I've caught up on sleep now, after a quiet night on the mooring ball in the shelter of Maho Bay. The winds have picked up again in the anchorage and after a lengthy squall this morning I've changed my plans for day since the hiking paths that I want to take up the hill are going to be rather soggy for a while. I woke up early and ran the generator for an hour and half in order to charge up the batteries and supply power for a load of laundry and to fry up a large batch of bacon which will subsequently go into the fridge for later use. I've had my fill of coffee and wanted to use the paddle board to take the garbage ashore, but the winds are too strong right now to make that any fun. The forecast was for 20+ knots of wind today with some more rainfall but the peak is today, and then for the next 5 days the winds are going to settle and the sea state is going to get lower, meaning that I'll use that weather window in order to reach St. Martin.
I decided to hike up the trail after all, that little bit of water should have been soaked up quickly. I took the “Maria Hope Trail” up the hill and it was a nice hike of about 1 mile up the steep side of the mountain. I had a my backpack with water and camera along, but the rainforest canopy was unbroken except for one small clearing which afforded a partial view of the beach at Maho and a distant view of the Soper's Hole in the BVI. At the top of the hill was the beginning/end of another trail that went down the south side of the island to a beach, but I opted to return rather than continue onwards and I might complete the trail tomorrow. Back at the boat I took the paddle board out for a trip around the anchorage, using the opportunity to put a bag of garbage into the bin at the same time.
In the late afternoon the winds had settled quit a bit and I was enjoying a happy hour libation while watching a small Island Packet sailboat come into the mooring field with a family of 3 aboard. After seeing their fourth failed attempt at picking up a mooring I got into the dinghy to assist them and as I was motoring across I saw another sailor doing the same, but we only needed one. I held up the painter and together we managed to get the boat secured the first time - they admitted that they'd never done this before in windy conditions and were chartering the boat.
I made up some pasta tonight and used the rest of my pre-made Bolognese sauce. I decided to spice things up by adding some chopped onions and two small scotch peppers and they certainly packed a spicy punch for a filling and tasty meal.

Strangler vine The vine's effects can be seen where the tree's diameter has been constricted
(2016-03-31 14:11:20 NIKON D7100 [f/5.6, 1/60s] ISO 100)
Strangler vine
Maria Hope Trail path The shade of the rainforest canopy and the hard work by termites keeps the forest floor clear and easy to walk through.
(2016-03-31 13:43:54 NIKON D7100 [f/4.0, 1/25s] ISO 100)
Maria Hope Trail path
Maria Hope Trail path The well-marked and cleared Maria Hope trail is difficult only because it is steep and hard work in the subtropical heat
(2016-03-31 13:39:58 NIKON D7100 [f/3.5, 1/8s] ISO 100)
Maria Hope Trail path
Kapok Tree debarking I'm not sure what has happened here, but most of the Kapok trees I saw had their outer bark stripped off but were evidently still alive
(2016-03-31 13:34:45 NIKON D7100 [f/3.5, 1/60s] ISO 100)
Kapok Tree debarking
Kapok Tree debarking I'm not sure what has happened here, but most of the Kapok trees I saw had their outer bark stripped off but were evidently still alive
(2016-03-31 13:35:06 NIKON D7100 [f/4.8, 1/60s] ISO 100)
Kapok Tree debarking
Maria Hope Trail path Although marked as difficult in the chart, it is a good trail, but steep.
(2016-03-31 13:37:16 NIKON D7100 [f/3.5, 1/25s] ISO 100)
Maria Hope Trail path
Kapok Tree debarking I'm not sure what has happened here, but most of the Kapok trees I saw had their outer bark stripped off but were evidently still alive
(2016-03-31 13:39:22 NIKON D7100 [f/3.5, 1/60s] ISO 100)
Kapok Tree debarking
Maria Hope Trail path These two large boulders were an exception to the normal ground cover of small rocks mixed in with the dirt.
(2016-03-31 13:45:13 NIKON D7100 [f/6.3, 1/10s] ISO 100)
Maria Hope Trail path
Maria Hope Trail path Maho Beach in the distance can just be glimpsed between the leaves.
(2016-03-31 13:52:02 NIKON D7100 [f/6.3, 1/125s] ISO 100)
Maria Hope Trail path
Distant Soper's Hole This was the only break in the canopy on the trail and allowed a view of BVI's West End
(2016-03-31 13:02:04 NIKON D7100 [f/5.0, 1/800s] ISO 100)
Distant Soper's Hole
Maho Beach from above After climbing up the trail for a while there was a slight clearing which allowed a view down to Maho Beach; it turned out to be then only such break in forest canopy on the whole trail
(2016-03-31 13:01:35 NIKON D7100 [f/20.0, 1/20s] ISO 100)
Maho Beach from above
Termite nest Termite nests are found up off the ground in trees with covered pathways leading to the forest floor. These termites are nature's cleaning crew for the rainforest floor.
(2016-03-31 12:49:37 NIKON D7100 [f/5.6, 1/60s] ISO 100)
Termite nest
Maho Bay Beach panorama While this beach looks busy, one must remember that it is the height of tourist season and once the rush is over it empties out quickly and becomes truly idyllic.
(2016-03-31 14:18:58 NIKON D7100 [f/14.0, 1/40s] ISO 100)
Maho Bay Beach panorama
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