Pic: A bearded self portrait at the top of the mast.
Google Earth Position: 18 25.476N, 64 37.112W
As outlined on Day 9 of our passage, many things broke on our voyage south. Once "The Moms" left we hunkered down in Nanny Cay Marina on the south side of Tortola to get our boat back into shape.
The most immediate concern was the broken mast car. Both Davis Murray and I had been hoisted to the top of the 60 foot mast to inspect the track, which appeared to have some scaring. Thankfully we (he) concluded that a new mast car with a different height for the halyard attachment would allow the car to sit on a clean part of the track, thus eliminating the need to take the entire mast off the boat. What could have been a several thousand-dollar repair turner out to be only $130. This was by far the best news we had heard in weeks.
Although elated by the cheaper fix to the problem, I was thoroughly disappointed to find two additional mast car pins in the boat's spare parts bin. This indicated that the problem wasn't a new one, it had definitely occurred before. While I was relieved to know that we had not actually caused the problem in our own neglect, it was disheartening to know that the issue could have been avoided completely. One of the two previous owners was aware of this problem, but had not decided to share that when selling the boat. As a result, I almost had to climb the mast in 20 knot seas to bring the sail down, which could have been extremely dangerous if not life threatening. Thankfully the cost of the repair was minimal and climbing the mast at sea was avoided.
One interesting side note to the experience was our interaction with the local Fed-Ex office. As there is only one Fed-Ex location for the entire country the address is simply: "Fed-Ex, Tortola." Given this simple address you would think it difficult to screw up a delivery then, but for some inexplicable reason the Fed-Ex office was moved one day and they never thought to put up a note up in the window of the old office that provided their new location. That would be too obvious or easy, I suppose. Instead we had to scour the town in a taxi until we ran into it - only to find it closed on Saturdays. Even if you pay for priority mail, you have to wait two days for the office to open on Monday.
Life isn't easy in the islands. If you expect anything to be easy or quick you will drive yourself insane. The "Island Time" mentality is certainly alive and well down here...
11/27/2008, The BVIs
Pic: Our Moms at the Baths! (11/23/08- 11/30/08)
Google Earth Position: 18 19.111N, 64 36.956W
British Virgin Island Tour
At the end of November, my mom (Joan) and Seth's mom (Joanne) came to visit us for Thanksgiving week. It was a perfect opportunity for them to travel together from Houston to us in the BVIs and join us in paradise. My mom had never been on a sailboat and in fact had very limited time on any kind of boat. She did not know what to expect of the SV Honeymoon but I would safely say she was pleasantly surprised at the comfort and enjoyment she had aboard. Joanne has sailed for years and had in fact already spent a couple of nights aboard our boat in Annapolis at the boat show but she was at least as excited as my mom about the trip. We welcomed them to the boat the first night with dinner out on the back deck, festive with candlelight and wine and they both sank quickly into a relaxed mode post their long travel day.
The next day we sailed from Trellis Bay on Tortola to Little Bay on Jost Van Dyke. Unfortunately the seas were really rough and my Mom had her first (and thankfully only) case of seasickness. Nice introduction to sailing, sorry Mama! However, once we arrived at the beautiful cove all was forgiven and forgotten. This was one of the most beautiful anchorages any of us had ever seen and as luck would have it we were able to meet up with some of our friends from the 1500: Excalibur (Jorge & Isabel) and Minaxi (Bob & Mina). During our time in this lovely place, we decided to go for a hike up to the top of the ridge with our friends. The four of them were about a half hour ahead of us and as we made our way up the hill we met them coming down in a car on their way to the local hospital! Isabel had been attacked by a dog and the owner was driving them all for help. The wounds were so severe she needed 11 stitches and plenty of time to heal. Other than this horrific event, the island was fantastic and I can report Isabel is fine.
