Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Island Hopping With JD

Dinghy dock in Great Harbour YVD
OK, let's get this party started!  The mooring field at Great Harbour, Yost Van Dyke has a LOT of mooring balls... but they are almost always taken.  Here we are in June, which is low season, but there are still boats cruising around in the mooring field in hopes that someone will give up their ball.

We have anchored in about 40 ft. here several times at these coordinates:  N18°26.444, W064°45.103.  I'll share this with you but if we show up you have to give up our spot! We've tried anchoring several times to the east near the wall in more shallow depths, and although it LOOKS like nice sandy bottom, it is mostly rock and the holding is dismal.

The anchorage is surprisingly calm even with a slightly SE wind.  Looking at it on the chart you wouldn't think so.  There is not a whole lot ashore here.  There is a Customs and Immigration office of course...It is conveniently located at the head of the public dock.

I've heard all sorts of stories about the Officials being less than... well, official.  But on the day we were here, the office was packed in the late afternoon but we were treated very courteously and with unexpected efficiency. We were charged extra for clearing in after 3:30 however, so next time we will know to get in earlier or wait for morning.

There is the Famous Foxy's bar and restaurant and they have a nice shop next door.  We didn't visit Foxy's this time as we had planned to eat onboard... but we did visit the shop for some t-shirts.

Yeah, I know... we're really party animals.  People confuse us with Delos all the time!

But really we were only here to clear in before moving on.

Our next stop was Cane Garden Bay.  This is really one of our all-time favorite places.  We can anchor just off the swim area without interfering with the moorings in crystal waters on white sand.  The holding is good, but with the surrounding reef and land it's hardly needed.


NOT paying for a mooring ball means that we can spend as long as we wish here.  There are two grocery stores and two laundromats within easy walking distance.

The distillery is past the cemetery...
We came here many years ago on a charter with JD and his memories of this place were marred by the north swell coming in at that time.  The boat rocked and rolled that night and the waves grew so big that they tore the wooden plank where the dinghy was tied and tossed the dinghy onto the shore.  It was not a good memory so we were happy to replace it with this tranquil scene.

We did some provisioning and laundry, but our day wasn't all work.  In the afternoon we hiked out to the Callwood Distillery to take the tour.

It's really easy to miss the small sign that marks the left turn that takes you to this dilapidated old place.

Sure it's kind of a dump, but that's part of it's charm!

Bananas growing on the property

And Papaya!

And Breadfruit

The distillery doesn't do tours on Saturdays... but when another group arrived expecting the tour they gave us the abbreviated version... We did the rum tasting and found it entertaining that the story we got from the girl before the other people arrived was VERY different from the story the tour guide told us...  Maybe they're making it all up.

No matter... even if they aren't really making rum here now... I think they used to at one time and it's all very interesting to see.

We took a walk on the beach and spent some time back on the boat before we got dressed up for a dinner at Myett's Restaurant.

Myett's has one of the most recognized sunset views in the BVIs.  It's really something.  Another thing that's really something is seeing your own boat anchored out there too!

Even with the Sahara Dust Haze, this sunset is beautiful and serene.

We had a delicious dinner and danced a little jig on the beach as we headed home for the night.

Little bit of rain but it never came our way
Early to bed and early to rise again for an absolutely perfect sail to Anegada.

Normally we sail from the north of Virgin Gorda to Anegada... but it looked like we would have our two days of good sailing conditions and kindly seas now.

Some squalls were lurking about but we never saw a drop of rain up close... only from a safe distance.  This tiny tail caused a moment of excitement, but it was more about me wanting to get a picture and not that it could cause us any harm... The picture doesn't actually catch it all... You can almost see the very thin stream reaching almost to the water.  Then it disappeared and the sun came out.

It was nice to have another crew member out there.  It cuts our work in half and JD wants to do everything he can to soak it all up!  And we let him!

Cane Garden Bay to Anegada and back 
The wind direction changed for us in a good way.  We started out tacking but then things leveled out and we were able to just set the sails and forget them all the way to Anegada!

Land Ho!!!

