Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A Dream Come True

They say Second Time's A Charm... and while this is certainly NOT only our second time around the BVIs... it IS our second time this week...  As soon as Omega disappeared in the distance, we took off again!  Destination, Leverick Bay.  Again.  Yes, we sailed right by several islands we wanted to visit, happy in the knowledge that we can hit them when we come back this way again in a few weeks.  We were on our way to meet up with some Cruiser Friends who were about to continue on their way down island and we didn't want to miss them.  We made it there in time for happy hour and somehow no pictures were taken... but it was good seeing them as it will be Grenada next time we meet up...

Entrance to Gun Creek
With a little bit of melancholy over the departure of our Friends From Home still lingering... we gradually shifted from Charter Mode back to Cruiser Mode.  It's strange but somehow, being here in the BVI again, it's like we almost don't know HOW to let go of our Charter mentality and get back to what we've been doing all these months.  It's like when you go to grandma's house, you're always a ten-year-old...







Public dock at Gun Creek
We had to consciously break out of the chains-that-bind and get our Cruiser Mojo revved up again.  There's nothing like doing boat chores and laundry to do that for you... After a day of backbreaking work, we consulted our charts and took a look around.  We needed groceries and the little store in Leverick bay is so expensive.  We had heard that there was another store a short walk up the hill from Gun Creek.







Yellow track from Leverick Bay to Gun Creek Anchorage
We motored the less-than-two mile distance around the corner and found a sandy spot in about 25 ft to drop the anchor.  We were on the "wrong" side of the anchorage... the lee shore, but there were several boats across the ferry channel and we were only staying a short time.

N18°29.507
W064°22.893











The dinghy dock and our BIG bag of trash!
We know we're really back in Cruiser Mode now because before we went ashore we had to redo the chain-to-rope splice on our anchor rode... Boat chores never end... AND because we're once again blazing new trails.

Gun Creek is kind of off-the-beaten-path.  You can't see it unless you're looking for it and it isn't glamorous like so many of the BVI anchorages.

There were people hanging out in the shade outside the Customs & Immigration office who directed us where to deposit our huge and stinky bag of trash (for FREE - I think they just didn't want to mess with collecting our money...) and pointed the way up the road to the Buck's Market.



Right at the end of this road...
For those of you taking notes, you go up the road and turn right at the T, then as the road curves off to the left, you exit to the right where the power poles are.  Go down a steep hill where the pavement ends and curve around to the left until you see the Bucks Market to your right.

If you are here... you've gone too far.  Go back and take the steep hill road down


Buck's

This market really did have better prices than the stores in Spanish Town and Leverick Bay.  We picked up a few things, including two bottles of Pusser's Rum ($13.99 each - everywhere else in the BVI we found them for nothing less than $15.99).











We were anchored in someone's back yard...
We have always wondered about the high prices for groceries on these islands.  Are the residents really paying this much for sustenance?  How CAN they???  Now we know that while prices are still not CHEAP... there are places to shop that are more reasonable (read: less shocking).


Yellow track across North Sound
We returned to the boat and hauled anchor to make another short jump across North Sound to Prickley Pear Island.





This is another place we've never visited before... in fact, we've never been to Saba Rock or Bitter End either!!!  We briefly considered going over to Saba for their happy hour and to see the tarpon feed... but at this point we both needed a little down time.


Uninhabited Prickly Pear Island
We had been running with our friends all week and that's not normally how we cruise.  We take lots of breathers and just enjoy the scenery between spurts of activity.

We relaxed for a while before taking the dinghy to the beach for a walk.

N18°30.308
W064°22.289

Crab

Happy Hour on the beach


See the eye!!!
We found a conch shell with somebody living inside.  For one brief moment we considered taking him and trying our hand at fresh conch... Naaaa...  Conch just isn't good enough to warrant the work.

His little eye was looking at us... The look on his... eye stalk thing... was so sad, we just had to let him go...








