Farewell BVIs

Phil Pascoe
Tue 12 May 2009 17:25

18:43.3N 64:25.2W
Anageda, most northerly BVI - 6 May 2009

Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke proved to be a comfortable anchorage, and after a leisurely breakfast we all went ashore to check out Foxys and the rest of the village.  Foxys is famous for T-shirts, but at $25, they were too expensive for me/us.  The bar area is ‘adorned’ with donated T-shirts from around the world – they remain there unwashed for years/decades, and many are, not surprisingly, pretty minging.  The village was all rather sleepy with no wifi connection and as the sun was already strengthening we decided against the walk to White Bay.  This rather attractive bay, which we checked out the previous evening, I realized would probably be the furthest West we would go on this trip – 18:26.5N 64:45.9W. 
We then sailed up to check out the NE end of Jost VD and anchored off both Sandy Cay and Sandy Spit to attempt some snorkeling.  They were both picture post-card Caribbean beaches – Palm trees and golden sand, but the snorkeling was poor compared to yesterday at the Caves and Indians.  The Caves rivalled Jalousie on St. Lucia as the best snorkel of the trip.  I estimate I saw at least 30 species of fish, displaying 30 different colours, in less than 30 minutes – brilliant.
At Sandy Spit we encountered what appeared to be a rather elderly lady in a French foreign legion cap, paddling a cruising surfboard – a rubber cup for her chin and a flag sticking up at the rear so that she doesn’t get mown down by a ferry or a chartered Cat.  She said she had paddled from Puerto Rico in the past – and I thought I was slightly mad.
We returned to Tortola Island for the night and anchored amongst the moorings in Cane Garden Bay.  A quick run ashore led us to Happy Hour at Myett’s restaurant and bar – nice place overlooking the beach, and the drinks were reasonable, and there was free wifi.  After shopping for a few more provisions (Rum & bread – man cannot live by bread alone), we went back to the boat to eat.  Anchoring in limited space between mooring buoys has its disadvantages, as we were more or less forced to re-anchor or pick up a mooring in the late evening by our neighbours getting too close (or vice versa) – they appeared to have the mooring line wrapped around their keel.

The next day, after a short debate we decided to head up the North coast of Tortola against the wind, in order for Pete and Dave to have a look at Virgin Gorda and the Baths (apparently a ‘must see’ in the BVIs).  The beat took us a long 5.5 hours, past Guana island that Paula and I had anchored off a week before, and past the airport and Trellis bay before crossing over to Virgin Gorda and picking up a National Park mooring buoy off the Baths.  I had done the same with Paula, and also walked to the Baths, but hadn’t really seen them properly yet.  We took the dinghy and snorkeled amongst the granite boulders – pretty good.  Then we went ashore and explored the area – they were worth the visit (sorry Paula, we should have had a closer look) – the path amongst, over and under the boulders was fun and picturesque.  I snorkeled out through the boulders, past some amazing rock gullies, with fish and corals within inches, then back to the boat for a shower.  The others seemed to be taking ages to get back to the dinghy, which was just out of sight.  Eventually they returned and all was not well – Pete had slipped on a rock, attempting to get into the dinghy and stepped on a sea-urchin – he now had 4 or 5 nasty looking spines embedded in his foot. 

[Case for the Prosecution, put by Pete:- without flippers, and exhausted by the 20 metre snorkel, I defy anyone to get into a rubber dinghy, floating aimlessly in the middle of an ocean, M'Lud. Although I was more than happy to swim back to the boat, 1/2 mile off-shore, 'D' (as he has to be known for legal reasons, still pending), persuaded me to follow him to a nearby rock that was awash, in order that I could easily and safely step-in, and join him in the dinghy. Little did I know, that the rock he had chosen for me, was more akin to a bar of soap, which no mortal could have ever stood upon. Needless to say, down I went, only to land on the nearest coral reef, covered in lurking black sea urchins. Incapacitated as I was, it remains a mystery - nay miracle - to me, that I got out alive. Clearly, one can only find in my favour; I rest my case]

[Case for the Defence, put by Dave:- Having suffered loss of pride myself in clambering back into the dinghy in front of a group of American 'Day Trippers' nearly losing my shorts in the process why should Pete not do likewise. And as for swimming back to the yacht he expected me to tow him all that way refusing my offer to assist his entry into the dinghy. Pride before a fall I say. ]  

I knew from past experience that these things could be  painful and Pete was soon trying amateur surgery to remove them.  I then looked in the cruising guides and medical books, they all said ‘do not attempt to remove the spines’.  One advised using hot lime juice to dissolve them.  Although I felt that our limes were better suited to the Gin and Tonics, I reluctantly squeezed and heated some lime juice and provided a thimble so that Pete could apply it individually to the spines.  Tempus fugit when you’re having fun, so we didn’t have time to return to Road Harbour and went to anchor below Colison Point near Spanish Town, only a mile or so up the coast.
In the morning we had a slow downwind trip back to the anchorage near Village Cay in the inner harbor at Road Town – luckily there was room.  Although these things are inevitably a pain in the neck, we all felt that Pete should get his foot checked out at the hospital – so the morning for Pete and Dave was taken up with this as I tried to source a few spares for the boat.  About 3 hours and a bill of $40 for the consultation and some anti-biotics was the outcome – ouch!  The afternoon was spent doing a major shop for food – it rained non-stop and we all were soaked through, but progress was made. It was then, that the second 'incident' occurred. 

