newsletter are available.
Please use the following settings:
host: ftp.slmtravel.com logon: anonymous
password: your e-mail address
remote host directory: /pub/customer/richmond/slm/CTR

Paul Graveline
Editor
CTR



1/JOURNEYS FOR FEBRUARY 1996

ARUBA BY SANDRA ROSENWALD

Had a fabulous time in Aruba. I'll try to share as much as I can. I hope I don't ramble, so I'll try to organize my thoughts.

TRANSPORTATION - We parked our car at Rite-Way Parking outside of JFK. First time we tried that. It was perfect. We arrived and within 10 minutes we were at AA terminal. Pickup was just as fast. We called as soon as we got our luggage and they were at the terminal in less than 10 minutes. Our car was waiting for us, with the heater on, as we returned. Whole thing was less than $60 for the 8 days.

Our flights were perfect also. Both on time with no glitches. When we got to Aruba, we were greeted by Prodigy friends Joyce and Ed Dye who are silent members of our gang.

We exchanged pictures and they surprised us by picking us up at the airport! We also found out that we worried needlessly about cabs during Xmas. No problem Xmas Eve or Xmas day. Plenty of cabs always.

TIMESHARES-The Divi Village was beautiful. The rooms are lovely, big, and kept fantastically. It was also VERY quiet there. You could get a lounge at the pool or beach, anytime, anyday. Couldn't ask for better. We took a trip to La Cabana to pick up our owners cards. New electric doors and new tile floors installed. Also now member rep desk in owners lounge. Place looked super, but beach was as crowded as Palm Beach...and that was wall to wall people.

DAYS-We definitely qualified for the Olympic pool/beach lounge team. We usually took the 15 steps from our patio to the pool and parked ourselves on lounges for the morning. Some days we walked about another 30 steps to the beach lounges. We went into town one morning, and after about 10 minutes decided that we rather return to our lounges. There were 4 cruise ships in, including the QE-2 and it was real crowded. We also weren't looking to buy anything. We took long walks on the beach. Couldn't get over how big the beach is by Manchebo. Lots of bare breasted shell seekers there! One morning we did go to the tour at Costa Linda. We couldn't pass up the deal...$50 CASH, $150 match bet at Hyatt, $25 food and assorted towels, t-shirts, coolers etc. I tried snorkeling this trip. We went on the Octopus. It was great. Can't wait to go again. Very nice boat and nice people. (Speaking of nice people, we went with Ed and Joyce who are also great scuba divers.)

RESTAURANTS- Ate Xmas Eve at Le Petit Cafe in Americana, Xmas evening at The Grill House, Papiementos, Chalet Suiss, Boonoonoonoos and Old Cunuco House. Benny says hello to all the "computer people". I told him I know Applesauce and he said I had to be one of the computer people. All dinners were great, except we were rushed at Chalet Suiss. I'm sure it was because of the holiday, but we were in at 7 and out before 8. That included drinks, soup, entree and dessert! Had lunch one day at Seagull and thought of Jean all the time. As we sat at the table, a beautiful yellow bird flew and landed on the sugar container. It used it's beak to open the metal lid and started to eat the sugar. It was so Aruba!

CASINOS-I made donations all over except at the Marriot where I won about $30. Bill didn't do well at the tables, but he tried the $1 slots and came home with about $200 more than he came with! The Marriot and Hyatt were SO crowded and full of young teenagers who were dressed up to look old. Someone we met Friday night, which I will tell you about in report 2, called the Marriot and Hyatt guests PLO's...pushy, loud and obnoxious! Kinda fit. (Xmas is a different crowd than usually.) We mostly played at the Radisson and Americana. The Alhambra was full of kids too.

FRIDAY NIGHT- We have friends from home who retired and winter in Aruba. They built a gorgeous house near the golf course. They invited us for dinner Friday night. We were awestruck by their house. They were VERY gracious hosts. After dinner we went to Friday night services at Temple Beth Israel. There are only 15 dues paying members, but there were over 250 people that night.

After services we went back to their home for coffee. About 8 of their Aruba friends joined us. I will tell you some funny stories they shared, about getting telephone service and about a robbery at the Americana...but at another time. This was truly a special night. Oh, to be rich enough to spend the winter in a fabulous house in Aruba...dream, dream, dream.

