Monday, July 4, 2016

Island Hopping With JD Part II

Great Camanoe to Norman's Bight - 7.6 miles
Where do we go next?  The normal progression of moving around through the BVIs makes it easy... just follow the circle.  But we're not following the circle.  We're backwards and sideways.  We have JD for only six more days and there are still SO many places we want to take him... plus we need to be in Trellis Bay on his last night so that he can relax and not stress about getting to the airport on time.

We took a look at the weather forecast and the charts.  Luckily the longest sail among the islands is still a relatively short one.  We decided to go back to the west and begin our last week at Norman Island.
We passed right by Trellis Bay and the airport...
We rounded the NE end of Tortolla under motor, then turned downwind and shut it off for some of the best sailing we've ever had.  JD took the helm while Bruce and I relaxed.  This is the best kind of autopilot as it can make decisions for itself!

The few miles to Norman's Bight disappeared quickly and The Indians appeared on the horizon.

Sometimes you just get lucky and today was one of those times.  The moorings at The Indians are very popular.  All day long there is a steady stream of boats coming and going and today... we were coming when someone else was going.

Spotting an empty mooring from almost a quarter mile away... I was ON IT!  I quickly scanned the area for other boats approaching and there was one... dang it!  I started the engine and increased our speed... The other boat beat us there but our luck held and another boat let a mooring go just as the new boat arrived... leaving our mooring free!  Hooray!

I alerted my crew as to my intentions.  We don't have time to turn up and drop the mainsail in leisurely fashion.  The intensity in my voice and the determined look on my face galvanized them into action.  After a few seconds of staring at me and at one another... Bruce said "OK... if you think you can do this"... They hopped to it and got the jib rolled in.

I continued motoring directly at my objective... a small dot... while they scrambled.  You can see in this Google screenshot that there are two other moorings close-by.  There is actually one more just to the NE of the boat in front of us and a boat was on it.

I told the crew that I would approach the ball from downwind and turn sharply into the steady breeze from the east, at which time they should drop the main and then grab the boathook and turn their attention to securing the mooring pennant.  Again the stares...

But with people on the boat directly in front of us munching their snacks... we executed our plan flawlessly and were on the mooring in seconds at full stop.  I love it when a plan comes together.

The Indians
Engine off.  Sails secured.  Snorkel gear on.  And we were in the water within minutes of arrival.

The snorkeling was great even with a bit of a breeze... This was our first time on "the inside" of The Indians, having only snorkeled the outer wall on previous visits.  There the current can be pretty stiff but here, protected by the vast reef area, we enjoyed the feeling of protection.

After snorkeling to our heart's content we moved the short distance to our mooring ball near the westernmost edge of The Bight on Norman Island.


JD was eager to renew his acquaintance with the bartenders on The Willy T, an old boat permanently moored in The Bight where libations and food could be had, along with a raucous time if that's what you're looking for.

We dinghied over in the afternoon for happy hour and found few people there.  That was totally OK with me because a raucous time is NOT what WE are looking for.  We had the place mostly to ourselves and had a nice chat with the young woman serving drinks.

She told us she had come from the UK answering an advertisement to work in an office.  She then got the job on the Willy T working only two days a week and making more money.  Wonder how I can get a gig like that???

The following morning the guys dinghied over to snorkel The Caves just on the other side of the point while I tidied up from breakfast.  I needed some alone time and if doing dishes was the way to get it... so be it.

We left soon after their return, headed for our next anchorage at the lovely Salt Island.


Bruce and I have used one of the National Park moorings on the west side of Salt Island in the past.  There is a wreck there at 70ish ft that divers visit and the snorkeling is nice too if visibility is good.

Visibility was not good today with high winds and big seas, so we chose the more protected anchorage on the northern side of the island.

We motored around checking depths and looking for a sandy spot.  There was plenty of room and we were the only boat there upon arrival.  A charter catamaran arrived before sunset but we had the entire island to ourselves for exploration during the day.

We wanted to show JD the island so we dinghied to the beach and "secured" our dinghy with an anchor and a cinderblock... There's a little bit of surge in the anchorage but we thought it would be fine...

We were greeted by an eager chicken... She followed us around and we thought she was alone but others showed up eventually... I wanted to take her home with us as a pet!

Leaving the beach, there is a home where the keeper once lived.  They actually produced salt here from the salt pans behind the homestead. We visited the graves of the last inhabitants of the island.  There are no people living there now but it is still kept up nicely.

We walked across the flats and picked up salt from the edges of the ponds.  There was salt glistening in the dark sand all along the way.

Bruce likes my piece of coral...
We walked along the edges of the salt ponds and continued a short distance across the island to the west.  Here we found the rocky beach and could see the boats moored above the RMS Rhone.

The waves were crashing upon the rocks making entering the water for a snorkel just a bit too dangerous for our taste, so we contented ourselves with some beach combing before heading back to the boat where we snorkeled in peace off the stern.

Evidently our cinderblock was not heavy enough... Just in time!
Several of these were hovering above holes in the sand...
The snorkeling here started out as a dud... Other than some strange new fish I had never before encountered... the area around the boat was barren.

A nice sized Tarpon... wish they were edible!
But over near the outer edge of the anchorage there coral beds that were alive with all sorts of fish large and small...

The boys missed it!  Their snorkeling was done mainly around the boat and by the time I returned they were already rinsed off and dressed for dinner and a sunset...

The next morning we left early headed for the far end of Virgin Gorda.  We had another great sail, tacking our way along through the Sir Francis Drake Channel upwind.

We had every kind of wind from high to calm as we reached the lee of Virgin Gorda and then hit wind as we came out of the lee to the north and headed to the entrance channel.

