A Travellerspoint blog

May 2021

Preflight

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It seemed appropriate to use a sunset as marking the end of the dreaded quarantine period. It is good to have put that behind us. Lambert Bay needs to be a memory, not a fact. We are not too far from Beef Island, it being visible to our right from the patio. Carol raised an interesting point: we have seen several boats move towards the passage between Beef Island and Tortola; they have not returned. Were they taking a shortcut to get from the north side of the island to the marinas in Roadtown. The answer is not clear, to me anyway. That passage is very shallow, not passable with a sailboat, but maybe with a catamaran or a smaller fishing vessel.

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Carol thought that this rainbow was important. Having just read about 1,000 pages of Rome in the time of Caesar, Pompey and Cicero, it was hard to reject the issue of auguries, always observed, but seldom taken seriously by the Romans. So, maybe, this is a harbinger of better days; or, maybe not. Regardless, we got our 2nd Covid test results, negative, and our travel certificate. Then to the police station to be official, which we now are. So, the end of the beginning, this beginning stretching into mid 2019. Take a deep breathe and exhale very slowly.

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Having mentioned unusual amenities at this resort, we saw a new one today. This saurian creature walked by our patio, not much disturbed by our presence. We had last seen such beasties in January of 2012 on SW Allen's Cay in the Bahamas. Ugly then, ugly now.

We are now at the Moorings hotel, which is integrated with the marina. And, there are now issues, albeit minor compared to that which has preceded. We had been promised that we could store a few things prior to boarding, get them out of the hotel room. Well, things change and that is only a memory. Not a problem. We will cope.

While Carol was out doing Carol stuff, I had a walkabout at the marina. I still love looking at boats, that will probably never change. But, I did not have the compulsion to own one; that seems to be out of my system, fortunately. I was surprised by the boat inventory: many more catamarans than monohulls, maybe a 2:1 ratio; the boats were humongous, including the catamarans, some going to 58-ft. I saw two 38-ft. boats, only one of which said the Moorings. So, unless the boat we will be on is on a charter, that is likely to be the one. I couldn't help feeling that with our small charter we were ruining the property values.

Lots of stuff has changed since our boat was manufactured in 2002. Today, every monohull I have seen here has two helms (i.e. a steering wheel). I can see no practical reason for that to be the case. One of the helms will will lack visibility to the chart plotter and other instruments. It also seems to me that boat handling in close quarters will be harder from not standing on the centerline. On the other hand, maybe I am a 74 year old guy who has not kept up with the times.

Granted, it has been three decades since we were here, but I am having a serious case of cognitive dissonance, my memory being challenged by what I see around me. The city center of Roadtown might be about 2/3's the size of downtown Asheville, stretched out between the water's edge and the steeply rising hills behind. It has traffic lights, roundabouts and some multilane roads. In other, it's a regular city, just not a huge one. I remember no such thing. There were no paved roads, sand was everywhere, palm trees were prominent, it was uncluttered with building the kind of which are here. Best guess, maybe the marina was in a different location in those days.

Memory is a curious thing. It is possible to know something, be aware of it, but, still need to be reminded about it. Carol's purview is the galley, also called a kitchen. Over our boating years bartending has devolved to the galley, it being the location of ice, tonic water, glasses, and, finally, but not necessarily, gin. I know that she has a very heavy hand in the ratio of gin to tonic, especially with my drinks. I know all of this, I do, And, still, I seem to be surprised when one of her drinks knocks me onto my skinny ass. Maybe she is trying to have her way with me; perhaps it is that she wants me to relax, which I cannot avoid. Regardless, I do sleep well at night as long as I limit myself to a single one of her creations. Carol has rescued the trip having found a store that sells Tanqueray gin.

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This is the view from the balcony, here in Roadtown. I have been watching the marina activity below. The mostly empty pier to the left seems to be the area from sending charters off and having them return. The concourse between the rows of bows is extremely wide, wide enough that any shaky boat handling starts will not end up in collisions. It's pretty simple to tell a boat's status: if white folks are on it, a charter coming or going; if black folks, then the boat is being moved about the marina.

Hard to see, but houses start in the flat area and go up the mountain. Higher is almost certainly more expensive, nicer, and bigger. It's hard not to think about H.G. Wells' eloi and morlocks. Maybe his purpose was to highlight the social differences at the end of that era.

