2009-2010 Caribbean / Bahamas Trip
Friday November 6th - Old Point Comfort, Norfolk, VA.
Today's the day. After two weeks of fraternizing in the Chesapeake we're going to head out the mouth of the Bay. We'll be heading generally east then south towards the Virgin Islands. Will we have to stop in Bermuda? We're hoping not but we'll soon find out.
Thanks to David & Donna on Merlin and Chace & Josie on Windaway for your assistance and, more importantly, your company during our last week in the Bay.
Saturday November 28th, Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, BVI.
Well it's about time you say, that this log got updated. So sorry for the long absence. It hurt us more than it hurt you...
Here we are, finally, in the British Virgin Islands. Did we think it would take as long as it did to get here? Certainly not.
We are currently anchored off of Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, having spent the morning snorkeling at the Baths. I'm not sure what all the fuss is about but at least now I have experienced it. The Baths are basically a bunch of boulders surrounded by pretty water. Being from New England perhaps I've already seen my share of boulders. At any rate, this is our third anchorage since arriving on Tuesday the 24th at Jost van Dyke. A happy day that was. After an 18 day passage from Norfolk, VA. we were more than ready to drop the hook and catch some uninterrupted shut-eye. For those of you who are gluttons for punishment a detailed log of our passage follows. For the rest of you, suffice it to say that the memory of the passage has faded quickly and I am now happily soaking up the tropical heat without a backwards glance.
Friday, November 6th, 36 37N/75 22W
We finished cooking and stowing, gathering weather info and fine tuning. The weather is in a pattern of no wind followed by strong wind. This is supposed to persist through the end of the month. Not great news. No perfect window/rhumb line trip is going to present itself to us in the near future. We've decided to take advantage of a no wind period to cross the gulf stream and make some easting even if it means having to use the engine. With any luck we'll get a strong wind period not too long afterwards. We pulled up the anchor at noon and headed out of Old Point Comfort toward Cape Henry with a north wind of 15-25. Nice. Sadly the breeze began to drop by early evening. By 11:00pm we had run the gamut of the Norfolk shipping lanes and were beginning to motor. The wind had disappeared. (You'll note that this becomes a theme.)
Saturday, November 7th, 36 17N/73 12W
Sunrise had us approaching the Gulf Stream. We watched as the water temperature increased from the low 60's into the 70's. We were able to raise the sails again with a wind out of the north at 8-12k. We received a friendly dolphin greeting. They were amazing to watch as they splashed and jumped in the amazing sapphire blue of the Stream. We were back to motoring in the afternoon. One ship spotted overnight. Calm night, sailing again on a beam reach.
Sunday, November 8th, 36 07N/70 44W
The Day of the Bird. Grackle? Starling? We made the mistake of feeding and watering the fellow, hoping to fortify him for his continued journey but, of course, he decided to stay a while. He was definitely a messy guy. Raisins were a bad idea. Meanwhile the sailing was reasonably good, wing and wing. The weather router has advised us to stay pretty far north and to continue east. This is a very difficult thing to do since it is not the direction we'd ideally like to be heading. Apparently there is foul weather south of us and we want to avoid it. At this point we're even north of Bermuda. Heartbreaking. We were able to switch to a reach before nightfall. A one ship night.
Monday, November 9th, 35 45N/68 15W
The dirty bird remains. I think he spent the night under the dinghy which is strapped down to the foredeck. It was a motor day for the most part. We are considering a stop in Bermuda, if only to top up the fuel tanks. A beautiful night with a sliver of a moon and spectacular stars.
Tuesday, November 10th, 34 41N/67 08W
We'd pretty much decided to make a stop in Bermuda till we talked with the weather router. Don't go to Bermuda. They are going to be getting some heavy weather that you don't want to be a part of that close to shore. Hmmmm. This was going to be interesting. South we would go to take advantage of this nasty east wind. First we had to try to remedy a problem we were having with our battens. They kept popping out of the front end of their pockets, just aft of the batcars. Very troublesome. We have tried sewing and a few other things that have yet to prove effective. Some sterner measures are going to be needed before it's all over. At any rate, it was a nice sailing day with 10- 15 NE. The standard midnight dance with the jib.
Wednesday, November 11th, 32 09N/67 46W
The wind started out E/NE 15-20. The first reef line snapped. Happily we were able to replace it (while reef #2 was doing duty) before the wind piped up to 25-30+ with gusts to 40k. Reef two is working full time at this point. Squally. The boat is riding comfortably. Another 24 hours of this and it will swing to the SW, same speed. Oh, Joy. At least the E is from the right direction. The new leach line pocket came apart. Happily not a crisis. Talked to Hans at Monitor about some of the finer adjustment points for the wind vane. This was when the wind was blowing 35-40k. He was very helpful and the vane performed like a champ, as it has now been named. I am definitely feeling a bit more in control where that item of equipment is concerned. The wind eased up as the sun set.
Thursday, November 12th, 30 37N/68 07W
A much calmer morning. Got the sewing machine out on deck and reconstructed the Jib's leach. We were feeling a bit rushed as we were expecting 25-30 this afternoon. Added the third reef line. We are hoping to regain a bit of our lost easting with this W/SW wind. It was a beautiful morning, sunny and finally warm. Much more appealing than the doom and gloom of yesterday.