He wasn't waiting around for me to put him down...

Taking matters into his own... foot?... he began waiving around trying to turn himself over... his toenail scraped against my hand in a totally creepy way!  EEEK!!!

Ahhhh he touched me with that cold scratchy claw!!!

Pretty good reach!
We met a group of young people (30-somethings?) on the beach and answered their questions about cruising...  They were from Louisiana... never met a Cajun we didn't like...  We left them alone and walked back along the otherwise secluded beach to our dinghy.

Dos Libras with Leverick Bay and Virgin Gorda 

One lone goat kidd

Poison Apples

One ray cruising the shallows



It's funny how you figure things out and wish you had long ago...  With the prevailing wind, this anchorage is superior to Leverick bay.  The water is flat but the wind still blows through to cool things down and keep no-see-ums away.

If you don't need anything from Virgin Gorda... hang out here!  And the sunset is better!








New neighbors coming in
In the morning we took our time getting ready and hauling the anchor.  We couldn't decide where to go!  So many choices!




Moving toward the exit...

At first we chose Marina Cay.  Why?  Because it's where you GO!  But then we reconsidered.  What is there that we really want to see?  We've been there many times.  There's a store and a restaurant... and so-so snorkeling...  And the anchorage is crowded with mooring balls leaving little space for us freeloaders...

Prickly Pear Island to Lee Bay, Great Camanoe
We expanded our search area and chose another little bay that isn't on the Charter circuit... Lee Bay.

N18°28.265
W064°32.059













Anchored close to the beach
Now keep this to yourselves if you can... I totally considered lying and not telling anyone about this place so that it won't become crowded and lose it's charm.

There were three boats there when we arrived but two of them were leaving.

We motored in closer to the beach than the other boats, checking the depths should we swing toward the shore (unlikely) and attempted to anchor on the northern end... but after three tries with the anchor just bouncing along the bottom, we moved toward the middle and found a sandy spot deep enough to hold us.

When we checked the anchor with the lookee bucket, we found it in the proper position and dug in, but not deep, so perhaps the sand is only a foot or so deep over rock.  But, with the wind coming over the island and protected by hills, even with brisk winds we felt secure... and in two days never moved.



After our nap (hey, cruising is hard work!) we dinghied over to explore our beach.

We took our snorkel gear with us... not expecting much... and were pleasantly surprised!  This was better than Monkey Point!

Again, lots of snorkel pics!

Didn't look like much to begin with.  Waves lapping on the sandy shore

Baitfish and lots of sandy nothingness


New sighting, some kind of worm!

New sighting, busy little creature.  Lobster's distant cousin?

Feather Duster Worm

Christmas Tree Worms on coral

New sighting - YELLOW worm things...






I can SEE you!  You aren't hiding!!!


Looks delicious...

Partially covered Flamingo Tongue Snail

EEL!!!

Not a great pic... but EEEEEELLL!

Take a look at this short clip.  The tube-worms disappear when you get too close.  Some types are more shy than others.  These yellow ones are a new sighting for me... 



Dinghying out of our anchorage in Lee Bay
The next morning we had to do some minor problem solving.  Remember our refrigerator is out of commission?  Yes, how can we survive and why am I not losing my mind over this???  We've got a freezer and it keeps the majority of our delicate food cold... and we've been buying ice to keep the (now) ice box cool.  There being no store here in Lee Bay, we had to figure something out!


Back through the passage between Great and Little Camanoe
So we get to visit Marina Cay after all!
A (long-for-us) dinghy ride away back around the south end of Great Camanoe and we have the fuel dock at Marina Cay!

So we take our gas can and our cooler bag for the ice, I get a shower and put on civilized clothes so we don't look like Cruiser-Riff-Raff and off we go.

We pulled up to the fuel dock...  The plan: while Bruce filled the gas cans I'm was going to go in and check out the prices on their Pusser's Rum to see if we had been swindled (back at Gun Cay - and no, the rum is $2 more expensive here)...