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Well, there has been a new twist, an unexpected turn of events. Carol managed to trip, somehow, and must have landed on her face. Stitches in her lip; a cracked tooth. Tomorrow will be many things, but it is unlikely to be the 1st day of our trip.

Posted by sailziveli 19:32 Archived in British Virgin Islands Comments (0)

Quarantine

sunny 83 °F

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Step 1 was preparation to travel. As I said in a previous entry: intensely un-fun. Step 2 was actually traveling. This entailed the usual indignities and affronts associated with airports and airlines. But, the trip itself was not too taxing. After deplaning all passengers were taken to an area where we all had nasal swab Covid tests. The wait to clear immigration & customs took about 99.9% less time than the last trip through Vancouver.

Step 3 is quarantine, where we find ourselves now and where we will remain until we have 2 negative Covid results. The deal is that all arrivals have to have a prepaid reservation for five days and the day you arrive at the airport here doesn't count. There are five designated quarantine hotels on the island; none are in Roadtown, the principal city, maybe by design. The BVI plan is simple: a Covid test, at the airport one day 1, and another on day 4. The second negative result is the get-out-of-jail card. I suppose that this double regime makes sense for a very small place with very limited resources. Acknowledging the logic does not mean appreciating the quarantine.

Day 1
I have been dreading the quarantine, a confined prisoner with no freedom of movement. This is entirely irrational; I know that. We are going to be on a 38-ft. boat, confined with even less freedom of movement. But still, the sense of confinement persists for the quarantine, while we have sought out the boating experience. This prisoner mentality is not helped by the fact that we have to wear wide, purple wristbands to flag our status as quarantinees. In addition we were given location devices, like the ankle bracelets for home confined prisoners, to wear until we have negative Covid results.

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My admonition to Carol was that if I have to be "in jail" for five days, I do not want to be in a 6-ft. by 10-ft. cell. Find a suite kind of place if one exists. Carol did, in fact, find a suite kind of place. It's wonderful. This is the patio maybe 50-yards from the ocean. As deaf as I am, we are close enough to the water that even I can hear the waves lapping at the shore. We had our celebratory arrival gin & tonics on the round chaise, a multi-use place that surely has been used for many other nocturnal activities. We have not only the room to move about in the suite, we can walk around a bit on the grounds around the patio. I made an illicit foray to the beach to take the top picture. The quarantine police have not yet come for me, but it's still early and we are on island time.

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Our room is really nice and this resort seems like a place that has all the usual amenities, although we cannot move around the grounds to see them. But I did notice, this morning, that it does come with some unexpected amenities: a rooster, several chickens and a cat. This is not a bad thing; I'm deaf enough that the rooster cannot bother me. One of the chickens had several chick-lets. This cat is pretty scrawny and I am surprised that it had not gone after the little guys which seem like easy pickin's. Maybe the cat understands island time. It is, however, a persistent animal, constantly meowing, constantly trying to sneak into the room, which Carol is constantly persistent in preventing. So far, Carol is ahead on points but it is still early days.

Since we are confined to our room, we cannot go to the bar or restaurant. So, for now, everything is room service which is kind of cool... for about one meal. After that, not so much. Although, I have noticed that the Nordic Princess does not seem particularly upset about having her Coca-Colas hand delivered to her. We had our first room-service meal, breakfast, at the patio table. Seriously nice, although the same breakfast, served on our deck at home, with the dogwoods in full blossom, would have been equally appealing to almost anyone.

Movement... it took about 24-hrs. for our airport Covid test results. Negative.

Day 2
Our Verizon phones work here, at some considerable extra expense. This is important since we plan on using our phones as mobile hot spots to connect to the internet when we are on the water. The initial prognosis is good. The Nordic Princess, for whom a phone is like oxygen, has, with some help, learned the secrets of making international phone calls which she did most of our first morning here. Not a surprise. The Wi-Fi at the hotel, which was pretty good, for a while, just disappeared thanks to a general power outage.

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We have seen pelicans by the hundreds in our travels over water and the blog has several pictures of them. Despite this, I had never given them much thought. With little else to do, this bird has caught my attention, mainly because the rock upon which it chooses to perch is in a direct line of sight from the round chaise on the patio. Most of the pelicans we have seen were floating on the water; the rest, like this one, perched somewhere, sometimes a single bird, more often in groups. Of course, we were usually moving and saw them only as a snapshot in time. I've been watching this guy for couple of days now and it has shifted my thinking from peleicans as part of the landscape to the pelicans as pelagic predators. This bird is voracious, but most probably are to survive. It is off the rock and into the water, dozens of times a day, occasionally hunting with another bird. Given the piles of pelican poop on the rock, this must be a good vantage point from which to seek prey. It is good to see familiar things in unfamiliar ways.

