We had just dropped off our guest of the past two weeks at the dock in Trellis Bay. We were probably gone before his plane took off... and headed for our "happy place" here in the BVI.
We needed some down time. We needed some quiet. And this is the place to get it.
Play time was over... all of our friends were back home and Hurricane Season was fast approaching. Time to get real folks! Time to implement our Hurricane Plan... and we had less than two weeks to do it. We started listening to Chris Parker Weather again in hopes that he would give us good news. Plotting our projected stops between here and Salinas, Puerto Rico... we were happy to hear that the weather window was looking good.
|Primo Spot just off the marina|
It's been a while since we've spent any time in Soper's Hole. It's sort of a "touristy" stop with charter companies operating 24/7 it seems. But we lucked onto a prime mooring ball to spend our one night here.
There are some spots to anchor but they are either crowded or very deep... so we ponied up the $30 for the ball and relaxed.
Finally we decided that we MUST have passed it by and when a little girl on a bicycle came along and asked us if we were looking for the bakery.... (evidently lots of people wander around looking confused here)... we followed her right to the obscure "road" to our goal.
We gave the girl a few bucks for her help and tentatively approached what looked to be an abandoned home.
home catering business. He agreed to sell us some patties and a nice shepherd's pie that he had on hand and we happily left with our loot.
We stopped at the grocery store just off the boardwalk for a few more things and went back to the boat to rest up for our evening out.
Turns out that we were one of TWO couples in the place... except for maybe a feline or two.
Guess this "low season" thing is real! But it's nice not to have to deal with crowds of people and although maybe the menus are somewhat limited... we practically have the whole country to ourselves!
Mike and Jen - Three Sheets Sailing - were the first...
Followed by new friends IRL Jody and Peter from Where The Coconuts Grow. They had just announced their engagement and they were both just glowing... their bright white smiles lighting up the table! I can only imagine being newly engaged and beginning a life that everyone dreams of in this place.
|Birds feeding just off the restaurant dock.|
The folks at Customs and Immigration had allowed us to clear out the afternoon before, for an early morning departure before office hours.
|West End, BVI to Culebra, Puerto Rico|
|Morning at the outer reef|
For three nights we waited... and listened to the weather forecast. We hoped for perfect conditions to see us the rest of the way to Salinas,
|See that wobble?|
The following waves were kind of big with the occasional monster. We had all sails flying and were sleigh-riding again pushing our hull limit. We were almost out of control but it felt really good!
You can see by our yellow track here that we had to begin somewhat off the wind. We reconfigured our sails to wing-on-wing and sailed more dead downwind for a while... But with the big following seas we really needed to be a little off the waves and trim sails to that.
|Little hint of a waterspout there for a moment...|
We relaxed and floated around the boat and spent a restful night with no worries.
The next morning we were up again and moving on. The weather forecast gave us just enough time to get to Salinas before some unpleasant conditions moved in once again.
A strange sight caught my eye from off in the distance. I kept watch thinking it could not be what I thought it was... an oil drilling rig? Out HERE??? We haven't seen one of those since we sailed in the Gulf of Mexico!
So we're sailing along with the pole out on the jib and full main in 20ish knot winds and 4-6 ft. seas.
I told Bruce, "there's a boat that looks like it's towing an oil rig and I think we're in a crossing situation"
Bruce says..."We have right-of-way..."...
So... I hailed the towboat Captain and after a brief conversation in which I learned that he was indeed awaiting the arrival of a Captain, we agreed that I would hold my course. He was moving at a rate of 1.5 knots and would maneuver to avoid us if needed. We were making 6.5 to 7.5 knots and would easily pass in front of them.
It was at about that time that Bruce SAW the oil rig... and began freaking out! I wonder what he THOUGHT I had said... because clearly he had not heard me... He never listens.
|The waves were BIG!|
Sailing wing-on-wing was not an option with the waves coming from our stern quarter... we had to steer to the waves in long gybes. There was a minor wind shift that helped... without it we would have had to go much further out before we made our gybe to the lay line. (which we nailed by the way-that racing history pays off)
|Will these rollers take us onto the reef?|
|Safely past the danger|
But our worries were completely unfounded as the entrance to this calm oasis is wide open and easy! We actually sailed in and didn't drop sails until we were very close to the shore where we found a nice sandy spot in about 15 ft of beautiful water.
|The BEST of times...|
|Jezabelle enjoying the new smells on a light breeze|
|Inside Boca de Infierno|
We spent the afternoon placing some docklines on the pilings and cleats in our slip in preparation for our early morning move... then settled down to enjoy the cool evening and what would become a familiar sunset.
This is an ending... and a beginning. It is the end of freelancing, the end of new places, the end of uncertainty... for a while.
This will be our third summer. The first we spent in Charleston, SC. The second was a little marina in Gulfport, FL.