Next we sailed a very short distance to White Bay on the same island. If possible this harbor was even more picturesque than the last. There was a swell to the waves and Seth & I decided to try out our new surfboards. I paddled out quite confidently for someone who has never really surfed before. Once we got into the break, it was clearly apparent that the swell was too big and over a coral reef. I could not get out of the break quick enough and was knocked off the board, my foot touched down straight onto a sea urchin! At the time, we did not know what I had stepped on but my foot was throbbing and I had about 10 long black spines sticking out of my big and second toe! Seth pulled out the long ones and we paddled back to the boat. The Moms were significantly worried when they saw my foot. Over time the pain eased up but the spines were more stubborn than any splinter and the more I tried to dig them out the worse it became. We radioed shore to find out about dinner reservations and the location of the nearest clinic and had the brilliant luck of speaking with a nurse from Australia that was very familiar with such incidences. Basically nothing could be done but soaking the area and waiting for the body to work them out. So I did. They stayed in my foot a total of three weeks. That night we went to the Soggy Dollar Bar to celebrate my survival with a few "pain killer" drinks (after all this is where the rum concoction was invented) followed by dinner and had a fantastic time. The beach bars & restaurants are our favorites afterall, the sandier the floor and saltier the customers, the better.
The next day was a beautiful sailing day as we headed to Nanny Cay Marina on Tortola. Seth and Joanne sat up front as we sailed soaking in the day and my mom and I were at the helm. We refilled our water supply, stocked up on groceries and planned some of our future repairs. It was a quick chance to regroup. And the Moms did make sure I got my quick fix of pizza while we were there. Thanks Moms!
After our brief stay at the marina, we were off to Norman Island across the Sir Francis Drake Channel to visit the caves. Seth, my mom and I snorkeled the caves. It had been several years (make that decades) since my mom had snorkeled and it took a refresher coarse and a little work but she loved it! The snorkeling in the Caribbean is amazing due to the clear water and variety of sea creatures (more on this in future blogs). That night we moored in the Bight, a spot that held particular significance to the Hynes' as they had stayed at this exact spot ten years back on a Moorings bare boat trip. Both Seth and Joanne were pleased to be back. As it was Thanksgiving, we made our way to the Pirates Bight (the little beach restaurant in the cove) for the traditional lobster feast. Ok, maybe this is a new tradition but we could be onto something!
The day after Thanksgiving, we sailed to a famous snorkeling spot, the Indians. It is a group of rock formations that shoot out of the sea and stretch toward the sky right off the coast of Pelican Island (a tiny island off Norman island). Again the snorkeling was fantastic and by this time my mom was a pro. That night we anchored at Cooper Island Beach and we invited Jorge and Isabel from Excalibur to join us for dinner. We had a fantastic evening out on our deck sharing stories (many from Jorge's time with the UN, he and Isabel are from Chile).
The day before the Moms had to leave we motor sailed over to The Baths on Virgin Gorda Island for some exploration. The Baths are a most unusual formation of large granite boulders. The sea rushes between the huge rocks creating large pools. The "hike" through the area encompasses climbing rocks, wading water, climbing & descending ladders and crouching through caves. It is really cool! Also, The Baths are surrounded by beautiful white sand beaches on each side, quite a day for us all! After our adventure, we headed back to Trellis Bay on Tortola where we began the week to meet some of our 1500 friends for dinner at a famous restaurant The Last Resort. The food was amazing and we had a rowdy time with a one-man show that believed strongly in audience participation.
The day the Moms were to fly out, we decided to spend our last few hours together over in Marina Cay, which is also close to the airport but a beautiful cove to anchor for a bit. We brought our dominos set over to Pusser's Restaurant right on the water and enjoyed cheeseburgers all around and a fierce game of tiles! It was a great finish to a great trip.
Okay, not really - but check us out! We were mentioned in Latitude 38, a local online San Francisco sailing newspaper. You can copy and paste the below link to read the short story. Needless to say, they did not consult us on which pictures to post from our blog...