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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
Great Harbor Jost Van Dyke
03/28/2007, Jost Van Dyke

After a relaxed breakfast we decided to cruise across the way to Jost Van Dyke. JVD is a straight shot from Cane Garden Bay. Surrounding JVD are some beautiful little sandy islands. We motored by Sandy Cay but the north swell made the anchorage look a little tricky. We also wanted a fairly smooth beach landing for our guests and the swell was breaking. Pretty but no stoppy.

We headed up into the bay formed by Little Jost Van Dyke and the rest of the islands to take a look at Sandy Spit. Another nice little sandy island. Conditions were similar and there were a number of charter boats plowing around with swimmers in the water. Maybe not. It was a nice tour of the East end of JVD regardless.

It was still early so we headed down to Great Harbor next to get a nice anchoring spot. Great Harbor JVD is one of the few places in the BVI that isn't matted with mooring balls. Due to the traffic, the bottom is pretty torn up and due to the massive charter business the talent is lacking. It is probably a good thing that most places are flush with mooring balls.

We hooked up in a nice spot close to Foxy's dock. Close is relative here because there is a reef running all around the edge of the harbor. On our way to shore Atsuo San and Yukiko San decided to take the Kayak. It was a lot of fun and they actually beat us to the dock. It was weird to walk around Foxy's in the day time with no one there. The place is legendary in this area for evening mayhem.

Roq came along and had a nice walk on the beach. He made friends with one of the island's famous Coconut Retrievers. Various folks would pick up the dogs coconut and toss it into the surf. He would run in and grab the coconut by the husk and bring it back to someone else to throw. Roq being a senior dog, was having none of this, but he enjoyed watching.

When we got back to the boat we discovered that we had been surrounded. There was a Footloose charter boat right next to us, a Moorings boat a little further away and one more that was too close for comfort on the other side. I asked the Footloose shipper where his anchor was. He indicated a spot that was right next to ours. I asked if he was just staying for the day. He said nope. I asked if he wanted me to move (facetiously) and he said, "no, you'll be alright". I asked if he knew that squalls were going to be coming through all night and that the wind was going to clock 360 and gust over 15 knots? He said, "Huh?" and jumped in the dinghy for Foxy's.

After carefully considering the situation I decided to stay. My primary reason was that I thought that the nuts around us were going to have wraps and collisions with other boats before we came into play. It was going to be hard to haul anchor and relocate at this late hour, especially with our guests aboard. What the heck, I have stayed up all night on anchor watch before...

4AM: I'm relaxing with a cup of coffee in the cockpit. The rain in pounding and the wind is clocking. I'm watching three Beneteaus bouncing off of each other 30 feet to Port. Flash lights everywhere. "Sandra what's happening up there?". "I told you Herb, I can't raise the #$%^ anchor, it's stuck!". At one point I started our engines as things were looking to get messy. Finally one of the boats broke loose, tried to anchor dangerously close to the reef twice and then left the harbor. The other two ended up putting fenders out and rafting together for the night. Scary.

The British Virgin Islands
Sunset on Cane Garden Bay
03/27/2007, Cane Garden Bay

We spent an extra day in Cane Garned Bay. The rain was on and off today and that was enough to put us into serious bridge mode. We had a great mooring with a nice view of the beach as well.

The British Virgin Islands
Cane Garden Bay
03/26/2007, Tortolla

Three nights in the same anchorage in the BVI is sort of sacrilegious so we figured that we'd better move on today. Hideko and I had some morning chores to take care of before we could depart.

When we arrived a few nights back another boat let us know that our starboard running light was out. We cracked it open and discovered that the bulb was fine but the contact just wasn't making contact. It is an Aqua Signal unit and after a little positive bending with the needle nose things were working again. I wish boats were as reliable as cars. Our boat is a little more than a year old and we are never caught up on our repair list. Getting parts and service is also tough in the islands.

Our next project was to go into town and get a fishing license so that we could catch dinner. In the BVI a fishing license lets you catch fish on a line and that's about it. No lobster hunting of any sort, no spear fishing, no conch.

When we had our chores wrapped up we hauled up the anchor and headed out the cut by Monkey Point. We had a very mellow light wind sail down the coast of Tortolla to Cane Garden Bay. Atsuo San and Yukiko San drove the boat most of the way. We picked up a mooring in Cane Garden Bay and dinghied over to the dock on the beach.

We had started ordering conch fritters everywhere we went to see who had the best in the BVI (The Conch Shack in Provo is still the International Champ). The blue place on the beach in Cane Garden was the champ. We had a nice dinner there and went back to the boat to play a few rounds of bridge before turning in for the night.

The British Virgin Islands
Another Night at Marina Cay
03/25/2007, Marina Cay

Seeing as how the entire crew had just flow in from Japan we decided to take a sailing day off. We were anchored in a good spot outside of the Marina Cay mooring field in about 35 feet of water.

