Saturday, December 27, 2014

British Virgin Islands

We chartered a sailboat in the BVI in December from the 17th through the 27th (our last time down here was in 2008). Here's an abbreviated account from our Facebook page:

 Didn't want to drop my phone in the ocean, so it spent a lot of time in a plastic bag below on the navigation station (and free wifi was pretty rare everywhere we went, anyways). Terri took a lot of photos with her waterproof camera, and may share them on her page. A brief run down on where we went: Flew to St. Thomas on the 17th, spent that night, and the next in a small family owned hotel near downtown Charlotte Amalie, took the Ferry across to Road Town, Tortola on Friday, spent the night aboard our charter boat 'Lil Moon', a 38 ft Beneteau, got our orientation Saturday morning and sailed across to Norman Island for our first night (one of three of our best sails of the week, getting up to 6.5 knots). Snorkeled the caves on the west side of the island, and did some hiking up into the interior in the late afternoon. Day two, we sailed/motored over to Salt Island and snorkeled over a shipwreck for an hour or so, then tucked in to the harbor on Cooper Island for the night (taking a dinghy trip to the southern part of the island for some beach combing). Day three, we snorkeled for a while around Cooper (saw our first barracudas here), then headed north with Keenan at the helm (nearing our speeds of the first day), then motor-sailed east to a marina in Spanish Town (showers and grocery stores and internet!), where we were told by the young man who helped us tie up, that we were only a few boats away from Morgan Freeman's boat (never saw Morgan, however). Took a taxi down to the south end of the island for some exploring at 'The Baths' for the remainder of the day. Day four, we headed west on a run with just the headsail (still making good speed, averaging about 5 knots), listening to Caribbean christmas music on the radio, stopping at Guana Island (specifically, Monkey Point) for some more afternoon snorkeling (saw a stingray here, and a small shark), and then continued west to Cane Garden Bay for the evening mooring. Day Five (Christmas Eve) we headed northwest to Little Jost Van Dyke (biggest waves and our top speed of the week, hitting 7 knots at one point), explored the area with a hike north to the 'Bubbly Pools', then took the dinghy over to Sandy Spit for some more snorkeling and beach combing. Saw our first sea turtles here (well, everybody but Terri, who kept turning to look at them just as they ducked underwater again). Day Six (Christmas Day) we headed over to Sandy Cay (a small island preserve just southeast of Jost Van Dyke), more snorkeling, beach combing and hiking the interior (multitudes of hermit crabs of all sizes, plus lizards and fiddler crabs). Then a short motor over to Little Harbor on Jost Van Dyke, a two mile hike over to Great Harbor, then back again for Christmas Dinner at a small beachside restaurant (Caribbean Lobster). Day Seven we motored south around the west end of Tortola and tucked into Soper's Hole for lunch and provisioning (Keenan spotted a 6 ft shark near the dinghy dock - much nicer than running into one while snorkeling), then motored east into the wind and against the current to Peter Island for our final night. Last sail on Saturday morning was a short jaunt across the channel back to Road Town with just the main sail at a leisurely 4 knots. Home again, and back to the grindstone.

I was especially pleased and proud to see how Keenan hadn't lost any of his sailing skills even though he really hasn't done any significant sailing since he left for college in 2008. We managed to get through the experience this time without any significant 'boo boos' or 'mishaps' (although having to back the boat into a slip on Virgin Gorda was a little embarrassing). Hoping to do more chartering in the future. Starting to get more and more disenchanted with sailboat ownership and upkeep.