Somehow the next few moments are blurred... The dinghy moved to the side as I stepped onto the dock... but I transferred my weight to solid ground and saved it...

I stood up, turned around with the dinghy painter in hand and began pulling the dinghy closer to the dock... and the line just kept coming... I lost my balance and took a step back... and there WAS no step back!  I fell right off the other side of the dock into the water!  Fully clothed!  With my little backpack (iPad inside) on my back!  KerSPLASH!!!  Unfortunately there were no pictures of this!

I came up sputtering and gulping down the water that went up my nose.  Very SALTY water!  My sun visor was floating away, my backpack soaked!  I quickly removed the iPad, luckily the waterproof LifeProof case DOES work!  I looked around, laughing to see if there were any witnesses I would have to kill... Bruce was staring at me open-mouthed like he was waiting to see if my head was going to spin around and flame spurt out of my nose!

I couldn't tell by the body language of the folks fueling up down the dock, nor the attendant... that they had witnessed my shame!  So I sent Bruce on to get the gas while I sat myself safely in the dinghy to consider my position.  He returned and convinced me to come into the Pusser's Store with him... dripping wet.

Inside the ladies admitted that they saw me go into the water.  I laughingly apologized for dripping on their floor...  They seemed disappointed that I hadn't lost a phone when I told them that my iPad had a waterproof case... they wandered off.  So much for my attempt to present a decent image to the locals...

Soooo... with gasoline and ice onboard, we returned to our boat to find something to do with the rest of our day!















This spot looked good but we chickened out...
More snorkeling!  We tried the north rocky shore of the anchorage but there was some surge making it impossible to safely land the dinghy...

Thank GOODNESS we moved to the southern shore and found a little cove to anchor the dinghy!!!!

There was still a bit of surge so we stopped short of the rocky shore.  There is a sort of ravine cutting down the rocky face of the hill here that is piled with strangely uniformly oval shaped rocks... like river rocks!

There are all sizes and they are wonderful.  My parents would have had a truckload of these if they could!

Bruce anchored the dinghy aft to keep it off the beach, then took the forward line to shore and secured it to a rock.




Under the surface, it began looking similar to The Baths.  There were huge boulders tumbled into the water and we swam around them.

More snorkel pics below and a couple of videos at the end.  We saw some fish we hadn't seen before and they were all just going about their day... paying no attention to us.








Not our best look...


Scrawled Filefish?

White Spotted Filefish?

I honestly can't identify these fish, I've looked but haven't had any definitive luck...  Moving on... We began to get cold so we turned our attention to the cliffs rising from our snorkel grounds... I LOVE rocks!  And I love climbing around on them!

And the view was gorgeous!  I left Bruce down at the bottom in the river rocks... 
Easy Climb

The end of the road - do not try this at home!

The reward - the VIEW



Bruce joined me when he saw how easy the climb was.  We sat there on that rock in some random pinprick-of-a-place on this big ole planet... and we mused about how our best times were always the unplanned and unexpected ones.  Sometimes we just happen upon a place that is ours alone.  These are our happiest times... when it's just the two of us....

But our zen was momentary as my eye locked onto what looked like a shallow cave on the cliff opposite where we were...  I must see what's inside that cave!













He DOES love me...
We climbed back down to the beach where Bruce picked out a perfect rock for me... He tried to bring it home with us but it proved to be a bit much... So he settled for a smaller version...


When I told him I had my eye on another rock climb he balked.  He sat himself on a rock and was happy to let me go on without him as I climbed the ever increasingly difficult rocky pile.

My climbing companion



How am I going to get up that last bit...?
My Old Goat...  (tee hee... don't tell him I said that)
When Bruce realized that there was a CAVE (he never listens to me when I speak) he hastily made up the distance between us.  He reached me just as I was wondering how I was going to manage that last big step...  Then he just scrambled up that rock like a goat and was on the ledge above me looking down!

