30 April 2013 | Biras Creek, Virgin Gorda, BVI 18’29.57N 64’21.36W - Deadmans Bay, Peter Island, BVI 18’21.36N 64’34.14W via Savannah Bay, Virgin Gorda, White Bay, Peter Island, Benures Bay, Norman Island, Roadtown, Tortola
Elton John once said that that ‘Sorry’ is the hardest word. On Ruffian we have to disagree as this week we have been saying ‘goodbye’ and that’s been hard. Friends have been leaving bound for all four corners of the globe from Bermuda and the Azores, to Sweden and Trinidad. We’ve been saying goodbye to each one in turn and we hope that our paths will cross with each one again. We have also been preparing ourselves for saying goodbye to the Caribbean as we are now getting ready for our hop to the U S of A. Before we could start saying our goodbyes we had an appointment to wish Chewsy a happy 30th Birthday. The usual activities of snorkelling happened beforehand at the snorkelling hotspot of ‘The Dogs’, which when the sun came out should be renamed ‘The Dogs Boll*cks’. The water clarity was simply startling and the drops off breathtaking with colourful fishies covering the underwater cliffs and just ignoring us as we swam alongside them.
The location for the birthday celebrations was Savannah Bay on Virgin Gorda. As is always the case for Iain & Fiona we were last to arrive and we were heartened to see the bay full of friends. Before we could get to our friends we had to negotiate the entrance. The anchorage is accessed by an entry between a couple of reefs and the channel then gets narrower and narrower until you pass by an isolated rock. Not ideal when our charts simply showed a single depth contour and a couple of grey patches. We eyed our way in with our hearts in our mouths and using the proper old school techniques of reading the water and taking back bearings. It just goes to show that in this age of electronic gizmo’s the most important navigational aid are your eyes.
Once in, it was party time. The BBQ’s were lit and in true English fashion all the food on them was burnt on the outside and raw in the middle, but most importantly the beer was cold and the company great. The crowning glory of the party was the cake. We’d found the most E-number positive cake mix we could. It was fully manufactured and called ‘Funetti’, inside there were blue, red and green sparkles and to increase the E count and sugar high it was topped with icing and more flavouring. We each had our suitable portions and we made sure that we fed the rest to the kids on Mad Fish. The touch paper had been lit and we were particularly pleased with ourselves as we watched the nippers go bonkers before they had to return to their ship.
At the BBQ we’d met some seasoned BVI cruisers and they warned us of the upcoming northerly swell. This is a big problem if you go to the anchorages on the usual cruisers path, but gave the big bonus that we’d be able to go to places that are usually off limits and so off the path we went. On the south side of Peter Island is a great spot which we nearly had to ourselves with Mad Fish, but instead of being able to play all afternoon we had to spend our time sewing. For the first time in months we’d sailed in rain, proper rain that makes you wet and keeps you wet and so up when the sprayhood. As it went up, because of the UV, some of the stitching decided that it’d had enough of the seafaring life and departed. Out came the needles, thread and palm and with Iain being so anal about his stitching he used the same holes that were already in the fabric and didn’t make any new ones. This is taking the phrase, ‘As good as new’ to a whole new level.
With the 1200 mile passage to the U S of A in front of us we had to start getting Ruffian ready for her trip. This basically means filling her up with food, water and diesel and making sure that all the systems are fully operational. Into Roadtown we went to start the process and came into contact one of the most dangerous things you can find in these waters, a charterer who’s full of confidence and has just picked up his boat.
Going into Roadtown there is an anchorage between a couple of really big channels. The channels are so big that they can accommodate cruise liners and the anchorage as usual had anchored boats in. You would think that if you used your eyes then all this would be pretty obvious, but oh no, not to Mr Overconfidence Charterer. As we were about to drop the anchor he diverted at full pelt straight towards us wanting to get between us and a massive channel marker. Was he thinking that we were anchoring in the channel and the cruise liners draw less than him or was his just a numpty who didn’t realise that the bouyage in this part of the world is reversed and that he couldn’t use his eye’s. Yep you’ve guessed it, he was a grade A numpty. Disaster and a T-boning were averted by the quick use of a very loud surprised and irritated Iain, and a quick u-turn by Fiona.
Thug was feeling the strain after having 3 shore runs where we spent $100 on diesel, $300 on food and ‘found’ 100 litres of water. We were also feeling the strain after discovering the cash and carry where although the food is cheapish you have to buy everything in supersized packs. The packs of cornflakes are big enough to climb into and like everything else have proved to be a challenge to stow onboard the little ship ‘Ruffian’.
With shopping complete in the company of Willie it was time to cook him a final slap up meal and bid him a fond farewell before he set off on the 3000 mile single handed sail to the Azores. The forecast was not looking ideal for leaving, but is there ever a forecast that is perfect for 3000 miles? Willie put it quite pragmatically, if it gets too windy he says ‘I’ll either just hove to and read a book or get bounced about a bit’. What a supreme level of confidence in yourself and your ship. We hope one day we’ll be like Willie. Best of luck old friend.
With Mad Fish now fully ensconced in the ARC Europe, Willie on his way, Dina2 wrapped up in the south with Kent & Liz back in Denmark and Waimangu about to be chocked up in Trinidad it feels like the season here is drawing to a close. We are therefore really looking forward to meeting up with the guys ‘n’ gals from the Salty Dawg rally in the next few days, making some new friends and ramping up for the next part of our adventure on the sea.
Happy 30th Birthday ‘Chewsy’. Any excuse for a beach BBQ.
Chewsy ‘dressed overall’ for her big day.
Even Ruffian had her battle flag up as we’re too cheap to own signal flags.
Have fire will cook. Grrrrrr.
Me Tarzan, you Jane. Iain braves the flames to put meat on the table.
Sprayhood up. Whats that all about? We’re supposed to be in the Caribbean.
Big brother doing what he does best. Standing up at 20knots.
Iain gets to fixing the sprayhood having not been used for months.
Sunny working his magic.
This is what happens when you dive on an anchor that’s 9 meters deep. A nose oozing blood.
We could be back in Scotland.
Goodbye Willie and best of luck for the next 3000 miles. You’ll be missed.