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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
Great Harbor
Randy
04/02/2007, Peter Island

We got the boat ready to go at 11:00 and motored out of the Bight and around the point to the Norman Caves. There was a mooring open so we picked it up and got the cave exploration gear out.

Atsuo San and Yukiko San took the Kayak and Hideko and I snorkeled. It was great fun. Hideko and I took turns towing the Matsuzawa's by the kayak's painter. We went into a couple of the caves and saw a lot of fish swimming about the area. The Kayak has a transparent bottom but unless you kind of sit so that the bottom is flat, which you can't do while paddling , you can't really see through. I discovered this when we got back to the boat and I said, "Wow, did you see all of the fish down there?", and Yukiko San said, "What fish?". Oh well, it was a lot of fun anyway.

We raised the main on the mooring and sailed up the Sir Francis Drake to Peter Island's Great Harbor. This is a big and deep anchorage. You have to tuck right in to the shore to get 20 feet. Otherwise you're anchoring in 50. There's lots of room if you go that route and there are usually a few mega yachts in the middle of the place for this reason.

We anchored in one spot close to the beach (Roq's advice) but we were too close to the beach and there was a Swedish yacht on the other side. We tried another spot and it took Hideko a few tries to get the hook on the bottom. She was so used to anchoring in 6 feet of water in the Bahamas that letting the anchor drop 50 feet before backing down just didn't seem to be clicking.

After getting settled we saw a great spot right on the beach open up in the Northeast end (the most settled end) so we decided to haul up and reanchor there. Next thing I know a charter boat with a charter skipper starts blasting up behind us. It is obvious that he is going to try to take the spot. It's not our spot of course but simple courtesy would dictate that if another boat, well ahead of you, is clearing moving toward a particular mooring or isolated anchoring spot, you go elsewhere. This guy slammed both engines to the redline and moved to blast around us. What a ... jerk, let's use, jerk here. I suppose I could have raced him but the display was just to shameless. I mean it's not his boat. As long as he gets his clients to all the good spots and gets his tip he's happy. It is unfortunate that so many of the charter skippers (Elite, Sunsail and Moorings in particular) are such jerks because they really know the area and typically are good sailors otherwise.

So we anchored in another spot and watched with some satisfaction as the spot the charter skipper tried to land ended up being to precarious. He had to reanchor, unfortunately right next to us. We glared appropriately.

It was a wonderful night in the anchorage. Great Harbor offers a dazzling view of the sunset and Tortola lights up across the channel as the stars come out. It is much quieter here than many of the high mooring count anchorages because there are no real attractions other than the natural beauty of the place.

The British Virgin Islands
The Bight at Night
Randy
04/01/2007, Norman Island

The wind was howling today and some rain was on the horizon. We decided to take another relaxing day palying bridge. The sunset was perfect.

The British Virgin Islands
Norman Island
Randy
03/31/2007, The Bight

After two nights by the Willie T we decided to move further Northeast into the anchorage. We picked up a mooring near the very back of the harbor.

There's a great restaurant and bar in the North East corner of the Bight called Pirates. There are no walls and what little structural components of the building exist are covered with graffiti from passing sailors. They also have a gift shop with various pirate trinkets and lore, not to mention Spanish Gold.

There's a great beach right in front of the restaurant where you can relax with a drink in your hand and your toes in the sand (DLR). We followed suit. Roq enjoyed the dog friendly environment.

The British Virgin Islands
Relaxing in the Bight
Randy
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
Randy
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.

later!
Great Harbor Jost Van Dyke
Randy
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

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