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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
Relaxing in the Bight
03/30/2007, Too Close to the Willie T

We had a down day today. It was great! Just relaxing on the mooring, playing bridge and jumping in the ocean every now and then to stay cool. This is what cruising is about.

The Willie T can get pretty rowdy around 11PM. May need to relocate soon.

The British Virgin Islands
The Bight
03/29/2007, Norman Island

After surviving a night in Great Harbor we decided to move on early in the day. Our goal was to end up in the Bight at Norman Island. The Bight is probably the most protected anchorage in all of the BVI. It is also a fun spot to hang out for a day or two.

Norman is east of JVD (the wind pretty much always blows from the east here) and we wanted to sail a bit and try some fishing so we decided to head down JVD toward Saint John and the USVI. On the way we popped into White Bay.

White Bay is a spectacular little bay on JVD but there's room between the reef and the beach for only a single row of anchored yacths. The only spot free when we got there had a private mooring in it. Unfortunatly we had to give it a miss. White Bay is certainly one of the most beautiful spots in the BVI and it was nice to at least cruise by.

At this point we set sail and Hideko got the fishing gear out. Three seconds later, bang, the line was running. Pablo must have bought us an enchanted fishing rod. It never misses. Atsuo San reeled 'er in. A baracudda. Ug. Took me a while to get this one off the line without getting chewed on.

We tacked back around as we approached Saint John and headed up the narrows between Saint John and Tortolla. We were hoping for a mackeral or something on the way to Norman but it wasn't to be on this day. The fishermen sadly hauled in their gear as we came up on the Indians, a set of rocks standing just outside of the Bight at Norman Island.

We picked up a mooring deep in the anchorage by the Willy T. The Willy T (William Thornton actually) is a floating restuarant at the back of the anchorage. It is a wild place but they have great food and it is mellow at lunch time. You used to get a free T Shirt for jumping off of the top of the boat with certain elements of your clothing missing. A drunk guest jumped off into a dinghy a while back ending that tradition. Add to that the fact that the first Willy T sunk (you can now dive on the wreck near Great Harbor Peter Island) and you get the idea for the kind of place it is.

We stopped by the Willy T for a drink and they poured us some stiff ones. Hideko and I had a great time playing bridge later that night because the Pain Killers seemed to be giving us an edge over the competition.

The British Virgin Islands
05/29/2007 | pablo Ramos
On MTV I saw Alice in Chains and this girl do a tribute to Heart and they did Baracudda, You play that song everytime you catch one in hopes that you catch something more eatable next time. At least the rod works. Have you guys been keeping score of what you've caughgt so far? Lousie and I have been cooking up fish to get used to eatting it since we don't on a regualr baisis. I'm glad the Fishing pole is useful.

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

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