3 April - Easter in the BVIs
Fully victualled, we set off on Easter Day for Salt Island, just a few miles across from Road Town. We spent the rest of the long weekend here, snorkelling on the wreck of RMS Rhone, a nineteenth century steam/sailing ship lost in a hurricane and exploring the west end of the island. It’s a well-documented diving site because of the fine preservation of the ship, but we found that Irma had giving it a thorough pounding. Only the stern post and tiller flat areas stand proud of the seabed: you can see the rudder jammed hard to starboard, the propeller and shaft, but the rest of the frames and plates have now been flattened and whilst it’s still a fascinating place to scuba dive, it’s less impressive for the ordinary snorkeller. On Easter Sunday several local families turned up, some to picnic on the beach, others to clear up the debris around a little house which used to support the salt pan business. The salt pan itself is ruined, at least for now: I think that vast quantities of seaweed and fish got trapped in there and the heat and high salinity have combined with rotting vegetation and flesh to create quite a scent. Perhaps my Customs friend in Spanish Town could smell it?
The Salt Island anchorage
The salt pan. The wreck of the RMS Rhone lies beyond the hills
Once the racing crowd had cleared out of Nanny Cay Marina, we went in to pick up a new data cable for the chartplotters (the one on deck has been playing up at random, inopportune moments since we bought the boat and I’ve got fed up with fiddling: if the replacement doesn’t work a float test may be in the offing!). We had also developed a problem with the battery management system. We use around 120 amps a day running the fridges, the navigation system, autopilot and lighting, but the Mastervolt monitor was happy to only replace about a third of that before going to sleep. Research suggests that it has somehow got out of ‘sync’ and needs a night in a marina on mains power to sort itself out. Frankly, so did we, but although we had made a reservation the previous week, the marina could only accommodate us for a couple of hours. I collected the data cable and made one of my ‘white water departures’ in protest. We then had an extraordinary couple of hours visiting the four marinas in Road Town trying to find one with shore power and room for an overnight visitor.
Most of the berths were taken up with damaged craft, or so trashed that you couldn’t get alongside anyway. Nobody had a berth with power for us, so we went to anchor and ran the generator for a while. The problem was not an immediate one, but we needed to try to fix it in case it escalated. I fretted over battery acid levels, the temperature of the Victron charger and the wiring of the monitor whilst Julie persuaded the nice ladies at Nanny Cay to give us a berth the following afternoon.
So on Wednesday morning Julie went ashore to explore Road Town whilst I persuaded some reluctant cables with expensive, delicate terminal connections to go through some impossibly tight conduits. Mr Oyster did a nice job 20 years ago, but the recent addition of an electric motor for the mainsail furling winch had taken up a significant proportion of the available holes for cabling. I didn’t want to drill new holes in our lovely woodwork (my joinery skills are very limited), cut any other wires or damage existing circuitry. Patience was required, so I drank tea and made very slow progress. Julie found the Cruise ship shopping area and a coffee shop that would not have been out of place in a Paris street – fortunately she brought back some fine banana cake to an increasingly impatient amateur electrician.
Government House, Road Town, Tortola
Nanny Cay proved to be a successful 24 hour stopover though: I eventually got the data cable in and the navigation system flashed up without further issue. The battery charger and monitor enjoyed a sustained spell of shore power and the system reset itself late in the evening, by which time the upper deck had been scrubbed, the laundry done and most of the electronic devices onboard had updated themselves using the half-decent marina wifi. What civilisation!
Nanny Cay Marina with the Regatta village to the left