Two other boats were making way to Leverick Bay and their proximity to us constituted a race!  We were proud to be the only finishers as we sailed in through the reef and didn't drop sails until we reached our mooring ball while the others motored in... Suckahs!

Bruce and I are taking every advantage of having CREW aboard!

We took the mooring close in because we expected some high winds and wanted to leave the boat to do some sightseeing by rental car.

We secured the rental and took off across the island.

Virgin Gorda is large enough to warrant a rental car.  If you want to go anywhere on the island by taxi, the cost of three people to one stop is more than the cost of a 24 hour rental... It's a no-brainer.

We had several spots we wanted to visit as well as some provisioning.  The drives over the mountains provide stunning views of the surrounding waters.  And seeing the road before you disappear into the ocean is a special treat as well...

We easily found our first objective... LUNCH!

Hog Heaven BBQ is perched high on the hilltop and the view alone would draw a crowd.. but the food is good and inexpensive!  SCORE!

The mooring field far below

Next stop, the old copper mine ruins!  We've been to the BVIs half a dozen times and never knew this place was here.

I don't know why it isn't more advertised... because it's really cool!

The thing I love the best about seeing ruins and such out here is that, unlike the US, they are 1.  So much less crowded... and 2.  Hardly regulated at all.

Even having signs posted and maybe some ineffectual lines strung along the path to keep honest people on the trail... is unusual.  There are few if any safety precautions... if you get off the trail and hurt yourself, well you shouldn't have been off the trail and it's your own damn fault.  I don't think they have lawyers outside the US at all...

There is copper leaching from some of the rocks

Looking down into a cistern

After wandering around the ruins for half an hour or so, we continued on to do some provisioning.  It was mid afternoon and we still had the car until 1pm the next day.  We made a couple of stops and stocked up on liquor (really cheap in these duty free islands.)

Once out of Spanish Town, we took the other route over the mountains with several stops to absorb the breathtaking vistas.

Spanish Town
Hog Heaven from the boat

Watch out for the Chicken crossing the road...
The next morning we took off again toward The Baths.  Sure we could have anchored the boat there and visited by dinghy... but we've done that recently... and we have a CAR!

The trail leads down the hill to the water, weaving around huge rocks.

Stop for photo op at Skull Rock...

JD What are you doing?  Boys will be boys!

The beach at The Baths

Entering the cave trail

Looking up from inside the boulder pile

Human assistance for some of the more steep climbs

Peaking out from the top

Almost there


On the way to Devil's Bay
Bruce and I have never continued along the path through The Baths that leads to Devil's Bay.  This time we made the trek and came out onto a very secluded and beautiful hidden beach.

Looking out into Devil's Bay

The Beach at Devil's Bay

Back up the trail to The Top Of The Baths

We didn't have time for lunch at Top-Of-The-Baths with one more provisioning stop to make and the car due back at 1pm... so we drove back across the island, sad about the end of our land mobility session but happy to move the boat to the next anchorage. We spent the night at Prickly Pear Island primed for an early morning departure to Marina Cay.

We sailed off the anchor, out through the channel and turned downwind for an easy sail with building winds to take a mooring for the night.  There are places to anchor but JD was treating us to a mooring ball AND dinner at Pussers!


Our boat from Marina Cay... check!
We took a spin in the dinghy and snorkeled a bit... it was unremarkable but nice for cooling off.  In the afternoon we dressed and went ashore for a walk around and happy hour before our dinner reservation.

The Painkiller, made famous by Pussers is the national drink of the BVI.  We have been making them ever since our first trip here, and have ordered them in many of the bars here in the BVI... but they are THE best here.

We were seated for dinner early and enjoyed our drinks with a view as a small rain shower came over. JD excused himself briefly and his seat was taken by THIS!

You know you're living right when a feline joins you for dinner.  Since JD had no date... he was happy for the company and for no longer being "a third wheel".

The kitty behaved himself very nicely throughout dinner.
Back at the boat with full tummies, we spend an uneventful night... I went to bed early while Bruce and JD talked into the night, reminiscing and solving the problems of the world... or whatever it is that men talk about in the absence of women.

The next morning we moved across the channel to find another mooring ball close to shore in the tiny artist's community of Trellis Bay, on Tortola.


We watched planes come and go all day.
Trellis bay is literally right next to the runway out of Beef Island.  We are here so that JD can walk to the airport for his flight back to reality the next day...

But we had one more afternoon and night to enjoy with our guest.

Metal Art
This place gets really going during high season with full moon parties and live music.  But during low season it is considerably more subdued.

We went ashore to do some last minute shopping and to see what entertainment was available for dinner.

Carved driftwood

Fire ball

We enjoyed a nice dinner at Da Loose Mongoose, once again JD's treat! There was live music just getting started as we finished our dinner and dragged our tired bodies back to the boat.
Happy hour before dinner was served...
In the morning, JD packed up his things and Bruce ferried him to shore.  We said our goodbyes and there may have been a few small tears...

JD was a pleasure to have onboard and acting as a charter boat was fun... but exhausting for us.  As soon as he left, we made a run by the grocery store and took off for Cane Garden Bay where we would spend several days doing laundry and just relaxing to allow our minds to slip back into Cruiser Mode.

Having guests is fun... But we're done for the season.  The US Independence Day was OUR Independence day this 4th of July...

Soon we will make our way to our Summer Home at Marina de Salinas in Puerto Rico... but first, a few more days in the Virgins all by ourselves.


  1. Absolutely in love with your blog and adventures. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Oh you're very welcome! I love sharing them and especially when I get such nice comments! Things may slow down for a bit while we're in a slip for the summer... but you never know. Adventure may be on tap again soon!