Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Day 7--April 28, 2014 Monday

The day the Bubbly Pool ate our boat key!

Today the key for our padlocked dinghy and padlocked big boat got ripped from John's velcroed pocket in the Bubbly Pool.  Things looked pretty bleak for a while.  We called the charter company and they decided to send a replacement key over on the ferry.  But the ferry doesn't come to East End Harbour---oh no, it comes to the other side of the island--Great Harbour.  So we were to hire a cab to take us across the island to Great Harbour to meet the ferry--and we had to be there when the ferry lands or the boat captain would just simply turn around and leave with our key as he runs the return trip to Road Town.  Yikes!!  But some very wise sailor guys offered to help.  As it turns out these guys were very adept at breaking into padlocks drilling right through the key core as the lock was too tough for a hacksaw! 

So, it all ended well.  We called the charter folks back and told them to hold that rescue key and we celebrated by spending the rest of the day treating our new friends to many rounds of beer!  They were sailboat racers from MA--very interesting guys and lots of fun.

Sailing from Great Harbour (home of Foxy's) to East End Harbour (home of Foxy's Taboo and the Bubbly Pool!)--

Inside Foxy Taboo looking out at the dock.  Sometimes it's just hard to believe these scenes are real.  We did nothing to this picture--it just looks like this!

And this is the Bubbly Pool.  The Atlantic Ocean meets the Caribbean along this shore and the swells crash in to make this Bubbly Pool.  Little did John suspect that the crash would rip off his hat, his regular glasses and his sun glasses!  We found the hat floating around but the glasses proved more of a challenge.  The other folks there helped feel around on the sandy bottom for the glasses.  John came up with the sunglasses and this nice guy stood guard by what felt like glasses under his feet until John dove down and brought up his prescription glasses!  Wow!  It was some time later that we realized that John's pocket full of change and our boat key was missing the change and the key.  The pocket was still velcroed shut and the bills were still in the pocket--the loose change and the key, however, were gone.

Day 4--Friday, April 25--still in Gorda Sound, Virgin Gorda, BVI

Oh such a nice place to be, we decided to stay here another day.  This afternoon we jumped in the dinghy to find a good snorkeling place.  We found a spot behind Saba Rock where we are moored.

Tonight we went back over to Saba Rock for drinks and a yummy cracked conch.  Going to bed early so we can get fresh water, ice and fuel before we head out to parts unknown.  Here are our Saba Rock pictures.

Day 5--April 26, 2014

Today was full of adventure.  We started early—8 or 9 am.  Leaving the mooring at Saba Rock in Virgin Gorda Sound required some maintenance stops.  Saba Rock gave away free ice—thank you very much—and the fuel dock at Bitter End Yacht Club supplied us with diesel fuel for the big boat, gasoline for the little boat and fresh water for us.  Captain John first dinghied over to Saba Rock picking up our free ice and then checked out the Bitter End fuel dock across the way noting that it was full of boats—no room for us.  So, while I repacked our icebox, John watched the fuel dock for available space.  In about 20 minutes a spot opened.  We fired up the engine, hung out the bumpers and motored to the dock. 

The following pictures were taken along the path that goes from the fuel dock to the little provisioning store where we went to get some more sun block lotion—my goodness we really go through the sun block!  Anyway, the path was lovely with lots of bougainvillea, etc.   And, there was a nice shady stone arch built to keep the bench sitters cool.

And for our desert friends and relatives, here are some prickly plants that might look familiar to you.

So, off we go sailing down the Sir Francis Drake Channel.  What a glorious, beautiful sail it was!  This is just exactly what we signed up for—deep blue water, 12 to 18 knots of wind, lots of sails, and a warm sunny day!  As we sailed south along the Channel this is what we saw—Beef Island off in the distance and the Dog Islands off to the side.

Then we headed west so we could sail north of Beef Island and Tortola (have you got your map out?).  There are lots of things to see along this route.  We sailed right past the end of the Beef Island Airport runway and the little mooring field of sailboats at Trellis Bay.  When we flew in on Monday, it seemed that our little plane was coming awfully close to those sailboats tucked in there near the runway.  Here’s a picture of Marina Quay which is just off the southern tip of Scrub Island.  Right in front of Marina Cay is a huge reef that is called Mother Turtle Reef.  It is the light blue water right in front of the red roofed marina buildings.

Next we took down our sails and motored north between Great Camanoe and Little Camanoe Islands.  The first picture below is the channel and the second is a little blow hole in the wall of the channel.

Here’s the view of Guana Sound as we raise the sails and continue to head west.

At the southern tip of Guana Island is a great snorkeling spot maintained by the BVI National Park: Monkey Point.  The first picture below shows Monkey Point from the outside looking in.  The second one is from the inside looking out. 

