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Swingin' on a Star
Ship's log for the circumnavigating Saint Francis 50 catamaran, "Swingin on a Star".
Motorsailing East
05/25/2007, Road Bay, Anguilla

Hideko and I got up at 4AM to get the boat ready for what we hoped would be the last of the big bashes eastward. As far as the BVI is concerned the wind blows from Saint Martin. Our course was about 120 and that's where the wind was predicted for the foreseeable future. We decided to make for Road Bay Anguilla, just to the north of Saint Martin to try to get a little better angle on things and also to see Anguilla. Our friends Erica and Jeff had just spent their honeymoon on Saint Martin and Anguilla and they were very complimentary of Anguilla.

After prepping the boat we fired up the diesels in an amazingly flat pre dawn calm. Our friends Fred and Cindy were getting underway in the slip next to us aboard Kelp Fiction. They had been working as Dive Instructors in the BVI and had decided to head south with us. It would be nice to travel with friends again. Cindy's sister had come to visit them in the BVI and ended up getting kidnapped for a cruise south through the Caribbean. The five of us and Roq set off almost silently sending ripples through the glassy water.

We motored out the well marked north entrance to Virgin Gorda's North Sound as light came into the sky. I had tried to talk everyone into spending our last night at Saba Rock and taking off through the cut in Eustatia Sound. This is a reasonable but narrow cut in a fairly large and shallow reef. Fred was not having any of it, especially in the pre dawn. Perhaps the wise choice, but I do want to go back there and try that pass with good light.

Once north of the last marker outside of the sound we headed due east through the Necker Island Passage. We had about 10 knots of wind from the southeast so we put the main up and motor sailed. As soon as the boat was settled in Hideko put her lines out. Shortly there after she hooked something. It had some serious fight in it and gave her some trouble. When she got it to the boat we had no idea what it was. "Quick get the fish card!" I got the fish card and we made our best guess, a large Horse Eye Jack. Not the best eating so back he went. Twenty minutes later she hit again, and this time it was dinner. A perfect Mahi Mahi sized just right for 5 (no fish for Roq, he likes it but it does bad things to him, or should I say us). We pulled the other line in having caught what we needed to eat.

The passage was an enjoyable motor sail with no big surprises. The wind blew between 10 and 15 knots right from where we were going mostly but we hummed along at 8 to 9 knots, depending on the wind direction, running the engines at about 2K. We had looked for a better window but the best thing we could come up with without waiting for the underworld to freeze over was light wind from 120 degrees. The swell was a good six feet but long duration and there were no waves to speak of.

Around 10AM some dolphins came to join us. We asked them where the whales were but apparently that insulted them because they left immediately after we asked. As we neared Anguilla we sighted Dog Island. The out islands around Anguilla look very beautiful though we didn't stop at any. You can stay as long as you like in Road Harbor with little expense but if you want to cruise Anguilla you must buy a cruising permit which is a bit more than free. Given more time I would have cruised around Anguilla, it is a very pretty area with great food. Unfortunately it was time for us to head south.

Shortly after sighting land we also sighted some fairly ominous looking black clouds coming from Saint Martin. We were close enough to Anguilla that dodging the squally mess wasn't really an option. We stayed the course and hunkered down. I had a reef in the main since we weren't really sailing much and as long as things stay south of 30 knots that works just fine.

The first bunch of darkness just brushed us. We saw a bit of rain but not enough to clean the decks off. We looked behind us and figured Fred and Cindy would not be so lucky. I radioed them and let them know that some dark clouds were headed their way. The next set came close to us and we got about 20 to 25 knots for a short period and quite a bit more H2O. It was all passing south of us as we neared Road Bay though.

Road Bay is a big beautiful anchorage. There's a huge area to anchor in 15 feet of water with no obstructions on the way in. The little town there is pretty basic and the Anguillans don't keep their beach incredibly clean but it is still a beautiful spot and a great place to be anchored.

Once we had the anchor well down I broke out the hammock. Hideko had purchased a Brazilian Hammock in Florida before we left and we had never tried it. It is a perfect fit under the tramps and across the cockpit. There were some sprinkles threatening so I chose the cockpit. Fred and Cindy came into the anchorage before long, and had only been a little more ruffled up than us by the squally bits.