We watched the charter boats come in and enjoyed the mooring antics. We also saw a Sunsail crewed charter come in and anchor on 2:1 scope in the middle of the mooring field. Pretty bold. I try to stay clear of the crewed charter boats from the big companies. They don't own these boats and will cut you off on the way to a good mooring, anchor right in front of and on top of you to get closer to the beach, among other rude and potentially hazardous shenanigans.

In the afternoon we rented a car and drove around Tortolla. It was a fun trip and we completely circumnavigated the island. The road down to Brewer's Bay was probably the steepest incline I have ever driven down. Gnarly. The view was great though. We hopped over to Cane Garden Bay and worked our way down to Sopers Hole then back up to Road Town and finally Trellis Bay.

We dinghied back to the big boat for another relaxing evening in the Marina Cay Anchorage.

The British Virgin Islands
Marina Cay
03/24/2007, BVI

We got up early to get my parents over to the air port. They did a bit of their own mad packing and at 8AM we jumped in the dinghy for the trip over to trellis bay. It was actually a little more complicated than that.

Little Star is fairly famous for dousing my Mom on any sort of lengthy excursion. In fact all dinghies seem to douse my Mom. Historically she has had a wave break on her while loading the dinghy at the Baths, she has had the chop soak her solid on the way to numerous restaurants, and now confronted with a trip across the channel to the air port much discussion ensued. People were trying to figure out how to get the Marina Cay shuttle to pick us up (we were anchored out), how to hail a water taxi, how to get one of the guys on the Boston Whalers zipping back and forth to stop and pick us up. I even considered taking the big boat to the dock.

In the end it was Little Star or broke. Hideko and I ferried the luggage over first to keep it dry and Hideko waited at the dock with the bags while I went back for the parental units. This also let me scout out the shortest safe route with the least chop. It wasn't a bad ride over but my Mom did get a little wet just to keep appearances.

It was sad to see them go because most of their time on the boat we were in Japan. We had some food at the Beef Island Airport Cafe, which is surprisingly good, and saw them to the check point. And then there were four.

We motored little star back to the boat and took the rest of the day off with everyone just relaxing and enjoying the view of the North Tortolla Sound.

The British Virgin Islands
Exploring Anagada
03/23/2007, Anagada and Marina Cay

Hideko and I had never fully explored Anagada. It is a lovely island and out of the way, even for the British Virgin Islands. We decided to rent a car and see everything we could while our parents were with us. One of the great things about renting cars in the islands is that Roq can come. Folks just don't get uptight out here (well the tourists do I guess).

We drove through the settlement, checked out the flamingos and stopped by all of the great beaches. We had lunch at Flash of Beauty on Loblolly beach and spent some time looking around the Big Bamboo. We also visited Cow Wreck Beach, my personal favorite (Roq's too I think).

My parents were flying out tomorrow and by the time we got the car back (it was actually a pick up truck with bench seats in the back) it was four in the afternoon. A bit late but we decided to sail down to Trellis Bay so that we would not have to get up too early.

We had a nice trip down to the Bay but it was packed. We drove around the outside a little but I didn't want to even go in there it was so crowded. Plan B. We motored across the way to Marina Cay.

At this point it was just after sunset and a little late to find a mooring this time of year. Rather than bother looking we just anchored in the back of the mooring field. It was a nice anchorage and we all had a nice nights sleep.

The British Virgin Islands
Sailing to Anagada
03/22/2007, Anagada

It was fun to have a full boat again. We rousted the crew late this morning and grabbed breakfast at Leverick Bay. It took us until about 2PM to get ready to set sail.

We motor sailed out of the channel on the North side of North Sound and then sailed for Anagada, 14 miles to the north. It was a little overcast but we had 12 to 17 knots of wind on the beam. I left a reef in to keep things civilized but we still did 9 knots. We reached the outside marker that takes you into the Anagada anchorage at about 3:30 just as a squall was getting ready to hit.

We furled the jib and dropped the main right as the wind gusted up to 20 something and the rain began to come down.

Anagada is surrounded on every side, except some of the west, with shoal reefs. It is not a place to sail frivolously. I wasn't too excited about entering the anchorage with the rain coming down late in the day. Hideko and I had been here several times before so we decided that as long as we could make the buoys we would proceed.

We got into the anchorage without a problem and anchored between the government dock and Potter's By the Sea. The moorings were pretty well taken up. March and April are high season for the charter boat companies.

It was a little choppy in the anchorage but nice to be facing the mess on anchor rather than tied up a stern to it on a dock!

We made reservations at Potters (our favorite place here) and went ashore. Everyone enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and we all had the obligatory Anagada Lobster. A great first day out with the parents.

The British Virgin Islands

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