Sunday, December 06, 2009

Thanksgiving in St. Thomas with Marty

Marty at Secret Harbour

Marty's Limin' Cooler

When Craig and I went to St. Thomas and first met Marty over Thanksgiving in 2000, little did we know that it would become an annual tradition, and that we would still be going there nine years later. Steve has been joining us since 2002, and we always stay at Secret Harbour near Red Hook, right on the beach. When we arrived on the island, we bought some groceries for our kitchenette and then checked into our first-floor room which opens right onto the beach. Marty arrived with his "limin' cooler" - a cooler which he has tricked out with a car stereo, car battery, speakers, wires, and gadgets that make men marvel. He left it in our room for the duration of the trip so that we had a way to listen to blues on Steve's iPod. I have to admit, it was a great addition! For the second year in a row, we ate an absolutely delicious Thanksgiving dinner at the Toad and Tart. Yum!

Toad and Tart - Roast Turkey Dinner

Cap'n Marty's Island Hop

As our tradition goes, we spent "Black Friday" partaking in our favorite island activity - Cap'n Marty's Island Hop. Marty, his roommate Scott, Craig, Steve, and I rented a boat for the day and Cap'n Marty took us around St. Thomas and St. John, to the BVI (Tortola and Jost Van Dyke). After a morning of boating, anchoring, and swimming in the exquisite turquoise waters, we arrived at the Willy T at around noon. We immediately saw our old friend from past visits - Zeus the bartender. After several rounds of Painkillers, the typical Willy T hijinks ensued. Though we were disappointed that the shot ski was out for repairs. Zeus had dubbed Steve "Milky" years ago, when Steve wasn't keeping up with the rest of us and milked his drink for a while. But this year Steve had no problems keeping up, and Zeus coined a nickname for Scott: "Sleepy." Let's just say that next time, Scott will think twice before passing out with Marty around. After leaving the Willy T, we headed over to Jost Van Dyke, anchored the boat, and swam to the Soggy Dollar for a final round before returning the boat. Once again, Cap'n Marty's was the highlight of our trip.

Taking a swim

Painkillers at the Willy T-
Scott, Marty, Craig, and "Milky"

Steph and her old pal Zeus at the Willy T

Craig, Marty, and Steve at the Soggy Dollar

On Saturday, we spent the day enjoying Secret Harbour's beach. We floated up to our necks in the refreshing water, Craig and Steve drinking cans of Heineken, looking back at our hotel on the shore. In the evening, we went to the Agave Terrace, one of our favorite restaurants on the island, for an exquisite dinner. Craig and Steve had delicious grouper with crab souffle, while I had Caribbean vegetable curry with jasmine rice, and we enjoyed frozen bushwhackers to drink.

Bushwhackers at Agave Terrace

Turtle Encounter, Coral World

In our previous eight years of going to St. Thomas, we had never gone to Coral World Ocean Park, though we had seen its underwater observatory right next to our favorite beach, Coki Point, every year. Several months ago, we saw a program on the Travel Channel which featured  Coral World's Turtle Encounter. It gives people the opportunity to interact with green sea turtles, and looked quite interesting. Having seen tortoises and green sea turtles up close and personal in the Galapagos, we were very interested in them and looked forward to the opportunity to interact with them. We had made reservations over the phone for Sunday, and we were happy that Marty decided to go with us. We met Erica, the park's marine biologist and turtle researcher. She taught us a lot about the turtles, and then took us into a natural stone pool of ocean water with 12 year old green sea turtles Duncan (male) and Chelonia (female). We stood at the stone wall at one edge of the pool, and the turtles swam past us again and again. They clearly enjoyed being near us, and kept circling around the pool. They would swim very close to us and brush up against us. Erica would gently guide them so that they didn't bump into us. They were very curious and at times even tried to swim behind us, though our backs were against the stone wall. Our 20 minutes in the pool with these beautiful, graceful creatures went by all too quickly. It was a great experience and we highly recommend it!

Green Sea Turtles Duncan and Chelonia

Coral World

Coral World

After our turtle encounter, we explored more of Coral World. We watched stingrays and sharks swim together in a tank. Erica got into one of the large open-air tanks to feed them. The stingrays would do tricks, spinning around up against the glass to get their food. There were also tide pools where you could touch starfish, sea cucumbers (which we still maintain look like they belong in a litter box, and felt really slimy and gushy), hermit crabs, etc. Next we went into a building which contained 21 salt water aquariums. We saw adorable sea horses, corals, and many types of fish. We saw an aquarium full of newborn turtles. They were so tiny yet were swimming around. Erica then appeared and told us about a study she was doing on a beach Wednesday night. Turtles had hatched from a nest, and once they had stopped emerging from the nest, she dug up the nest to study how many eggs had not survived. She found a newly hatched turtle with a broken front left flipper. She took him home with her and now he is at Coral World. She brought him out to show us. He was "in dry dock" in a small Tupperware container on top of a wet face cloth. He was all wrapped up with one flipper immobilized along the back of his shell. Erica had named him Burrito. He was so cute! We chatted with her until the park was about to close, and then we headed back to Secret Harbour after a wonderful day.

Sunset at Secret Harbour

Sunset at Secret Harbour

That night, Craig, Steve, and I went to Latitude 18 for dinner. We sat near the ocean looking across the bay to Red Hook. They had a band playing and it was very nice. We ordered Painkillers and their special: an amazing ribeye will carmelized onion sauce, au gratin potatoes, and fresh veggies. It was unbelievable!

Dinner at Latitude 18

Secret Harbour

On Monday we spent the day relaxing at Secret Harbour. Around lunchtime, Steve walked over to the Blue Moon Restaurant (just steps away from our room) and returned with a round of frosty Painkillers and some delicious conch fritters, which we ate on our patio. Marty came by in the evening and we had a great meal at the Blue Moon. We had a tuna sushi sampler for an appetizer. Craig and Steve got pan-seared wahoo with lemon truffle oil and an awesome risotto, and I got Sid's Pasta pomadoro. The vegetable of the day was haricots verts, which Marty dubbed "Freedom beans". Then we went back to the room to settle in for some Patriots Monday Night Football only to find that the island's cable company severed their connection with ESPN yesterday!! Football FAIL! Luckily Marty and Scott saved the day by recording the game for us so that we could watch it at their place the next day. We dubbed it "delay of game".

Dinner at Blue Moon

The next day we went over to Marty's to watch the game. Despite the Pats losing, it was great to be able to spend a couple more hours with Marty before we had to leave. At around 1 o'clock, we headed to the airport to catch our flight to Charlotte, and then from there back home to Boston. Thanks once again, Marty, for a fabulous time. Did we mention we appreciate how much you do for us? Miss ya, Cap'n!