[Case for the Prosecution, put by Pete:- I had just returned from a four mile hike, to purchase half baked bread (longer lasting, for our forthcoming ocean passage), which 'D' had 'sounded out' and asked me to go and collect. Two hours later, I was in a position to confirm that the supermarket did not sell half baked bread but couldn't help thinking that the item was similarly named to the idea. Waiting on the quay, to be picked up by the Skipper, I saw a dinghy approaching, in somewhat erratic fashion, to say the least. As it drew closer, to my horror, I could see only 'D' on the tiller. By the time I could see the whites of his eyes - or was it fear? - I heard him shout"how do you turn the xxxxxx engine off?". I shouted back, and told him to pull the stop cord down and out. What happened next beggers belief, as 'D' inexplicably moved the throttle up to it's maximum position and took off, in a series of figure of eight manouvres around the harbour, hanging over the stern for dear life. The relief on 'D's' face when he did hit the quay, some 30 yards away, was a picture. It was now time to load our remaining victuals into the dinghy and head back to the boat. I talked 'D' through the starting process for the outboard and waited patiently but with not a little apprehension, for what was about to happen. The next thing I was aware of, was 'coming to', in the bottom of the dingy, and 'D' smiling like St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. As unbelieveable as it may seem to the Court, 'D' had pulled the outboard starter cord, connecting his bony elbow with my soft chin, at the optimum point, and 'floored me'. Nuff said M'Lud, put your black cap on.]   


[Case for the Defence, put by Dave:- As messenger, I passed to Pete info from the supermarket assistant concerning 'half baked' bread. In a desparate attempt to get out of boat chores such as cleaning the 'heads' Pete offered to do more shopping to allow himself time to visit local museums and public buildings, hence the four miles walk to the supermarket a mile up the road. Battling back to the quay side in a rubber dinghy in a force 9 gale and ripping currents it was perhaps too much to expect any gratitude from a colleage just because he had to wait a couple of minutes in torrential rain to be picked up. And what would you do if a strange man stood right behind you in a dinghy with his arms around you?

More shopping the next day and more searching for spares for me.  We filled with fuel and water at the Sunsail marina dock, then returned to the anchorage for another windy and wet night before finally leaving the BVIs in the morning. 
Obtaining gas refills was a problem in Tortola, the only person to have it was more than a walk away and he charged $5 delivery as well as $17.50 for the gas.  We decided to call at Virgin Gorda marina on our way North as we were told we could get some there.  Long story short – P & D looked around the marina area while I ventured off to find the Gas Man.  Success (eventually), I paid $10 for refilling two bottles – the cheapest yet

[apart from the free one P & D managed to scrounge off a rubbish heap behind Road Town's Shell petrol station; which is still being used as we speak!]

and had the benefit of the Gas man’s philosophies on life, women and boats – the two most expensive things in life (apparently) – he was a peach.  We lunched before moving North to Anegada, the Drowned island, which sounded interesting with the highest point on the island being 28 feet above sea level.  A fast reach took us there, but the last bit motoring up the channel and into the inner harbor was a pain.  We found virtually all the buoys were occupied, and the whole area was very shallow for us, the echo sounder hit 0.0 several times as we stooged around looking for a place to stop.  We lost the boat hook at one buoy, which was retrieved by the gang on a chartered Cat, deliberated on anchoring between two other boats before aborting – a shame not to see the island but it didn’t feel comfortable anchoring in such a shallow area with even less depth downwind of us.  We returned through the channel and said farewell to the BVIs as we headed North in a brisk wind, bound for Bermuda, 820 miles away.  We could appreciate why the BVIs are a popular cruising area, although they were much different and less developed than I expected. 
OK, the holiday is over, I had finally made the decision to return to the UK for the summer, all we had to do now was get us and the boat through the 3000 miles of Atlantic Ocean and back into the Yealm.  We had had some good times and some difficult times,some highs and some lows, the BVIs were a good note to finish on.  Overall opinions?  I’ll leave that for now as there’s a lot to think about, a lot to try to remember and assess, but certainly a very memorable odyssey so far.

Pics:  Sorry for small size and poor resolution - mail became too big.

Phil trying to hook up to WIFI at Foxys (unsuccessful).  Boulders at the Baths.

Dave posing for the BVI tourist brochure.  Pete treating his urchin spines.

Phil and the Gas Man (Virgin Gorda).  Atlantic here we come.