Checking for tigers

Help ME!!  I can't do it!!!

Too bad... the view is nice...



I'm coming up...
I almost didn't do it.  I almost just waited for him to come back down... But then I started thinking about how pissed off I would be at myself if I didn't make that last effort...



Looking up.  Not going up there...
Once again we stared around at the amazing world that is ours.  These are the moments that keep us going.  When things break, and it's hot, or the seas are big and bad... we remember that this is what is in store for us if we persevere.












His way...
Our sense of accomplishment was huge!  It may not have been much to a real rock climber, but it was challenging enough to give us a feeling that we had really done something...














My way...
The way back down was much easier of course... only a few scuffed places on my rump and we're back to earth.


Unhooking our anchor from the rock

Our cave 
The next morning we left Lee Bay with lots of snorkel spots remaining be explored on our next visit...

Our next stop IS on the Charter circuit... but we didn't stop there last week.  It is one of our very favorite anchorages in the BVI... Cane Garden Bay!

We set sail... yes... I said SAIL!  We turned off the engine moments after raising the anchor and just ghosted right out of there.














Yellow track from Lee Bay to Cane Garden Bay
We let the wind take us where it would and for a while that was almost nowhere.  We laughed as our speed went from 6+ knots then plummeted to less than 3... Bruce almost lost his mind.  He kept threatening to start the engine and every time he did, the wind would gust and our speed would pick up...



Rain in our future...
We were sailing along and we could see some dark clouds in the( not too) distance.  It was nice out here, but soon we would be turning down into the path of what looked like a serious squall.  We made our move and saw the rain coming...


Suddenly we were hit by a gust and the boat leapt forward.  We were moving along at over 7 knots!  Woo hoo!  Thank goodness for the cockpit enclosure!  Our point of sail in relation to the wind and waves was still comfortable, even with the gusts.

Very soon a spot of blue sky heralded the passing of the squall and things settled down nicely, just in time for our final approach to the narrow cut in the reef that protects Cane Garden Bay from swell.


We have always taken a mooring ball in Cane Garden Bay, but there is plenty of room to anchor.  In fact, I think the spot we dropped the hook was in better position than most of the mooring balls.  We got right up close just outside the swim area in about 15 ft with good holding on a nice sandy bottom.

N18°25.524
W064°39.557
Stunning scenery

The beach lined with bars and restaurants

Dinghy Dock

Quintessentially Caribbean style

The Police Station

The new Provisioning place
It was strange looking at CGB through the eyes of a Cruiser.  First, there's the anchoring instead of mooring.  Secondly, we needed some provisions.  We've never had to buy food here before... We were happy to see that there was a Bucks Market here AND a new place that just recently opened up.  A little competition never hurts!

This spot is on the right just after you come up to the street from the dinghy dock.  Open late!












HUGE Carrots!
Bucks still has the best selection for most things though so after picking up some ice and bread at the new place, we did a little more extensive purchasing at Bucks.  They had the most AWESOME veggies that were just going onto the shelves when we arrived.




















Sitting in a beach bar watching OUR BOAT swing at anchor in CGB...
We had planned to have happy hour or maybe dinner at Myetts (our Favorite place here in CGB) but we ended up wandering into this little beach bar...  Mark one more thing off of our bucket list...

We met a couple there, Leslie and Carl on Frolic, and got so involved in conversation and rum punches... that we decided to skip dinner out and just find our way back to our boat and have leftovers.  Myetts will still be open when we return in a few weeks...

We learned a lot of things from our conversation and even met up with them the following morning to buy a Sea Eagle inflatable kayak from them...  We had some fun learning to drive it in the calm anchorage.



