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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
The Matsuzawa's return to Japan
Randy
04/06/2007, Saba Rock

It was a sad day. Hideko's Mom and Dad had been with us for two weeks and it was time to say goodbye. Their flight out of Beef Island departed around noon so after a light breakfast we got them ready to go.

We took a dinghy ride over to the Bitterend and waited for the North Sound Express. Hideko went with Atsuo San and Yukiko San to help them get to the Air Port which is only a short walk from the ferry dock in Trellis Bay Tortola.

After watching them go I motored back to Swingin' on a Star where Roq was minding things. I got aboard and began to rumage around for lunch when I heard Kelp Fiction hailing us. Fred and his friend Pete from Canada had picked up the mooring right next to us.

Fred had a day off so we all went out to the reef at the edge of Eustaia Sound and snorkeled around a bit. Afterwords we caught up over a beer.

Hideko showed up in the afternoon on a launch from the Bitter End. I had somehow missed her hail on the VHF. When she got back I was drinking beer with Pete and Fred. That was a bust. Hideko forgave me though because she's the best.

As the stars came later that night we talked about all of the great times we had with all of our parents. This will have to be the first of many such visits.

The British Virgin Islands
The Baths
Randy
04/05/2007, Virgin Gorda

We left Cooper just before 7:00 so that we could get a mooring at the Baths. With the formidable charter boat navy out in force, picking up a mooring at the most famous beach in the BVI is something you can only do bright and early. We arrived at around 7:30 and picked up the last mooring ball in the place. The area is a national park so there's no anchoring.

The Baths are an odd pile of huge boulders that form all sorts of grottos and caves that you can hike or snorkel through. It is a spectacular place.

You can't leave your dinghy ashore at the Baths. There's a dinghy tie up in Devils Bay but that's about it. The trail from the Baths beach to Devils Bay is a highlight of a trip to the Baths. We were in a predicament because I wanted to put everyone ashore in Devils Bay, hike through the boulders to the Baths beach, hike up the hill to the Top of the Baths for lunch at the restaurant there, then back down to the Baths for a trip back to the boat.

After considering the matter a bit it looked like I was going to be swimming. So I dropped everyone off at Devils Bay and then took the dinghy back to the boat. I had done the swim once before but with fins. I didn't want to carry the fins around all day like last time so I just did the swim with sunglasses. I have since developed a great appreciation for fins. I can't remember the last time I swam without them now. They sure are nice to have when you're on the farthest mooring.

After I made it to the shore we hiked up through the caves to the Baths Beach. Atsuo San and Yukiko San did a tremendous job climbing over the boulders and through the crawl holes in the rocks.

The whole area is a really fun and interesting place to visit. Avoid the crowds though if you can. As we hiked up the hill to the Top of the Baths a cruise ship had just unloaded in Spanish Town. All of the tourists take taxis to the Top of the Baths and then hike down to the Baths. The path leading up to the top is fairly narrow, so we were like salmon trying to get up stream.

We had a great lunch and enjoyed the stunning view from the Top of the Baths. As we made our way back down I realized that the previously relaxed beach was now packed with cruise ship folk. Not only did I have a long swim in front of me but I was not so sure that I wanted to try to bring the dinghy in close enough for a pick up with all of the swimmers in the water.

After watching a few pros work the surf and the tourists I decided to give it a try. Hideko and I agreed on an abort plan in case it was just untenable. I bummed a ride back to the boat from a couple of friendly guys in a 15 foot Caribe, which avoided a pretty long swim.

I motored our dinghy into the Baths area and picked up the dinghy line about 100 feet off of the beach. Another guy was waiting his turn to pick up so I got in line. A channel had formed amid the floating tourists due to the constant pickups. I took advantage of the opportunity and with the help of a nice guy from Canada we got everyone on board and made it out without getting pooped or running anyone over.

We motored up the Sir Francis Drake into the wind to make North Sound in the early afternoon. We made our way around Mountain Point and come into the sound via Anguilla Point. The sound side of the cut is very shallow and you need to head toward Leverick Bay from the mid point of the cut. I see 5 foot something on the sounder all of the time through here. Scary but well traveled.

We cruised up the sound to Saba Rock and picked up a mooring. We relaxed over a cocktail and then everyone went around to the reef side of the rock to enjoy the famous Saba Rock hammocks.

We made our way over to the Bitter End courtesy of the free Saba Rock shuttle for a little tour. After a pleasant afternoon at the Bitter End we returned to Saba Rock for a yummy dinner.

It was our last day with Hideko's parents and we had made the most of it.

The British Virgin Islands
Cooper Island Beach Club
Randy
04/04/2007, Cooper Island

Everyone was a bit beat today to we moved up to a mooring close to the beach and took it easy. Cooper Island Beach Club has great food so we went ashore for a relaxing lunch.

The British Virgin Islands
Deadmans Bay
Randy
04/03/2007, Peter Island

We slept in today after a rough night of bridge. At about 10AM we got motivated and dinghied over to the beach for a visit to the Peter Island Resort.

After pulling the boat up onto the beach and anchoring it securely we ran into Conrad. Conrad is blind and is the last of his family living on the strip of land that separates Great Harbor from the Peter Island Resort. Conrad informed us that his land was private property but for $5 we could cross back and forth once. Reasonable under the circumstances. He told us to pay on the way back as he took a hit of what ever was in the brown paper bag.

So off we went to the resort. We had a nice breakfast overlooking the Sir Francis Drake Channel. The Peter Island Resort is very beautiful. There's a marina in the bay on the west side and a fantastic beach in Deadman's Bay on the east side. Deadman's Bay has palapas, white sand and a more casual beach bar and restaurant. We enjoyed the mid day at the beach and grabbed a smoothie at the bar before heading back.

On the way back to the boat I looked for Conrad but, alas, he was out cold on a bench in front of his house. We left his fee in a tin can he had set up under the no trespassing sign.

We hauled anchor quickly and made our way up to Cooper Island. It was around 15:00 when we left the harbor and this is getting late to find a mooring at Cooping on season. We arrived to a packed mooring field but there were two moorings left. We picked up a ball on the outside and shut down for a relaxing evening after a very satisfying day.

The British Virgin Islands
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

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