A Travellerspoint blog

Peter Island via Gorda Sound

Gorda Sound N18 29.949 W64 23.251 Peter Island N18 21.331 W64 35.193

sunny 81 °F

Carol struggled yesterday on Anegada, mostly the heat, she is a Nordic Princess after all, but the heat also seemed to tire her. Anyway, I thought that an easy day was in order. My intent was to sail from Anegada to Peter Island, quite doable in a day, but it would probably be a fatiguing day for her at the end. So, I broke the trip into two legs, the first of which was to return to Gorda Sound on Virgin Gorda. At most 13-15nm, an easy day, leave late and be there by noon. The battery level was down too far and I had the engine running to build the charge back up to a better level.

No time pressure and I am in the cabin reading my WSJ on my tablet, something which I have done very little this trip. Even in the cabin you can get a derived sense of the boat by watching the pattern of the sun on the bulkheads. In this case, the bright spots were moving way too much, but that thought had not quite broken through to full awareness. Then I heard a guy shouting and went topside. At first I thought that he was saying the the dinghy was adrift. Looked at the stern, not there. Checked to starboard, not there. That left the port side, and there was the problem: somehow, and I cannot come up with a possible concatenation of events, the dinghy had moved to the portside, despite being attached to a starboard cleat, and had snagged the mooring ball pendent with the stem of the motor and the propeller. The solution was obvious. I did a swan dive from the deck into the dinghy and pushed the pendent down to clear the propeller, which was harder to do that it first looked because the wind pushing the boat tautened the line. That done, with no easy way back into the boat, I scaled the side like a monkey, using fingers and toes on the slippery, wet surfaces. This episode completely trashed my inner Wa. Since the engine was running and we were both topside it seemed like an invitation to get underway, so we did.


An easy day for Carol, anyway. For me, not so much. We were sailing close hauled, yet again, and barely moving, 3-4 knots in a very nice 12-15 knot wind. Poor sail trim! I started mucking about with the opening angle between the two sails. Nothing helped, much of it slowed us down even more. One of the sailing maxims I inherited, from I know not where, was: light winds, tight sheet and we were not in light winds. And still the mainsail continued luffing. We were in the same winds that has moved the boat well but now no success. Having run out of what I thought were good options, I next went to not so good options. The only thing left to do was to tighten the sail. I winched in the boom vang line and, cha-ching, you could feel the boat leap forward. That worked so well I decided to tighten the outhaul. Another cha-ching, but smaller this time. All of a sudden we had gone from 3-4 knots to 5-6 knots, about right for the wind. Fair enough, I had the sail trim wrong. However, the loose sail that I tightened today, had worked perfectly for so many days prior to this one.

Since we had arrived by about 1130, we took a clockwise tour of the sound to see what we may have missed earlier. Not much. There are three large marina/restaurant/hotel complexes on the sound. All are closed down until October, probably for hurricane season and the lack of visitors in the stormy and warm months. We are back in Leverick Bay.

Carol came across an interesting app the other day: boatyball.com. There are hundreds of mooring balls in the BVI, many ill maintained and, therefore, dangerous. The going rate for one night is usually $30. These boatyball guys have put out mooring balls in most of the good places in the BVI which, they claim, are well maintained and safer. Most mooring balls are round; theirs are somewhat conical, like a nun buoy. This design makes it much easier to snag the pendent with a boat hook. In addition, the pendants are 2-3 feet longer and have two floats. A superior product in every aspect. We are on one today, and we pay online: $40, but who cares. Sailing has to be one of the world's ten oldest professions and I am delighted to be able to do some sailing thing online.


The concept of homes, here in the BVI, and almost any other island, fascinates for some reason. Setting aside the difficulties of moving material and workers to remote places, there are two other challenges: power and water. In the days past homes had cisterns to catch rain water, but this soil is very rocky. If you have electricity you can desalinate water but the process is very power intensive. These homes on Necker Island, at the northern entry to Gorda Sound, seem to have worked that out with 3 wind turbines. I doubt that they have any problems keeping their phones charged.

Peter Island


Today was a very good day, maybe even a great day. We got underway about 0730, found the channel markers, and cleared to open water. Within a few minutes, the mainsail was up, on the first try. That's better than is sounds because my vertical feet raised per unit of time was probably the slowest ever, but up is up. The trip from harbor to harbor was a bit more than 17nm, a fairly easy morning. Things learned: (1) shorten the dinghy painter; (2) keep the mainsail tight. Sailing just doesn't get much better than today, a day that should be stored, somehow, to be replayed experiencing the feel of the boat pushing against the water, the wind flowing against your body and face while in the cockpit, the fresh, clean smell of the water. The wind was perfect, the first half of the trip we made about 6 knots, later about 5 knots. Along the way we saw great gouts of Sargasso seaweed. And, maybe for the first time in the history of the 4.5 billion years old world, Carol got the mooring ball pendent on the first try. An unusual day.

I understand using the wind as a tool to move the boat in a direction. That's pretty simple stuff. What I do not understand is the wind itself. How can the wind be steady and then have a great gust? Or, how do you account for a "hole" in the wind where it drops to almost nothing and then is back up again in 100-yards? Regardless, the wind was cooperative today and that made the sailing great.

Our passage was marked by several lesser island in the chain. These are nothing spectacular but do give a sense of what we saw on our port side today.


Ginger Island


Cooper Island


Great Harbor on Peter Island is mostly deserted now. Very few boats in the harbor. I seems fairly sheltered, a secure place to moor. We tried to find the boatyball moorings which are supposed to be here: zilch, It also comes with a giant eyesore: some sort of derelict barge in moored in the center of the harbor. This is the wall of green and of rock that lies to starboard. Looks pretty much like every place else that we have been here. After looking at it for a while, the vegetation seems to have some austere beauty to the eye of this beholder. Admittedly, this is an acquired taste.

I have continuing my cruisers' showers from the swim platform. This is a bigger boat, so it has a bigger platform. But something new learned: there are pistons to help lower and raise the platform. On the 38-ft. boat these did not work. On this boat the pistons do work and, despite being much bigger, it is much easier to lift. A good thing too, because I do not think that we two could manage it if they did not. So today I used the platform to try out my new fins, mask and snorkel. The mask didn't work too well, a lot of leaking perhaps because of my beard. What I did see was not too interesting. Some fan coral and a lot of long spine sea urchins. Some of the bottom was sandy, the rest was rocky. Ho hum.

I have read a few books on photography. In none of them was there any advice on how to take a picture from the deck of a moving boat. The QE II, easy peasy. A 42-ft. sailboat, not even close. A gimbled camera mount would only account for pitch and yaw. It would be no help for the up and down cause by waves. As a result, most of my pictures tilt down, generally to the left. My Adobe Photoshop on this computer does not allow custom rotation. So, the blog pictures are goofy looking. At home, with a better version of Adobe Photoshop I will set them all straight.

We have several more days on the boat but, already, our minds are shifting to the mechanics of yet more Covid tests to get into Puerto Rico and back to the States, flights and other prosaic things. Life has a way of intruding on everything. We will leave here tomorrow, there being no reason to tarry any longer. Carol will be picking the rest of our destinations so I do not yet have a place or a route to get there.

Posted by sailziveli 19:38 Archived in British Virgin Islands Tagged islands sailing british virgin bvi

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