SATURDAY ADVENTURE- Saturday was the first day that the weather wasn't perfect. It was overcast during the afternoon. We had booked a sunset sail with RED SAIL for the evening. It cleared up about 3 so we thought we'd be fine. (REDSAIL was NOT good. I wouldn't recommend them.) We went with Joyce and Ed again. We got to the boat and they said they'd be a little late 'cause the food wasn't here yet. It finally arrived and we boarded. The boat was not clean. After we sailed they said they had no beer on board.

Some people moaned. We drank Rum punches and tried a blue iguana. The "food" turned out to be mystery meatballs and something else we can't quite figure out. After about 15 minutes a storm blew in. I can't begin to tell you how hard it rained. When we returned to the Americana we were soaked beyond belief. Joyce and I figured we go to the ladies room to dry off and "fix" ourselves. Problem was the Americana lost electricity and there was no lighting in the bathrooms. We did the best we could and figured who would see us anyway. WELL-We saw two families of children I taught! Mrs. Rosenwald didn't quite look the same!!!! We cabbed it to Old Canucu house and continued drinking the free wine with dinner and the margaritas that came with dinner. Mind you, we usually do not drink! We decided to walk back to the Americana, but on the way we stopped to see the fireworks show Ling & Sons was putting on. It was beautiful. We were on the road between the hotels and the restaurants. After about 20 minutes it started to storm again. We ran to the Steamboat where we stood under shelter until it let up. After that, we ran to the Americana to continue the night. Good thing we drank so much...we just laughed through it all.

THE END- It was another magical trip to Aruba. We decided that we want to buy 2 weeks in January so we can spend that time there in the winter...when we retire in three years.

Hate to leave you with this, but, as our cab was driving through town to get to the airport, we saw them hanging a sign by the new pink mall (that looks like Trumps Taj Mahal in A/C). I THINK it was a Nathans sign. UGH


ARUBA BY WILLIAM BUSH

My wife and I visited Aruba from 12/19-12/26. This was our first visit so although we are not experts by any means, those of you who are considering this island for a future vacation may be interested in our first impressions.

The Island

Aruba is an island off the coast of Venezuela. It is about 20 miles long and 6 miles wide. There is only about 18 inches of rain per year so the land consists largely of scrub grasses and cactus. This is not to say that the terrain is boring. We had a blast renting a jeep and exploring the remote north end of the island with it's wild goats, green parrots, natural bridges, sand dunes, etc. The biggest surprise we had was the weather. It was HOT! And with a fair amount of humidity and a sun that could rip the hide off a rhino. The mid day sun is to be avoided for all but the hardiest of beach dwellers. The beaches are beautiful, with white, fine sand and crystal clear water. Topless sunbathing is allowed, to the delight of several teenage boys I saw.

Aruba is a Dutch island. The people generally speak Dutch, Spanish, English and Papiamento - a hybrid language. There is full employment, little of the poverty to be found on other Caribbean islands, and crime is almost nonexistent. You will not encounter either beggars or overly aggressive vendors. There will be some people who will try to get you to visit their time share hotel, but they are generally polite, even though they are insistent. Arubans are genuinely friendly people who are proud that they live on "One Happy Island".

Hotels

We stayed at the Holiday Inn. We didn't pick it specifically, we stayed there as part of a package. This hotel has 600 rooms, two restaurants, a casino, a pool bar, a beach bar, and the biggest beach I saw on Palm Beach. The rooms are typical Holiday Inn -- no frills. It was acceptable even thought the air conditioner never quite cooled the room and we had no COLD water. We learned that no cold water can be dealt with easier that no hot water. It was a little strange to take a shower with the cold tap wide open and be nice and warm. Although this isn't going to be your idea of a luxury resort, take heart. It carries a much lower price tag than other Palm Beach hotels, has the best beach front, and is a short walk to the Hyatt Regency. There is a path on Palm Beach that makes access to the other hotels very easy.

The next hotel east is the Playa Linda. I believe that most or many of the 194 rooms here are time share units. It has a nice pool and a good restaurant on the verandah where we had a reasonably priced hamburger. The pool area is very nice and heavily populated by some large iguanas.

