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Greetings Shipmates:

Once again Bobbie Rae and I have had the pleasure of hosting a wonderful couple aboard Bel Ami.  Gary and Betsy actually booked their trip originally in September of 2012 for a voyage May of 2013.  Alas, life got in the way of their plans-that does seem to happen from time to time, go figure!  But finally, things worked out and they came aboard to start 2014 in a grand way.  After a couple days relaxing at Secret Harbor Resort (one of St. Thomas's best known little secrets), they came aboard Bel Ami to begin their 38th Anniversary journey.  This trip really was a 38th Anniversary gift of Betsy's to Gary...while I wouldn't say she was "dragged aboard," cruising the islands on a little sailboat (albeit 53 feet of luxury) was not on her bucket list.  But for Gary, she was willing to do anything! (almost!).  So she consented to this trip, which she knew was so important to her 1st mate (or her captain, however you want to look at it).  And Gary was like a little kid having found a new toy he's always wanted to play with.  Gleefully he took to Bel Ami like a duck takes to water.  Our first few days of sailing around were characterized by relaxing and more relaxing.  Then we got to Peter Island Resort, where Gary arranged a fantastic on-the-beach 38th Anniversary dinner for he and Betsy.  Talk about ROMANCE!  Complete with large lighted chromatic cubes placed on either side of their tiki torch dinner table, under the bright moonlight, the setting was most memorable.  We had taken a slip at the Peter Island Marina to facilitate this wonderful dinner, and for the first time set up the Bel Ami gangplank off the transom (rear of the boat for you landlubbers).  Well, unbeknownst to us, in the wee hours of the night, a stowaway snuck aboard.  Signs of the stowaway showed up in the least expected places, like when a piece of foil containing 85% dark chocolate got mysteriously wedged under the galley sink.  Hmmmm I says, now how the heck did that get there.  I had my suspicions, and before long found some other signs of our little stowaway (like chewed up paper toweling).  Out with the bait and traps, and before long our little stowaway got stuck in one of the glue traps set up by the paper toweling.  Despite its pleas for mercy, it was in the drink for the little bugger!  Excitement aboard Bel Ami!  Gary and Betsy were totally good natured about this episode, having had to deal with a similar event shortly before their vacation.  Other highlights of their trip included confirming the name of our dinghy (Bobbie's idea): Bel Adinghy; Gary fixing a multitude of things aboard, including ice maker, gas detector...; breakage of the headsail halyard on on first day out (with Gary and Bobbie putting me up the mast to make repairs); and sadly the loss of the Packers to San Francisco.  So it goes.  After a week of sailing/cruising, Gary and Betsy disembarked to enjoy another couple days at Secret Harbor, then it was back to the cold weather for them.  Great times, great new friends!