Sunday, December 7, 2008

BVI Day Two: Norman to Cooper Island

(photo above): The view of the Norman Island Anchorange at 'The Bight' on the way down from our 'trail hike' in the morning.

As usual, Tim awoke with the dawn, and took a quick shower in the head, and sat out on deck to read his cheesy paperback (Dennis Lehane, "Shutter Island", actually pretty good book). Terri woke pretty early too, and so did the mooring ball collection people, who were alongside with their dinghy around 7:45.

(photo above) A view of the southern side of Norman Island on our 'trail hike' in the morning.

After breakfast of instant oatmeal and jelly toast cooked over the gas burner, we took the dinghy ashore to check out the 'mountain trail' we had read about. Not as brambly and overgrown as we were led to expect (at least the main drag to the helipad), but further ashore it got a bit more rustic and we got our legs dinged up a bit, but it was worth it for the beautiful island vistas. Didn't see and wild goats or cattle (predicted by the guidebook), but saw a few lizards and a hermit crab, and a mystery snake.

Back at the dock, we took a quick refreshing swim at the beach, then headed back to the boat to pick up our snorkeling gear. Our destination was the 'west end caves', a popular snorkeling spot. Rather than take the sailboat, we just dinghy'd around the point and tied up to the 'dinghy floats'. First time we'd been snorkeling since our last trip to Mexico (however many years ago that was), and Terri was a little bit nervous to jump out of the boat in water over our heads, wearing this strange gear. Once in the water though, we didn't want to come out. Lots of cool fishies galore, including this one school of black and white and yellow stripedy guys who weren't shy at all around the snorkelers. Some very big colorful fish near the coral walls and lots of different color coral fans and brain formations and such (we've got a book here on the boat for identifying local fish, so we'll have to check out the photos and try to identify the suspects). Getting back into the dinghy was another challenge altogether, for a while there, I didn't think I was going to be able to get Terri back in.

(map above) Our sailing/motoring route (including the short jaunt around the point for snorkeling) for day two. The wind was from the east today (as we would learn it almost always is), so we were doing a lot of tacking to get to our destination. If we were smarter, we might have let the wind dictate our course a bit more, but the sailing was a lot of fun, nonetheless.

(image above) Sailing toward Peter Island for the umpteenth time of the day as we tacked back and forth across the Francis Drake Channel on a close reach.

(image left) The beach at Cooper Island as we went ashore to pay our 'mooring fee'. A nice little beach, but the only part of this large island we were allowed to explore, since the rest of it was privately owned.

We ended up leaving Norman Island around Noon, and started sailing northeast towards our afternoon/evening destinations of Salt Island and Cooper Island. The wind was steady most of the way, but in an inconvenient direction for where we wanted to go, but we made the most of it, tacking back and forth across Francis Drake Channel, past Peter Island, Dead Chest Island (avoiding Blonde Rock, a nautical hazard not visible above the water), mostly close hauled and heeled over all the way. We ended up sailing most of the afternoon, only pulling up to Salt Island around 4. We had hoped to snorkel again over a shipwreck (the 'Rhone'), but since it was getting late, we figured we better get into a harbor and get settled for the night (sun sets rather quickly here around 6pm, with a very short dusk). We pulled into the harbor at Cooper Island and picked up a mooring ball, like we'd been doing it all our lives. Good job Terri. Starting to get the hang of this. We paid our fee at the bar, then sat for a while on the beach, then headed back to the boat for sundowners and supper.

Tomorrow hoping to get to 'the baths', and backtrack to our 'shipwreck' that we missed this afternoon. Beautiful day today, the best weatherwise of the whole trip, with steady breezes, manageable waves, and blue sky with puffy white clouds.

(image above) Our 'home away from home' for the week, Thermofossicle (a name we would have to spell for every mooring ball collector during the week). As we approach with the dinghy after our evening walk on the beach.

(image above) Our first nice sunset looking west from the harbor at Cooper Island as we enjoyed our evening beers in the cockpit.

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