Our purple track shows our spot
It seemed that we arrived at the entrance marker for the channel into the anchorage all too soon.  Why had it seemed like it took so much longer all of the other times we've been here?  Maybe all of our experience has made what once seemed like a big deal seem insignificant now.

Maybe our months in the shallow waters of the Bahamas make this anchorage seem like child's play.


The dinghy dock
I asked one of the Locals about it when we were sitting at the bar later in the day... He said it wasn't that the entrance was particularly treacherous... but that many years ago a charter boat missed the island.  They had to be rescued somewhere out in the Atlantic.  Since that time, many charter companies do not allow their boats to come out here and that has just stirred up the gossip making this passage a bigger deal than it really is.

Bonding with our dinner...
Not wanting to take a mooring, we motored around the perimeter of the mooring field and found ourselves a spot in sand just off the reef and outside of the mooring field.  I think we got the prime spot with a very short dinghy ride to the Anegada Reef Hotel's dinghy dock.  We got on the VHF and hailed the hotel to make our dinner reservations.

Their days are numbered...
There are a couple of other places to eat here on Anegada, but the Reef Hotel has the legendary Lobster dinner that makes our mouths water and brings us back here time after time.  When Bruce first began coming here the dinner was only $30 per person... It is now up to $55 per person and if JD hadn't been treating us to dinner, we probably would not have splurged for it this time.  Thanks JD!

We went ashore to look around and to see if we could find a T-shirt that I was looking for... The town has really grown and I saw a laundromat that I never realized was there before.  I guess when you come here on a charter you aren't looking for those... But now we can spot them a mile away and make permanent mental note...

Happiness is our boat in this view...
There is a nice beach on the other side of the island with awesome snorkeling inside a protective reef.  The sand is even a pale pink... We offered that up to JD but he opted for sitting at the beach bar hobnobbing with the Locals instead, which suited us just fine.

By this time JD was really beginning to unwind and enjoy himself.  It was good to hear him laughing and kidding around with the bartender and the other patrons.  We got friendly with one guy who was chartering with his daughter, and even arranged to sit together at dinner this evening.

We returned to the boat for a brief rest and to get cleaned up for dinner...  Our reservation was for 7pm.  There was only one seating and even though there were quite a few boats out in the anchorage, they must have all been eating onboard.  There weren't many people eating out tonight... Maybe it was the $55 price tag that did it...

When we returned they were getting ready to put the lobsters on the fire and we had time for one drink before we were seated.

Once seated, dinner came quickly.  Side dishes are served family style and we each got our plate with two big lobster halves.  Broccoli and a rice dish came with it this time but you never know what you'll get with this dinner.  I was hoping for brussel spouts like we had last time...

The rain also came quickly... It has rained on us every time we've eaten here.  Every. Time.

He never stopped chewing...
And like the other times, the wait staff came running out to help us all get our plates and drinks out of the rain. We all sat at a long picnic table under the patio roof and finished our dinner as if it was no big deal to be rained on during a $55 dinner eaten on crappy lawn furniture in sand...

Have I mentioned this dinner was $55 per person!!!?  Plus drinks! Guess I'm really a cheapskate now... dinners like this would never have phased me in my previous life.  Now they are almost unheard of!  Thanks again JD!

It was exceptionally good lobster though... and the ambiance was superb as well!  Rain and all!

We made it back to our boat with nobody falling into the water... and dreamed of the next day in hopes that it would be as perfect for sailing as this one.  And it was.

Upon arrival in the lovely Lee Bay Anchorage, the guys pumped up our little Sea Eagle inflatable kayak.  JD's snorkeling mask was broken and I think he was reluctant to use ours although we have several spares onboard.

I watched them paddle off arguing about the correct way to perform this exercise... Poor Bruce gets it from every direction.  He never gets to do things his way!


The anchorage here at Lee Bay has no moorings, no services ashore and nothing to do really except for snorkeling and enjoying the stunning beauty and peace of this place.

I'm not gonna lie... I enjoyed watching those two paddle away.  Having company is exhausting and this was my opportunity for a little "alone time".

