05/13/2011, Still in Virgin Gorda...
Great, there is this trough that won't leave, still hanging over us dumping rain...that translates...we are fully topped off with water and we are shriveled! Now there are two waves colliding with the trough that's stalled over us and a cold front making it's way into the mix too! Most of this is happening west of us along with the trough...we hope.
We looked at three weather models late last night and it appeared that we were going to leave for Anegada this morning! At 4a, a squall came thru that woke us both up and the monsoon continued until around 12 noon! So much for weather sites! We need to arrive by noon in good light according to all guides in the know and my captain.
We took that opportunity to explore the Bitter End, the last of the wishes for exploring here in the North Sound and it was a photographer's dream. The flora was sparkling from the rain, the place was new to us, so it's fresh and exciting and all an all the day turned into a 'tourist' experience and we got off the boat and dried out in the sunshine...hip hip hurray!
It's Friday the 13th after all, so we were supposed to stay here another day to play it safe, because we absolutely cannot see the reefs with this scenario. We also have a red sky which means a sailors delight tomorrow, right? We hope to share the good news from Anegada! We are so excited...wish us luck!
05/11/2011, Saba Rock to Leverick Bay
We seriously needed to get off this boat or go stir crazy! ENDLESS days (ok, two) and the rain just won't stop.
Saba Rock has a free ferry anywhere in Gorda Sound so we hopped on it and took our laundry. This is really the first time we've done it ourselves having treated me and our water tanks to the luxury of having it done by the island folks. Not here!
It was nice though...we wanted to check out Leverick Bay, a resort hotel and marina...and we did! Doing laundry in a foreign country is very entertaining...the locals are so willing to stop and chat and I met four young ladies to keep me company while Dudley went on a grocery mission! It's very expensive here!
05/10/2011, Bitter End, Leverick Bay or Saba Rock?
We thought we'd be worried all night about that mooring...not, slept like a rock...but we really do not want to stay here...had enough of Spanish Town, REALLY!
Seriously now, there are so many choices...do we find a deserted anchorage @ places like Dead Chest Island, Salt, Ginger, Cooper, Peter, Norman (oooooh, the Willy T brings back memories and the diving was awesome...but we've been there).
We need to get weather and we cannot get Chris on the SSB or Herb or George or much of any other weather guru for that matter, so we need to go back to civilization, like North South or Gorda Sound!
We decided on Saba Rock's moorings...Bitter End was more expensive, Leverick Bay too far from everything and Saba Rock sounds just right! We also get 250 gallons of water and a bag of ice each day! Hmmmmm. Off we go, just a motor with foul weather encasing our bods and the squally wet stuff is quashing our sailing desire too. Did I mention the wind is from the north...bummer!
Seriously though, we just wanted to chill. There are so many islands, too many choices and so little time...what to do? Nothing! We paid for the mooring, peeked at the resort....looked at the reef behind the 'rock' to see what Bruce Van Sant says can be traversed...another hmmmmm.....and did chill.
It rained...alot...just figures...we have 250 gallons of water for free, every day...did we mention we only carry 75g to include the jerry cans on deck...plus whatever sun showers (4) we feel like filling...see where this is going?
So we caught some water...and chilled some more...seriously though, we didn't get here until 2pish, and by the time we got back after exploring...there's no chilling for real! Nice thought though...even for my man who is about to turn 80 years old this year!
05/09/2011, Spanish Town, Virgina Gorda!
I made a general query on the VHF when we entered the channel at Gorda Sound, looking for the government dock where the customs office is supposed to be. The reply was... "There's no Port Authority here, you have to go to Spanish Town". It's only 6-7nm south, but we were just shocked! This new guidebook, not Chris Doyle's Guide we might add, the other one by N&M S... is seriously lacking info for cruisers, sheisa!
The BVI's are very sticky about anchoring, in addition to wanting to charge 25US$ per night or more for a mooring! So we searched and got beat out 2x. The charter boats were racing us to beat us there! We finally saw some boats anchored and we tried also but the bottom was too hard and no grabbing or setting! Lovely...One of the moorings became free so we took it! Now we know why! It looked suspect according to my captain and we would leave as soon as we cleared in!
We get to the ferry dock where the "dingy dock supposedly is"....no way...unless your legs are 10' long and your arms are just as long to reach a 2' giant bollard that far away. A gorgeous black man came to offer a hand, literally, but I said "where will you be when we get back"? He laughed and suggested we go to the windward side of the dock...same exact scenario so we dragged the dingy up on the beach, way up on shore past the tide line, because the tide was on its way in.
That's not the end of it...the customs officer said they could not take Euros and now we owe .20 US, that's it...oh really now! Then another great big gorgeous black man dressed extremely well, heard our exclamations and came to our rescue...gave us a dollar, of which we returned .80 in change!!!
Now, the curt and grouchy customs guy said "you are going to need more US dollars for Immigration" I said "You've got to be kidding, you can't make the conversion?"...so I take off on foot for an ATM.
Great, another stumbling block...the ATM rejected the debit card at the First Caribbean Bank. I went to a Scotia Bank ATM next and got the same error code...I had a 20$ Euro bill, so I went into the bank and exchanged it for US$. That was an ordeal too...copy of my id, signatures, forms, WHATEVER, and they charged 5.5 US dollars on top of that! When I got back to Dudley he was upset, understandably, so we both went into the Immigration officer with my 21 US$ and got the GOOD news that we had enough US dollars for the fee of $l6. Whew!
We both walked back to the bank, thru the parking lot, the adjoining field, the marina and marina complex, then the mall with the First Caribbean Bank, where the teller, who was a gem, charged us another 5.5 to exchange Dudley's stash of 80 E$, with the same procedure. We then tried and succeeded to appeal to her soft heart and she was able to bypass the ATM, make a withdrawal on our debit card for our daily limit and all was good. We had lunch, went back and re-secured the line to the mooring ball and crashed.
05/09/2011, Hello Virgin Gorda...
Right on schedule and we sailed. We were afraid with the weather sites all agreeing that we would be motoring and we did start out motor sailing! By dark, the wind picked up to 10kts and we were making 5-6kts with a calm but confused sea!
It was very delightful with lots of traffic, but that makes for a lively watch! Time flies and before you know it the Anegada Passage is behind us!
Good Morning you beautiful hunka rock! Seriously though, watching the island come into view and rise up from the sea before us is magical and a very thankful moment that Altair once again brought us to land safely!
05/08/2011, St. Martin, the French Side!!!!
Jeezzz, time just flies to fast! We came to do a lot of things, did get to see and talk to some good friends we've met mostly in Grenada...didn't get our prop...did get a prop part # though...chose to treat our batteries tenderly until we get back to Miami and no, we didn't get to Saba!
We just can't fit some things in at the rate we are moving and the weather has just been screwy on top of that! When I talked to Marilyn, she understood that we couldn't make Saba...we'll just have to make it a point to come back...we have to leave some things for later, right and she's a diver so that would be way cool for "stella to get her groove back"?
We thought we were leaving at 10, remembering that it was a 24 hour passage the last time we crossed the Anegada Passage! We planned for it...we staged for it...then we looked at the chart plotter and it's only 75 miles...or 16 hours...hmmmm....now we will be leaving at 3 or 4pm to arrive in the morning! Just proves that we are seasoned now, it's not stressful like it was more than 2 years ago!
The sky is gorgeous, and there are at least 20 boats coming east toward St. Martin, we think. I tried to call them on the radio to see what the real conditions are in the passage....not one of them answered our call! Oh well, we're committed...or should be!
Bye St. Martin! Goodbye dear friends...fair winds to all our friends crossing the pond!