The next hotel down the walk is the 360 room Hyatt Regency. Million dollar landscaping highlights this property, complete with ponds, waterfalls, black swans, and colorful cockatoos and toucans. The casino features a loft high above the floor with a great band playing Latin rhythms. The drinks at the pool side bar are outstanding. Try the Black Jack Special. Several good restaurants offer all types of food. There is even a water slide at the pool which my wife and I both tried (I know we weren't staying there, but given the amount of food and drinks I bought there over the week's time, I didn't think they would mind).

The Americana is the next hotel down Palm Beach. It has 419 rooms and suites. Three Restaurants and four bars. The physical plant of the hotel is fine, but we heard unsubstantiated stories of rooms that were dirty and had a funny smell. All I can tell you is I didn't notice any problems except the casino was warm and smoky. They were probably having a problem with their air conditioning.

Restaurants

Generally speaking, the food in Aruba is very, very good and also very expensive. Plan on at least $60 for two for dinner. For the budget minded there are all manner of fast food restaurants. Or, not so fast. I took almost twenty minutes to get a diet coke from Wendy's. And what we finally got is anyone's guess, but we were thirsty and it was cold. Make sure you examine the bill closely. Most restaurants add 15% service charge. If you want to tip beyond this, fine, but be aware of what you are doing. I'm sure there are some might fine tips handed out by accident.

Dress is generally nice/casual for dinner. Just use good sense. The only restaurant requiring jackets is Chez Matilda and I'm told they dropped this dress code, too. Before ordering steak, ask if it is USDA grade. If not, it may be grass fed - nothing wrong with this but we Americans are used to a particular taste and grass fed beef can taste gamy to some people.

Mama Mia's was where we ate on our first evening. The food was good and the atmosphere was outstanding - outdoors and by the water in the downtown area. Despite the name, this is not an Italian restaurant but more Caribbean with many fish entrees.

The Buccaneer is and interesting seafood restaurant near the high rise hotels. Many of the tables have their own aquariums. The service is good and the food is above average. There were several reasonably priced wines. It is dark, some would say romantic.

La Trattoria El Faro Blanco is a great place to go for lunch. We had a sandwich there that was more than any one person could eat. Of course, I finished mine in a shameful exhibition of recreational eating. This restaurant is near the California Light House. Great view and a relaxed atmosphere.

On Christmas eve, we ate at The Driftwood. The service was EXCELLENT (have Orlando show you the trick of pushing a cork down into an empty wine bottle and then taking it out again), and the food was great, too. They have a charter fishing boat service and catch much of their own fish. I had wahoo with Creole sauce. Excellent but a little rich for me. Still, this was probably my favorite restaurant. The walls are paneled with driftwood.

Talk Of The Town was where we ate on Christmas. This is a very nice atmosphere with very good steaks. We had a coupon for a free bottle of French wine and it was quite good even at 14 bucks per bottle. While dining you can listen to the soft guitar and vocals of Alfonso "Ronald" Boekhoudt. Very enjoyable. There is considerable night life at the pool bar after dinner.

For the best seafood on the island, drive your rental car to Brisas Del Mar in Savaneta. About 25 minutes from the high rise hotels. Fabulous seafood dishes done Aruban style. I had something called the Neptune Delight. It was fish with crabmeat and cheese on top. Unbelievably good! This restaurant is not near the tourist areas so you will see mostly locals. Nice view by the water. Superb.

The Paddock is right next to Mama Mia's and serves Aruban food. I didn't eat there but I enjoyed a couple of Amstels on their porch by the water. Nice, informal atmosphere. The bartenders are Dutch gals, two of whom are identical twins.

Before went to Aruba, I read one trip report that recommended that breakfast be eaten at The Steamboat. "Same buffet as the Hyatt for half the price." I can only report that the bitter taste of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of a low price is gone. It was awful.

Casinos

Along with the usual slot machines, and video poker, Aruban casinos offer blackjack dealt from a six deck shoe, roulette, craps, baccarat, and Caribbean stud poker. The Holiday Inn has the only sports book. The nicest casino, in my opinion, is the Hyatt. They call is the Copacabana Casino. As I mentioned, great band! They have automatic shufflers for blackjack, which really keeps the game moving, and automatic dealers for Caribbean stud poker. One night, very late, I witnessed a woman winning the progression at the Holiday Inn with a royal flush. Her prize? $52,000.

