Tortola. 18.23.88N 64.38.14W

David Batten
Fri 20 Nov 2015 00:33
Thursday, 19 November.  It is 6.50 and Skipper’s wife would be on watch, but we are in the Marina at Nanny Cay and have just been out to greet the latest arrival, Karina.  Edd was sleeping on deck until a short while ago, when another heavy rain shower had everybody awake and rushing around closing hatches and getting everything in the cockpit below.   Time to catch up on the blog and report on the last few days of our sail south.
Monday and Tuesday brought variable winds, squalls with heavy showers and a mixture of motoring and good sailing.  The wind in the squalls was primarily SE with threats of southerly at times, so we were very glad to have made it to the recommended longitude of 65 W so we were able to keep on course.  Providing we motor sailed in the lulls and kept up our speed to 7 knots plus, it was looking increasing likely that we would reach Tortola in time for Edd to catch his plane, so that’s what we did.  Motor on, motor off, with the starboard motor needing some sort of black art to make it start, which we will need to investigate fully when we arrive.
Ship’s Boy with the catch of the day.  We would have starved if we depended on it!
“If I look at it for long enough, will I work out why the starboard engine won’t start?”
Ship’s Boy’s Boy helping with supper.
Wednesday 18 November.  At change of watch at 05.00 hours when the skipper’s wife took over from the skipper, we seemed to sail into a squall’s convention.  They were ahead of us, behind us and passing directly over us in a relentless and very wetting succession.  The good news was, the wind was more favourable in the squalls and we could occasionally make as much as 10 knots, although we were nearly hard on the wind the rest of the time. 
Early morning with threatening skies and rain to come
Looking at the Radar and one of the squalls which passed mainly behind us
Happily, they had all gone by the time Edd came up on watch and we were going well until an unscheduled MOB practice was executed to rescue Edd’s hat.  Very pleased to report that it went very well and the hat was restored to its owner in double quick time.  We were in sight of land, Anegada, with another Caribbean 1500 yacht, Catch 22, when we sailed into what looked like pairs of buoys marking something.  Impossible to see until right by them and, although we never actually went over one, as we passed the second or third pair, they disappeared under the boat.  As it turned out, they were all connected by a very thick rope, presumably some sort of fish trap.  Needless to say, we found ourselves towing this line, caught on anything from the keel to one of the rudders, or one of the props, although we had the engine out of gear as soon as we saw them.  Oh *****!!!!!!!  It rapidly came clear that the only way to clear it was to send someone overboard with a mask and a knife, so we had to get all the sails down, not easy as we had no steerage way and the mainsail had to come down with the wind in it, which we did achieve but it was in a right mess.   Edd volunteered to do the underwater bit, but it was agreed that the Skipper should go, lowered in the Bosun’s chair on the spare halyard which was long enough for him to hang onto as went to investigate.  Much to our astonishment and delight, he freed us in no time and we winched him back on board so easily that the Ship’s Boy nearly had him going on up the mast as well when he arrived back on board.  So now we have practiced going back to a MOB position and retrieving someone from the water for real and have a tried and tested system for doing it.  Very reassuring and probably better for having done it for real rather than just hoping it will work, although we would rather not have had the incident at all.  Well done the Skipper and well done the crew for a great job done well.
Then we had to get the mainsail up again.  She is a right pain when not stowed well, with the battens catching on the stack pack at every opportunity when there is any sort of sea and the boom is thrown from side to side.  There was much yelling of “go, go, go”, “stop, stop, stop” as each batten passed or got caught on the stack pack, so getting it up and getting going took some time, by which time Catch 22 pulled ahead of us and the next squall, a very wetting one, was approaching fast.  So we approached Tortola and the finish line in torrential rain, motor sailing as fast as we could so as to reach Nanny Cay before dark.  15.28 pm and we were over the finish line and headed for Nanny Cay, where the next excitement was trying to raise the ARC or marina staff to tell us where to go.  Silence, nobody, nothing on the VHF.  So up with the keel and motoring in dead slowly until we are actually in the marina, which does not have a huge amount of manouvering space, when Mia at last comes onto the VHF and directs us to a berth that feels like trying to get a RR into a space designed for a mini.  We make it thanks to some judicious use of the two motors by the Skipper and the crew all being in the right place with warps and fenders and some help from the marina staff.  So rum punch all round, a very nice piece of filet mignon bought for the occasion in Harris Teeter in Virginia and bed.
So today it is goodbye to Edd in the hopes that he gets to New York in time for the trans Atlantic flight, while we set to with laundry and airing the boat, drying wet oilskins etc in between showers and watching the other boats arrive before the first party tonight.   We are well happy to have made it in such good conditions, so lucky the wind was from a good direction and grateful to Andy of the ARC whose words kept ringing in our heads:  “go east, go east”.  More photographs to follow when we have more time to sort them.