Nigel North
Tue 12 Mar 2013 13:53

POSITION   N18:24.96 W064: 36.86

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


The 'BeeVeeAye,' as they are invariably called, are everything but British. No red telephone boxes. No red postboxes. In fact, no postboxes at all. No post? Right next door to the US Virgins, they differ by being not over-developed and relatively crime free, so prove very attractive to Americans who come here in their droves by ferry, yacht and cruise ship, to have fun, fun fun. Noisily. You know how in all those disaster movies the hero starts shouting at everyone the moment things start going wrong? Well they've all watched them, and the hollering starts early. Add alcohol and the whooping soon follows. I can be sitting in the cockpit and hear conversations clearly a 100m away, no problem. Its an American thing, hollering. The best people do it. Anathema to the British of course.. who specialise in speaking so fast and quietly without any noticeable lip movement that no foreigner stands a chance.

As a self governing British Dependancy, I had looked forward to being 'at home' for a while, and was surprised to find out I too had to 'clear in' with Customs like any other wretched foreigner. Being given just 30 days allowance to stay here was even more suprising - far more stringent and mean than any other island. The welcome smile was fading..

Then there were the prices - well, how about US$7.50 for a small Kellogg's cornflakes? And yes, the currency is US$. I wonder why?....! Good job Richard Branson is here I say, keeps the flag flying on his tod. Well at least I wouldn't have to bother with a courtesy flag on the starboard lower shroud - I'm British and fly the same ensign! Wrong again, the BVI flag is actually a defaced Red Ensign, ie with a symbol on it. No, I haven't bothered....

Now if you go to a French island such as Martinique or Guadeloupe, its all French. Language, Euros, coffee, croissants, soil, Navy, the lot. Where did we go wrong? We'll soon be giving Scotland and Wales away too..

But the islands themselves are not only a delight, but so numerous you have to try hard to get lost, and offering so many anchorages. Its just a shame they're all packed full of charter boats - more here than anywhere else in the world.

I enjoyed a gorgeous 2 hour sail out of Trellis Bay, around Beef Island and along the south coast of Tortola down Sir Francis Drake Channel to the capital, Road Town, where I needed to be to visit chandlers etc. The anchorage here is ok, but busy with stubby little ferries ploughing through it from dawn, and no nice sandy beaches to admire. I naturally chose the exact moment to arrive as two cruise ships were leaving, but we passed as friends. Looking up, I did wonder what all those people lining the decks looking down thought of little ole Pinball slipping silently along under genoa and mizzen? Wont know, but bet quite a few would have swopped places. There again, hundreds wouldn't!

Cloudy today, and I'm feeling cold as its only 25° . Yes really! Good job I made a fish pie last night with a big tin of salmon and cream, something to look forward to tonight when the sun (if it shows) goes down. But it always shows eventually, even on cloudy days. Mind you, Road Town seems to always have a big rain cloud of its own over it. I made a nice meal for the cockroaches too - who invaded the boat in Guadeloupe. Actually, they're not the horrific creatures they're made out to be, rather endearing in a way. They dont bother you, come out at night and just clear up a bit of your mess. They are survivors, and I have great respect for survivors. They arrive in the cardboard packaging you bought in a shop, and they dont leave in a hurry. When threatened by an adult human they can put on this amazing blitz of a speed and just vanish into anything, which I think is impressive. I caught one and threw it overboard, and it just walked across the surface of the sea and climbed back onboard again. Welcome back!

Rebecca found some poison for roaches in a store and it was duly scattered around and they ignored it, so I made them a meal yesterday of this stuff ground down and mixed with my amazing mashed potato, and left if for them to enjoy. They live in my large book stowage next to the fridge so they don't have far to go. I did think that the fridge was the one place they couldn't get into, but got that wrong. Open it and whoosh....ones in! Not difficult to get out again, but you need to keep an eye open.

Socially its been brilliant. Abes was here to meet us, feed us, and give me a long promised hobiecat ride over to Marina Cay and back before returning to UK. Dickie then took over, a new friend we met here, and has been very generous indeed, driving me to and fro to fix the genoa, meals out, and the comforts of his fabulous rented villa next to the beach where, it can be said, the swimming pool was completely unnecessary. He too has returned to his family for a while. But then Krisha left for Barbados and real surfing, followed by Rebecca to sail Central America with her boyfriend. Back to Crewfinder..

The ripped genoa now has a new bolt rope from top to bottom, US$300, courtesy of Doyle Sailmakers. I had increasingly become concerned that my five batteries - four for domestic power and one for engine start - were on the way out as they simply weren't ever reaching the charged voltages that they used to even when the sun blazed down on the solar panels. Replacement would be expensive. But it wasn't until I was preparing to make the move to Road Town that I noticed the charging light on one of the panels just go out as I was looking at it, and after lots of fiddling with connections and testing voltages, discovered that that one of the wires connecting a panel had dissolved into green dust just where it entered the deck gland. Ah HA! Half a day later it was fixed and to my considerable relief, the battery voltages just kept on climbing even though running the fridge and charging both computers at the same time. Happiness is 13.4Volts. The batteries were fine..

The insulation of the top of the fridge is finally complete. Unable to insulate inside, I had previously (much to Krisha's disgust) kept a scanky piece of foam on top of the lid on the outside. This is now replaced with two layers of proper insulation materiel under a nicely varnished piece of 3-ply with handle, and looks great.

Being good old British made stuff, the fridge is hopelessly under-insulated for the Caribbean, and short of destroying the cabinet and starting again, there's not much I can do about it other that stuff insulation up inside the gaps as best as can be done. It really needs a complete rebuild from scratch, with a minimum of 4" of good insulation all round, and a smaller fridge compartment. Maybe one day...

The malfunctioning thermostat for the fridge I took into a refrigeration place here in Road Town hoping to get something vaguely similar I could use instead, and do you know what? The old lady serving, who clearly had suffered a stroke poor thing, reaches up and gets the exact replacement part down off the shelf. Amazing.

Having become accustomed to using the excellent Doyle's Sailors Guidebooks to the Windward and Leeward Islands, it has not been easy adjusting to Mr and Mrs Scott's similar looking ringbound version for the Virgins. There the comparison ends. Get past the cover and its endless lists of where to go for breakfast, lunch and dinner; where to buy your jewellery and presents; maps with nothing useful named on them; navigation directions to places not shown on the maps; and lists of completely unnecessary waypoints in Lat/Long that no one with a chartplotter would dream of using unless you're driving a cruise ship, and you get the feeling that they haven't actually been here at all - unlike Chris Doyle who clearly has, many times. CHECK THE AUTHOR!

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