The Crystal Casino downtown is also a lot of fun. Friendly, nice people. Couples wander over after dinner. We met a couple there that we ended up having dinner with later on in the week.

The Royal Cabana Casino bills itself as the biggest in the Caribbean. Well, maybe if you include the bar area, but I frankly thought it was about the same size as all the rest.

Summary

Overall, we had a good time. The island is friendly to Americans, so if you are ill at ease on some of the other islands, this may be for you. For me, I prefer a little more "island flavor" and a little more adventure. Personal tastes differ. But, that's why there are so many islands in the Caribbean, right?


ARUBA BY NATALIE RIFKIN

I just returned from Aruba. I had been there in 1968 last time, so it quite a shock.

My husband and I plus our 20 year old daughter left on Air Aruba on 1/4 at 8am in Business Class. Flight and service was great. Caught a De Palm bus outside the door to the La Cabana immediately.

Checked in to find suite not ready till 4PM. Checked back at 3PM and it was ready.

Had an oceanfront 1 BR suite which was good. Sofa for daughter was uncomfortable, but sleeping on closed up sofa was better. Kitchen was convenient and we brought along coffee, tea, bagels, etc. from home for breakfast.

Beach at La Cabana was great. Got chaises under shelter every day with no hassle. Staff was very helpful. tried to snorkel there, but tide was swift and water was very sandy.

Took the Jeep tour from the hotel one day. It was very interesting to see the geology of the island and stop at Natural bridge, cave and other places. Baby Beach was a total disappointment--water was 2-3 feet deep and very little fish were there.

Restaurants visited--Bonoonoo's---excellent

Seapoint Crab House---good

Italian place nextdoor to Seapoint CH--food good, service poor.

La Boullaibase(SP)----excellent

Mama and Papa's----excellent

La Brias----Excellent

I walked down to Amsterdam Hotel and checked out suites. Lovely place. I proceeded to Hyatt and decided that I was glad that the Regency floor was booked for our dates. Small beach , congested pool area. Walked back and stopped at the local market near Barracuda restaurant and stocked up on lunch stuff for one day which we had in the suite. Got some great hot sauce to bring home for our collection. Also found out where all the pelicans hang out-- on a wrecked pier off the beach. There must have been 40 of them rousting there.

Casinos---

2 nights--broke even on blackjack at Seapoint

2 nights--broke even at Sonesta slots and blackjack.

2 nights and 1 day--won $400 on slots at La Cabana Casino. Found slots at La Cabana best.

Hyatt---1 night---lost about $100 blackjack and slots.

Lucked out on our flight home on 1/11 (between snow storms) and arrived early on Air Aruba--Great flight and service!

All in all in loved Aruba. May stay at Amsterdam next time in a 2 BR/2B suite.


BARBADOS BY HARRY PARISER

(Ed. Note: The following is extracted from the Third Edition of The Adventure Guide To Barbados by Harry S. Pariser. Copyright 1995, Hunter Publishing. All rights reserved.)

Containing the entire parish of St. Andrew and comprising portions of St. Peter, St. Joseph, and St. John, the Scotland District was named after its UK lookalike. .

For more information on the rest of Barbados, you may purchase The Adventure Guide to Barbados ($15.95; IBSN 1-55650-707-0) which is available at your local bookstore. (Request them to order it from Hunter or from Ingram if it is not in stock). Copies of The Adventure Guide To Barbados may also be ordered directly from Harry S. Pariser (1327 9th Av., No. 1, San Francisco, CA 94122) at the above address for US$20 (check or money order); copies are shipped via priority mail. Please mark "BOOK ORDER" on the envelope.)

Planning to visit Barbados?

Containing the entire parish of St. Andrew and comprising portions of St. Peter, St. Joseph, and St. John, the Scotland District was named after its UK look alike. Take your time while exploring and savour this, the only area to offer much in the way of forest glades, streams, hills, ravines, and gorges.

The Scotland District was formed after the sea ate away at the island's coral cap, exposing the soft underbelly of sandstones and clays known locally as Joe's River Mud. During the rainy season, the streams transform into raging torrents carrying along with them everything in their wake. Landslides occur along with the collapse of bridges and losses of patches of vegetation. In 1901 nearly 100 homes and estate buildings were destroyed when 400 acres of land slid downwards towards the sea. Again, in 1938, 50 acres of hillside land shifted position, forcing abandonment of 100 houses in Rock Hall Village. The soil's instability can be traced to such activities as overgrazing, cultivation of steep slopes, and deforestation. These problems have a multiplying effect; each serves to intensify the effects of the other. Heavy flooding, in turn, adds to the problem when sand and silt clogs the streams; oil seepages and salt in the land also serve as barriers to cultivation.