I took a swim to check the anchor and cool off. The bay is very open and the water was lovely. After getting Kelp Fiction situated, Fred, Cindy and Jill came over to Swingin' on a Star and we enjoyed a great dinner of Mahi Mahi frilled with garlic butter. Not a bad day.

The Last Beat
05/24/2007, Virgin Gorda

So we're finally leaving the BVI. It was hard to say goodbye to all of the folks we've come to call friends here.

The wind blows from Saint Martin almost every day of the year. Rather than wait for an act of the almighty we decided to just motor fast on a day with little wind. We were going to leave today but lo and behold, Fred and Cindy on Kelp Fiction (former local dive instructors) have decided to retire and come with us! We couldn't be happier.

It was pretty clam today and tomorrow should be the same. I did finally go up the stick to untangle the kite that got up in the rigging somehow so we are truly all set. Hideko didn't want to winch me up so Fred offered to "jack me up the mast". I wasn't so sure I wanted to be "jacked up the mast" but it all worked out.

The British Virgin Islands
05/25/2007 | Pablo Ramos
Oh why, oh why is such a beautiful lass such as the Gorda still a Virgin? La Pobre Virgen Gorda.
The Villas of Leverick Bay
05/21/2007, Virgin Gorda

We are back in cruising mode. I have started to get up at 7AM every morning to check in on the weather net as we start to plan our passage South. Looks like we will have a good window to make Saint Martin on Thursday of this week.

Hideko, Roq and I took a hike up the mountain to explore the beautiful villas above Leverick Bay. Roq considered some of the landscaping very carefully but didn't have any new entries for us.

The British Virgin Islands
05/23/2007 | daniel kenoyer

DANG! How do you get by with 2 hours of sleep?! Or have you started hitting the rack before sunrise?
07/13/2007 | Randy
Hey Dan! We mostly crash when the sun sets and get up with it. Saves power. I do still have an XBox360 binge now and again though.
Back in Leverick Bay
05/20/2007, Leverick Bay, Virgin Gorda

Leverick Bay feels like home. It is nice to be back. It was great to see Fred, Cindy, Marc and Mike again. It is strange though because there are very few charter boats around and all of the other folks are leaving or have left. The whirly birds, as Captain Bob on Bravura calls the Hurricanes, are coming.

You'd never know it. Leverick is as lovely as ever. The Visar (Virgin Islands Search And Rescue) crew had a fund raiser here today. They are all donation supported and it looked like a good time was had by all.

I have gotten back into weather mode and spend an hour or two each day tracking things and looking for that elusive window to make Saint Martin. It is only about 80 nm but it bears the exact direction the wind typically blows from. If nothing shows up in a week or so we may have to just suck it up and motor across.

In the mean time Hideko and I have plenty of projects to work on.

The British Virgin Islands
Dive Instructor
05/17/2007, Maya Cove, Tortola

After a bunch of diving and studying I have made it out of the dive tunnel. I am now a dive instructor and can actually dive for fun again. Whew. I have a new respect for PADI dive instructors, it is no simple task to become one.

Hideko and Roq were very understanding as the program ran about 12 hours per day and then I had homework. Hideko even made different kinds of bread for me to take on the boat for everyone each day (Bananna Bread, Lemon Cake, etc).

Now for a bit of rest and then we'll be looking for a window to cross to Saint Martin.

The British Virgin Islands
05/23/2007 | Pablo Ramos
CONGRATULATIONS on becoming a dive instructor!
05/23/2007 | Randy
Thanks!! Now I can teach you to SCUBA. Look out.
05/24/2007 | Pablo Ramos
Dude! Is that a Jellyfish on yo head or do you need another haircut?
Andy and Ian
05/14/2007, Sail Caribbean Divers

The IDC finished today. It was a great program. We get a day off and then it's on to the two day Instructor Evaluation.

Two Staff Instructors, Andy and Ian, assisted Mike with the program. Andy, Ian and Mike are each as talented as they are entertaining.

The British Virgin Islands
Sail Caribbean Divers
05/08/2007, Hodges Creek Marina, Tortola

The only place you can go through the PADI Dive Instructor Training in the BVI is at Sail Caribbean Divers. Mike Rowe is the Course director and founder of the dive business. Mike and his crew do a great job and have a very professional outfit. SCD handles all of the diving for Sun Sail and many of the cruise ships. They also have a Dive Shack on Cooper Island.

The British Virgin Islands

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