A Travellerspoint blog

Norman Island

N18 19.048 W64 37.175

sunny 79 °F


Here we sit, in the Bight, at Norman Island, on a mooring ball, this to our port side. So, how did the first day go? In a pass/fail system we passed. Got from the marina to our selected location. Did not sink the boat. Did not damage any other boat. So, we passed. But using a more nuanced system, say a scale of 1 to 10, we were, at best, a 3; I had hoped for a 4 but the mooring ball killed that aspiration.

I am a dedicated user of waypoints; you cannot get in trouble using them; you can calculate time and distance; they are great for route planning. While Carol was doing her thing at the medical clinic, I figured out how to create and enter waypoints in this chart plotter system. This is the best system with which I have ever worked. It will do stuff that I do not even know needs doing. One other surprise: most screens, probably LCD, are unreadable with polarized sunglasses. This one is not a problem.

We looked pretty goofy once we got past the channel entrance. I was half steering and half trying to figure out how to use the waypoints that I had created. This took a while, but I mostly have it figured out now, mostly being the critical adverb.


Having hit the second waypoint in the Sir Francis Drake Channel, we went for the gold ring: sails up. Here the descent from a 10 to a 3 started. To deploy sails the bow of the boat needs to be pointed directly, constantly into the wind. I had Carol do this, something which she has never done well in the past, and did even worse today, going 90o off course, on both sides. The problem created is intricate. This boat has a “lazy jack,” a series of lines that keep the sail vertical when recovering it. The sail has battens, somewhat flexible reinforcements every few feet of height. By allowing the boat to take wind from the side, rather than the bow, the battens got tangled with the lazy jack, snarling everything. Took a while to unsnarl things, had to put the boat on autopilot to stay in irons. We got past that and sailed OK for a while, on a broad reach down the channel. I mishandled the sails on a course change; got that corrected. Then it was time to take in the sails. I do not know what happened, but the main only came about halfway down the mast. I had to go onto the deck to manhandle it into position. We will have to try something different the next time but do not know what different may be. Sometime we passed Pelican Island, pictured above.

Then into the mooring field. We did not know whether these mooring balls would have pendants to put around a cleat; they do not. This was an ugly sequence and, relying on the kindness of strangers, we got secured to the mooring ball only after a nice man came over in his dinghy to help us. In fairness, the wind was pretty strong which added difficulty, but not an excuse.


So, here we sit, like this bird, humbled, tired, and having an absolute assurance that there is an infinite amount of room for improvement. With a third person on board, we could have gone for the Three Stooges; lacking that we will have to settle for Stan and Ollie.

What a name! Norman does not rise any imagery of pirates, adventure, or other exotica. There was no particular reason to have chosen this location other than it was reasonably close, less than 10 nm. We are in a bay called the Bight, which is well protected. From what we have seen, the island has no human activity except for a couple of bars/restaurants at the head of this bay. There is a floating bar on our starboard side, a metal hulled vessel seemingly permanently anchored there. The cruising guide said that parties there can get loud and raucous. There are not a dozen boats in the Bight; does not seem like party time will happen today, even if the bar is open.

I had to do a little catch up one my phone. I should have loaded an app called Sailflow, before we left, although I did check the weather. The man who helped us said that there was some weather coming through tonight. He may be right, but the forecasts do not predict any.

We will sleep well tonight; we are both tired, possibly a little dehydrated from the wind and sun. We will have to watch that. This evening will be easy: dinner, a G&T, and then we both probably collapse into bed.

Posted by sailziveli 22:44 Archived in British Virgin Islands Tagged islands sailing british boating virgin bvi

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