Anchorage on the left
And this is the perfect place for it.  The cove is on the west side of Great Camanoe Island.  Much of the anchorage is deep, over 30 ft.  But there is plenty of room up very close to the beach with depths of 15-20 ft. The northern end of the cove has lots of rubble and rock so holding is poor.  But between the middle and southern end of the beach there is a bit more sand and the anchorage is nicely protected unless there's a north swell...  The wind comes over the dip in the island but the water stays flat.  It's just perfect!

The boys returned and of course there was dinner onboard, sundowners... and the sundown!

We are tired by this point.  Bruce and I are just not used to moving this much.  We like our slow life and while having a guest who is as good a friend as JD is can be lots of fun... there is a certain amount of stress involved.

Cooking three meals a day with the exception of some dinners ashore is exhausting.  It would have been the end of me if not for the fact that JD was washing ALL of the dishes and cleaning up the galley after every meal.  He was also cleaning the cockpit and making sure everything was stowed away before we got underway every day...  He was really just the perfect guest... And ladies... he's single!  Wink Wink!

By this time we are half way through the BVI's.  Take a bathroom break and I'll meet you back here in the next blog post...

Thursday, June 23, 2016

USVIs - One More Stop

That's the BVIs in the middle... We're THAT close!
Waterlemon Cay was one of our best snorkeling stops ever and we wanted to recreate that day for our guest.

I think we disrupted our JD's morning routine.... Bruce and I were up early sitting in the cockpit when we just decided to take off.  With no preparation at all we started the engine and began motoring the very short hop around the corner.

JD came up from below looking a little bit rough as he blinked us with a WTF look on his face...

It's pretty subdued looking in the morning...
We arrived before 7 am and tied up to one of the National Park's free (for day use - there's a charge for overnight) mooring balls as close to Waterlemon Cay as we could get.

By this time we were all ready for breakfast as we watched the colors on the water go from a deep unassuming blue to the vibrant turquoise that comes with the kiss of the sun.


Francis Bay to Waterlemon Cay

Quick look at the beach.
Snorkeling isn't great until the sun is much higher in the sky, so why did we get here so early?  Well, snorkeling might be best done at high noon... but hiking is NOT.

We planned an early (read: cooler) hike up the hillside to the Annaberg Plantation ruins.
JD embracing cruising life!

Having JD along to take pics of Bruce and I together is a plus...
I've been up to the ruins before, but Bruce and JD have not.  I enjoyed showing them the way.  This time there was a woman in the Bake House making bread and serving drinks.  She declined to have her photo taken however, which is a shame... because she was very pretty in her period costume.

Also different this visit was the charcoal making exhibit.  This was just a pile of dirt last time I was here... today it was smoking and hot.  There were men in the shed behind the pile chopping wood and waiting for the charcoal to be ready for removal from the pile.

I had no idea that's how charcoal was made... It was a hot job for sure!

There was also a man dispensing samples of fresh coconut and some local fruits.

By the time we were done wandering around it was getting really hot... snorkeling beckoned!

I don't know what the difference was between this time and our last visit to Waterlemon cay... but the experience was not quite as vivid this time.

There were no birds feeding on the surface as the fish drove the bait up from below... But it was still a neat place to visit.

We snorkeled until we got cold and were ready to move on.  It still gives me a kick to just hop aboard, start the engine and in minutes we can be in another country.

This time we cleared into the BVIs at Yost Van Dyke.  It was after 3:30 when we arrived so we had to pay an additional fee of $15... but we had already paid the yearly cruising fee so it was still only about $20 to get our 30 day pass.

JD was flying out on the 4th of July so that gave him 11 nights to explore.

He went in with me to clear in and then we gave him the honor of taking the yellow quarantine flag down and raising our hand made courtesy flag for the BVIs.

We strolled around the little settlement and visited some tourist shops so that JD could make some purchases, then we settled back on the boat for dinner and a sunset.

It may seem like a lot from a charterer standpoint, but 11 days isn't much to properly "see" these beautiful islands.  But Bruce and I are dedicated to doing our best to show our guest the best of the BVIs, in spite of forecast windy conditions!

Stay tuned...