Wednesday, December 10, 2008

BVI Day Five: Marina Cay to Cane Garden Bay, Tortola

(image above) View of our boat and anchorage at Marina Cay while we were wandering about the island in the morning, mailing our postcards.

(map above) Today's route, mostly on a 'Run' today with just the headsail, dealing with large 11 ft rolling swells.

Woke up to clear skies, but blustery conditions this morning. After listening to the weather reports, which called for rough seas and gusting winds from the east, to skip the 'Dogs' and head over instead to Guano Island on the north side of Tortola, where we had heard from a local that there was very good snorkeling, where you had to 'part the fish with your hands, they were so thick'. The passage to this island from our present location was a bit tricky. We had two options, either go north around Camano Island, which we thought might be a little hairy, or go west through a narrow passage, between Little Camano and Large Camano Island. The latter seemed to be more prudent considering the wind direction and the heavy seas predicted, but when we got there, the passage looked awful tight and shallow, but since this was the recommended passage by our charter company (a larger more inviting channel was on the other side of Little Camano, but we weren't insured for that channel). We kept a close watch on the depth sounder, and kept a safe distance from the rocks on either side, and it ended up being a safe and painless shortcut to Guano Island. However, once we reached the area north of Little Camano, the sea was running south unimpeded from the open Caribbean to the north, and we started experiencing the first of the 'ten to twelve foot waves' that were predicted for the area. Not quite as bad as six footers on Lake Michigan, as they are spaced out a bit more and take you longer to climb into and out of them, but awe inspiring nontheless for us 'lake sailors'.

(image above) Moored behind the rock at 'Monkey Point', and the swim we would make to get to shore, hoping for 'good snorkeling on the way, but were disappointed and physically wore out by time we got back to the boat.

We got to Guano Island, and the mooring at Monkey Point around 11, and the seas were still quite choppy and the wind still gusting, but we decided to brave it and tie up to a mooring ball and try snorkeling from the back of the sailboat, instead of using the dinghy (which has proven quite difficult and challenging to get back into). The swim to shore was a bit more than we expected, and we arrived at the beach quite winded and wore out and not looking forward to the swim back to the boat. Also, the water was very choppy and visibility below was minimal at best. No fishies today, although Terri claims to have seen a large school of tiny fish.

(image above) This picture does not do justice to how big these waves were today. The weather service on the vhf called them 10-11 ft waves, Biggest seas we've yet encountered, but overall, it wasn't nearly as frightening as we anticipated. To give you an idea of how large these swells were; we would occasionally pass another boat on today's sail, and the boat would often disappear into the troughs between the waves, leaving only the mast visible.

We sailed on a run, making several jibes on the way towards Cane Garden Bay on the north side of Tortola. The waves here were still of the ten to twelve feet variety, and made for a very interesting sail. We made pretty good time with only the headsail, passing Brewers Bay on the way (the beach we took a taxi to about a week ago) and arrived at our evening anchorage well before the usual time. A beautiful long beach, with several bars, restaurants and beach shops, and pounding surf. We got to enjoy the beach for about an hour, before a rain squall drove us back to the boat, and we spent the rest of the evening resting on deck, watching the sunset, and then, after dinner, took a moonlight stroll on the beach.

(image above) The sunset from Cane Garden Bay.

Tomorrow we hope to make it the rest of the way around Tortola to the west, and then stop at Peter Island for our last night.

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