What a day!
24 March 2010 | Virgin Gorda, Spanish town Anchorage
It actually began last night 3:00am. We woke, and had a serious 'Go, No Go' discussion. Mind you - it's absolutely pitch black as the ½ moon has gone down. Our sail is 82 miles to the waypoint then about another 4 or so to the anchorage. Did I mention it is dark? My apprehension level is thru the roof, but as we have cleared customs already - we decide to give it a go, knowing we can return to Marigot if we run into problems. So 3:10am, we up anchor - in the dark and make way for the BVI's. Then we have another serious discussion, what is our course? St Martin extends to port, Anguilla to Starboard, and you can see both islands lights but will we clear on our course? Mind you we are getting used to a new navigation system, new anchoring system (we never anchored on the great lakes!) new boat, and did I mention it's DARK? Of everything...that is my biggest concern. Since Jim has done overnight sailing, that part doesn't bother him, but the other concerns are a bit stressful. After a few minutes we discover our course is 20 points off (doesn't seem like a big deal, but after 80+miles that would put us probably in Puerto Rico)....hmmm maybe time to start the coffee and get the brain going.
Lights on the horizon to starboard....hmm, we've nearly cleared the headland...what IS that. 4 am, and four cruise ships steaming slowly heading for the island. Bet their 1st mate isn't worried about the dark! Oh yeah, they have radar...which frankly I never missed until this morning. That is now the top on my wish list.
The stars were amazing ... a million points of light, but frankly, neither of us had the time to really enjoy them, winds at 17, behind us, which is great, seas building past the headland to 6 ft swells. Ok I can do this. Dawn is just a few short HOURS away!
5:30 am....Finally, the sky is lightening...oh, those swells are 6-8 foot. Ok, that's no problem. We finally put out our American flag! Another cruise ship heading in to the north of us, otherwise all we can see is water, steely grey while it awaits the sun, in every direction. We only saw two sailboats for the entire crossing, 1 freighter and 5 cruises ships. We rotated the engines, running on one at a time, and flew the Jib which gave us about 7.5 kts of speed. Still it was 12:40pm before we sighted land again. Once the sun was up the day was beautiful! Clear and bright with just a few clouds, however the Caribbean sun is fierce and we are very grateful for our wide bimini top to offer up some shade.
We made the Round Rock waypoint at 3:45pm, we are now officially in the BVI's! Our Q flag and our BVI's courtesy flag are flying, and boats of all kinds are visible in every direction. Customs on Virgin Gorda, our check in point, closes @ 4:30, we won't make it. But we head there to pick up a mooring can or anchor for the night and will check in in the morning. Technically, we are not allowed ashore until we have cleared customs, but that's no problem as our first order of business after the boat is secure is a swim!
As all the cans are taken here except one which we tried to catch only to discover it has no line on it...well that's not going to work. So we anchor in a lovely spot near the other cruisers. One gentlemen zipped over in his dingy to see if we needed help thinking we were having trouble grabbing the mooring... typical helpful cruiser, we decided to anchor next to him.
5:00pm - we drop anchor in 30 feet of the clearest, bluest water imaginable! The wind has settled down to about 6 kts, we are secure, with ALL our chain out (about 150 ft) after a 14 hour passage. Into the sea we go! We have a swim ladder off one hull and feel like we have our own private, shady, Caribbean blue swimming pool between the hulls under the main deck. The water is about 83 degrees, and feels like silk on your skin...
A beautiful sunset, Burgers for dinner, a celebratory rum drink and a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord for keeping us safe!