Schlepping laundry
But into each Cruiser's life a little (a lot) of laundry must come...  Not only was Cane Garden Bay a good place for grocery shopping, it also had TWO laundromats within walking distance.  We took our two big bags of clothes to shore and spent the morning watching the three big machines churn.  There was another couple that arrived shortly after we did with two very sweet little kids.









Unfortunately the tiny boy had a RAGING case of pink eye.... and both kids had sticky suckers that they were practically bathing with.  I kid you not, they would get the sucker wet in their mouths and then rub it on their arms and hands... and then they wanted to come hang out with US!!!  OH NO!!!  My germ-phobia was going NUTS!  So... as soon as the washers were done, we loaded up our wet clothes and went back to the boat to hang them out to dry.  Oh well... saved us a few bucks!

It was while we were in Cane Garden Bay that I learned of a refrigerator Repairman here on Tortola.  With the AT&T data plan on the iPad working this close to the USVIs... I was able to arrange for a visit and a slip in Nanny Cay.












Yellow track from Cane Garden Bay to Nanny Cay
So the next morning (Sunday) we regretfully left Cane Garden Bay and began another feast-and-famon sail around the West end of Tortola and back up the other side to claim our slip in one of the neatest places we've been to in the BVI.

Nanny Cay Marina has a well fortified entrance lined with a rock breakwater that made the waters inside the basin flat and calm even though there were some bouncy waves just outside the entrance.

Our slip was on A Dock and very close in to shore so our walk was short.  There was plenty of space between the docks, although there were some BIG boats there that stuck out into the fairway.

I worried about getting out when the time came, but it ended up being easy with light winds and most of the big boats had moved away.  Lucky!

Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself here.   We made our home on the same dock as Necker Belle... Sir Richard Branson's little (HIGE) day sailor...

Couldn't get it all into one picture!













I wouldn't know Richard Branson if he had been the guy installing the new washing machine on this boat... but I don't think it was him...

Upon arrival, we made ourselves at home thinking we would be here for one night and then leave.  One night turned into three because it just works out that way.




Beautiful grounds
The people on the dock were just so nice and we instantly felt like family!  Pam and Rick on Southern Girl were two boats down... We met Lennie and Page, nice folks working on the boat next door... and best of all...

Bruce doing laps in the pool

Dos Libras in the middle - Necker Belle at the end

I was able to FINALLY meet one of Sailing Blogdom's most brightly shining stars... Brittany from Windtraveler!  AND her more-adorable-in-real-life little girls!

Yes I have arrived!  We had a pool date with Brittany and the girls.  She is so sweet and welcoming and the girls are constantly moving and really good swimmers!

There are a handful of Bloggers to whom I can attribute our being out here cruising right now... and Brittany is at the top of that list. Without her candid posts making this all seem so doable, I would probably still be sitting at a desk quietly going out of my mind...

Yes, as busy as these babies are... I got some snuggles!
Nanny Cay Marina and the surrounding area have just about everything a Cruiser could want.  We enjoyed our walks and some shopping.  There is a RiteWay Grocery on the grounds and a C&D Grocery outside on the main road to the left within easy walking distance.

There is a nice little chandlery a bit further down the road, Wickham's Cay Riggers stocked with an extensive variety of sailing baubles.  There is a Yamaha place and a Budget Marine Store on the premises as well...  And a boatyard... AND Alfred's AC & Refrigeration Repair!  Oh yeah... we're here to get our fridge going again... I remember!

Alfred came out on Monday morning and fixed us right up.  He was SUPER nice and answered all of our questions... kind of like a Marine Refrigeration 101 for Cruisers.  As our horizons expand and we realize that there really IS life outside of the USA... this guy goes on our list of GO-TO servicemen...








Yellow track Nanny Cay to West End, Tortola
And with this, our time in the BVIs (for now) comes to a close.  We made the short hop to West End to clear out the Country and suddenly we were back in the USA!  The US Virgin Islands... that is...

There were no tears this time because we will be back soon!  Being on our own boat in the BVIs has been a dream come true many years in the making.