March 10, 2015 , Anegada
It was a Dark N Stormy type of event.
We've had plans since way back when to participate in the famous Dark N Stormy Regatta. Perhaps those plans were, way back when, hatched over a Dark N Stormy drink. Either way, the Dark N Stormy Regatta, which takes place on the Commonwealth Holiday weekend here in the BVI (and is just one leg of a whole series of Gosling's Races), had us sitting in Trellis Bay and waiting, and watching, and waiting, while sipping a... Dark N Stormy !! Go figure.
Registration and a Meet N Greet was coming up. Excitement was in the air. Except that the Weather Gods were blowing a stink gusting us around the anchorage so much so that we decided to head deeper into the bay and grab a (very expensive) mooring ball.
The morning before the race had us waking up to the same winds and the same bounce and chop in the bay. We noticed the huge rolling surf hitting the reef, splashing huge mist breakers and the white caps in the channel looked pretty... violently, white.
We looked at the weather. Again. The Weather on WiFi was showing red colours across the board. That meant winds above 23-30 knots, and gusting.
"There's a slight Window Opening on Saturday (the day of the first leg of the race)", said my Captain. Which meant that the winds were diminishing to somewhat acceptable levels. (To him, perhaps!)
Looking over his shoulder at the screen of wind arrows I knew he was right. I also knew that I wanted another notch of experience under my sailing belt, so I went along (admittedly with a few butterflies in my tummy, but you know, kind of excitedly too) with The Plan.
And then, one by one our friends dropped their mooring ball lines and headed out into the white caps of the channel disappearing from our view. Too much wind, they said.
"Dave, honey..." I queried...
"We're going" he said. "We need wind to sail!"
And despite my fears, I understood that, this too, was true. I'd been in more wind before, and with squalls for an added measure of excitement. However, r, this time, we had help.
Friends Jeff and Izzy (MV IzzyR) were onboard with us. Both Jeff and Dave are racers. It's in their blood, in their body, in their words when they discuss strategy, in their twinkling eyes when they discuss sail trim and boat tacks and such. Izzy and I, we're a tad competitive too. And all of us though, just out there having fun!
The boat bounced up and down as the wind fiercely whistled through the bay, and we busied ourselves with boat chores. A total rig-check, some more scrubbing of Banyan's bottom and a few more checks by the Capt'N while I secured stuff below for sea. And every time we looked out, we saw another boat leave opt out and leave... which somehow did nothing but increase my nervous butterflies.
But wait, later that afternoon what did we see ? Sunny and John (SV Notre Vie) on a mooring ball right behind us. They'd come back ??!! And Jon (SV Imagine of Falmouth) had arrived from Sint Maarten to race. We were now three !!
We later learned of the conversation between the Capt'n's of SV Notre Vie and SV Imagine of Falmouth, when they had crossed paths in that very windy and bouncy channel, and which had gone something like this.
"Are you racing?" asked one.
"I think we're opting out of this one, too much wind" said the other.
"Ah, but you need wind to sail" replied the first.
And then Dalynn & Glenn (SV Amoray) pulled in and picked up the mooring ball beside us all. We were now four !!
Doug (who wasn't feeling well and popped some Advil) & Wendy (SV Nahanni River) also said "What the hell!!" and picked up some crew and signed up. And now we were now five!!
Things were starting to come together. At the Meet and Greet that night, we had Tony & Anne (SV Pavo Real), and Rudi and Gagi (SV Prairie Fox) who decided that this was just not to be missed, and they signed up too.
And that's how we went from just us, to all of us back together again.
The next morning the Capt'N's got their instructions, and we soon tacked our way out of the bay, having started the race on time and on the right tack.
By the second tack we were in a groove, and by the time we left the many islands called The Dogs to port and behind us, we were screaming our way to Anegada with the winds blowing you know what? Just perfectly!
We arrived there a scant 3 hours later, and promptly had a Banyan on Banyan. There were a few Dark N Stormy's drank that night, and at some point we counted 21 people on board,
which probably had our transom touching the sandy bottom of the very shallow waters surrounding the Anegada bay. Thankfully the only damages done that night were a broken flagpole, and a mount to the cockpit speakers. And perhaps a few morning hangovers.
Sunday was a Fun Day and filled with activities. Sand Sculptures on the Beach,
some quite impressive ones (this gorgeous one was 1st place winner),
and this was Banyan's Dark N Stormy casualty.
We tried to fly a kite,
and there was definitely some corn-holing going on.
The Dinghy Races started promptly before the squall.
At the sound of the horn they all raced off
and at the blast of the horn, they all turned around to come back. Quahog, of Banyan, came in second,
to the guy with oars in hand.
In true friend fashion, we all gathered to watch and cheer each other on,
and collected our prizes for a wonderful fun day. But best of all, the Commodore (a.k.a Jeff) secured us a wonderful repair job on the flagpole, on a Sunday, on an island of barely 300 people. And with Tony's contribution, we also managed to fabricate two new speaker mounts. Score !!
Monday was the Pursuit Race from Anegada to Nanny Cay. That basically meant that the "last place" boats of the first race (according to their rating), started first. And the boats that had come in first, were starting last. Which meant, that in theory, everyone should arrive at the finish line at the same time.
Remember the smiles and the twinkles in the eyes that I was talking about. Look at these faces... pure fantastic bliss and joy.
And every so often Jeff would say
"Talk to me Izzy, what are the telltales doing?"
"Lallygagging" she might reply.
And based on her reply, they would immediatkey let out, or tighten the jib sheets for that perfect look and telltale swagger.
"They're just perfect" she would confirm, and the boys would relax. For a second.