Aloes and cotton are grown in the district which extends for 22 sq. miles and covers about 1/7th of the island's land area.

St. Lucy

Entering this semicircular parish, which caps the top of the island, rough and ragged scenery is presented at every turn. Its small and classic chattel houses--the best of which can be seen in the villages of Greenridge and Connell Town near Archer's Bay--are gradually being supplanted by bland stone bungalows. The parish's thin soil lowland with small hills and caves cliffs bear the brunt of the Atlantic storms.

One of the best ways to tour this parish--with its fine coastline speckled with dramatic viewpoints--is on foot. The lush countryside- -with its black and white cattle grazing contentedly and fine fields of green and growing cane--is simply a pleasure to experience.

ST. LUCY'S CHURCH:

Constructed after the 1831 hurricane, this church, with its sweet lime hedges and palladium windows, stands near Alleyndale greathouse. To get here from River Bay take the road heading towards the center of the parish.

ARCHER'S BAY:

This popular local spot is one of the island's most beautiful locations, one that is home to hordes of chirping birds and butterflies which flit and hover over wildflowers. Above the bay, there's a large grassy area--populated by cud chewing cows and lackadaisical lazy goats, and sheltered by giant casuarinas which blow in the light sea breeze. A path leads from the cliff down to the rock strewn bay where jade water clashes against the eroded bluffs. Two stout, gigantic stone columns guard the entrance to the beach on the R. The Archer's Bay bus terminates at a mini mart where you can get last minute provisions. A track from nearby Crab Bay through sugarcane fields leads to Duppies, a premier surfing spot. Cluff's millwall can be viewed off in the distance.

ANIMAL FLOWER CAVE:

Carpeted with "sea flowers" and adorned with rock formations, this set of sea caves--located at the island's northernmost center--is justly famed for its yellow sea anemones. These short, cylindrical marine animals feed with the tentacles attached to their tops; these contain nematocysts, stinging cells that paralyze prey. The tentacles move their captured prey to their mouth where they sink down their gullet. Fertilization occurs underwater. (It is not known whether they experience orgasm). Down in the cave, you can see a small number of small purple anemones; although their numbers vary with the conditions, they are diminished in number these days. The cave itself is quite an intriguing place: it has formations which resemble a turtle, hand, and a lizard, and the view through the cave and out to sea is splendid and worth the visit in and of itself.

Up above ground, the cafe has namecards galore, thousands of them covering the walls and ceilings, tacked up with glue and then varnished on. It also has a collection of hanging banners including "Yorkshire," Barbados Rum," and "Cornish Pastries." The Wards serve drinks and sandwiches. Although currently barren, the surrounding land once produced cane under the name of Animal Flower Plantation. These days a perpetual domino game goes on in the nearby shed selling corals from which a huckster also vends her goods. Out towards the sea, there are a colony of wooden signposts pointing the way to such destinations as Germany, the US, and Venezuela with the distance indicated in kilometers.

Out on the rocky bluffs, waves crash against the sharply convoluted coral cliffs--sending salty sprays flying into the air with poetic violence. Check out the seaward view from the parking lot.

NORTH POINT:

As you head S from the cave area, the abandoned ruin you pass is what remains of North Point Resort. Once a top resort during the 60s, it contains the remains of what was once the island's sole Olympic size swimming pool. If you walk down across the coral encrusted plain, littered with patches of cacti, to the sea and then across you can still reach the beach. What appears to be a coral block fortification surrounds the sand, continually pummeled by hyperactive waves. Proceeding back from there, the buildings have the look and feel of a bombed out war zone. Another interesting site right next door is a set of dried-up ponds which were formerly used as salt processing ponds until the 1940s. Sea water would be pumped into the ponds, and, after its evaporation, the salt would be collected. From the North Point walk to the W following a path which passes a series pointed promontories alternating with coves.