Friday, November 13th, 30 21N/67 14W
Last night was long and full of squally weather from the SW. 25-35, gusting to 40k. Thunder, lightening, etc. The boat was lovely. This morning the wind came around more the S, driving us more NE than SE. We tacked to the W so we wouldn't lose any of our southerly progress, such as it is. This tack would also allow us to head for the western edge of the east moving front, getting us out of the squalls sooner (i.e.. tomorrow afternoon) according to our source. We are moving slowly so we don't lose much of our easterly progress. It's just a vicious circle. Despite the howling wind we decide to take our first showers of the trip. The sun is out and we are becoming a bit offensive. Hang on and don't stand up till you rinse the soap off your feet! It was very therapeutic. Another long night in our quest for southerly progress.
Saturday, November 14th, 29 41N/66 48W
More squalls last night. Heaviest rainfall we've ever seen. We tacked back toward the SE when the wind started to go more to the west. This will make our third pass through the squalls! Daylight brought some sun and better wind. We were able to head SE in earnest. All during the trip the battens have been causing us grief. The arrangement that secures them at the luff involves Velcro and it seems to be giving up the ghost. We finally lost a batten last night during the sail flogging that comes with reefing. Happily we have a spare. The UV cover on the luff of the jib is now giving way as well. The leach of the staysail is also going to need some work. Performed yet another in a long line of midnight sail trimming drills. Saw a ship heading east. Lots & lots of pockets of lightening dancing in the night sky. The wind, which had departed briefly, returned early in the a.m.
Sunday, November 15th, 28 08N/65 23W
Our daily lat/lon check-in with Dad. Celtics now 8-2, Pats to play Indy tonight. Roger was able to check in via SSB with Merlin & Marianna as well. Beautiful morning. Blue skies. A seagull on the bimini. S/SW 15-20. We still can't quite do the rhumb line to BVI. We understand that we have two more days of favorable but diminishing winds. After that nothing. We could be out here a while.
Monday, November 16th, 27 14N/65 17W
What wind there was came from the S. We want to go S. A bad combo. With the light winds and waves to climb we can't point high enough to make sailing worthwhile. We bob. Still too far out to run the engine. A frustrating day. During my 12-3am watch I chatted with Titan, a 115' charter sailboat headed past us toward Antigua. We discussed the weather (naturally) and their charter schedule. Needless to say they have no diesel constraints so before long their running lights disappeared from view and we remained in our wind-free, bobbing, rolling world.
Tuesday, November 17th, 26 57N/65 20W
The router says that if we can position ourselves S of 24N by Saturday we may get some NE wind. We decide it's worth using some fuel to head toward that goal. If we are above 24N it will take "considerably longer" to get wind. Considerably longer would be very disheartening. We begin to motor south. We check in with Merlin & Marianna on SSB. Marianna headed into Winyah Bay after an overnight and Merlin is holding down the fort in Burley Creek.
Wednesday, November 18th, 23 59N/64 59W
I thought I was going to be calling this entry "The night of the dying duck" but happily, no. Last night at sunset a duck made several laps around the boat before landing haphazardly on the starboard side deck. He was slightly entangled in the lower end of the shrouds but was able to extricate himself. Almost immediately he adopted a nesting position and his head dropped to the deck with a resounding thud. Resting or expiring? That was the question. The fellow didn't move an inch all night and I began to formulate a simple eulogy. Over breakfast Roger and I debated which one of us was going to heave the remains over the side when Roger noticed the bird had disappeared. Not five minutes had gone by since we last laid eyes upon him and he was gone. Problem solved. I have since consulted the bird book and deem him a brown booby. Other than that, we continue to motor towards 24N (our destination is at 18 and change) to get some wind. With luck we will make (an appropriate) landfall before Thanksgiving.
Thursday, November 19th, 23 46N/65 07W
Engine is off. We are drifting and waiting for wind. Spend the morning on the foredeck with the sewing machine making repairs to the jib and staysail. Roger bolted the spare batten in place. We won't lose this one (we hope.) Motored for 2.5 hours, took showers, ate dinner and began another night of bobbing around.
Friday, November 20th, 23 10N/65 19W
Waiting promotes anxiety and anticipation in equal measures. Spare time allows you to dwell on what could still go wrong. I hate it. We had wind for two hours this morning then we bobbed and read for the rest of the day and night. Made muffins. Frustrated.
Saturday, November 21st, 22 36N/65 30W
We sailed briefly in the morning. What wind there was too southerly. We put the engine on attempting to get closer to the hoped for wind which will perhaps arrive tomorrow evening. Two slow moving dolphins visit at twilight. Bobbing.
Sunday, November 22nd, 20 59N/65 22W
Wind!!!!! Not only wind, but wind from a good direction. We stopped our drifting and had all sails set by 6:30 am. The breeze was gentle at first, moving us along at only 4 knots but by afternoon it had freshened so that we were moving at over 6 knots. The wind held through the night and Monday morning found us with less than 100 miles to our destination. How did that happen?!