We moored the big boat in the bay and motored over to the reef with the dinghy so we could snorkel.  The water was cool and nice, but a northern surge was making things rolly and stirring up the bottom.  Even though it wasn’t the best visibility, we could see pretty little tropical fish and some handsome yellowtails.  Also, the water was full of little minnow fish that the pelicans apparently love.  As we snorkeled, a huge pelican or two would crash land in the water right beside us.  They didn’t seem to mind that we were there so we got to see close up and personal how they right themselves and shake that pouch full of fish right down their throats.  Sorry we didn’t get a picture of that!

Our plan was to take a mooring on the protected side of Guana Island in White Bay.  We looked at the area and decided that it wasn’t as protected as we had hoped.  It was just a little after noon, so we ate lunch in the cockpit and agreed to a new plan---sail the rest of the day to the far side of Tortola Island—Cane Garden Bay on the west end of Tortola.

This sail was mostly down wind and it too was lovely.  We got into Cane Garden Bay around 4:30 pm which is late for claiming a mooring ball which are rented on a first-come-first-served basis.  To our delight there were 5 or 6 balls still available.  To our despair, however, these moorings were all in a part of the bay that was rolling with that northern surge.  We briefly considered anchoring, but that would be in the rolly water too.  So we tied on to the mooring and rocked and rolled all night long.  Honestly, it was like the boat was leaping around from side to side.  Everything in the boat and out on the deck clanged and crashed.  Somehow we managed to get some sleep as we were pretty tired from a full day of sailing.

The beach front at Cane Gardens was wonderful—the perfect Caribbean beach with rows of beach chairs in front of rows of bars & grills.  The dinghy trip to shore and back in the dark was challenging as the water surged and crashed, but we made it.  Here are some pictures of beautiful Cane Garden Bay on the western end of Tortola..

Day 8-- April 29, 2014 Tuesday

This was a big sail day.  We left East End Harbour, Jost Van Dyke and sailed south through the Thatch Islands and Soper's Hole past Frenchman's Cay into the Narrows between BVI and St. John, USVI.  Then we turned southeast to The Bight in Norman Island.

Wow!  What a beautiful place!

This is the brand new Pirate's Bight Bar & Restaurant.  It was absolutely beautiful and the bartender was delightful.

See, don't we look like happy sailors!

And, as you sit in Pirate's Bight, this is what you see.

As we dinghied back to the boat, we snapped this picture of Pirate's Bight so you can see how lovely it is.  There is nothing there except the bar/restaurant and a dive company in the little hut to the right.

Snorkeling in Privateer Bay and the Caves on Norman Island.

We left the big boat moored in The Bight and took the dinghy over to these caves and reefs.  There were lots of tropical fish of all sorts--beautiful.

One of the caves goes back at least 30 or 40 feet.  As you can see there is a little dinghy paddling into it.  We just snorkeled into it.  Actually, John snorkeled all the way back--I stopped at the entrance--just don't like caves.

This is the mouth of The Bight, Norman Island.

And this is an old steel sloop converted into a bar and anchored in The Bight.  We decided to stay in The Bight a second night and maybe check out this bar boat--the Willy T--tomorrow.

You don't even have to have the blue sky and water--it's just a lovely place.

And the sunset was gorgeous from the beach.

And this little blogger lady discovered that Pirate's Bight had internet access.  With a glass of wine in one hand and the smart phone in the other, I'm checking on things at home.

Day 6--April 27, 2014 Sunday

Morning at Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVI.  Afternoon at Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke Island, BVI.

Cane Garden Bay is protected from the ocean by long coral reefs which have an opening in the middle. Boats like ours access the bay and the mooring balls through that opening that is marked with red and green buoys.

As we were preparing to leave our rolly mooring, we spied a group of surfers taking advantage of the same rough seas that caused our discomfort all last night.  The waves on that reef were large (maybe 12 to 15 feet) and very tubular.  We grabbed the camera (always thinking about you guys at home) and motored the dinghy right over next to the surf.

We thought about telling you that this was John surfing along, but he was only dreaming that.  John actually was running the outboard motor and I was snapping shots.

It was amazing how close we could come in the dinghy.

From the Cane Garden Breach, you can see just a little bit of the surf off to the right.

More pictures of the very nice beach at Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVI-

Cane Garden Bay is a picture postcard Caribbean scene with a row of nice, friendly little bars and restaurants lined up on shore with beach chairs out front.  Definitely one of our favorite beaches. 

By noon, we were sailing out of Cane Garden Bay heading west to Great Harbour at Jost Van Dyke Island.  This is the home of the famous(infamous?) Foxy's Bar.  And, Foxy, himself, was there entertaining and telling wild tales to all who would listen.

Here's the inside of Foxy's--lest any of you think this is a fancy place!  It definitely has a pirate feel about it.

Here's the bay out in front of Foxy's.  Our boat is out there somewhere.  All the boats do look pretty much the same.

These are some local kids hanging out in the hammock in front of Foxy's.