THE SPOUT:

Although it can be viewed from the North Point, this attraction is located at Ladder Bay near River Bay. Here, the sea spurts geyser like through the coral hammer-headed promontory in gusts as high as 100 ft.

RIVER BAY:

This bleak but scenic park is a famous and favorite spot for Barbadian picnics. Its name stems from a small stream flowing to the sea here. Cut into chalk and limestone, the bay features spectacular wind-blown coastal scenery. Wind rushes through casuarinas and the rambunctious Atlantic crashes into The Point, a jagged outcrop. Changing facilities and picnic tables are found here. From River Bay, a mile-and-a-half track leads to Little Bay and Waits Bay.

LITTLE BAY TO BOSCOBEL:

This is one of the most spectacular stretches of coast on the island if not in the Caribbean. To get here, either drive or take a Pie Corner bus to the end. At Little Bay, waves pummel into an outlying coral outcrop and spray comes flying into the air; the overflow comes trotting into a wide trough in which you can either lay back and let it roll on top of you or move towards the front to meet the surf head on. Climb up on top of the doughnut shaped arch for a magnificent view. Continuing onwards along the coast to the R, you pass a series of intentations along a bleak, windswept coral- encrusted plain until you come to another major bay. Then you reach a track sheltered by casuarina trees serving as a windbreak for the palm tree grove to the rear.

Soon you will come to a magnificent view of Pico Teneriffe across the way. Rising to the S side of Cove Bay (Gay's Cove), it appears higher than its few hundred feet. On misty days, it is said to resemble a sorrowful and anxious Madonna gazing seaward in search of her wandering fishermen. This location, Paul's Point, is touted widely as the island's most attractive location. Decide for yourself. Gay's Cove Beach below--which can be reached by a goat track--consists of rounded stones. Continue along the side, following the pink splotches of paint that mark the way until you reach Boscobel, a nondescript jumble of houses along the road. From above the village, it is possible to walk on to Morgan Lewis Beach. However, the path is convoluted and can be difficult to find without guidance. Descending to the village, the local rum shop is straight up the road at to top of the hill on the R. Note the collection of beer can caps which have been pounded into the tarmac by passing vehicles. If taking a bus, this is a good place to wait because minibuses generally turn around up here.

GOAT HOUSE BAY:

Located near the Rockfield corner 1800 feet E of St. Clement's Village, this beautiful scenic spot lies smack in the middle of an unspoiled stretch reaching from River Bay to the twin bays of Chandler and Laycock.


BVI BY LEN WEITZMAN

We started our 15 day trip with 4 nights on land at Drake's Anchorage, on Mosquito Island off Virgin Gorda. A quick word about Drake's. Very good food, nice (but not deluxe) rooms, and millions of mosquitos. The perfume of the day was "OFF", 24 hours a day. Despite spraying, we were covered with bites. This really put a damper on our stay there. Also very quiet. Anyway, onto the water. We chartered from Sun Yacht in Tortola. I would highly recommend them despite some aggravating problems on our boat which I cannot blame them for. Good, clean boats and an accommodating staff.

We picked up our boat Jan. 4. The holiday crowds were still around. It was a Thursday so I figured the Bight would be uncrowded. Wrong. I had to drop my hook in 65 feet of water. Same story the next night at Soper's Hole. Thereafter, the crowds disappeared and most anchorages were mostly empty. A new "Willie Thorton" opened at the Bight (after we were there but it was getting great reviews!) We did make it to Bomba's Shack for full moon party, an experience everyone should try. Hundreds of people, ages 12 to 70, gathered at a shack which looks like it should be condemned. Everyone was friendly, no attitude like at bars in the States. The inside is decorated with hundreds of pairs of ladies underwear which must have come off during previous celebrations. The night we were there no one was donating such clothes.(You want me to lie and make up a good story about now?) Next day sailed to Little Harbor, Jost Van Dyke. Only two boats in the harbor. Ate at Sydney's, and spent time the next morning talking to Mrs. Harris. She seems to be doing well, and was genuinely impressed when I explained to her how people use their computers and have been saying nice things about her late husband all around the world. I learned he was a in the military, then operated a liquor store in Harlem, NY for 14 years. They were held up at gun point in NY 11 times. She finally convinced him to go home to Jost, because she was concerned about his safety in New York. What a strange twist of fate.

