Wed 26 Apr 2006 23:05
From North Sound on Virgin Gorda we sailed South West down Sir Francis Drake Channel to Norman Island, which is the most Southerly of the group. There wasn't a lot of wind behind us but we got the pole out for a bit of practice and made a reasonable four and a bit knots. Keoma put up their spinnaker and swept past our stern on one gybe and then another at about twice our speed - the purpose being to give Penny a chance to get a potential boat selling photo.
We picked up a mooring in The Bight - there must have been at least 30 charter boats in the same bay, including quite a few motor boats. Round the corner there are some caves that you can snorkel into. We went round in a convey of dinghies (us at the back as always) and had a go. The water was very clear and there wasn't too much swell. The caves go into the cliff for about a hundred yards. There's enough light to be able to see right to the end and the rock inside is layered in different colours. The water is about three or four feet deep for most of their length. Because of the caves, Norman Island is the setting for a lot of pirate treasure stories. And Trond from Coconut had brought some gold-covered chocolate coins that he dropped on the cave floor ahead of the children. Most managed to pick up at least one - not a bad subsititute for Easter Eggs.
Back in the Bight, there's a bar on a boat called Willy T's. It features a box on the top deck from which you can jump the 20 feet or so into the bay. Women get a free t-shirt if they jump in topless (mmm, classy...) The children jumped in and, after a couple of drinks, most of the rest of us had a go (all decently attired). Later, a group of Americans took all their clothes off and jumped. We decided that was time to leave.
The next day we motored back North East past Peter Island to Salt Island and picked up a mooring right next to the wreck of the Rhone. The Rhone was a Royal Mail ship sunk by a hurricane in 1867. Most of it is in about 25 feet of very clear water. The stern, including the propellor are easily visible - you can even dive down and touch bits of it. As you follow the main drive shaft West towards Black Rock it gets deeper but you can still make out the ribs and the cams in the engine and the pipes in the boiler. The children really enjoyed snorkelling over it. Anna saw a huge Puffer fish. And Eddie did his utmost to dive the 15 feet down to touch the shallowest part of the wreck. All day dive boats came and went with parties of scuba divers.
We were caught up here by Blase, Temula B and Mystic Breeze - at one stage I think we knew every boat on a mooring. That night it was 'goodbye' beers and a team effort supper on Tamarisk. There must have been twenty people onboard. Keoma, Blase and Temulah B are going back to Antigua to crew on Keoma in the famous race week before heading back to the UK and Mystic Breeze is going North to the States.
From Norman Island we went North West to Marina Cay - which is a small island off the East of Tortola near the airport. Regina were there to pick up Karolina's father. We picked up a mooring bouy and snorkelled off the reef West of the island. This was some of the best snorkelling we've done - lots of parrot fish and rays and some great big tarpon. Jon from Wild Alliance thought he saw a black tipped reef shark. That damped our enthusiasm a bit. It's hard to get decent pictures of fish underwater but the Norman Island caves and the wreck of the Rhone would have worked well. Next time we'll bring an underwater camera.
We then went West to Road Town, the capital of Tortola, and a berth in the Village Cay Marina. There's a supermarket very close and I had a couple of repairs I wanted to do in a marina. The children played in the pool and Penny and I got our jobs done. The longer we've been away, the less we've liked marinas. You miss the peace and quiet and fresh air of being at anchor.
Tamarisk in a crowded Bight, Norman Island
Anna and Rachel from Kosh Long get ready to jump at Willy T's
Someone jumping - maybe Tim?
Anna and others wait for a jumper
Leslie, Trond, Camilla and Colin of Coconut. This was just before they
went back to Antigua.
Egrets nesting near the marina in Road Town, Tortola