We flew back along at impressive speeds, catching up and overtaking many, and thanks to Dalynn (SV Amoray), who snapped a few perfect shots of Banyan coming up,
and taking off again.
There was some confusion as to the whereabouts of the finish line, and had it all been a bit more clear, we just might have beat our friend Jon (SV Imagine of Falmouth) who came ahead of us by a mere 35 seconds (wink wink).
The festivities were at Peg Legs that night, where there were a few more Dark N Stormy's consumed as we all celebrated our participation, our achievements, our Being Together.
Of the 30 boats, of all makes, models, sizes and colours, SV Banyan came in 8th overall, thanks to great crew on Banyan,
and we had a great time with all our friends.
If you feel like having a Dark N Stormy yourself after reading all about Banyan's Dark N Stormy adventures, you might want to do the following.
Grab your favourite glass and fill it to the brim with ice cubes. Pour in a good shot of Gosling's Black Seal Rum. And top it with a healthy dose of ice-cold Ginger Beer and perhaps a slice of lemon or lime. Lick your finger and dip it in your glass and swirl it around, just like the pirates do, and yell Ahoy, Matey !!
Maybe like me, you've conquered some fears, and achieved another notch under your belt (and loved every single second of it!!) despite some shrieks and squeals? Maybe like the Capt'N, you've followed your passion and done something you loved? Maybe like both of us, you've spent some Great Times and Made Some Memories, with Great Friends. Maybe, just maybe, you've drank some Dark N Stormy's and hatched some palns. Maybe you're following your Dreams...
And that in of itself requires you to raise your glass, and toast a Cheers to yourSelf. Salute!!
As always many more photos on our Sailing Banyan Facebook page, give us Like so you can view them.
March 1, 2015 , St John, USVI
Pictures that tell Stories. Carved in Rock. Petroglyphs.
Deep in the mountainous island that is St John (USVI), lies Reef Bay Valley where there is a fresh water pool fed by a river called Living Gut.
If you stand here, on the edge of water, you will hear nothing, for there is an eerie silence that settles deep into your bones. Below you, the water lays undisturbed except for the dragonflys flitting above it. The heat of the sun beats its intense rays down onto your head, your arms, your eyes as you shield your gaze and look around you.
The pool of dark water with the many fallen leaves floating in it, is surrounded by large boulders. And if you wet the boulders by splashing water from this pool on them,
you may notice some symbols appear out of the rock, as if by some unseen magical, or perhaps even superstitious nature.
The group of us left Maho Bay that morning, hiking along the main road to the shortcut that would take us into the woods and up (and up and up) the hill.
It wasn't much later that we reached Centreline Road, but we were hot and we were sweaty and we were out of breath. And we hadn't even begun our actual hike yet. Not funny that.
We crossed Centreline Road and down the steps to merge with Reef Bay Trail.
The trails on St John are extremely well maintained, wide, and easy to follow with markers every so often to show the name and distances to go. This was definitely not a muddy, hold on to your hat type of Grenadian Hash.
We came across enormeous root systems of trees,
with a descriptive panel indicating to look for an image of an elephants head on the trunk somewhere,
Do you see it? We're not sure we do.
The Rum Bay Tree held petroglyghps of its own, carbon dated to today, telling of a society that leaves an imprint wherever it goes.
The airplants sprouting everywhere.
And look at this tree trunk, a surefire way to not lean against anything in fatigue, right?
The forests seemed endless and quiet,
with some scurrying of deer somewhere there, behind some trees. Perhaps you can almost even envision an ancient tribal chieftain, hiding, watching, memorizing you as you walk by? He might be tall and dark and lean, with oblique eyes, wearing earrings and nose rings and necklaces.
About halfway into the Reef Bay Trail, there is a sign that points the way to the Petroglyph Trail,
where 15 minutes later we find ourselves standing in awe.
Petroglyphs. From the Greek work "Petros" which means stone, and "glyphic" which means "to Carve".
And so these are Carvings in Rock. Made by tirelessly pecking on the rock surface using another stone. Can you even begin to guess as to how long it would take to carve a beautiful spiral shaped image into rock?? And Why?
The symbols usually represent some sort of religious meaning or acknowledge an event. Look at them again. Can you even begin to guess what meaning these images were trying to convey. What event had these people seen? What were they trying to tell of?
Incredible. Mystical. Detailed Craftsmanship in Blunt Form.
Who were these people? What had they seen? What do the symbols mean?
The descriptive panels tell that these were the Taino People, part of the Arawark Indians. They had created themselves into a developed culture with hierarchies, a language, and prayed to dieties that lived in the sky.
If you spent some time googling them, you would be quite fascinated as you might read about their culture, and it is a shame that they were totally annihilated by Mr. Columbus himself. All that we have left of them today was the story they were trying to tell us, proudly carved on those rocks. Those very rocks we were staring at in awe.
We continued our hiking taking trail after trail, sweating, clambering, enjoying (and perhaps even complaining!),
Stumbling upon old sugar mill ruins
where rum was the end result after passing through vats such as these,
that held monsters of their own on both the abandoned walls,
or hanging upside down from rafters.
Eventually after going up more hills,
and down to the beaches,
we reached Cinnamon Bay Campground.
Our legs were shaking. Our feet were sore. The trackers our friends wore calculated we'd walked an impressive 11 miles. Or 18 km's. We'd seen stories left behind of ancient peoples, and we sat there sipping our beer, where we noticed that someone had left behind something,
that the wild creatures of the forest were quickly laying claim to. Would this speak to future generations about our world of today? We brought it to the front desk in case the owner might come back.
And I will sign off this technology and leave you with our story. In plain word form. With Actual Time Photos.
That tell tales of the World we Live In and the Trails we explored today. And all of it more Magical and Mystical than we can even begin to Guess At.