Onto sailing. The winds were blowing from the south at 25+ so we had to leave Jost. Motored to Cane Garden 6-10 foot swells. Spent a night listening to Quito sing. What a talent. Next day sailed the coast, through Monkey Point, then up to the North Sound. Winds still out of south at 20+++ and had a great reach all the way to Biras Creek, where we dropped our anchor.

Spent the next four nights at various spots in the North Sound. This was my biggest surprise. The North Sound has now become a haven for cruise ships. Yes, cruise ships apparently that used to go to St. Martin now stop in the middle of the sound. All day their tenders shuffle people to awaiting taxis to go the Baths, or to the south side of Prickley Pear island, which has been converted into a disgusting stop. Lounge chairs line the beach with no space in between them, the place looks and smells like Wildwood New Jersey with hundreds of cruise people packed onto the beach. They rent jet skiis off the beach, and the clowns zip around the sailboats. To make it worse, when the cruise ship leaves, in the middle of the night, the anchored boats get rocked with a huge tidal surge.

We avoided the crowds like the plague, enjoying deserted beaches north of Saba Rock. Two good meals at Biras Creek. We skipped Bitter End and opted for burgers at Pirate's Pub. Pusser's at Leverick Bay was ok. Later sailed off to Maya cove, south side of Tortola. Spent two nights here. Tropic Island Yacht operates here, and just built a beautiful, small hotel with a huge pool and deck. For five dollars, you can use the facilities for the day. This was a nice change after two weeks of salt water. We had the place to ourselves. Best restaurant was Brandeywine Bay.


CAYMAN BRAC BY WALTER ASHLEY

(Ed Note: Last month Walter described his trip to Grand Cayman. This he covers Cayman Brac.)

We choose Island Air for trip from Grand Cayman to the Brac. They had a morning (8am), and afternoon (3:50pm) flight which for us was more convenient then Cayman Airlines that arrives at 10:30pm. Cayman may also have an early morning flight, but I'm not sure. Island Air flies 20 or so passenger Twin Otter turbo props, at least that is what we flew. It is a very pretty 80 min. flight that includes a quick stop at Little Cayman's grass strip, then fast up and down hop (6 or 7 miles to Brac.

We stayed at the Scotts "studio" . We were forewarned that the studio was small, and it is, but still very good value. The only other negative we found was it tended to heat up in the afternoon sun and the air conditioner couldn't keep up. Mrs. Scott met us at the airport, as did the lady from "4 D's Car Rental". Got the car, with instructions to stop buy the next day and finish up the paper work. After we followed Mrs. Scott to the studio and unloaded, we drove to Fosters to get a few grocery item's.

We ate some very good snapper at the Coral Isle Restaurant, just a short walk up the road from the Scott's.

The next day we dove Wilderness Wall and then Angle Reef with Brac Aquatics, it was great. After lunch we drove along the north side of the island, the bluff keeps gradually rising until at the far east end it cuts off the road and ends in a 140 ft cliff. We stooped at Billy's (grocery) on the way back and got a frozen shrimp stir-fry for dinner.

On Friday we drove up the center of the bluff to the lighthouse. Just 2 lights, no house. We walked the trail along the cliff around to the north until we could see the north coast. The trail is pretty rough but the views were fantastic. On the way back we tried in vain to find the trail from the parking area in the parrot reserve.

Later, we snorkeled in the lagoon in front of where we were staying, and found one small conch, but tossed him back because we only found the one. After we ate we went down on the little pier in front of the Scott's and checked out the night life in the water, with a flashlight. Saw a couple of small octopus, and other stuff that is just out at night.

Saturday we were supposed to dive again, but since we were the only two scheduled, and it wasn't really worth it for them to take the boat out, we decided to skip it. Instead drove the south side to the end, pausing to look at a few lots for sale etc. Went in Great Cave and found a few bats clinging to the ceiling, also went in Bat Cave on the way back and didn't find any bats.

On Sunday, our last day, Dervyn (Mr.Scott) had been out fishing with another renter and they caught 2 or 3 barracuda, which was good for the Scotts cat, but not for lunch. Instead of fresh fish the Scott's treated us the turtle from the Coral Isle. The Scott's were great hosts, and we felt more like house guests than renters. We hope to return to Cayman Brac soon, and maybe spend a few days on Little Cayman next time.


Go to Part 2