Monday, November 23rd, 19 26N/64 53W
The wind has continued and strengthened. Although this is great it means we are going to have to slow the boat down so we don't arrive at Jost van Dyke in the dark. We try a variety of sail combinations and reefs before we settle on the main with one reef, the staysail and a heavily reefed jib. We are also sailing a pretty tight course so that we don't have to make up any easting before tomorrow. It's exciting to be so close but frustrating to have to restrain the boat after looking for good sailing wind for six days. Perhaps it will all be forgotten when we drop the hook at our destination in the morning. Saw a sailboat for the first time this morning. Couldn't raise them on the VHF though. Encountered yet another sailboat in the middle of the night. When it rains it pours.
Tuesday, November 24th, Jost van Dyke, BVI 18 26 52N/64 45 11W
After 18 days and 18 nights we arrived at Great Harbour, Jost van Dyke, British Virgin Islands at 7:00 am. We hoisted the Q flag, made eggs, had a bourbon and a beer and went deeply, blissfully to sleep.
The rest of November, The Virgin Islands...
Tuesday November 24th - 26th, Jost van Dyke, BVI
We spent the next three days doing as little a possible. We went ashore several times to walk along the shorefront road. The road is the main drag through the village and is the place to see and be seen...by the fellow who drives the White Rock Taxi, the Customs woman being picked up by her husband after work, by the guy who has a great limerick about a man from Boston in his Austin and by a bunch of charterers doing the same walk. We did stop several times to try out each of the local rum punches. We found each to be very drinkable. We made the requisite stop at Foxy's where I had several Sleazy Breezes. These were also very tasty. Foxy was ensconced on a resin chair adjacent to the bar chatting with a boater. His dog, some variation of a chocolate lab in a state of disrepair, lounged by his side.
For Thanksgiving I defrosted the very expensive turkey breast we had transported all the way from the Whole Foods in Annapolis. Also on the menu was a homemade pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes (instant), cranberries (canned) and corn (also canned). This is supposed to be paradise. No need to overdo it in the galley. After our lovely meal (which finally included the bottle of champagne we were supposed to consume upon arrival), we took the dinghy around the point to White Bay to swim off their lovely beach. We usually swim off the boat but in honor of the holiday we thought we'd make a special effort to try something new. It was a fine holiday all in all.
Friday, November 27th, Norman Island, BVI
We left Jost at about noon and headed to Soper's Hole on the west end of Tortola to get fuel. We found that we had nineteen gallons left at the end of our Norfolk to BVI passage. We could have motored a bit more but better safe than sorry. While we were tied up at the fuel dock I dashed to the market to buy as much fresh food as I could fit in one Bean bag. We were good to head to our next destination, Norman Island. Norman is one of the Islands that borders the Sir Francis Drake Channel on the south. It has a very nice anchorage protected from the NE swells. We were not alone. The Bight, as the anchorage is known, has two bars (and nothing else) on opposing sides of bay. This draws a large contingent of charterers who are up for partying. We spent a very calm, if a bit noisy night.
Saturday and Sunday, November 28th & 29th, Spanish Town, BVI
It occurred to us that Saturday is boat turn-over day for charterers. This suggested that we might be able to find a mooring available at the famous "Baths" at the southwestern tip of Virgin Gorda. We hastened through our chores and headed east. Sure enough we were in luck. By ten we had picked up a mooring and were dropping over the side in our snorkeling gear. It's true that we are not the most experienced snorkelers in the world but the Baths didn't really strike our fancy. We have seen some beautiful dive sites in our somewhat limited experience but I don't think I'd count the Baths among them. Could it be that we were in the wrong place? I don't think so since we kept bumping into other snorkelers. After our snorkel we made our way up to the anchorage outside of Spanish Town. along the way we thought we saw Windigo III anchored along a beach. We first encountered Windigo III in the Bahamas two years ago. We were both headed down the Thorny Path. They to the Virgins where he would teach sailing and we to the Dominican Republic. We knew it must be them because we could see their pedal-powered dinghy on the shore. One we had our anchor down we sent them an email suggesting we try to catch up. Who knows? In the afternoon we went ashore to look around. There were many things a cruiser could need adjacent to the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor. A supermarket, a laundry, customs, and a restaurant/bar. This would mean, sadly, that I was going to have to finally do the seven loads of laundry we had created since Baltimore, our last laundry stop. Chin up. At least it was next to the bar. We were also able to take a dinghy ride past Merlin, a boat that a friend keeps at the marina for Winter respites. All looked well from the outside.
Monday, November 30th, Buck Island, BVI
After a few tasks including the changing of the zinc, we pulled up the hook and headed towards Tortola. Tortola is the biggest Island in BVI and it has several chandleries available to the cruiser. We wanted to spend a night at the Village Cay Marina but we wanted to arrive in the morning so we made an intermediate stop at Buck Island. Buck Island is a small Island which lies just outside Hodges Creek. Because there is a marina and a mooring field at Hodges Creek no one seems to bother with Buck Island. We dropped the hook in this lovely spot and found ourselves alone in an anchorage for the first time in the trip. Heaven.
2009-2010 Trip Logs