I have been spending most of my time on the patio, in the chaise. The patio generally opens to the north and east, and I have been watching the clouds scudding past from an easterly direction, from my right to my left. The have all been cumulus, fair weather clouds. Mostly they are the proverbial cotton balls but, occasionally, jumbling together and bunching up to make a cloud with a dark-ish bottom. There is no weather harbinger in these. All looks fair.

We are on the north shore of Tortola, on Lambert Bay, a wide but not deep body of water. We have seen a couple of sailboats anchored here and it was nice to see them with sails up making weigh as they headed to new waters. This bay is surrounded by hills, some over 1,000 feet, so we are well sheltered on the lee side of the island. The wind pattern, if one can be seen in a couple of days, is that an hour or two after sunrise and the same period before sunset the winds are very modest. From mid morning to late afternoon they seem quite brisk, given that we are in a sheltered location. On the open water they will probably, hopefully, be quite enjoyable.

Enough wind is always a relative term determined, in a large part, by the boat's size and weight. On our 36-ft. Živeli, it took about four knots before the boat would bestir itself to move. It sailed comfortably, but not quickly, at 7 to 8 knots. At 12 knots it flew and at 15 knots it was about time to take in some sail. On a this 38-ft. boat I'm guessing that the pattern will be about the same by adding one or two knots to those numbers.

It has been very quiet here. No people walking by our area, save for Alex who brings us the food we ordered from the kitchen. There are two TV's, one in the sleeping room and one on the front room. Carol told me that Netflix is available. They have not yet nor will they ever be turned on by us. That leaves reading, Carol and my preferred gateway to other places and other times. We both love to read but several uninterrupted days in a row of reading 16 hours a day as the sole activity other than eating is getting tedious.

A lot has changed, reading wise, since our cruising days. At one point, on our last Bahamas trip we had a cubic brick of books in a waterproof bag about 2.5 feet on a side. That seems like a lot but the pile had books was for both of us who read quite different books. Today, we each have Kindles and tablets, each of those holding more titles and hours of reading than that brick could have ever provided. A kindle and a tablet together are about the size of a single paperback book. On the other hand, each of these devices needs to be charged; charging requires a cables, with different connectors. The cables need to be hooked up to either A/C or D/C power sources which requires adapters. So, a brick of books has been exchanged for a snake pit of cables and adaptors. Progress of a sort, I suppose.

Day 3
In an hour or two we will be half way through the quarantine period. Maybe this can be called an inflection point. But, I am not a glass half full, half empty kind of guy. My thinking tends more toward the glass being 2% empty. We humans have been given the ability to imagine, to dream, to think about a future that would be better if something which had never existed before were to be created: think the wheel, writing, the computer. Striving and achieving seem to me to be integral to the human condition, so I do.

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Having had one negative Covid test, we are now on parole, and can walk about the beach without worrying about the quarantine police. Carol made had her first exposure to the sun, having spent the previous two days inside. Having survived skin cancer, you have to wonder whether she is incredibly courageous or incredibly crazy. We saw a plant with these flowers. Quite attractive. The plant was growing maybe a dozen yards from the beach, an intensely hostile environment; not much water, lots of salt. It is nature's imperative that life shall endure.

My google research showed three large grocery stores on the island, all in Roadtown. Yesterday Carol arranged for a small delivery to our room. Having been told that I have Ciliac disease, she has been trying to find gluten free stuff for me to eat. For some reason that was fairly easy on our Canada trips. Stores and restaurants all had some offerings. Here, I think that will not be the case. The best that may be possible is a gluten lite diet, and maybe not that. However, the package contained one important quarantine combating weapon: a bottle of gin. I can claim no epicurean palate, sensitive to the subtleties of taste and smell. Despite this I have a complete conviction that Tanqueray gin makes the perfect gin & tonic. And I was stunned that it is not available here, despite being a venerable British product. So, Bombay Sapphire gin will have to do. It is a poor substitute.

On the patio it is hard not to think about the wind as it passes through the open area. So, this morning I did, again. It seemed a little faster. I checked the Beaufort scale; probably about 10 knots, some small whitecaps, but this on the the lee side of the island. The weather here has been wonderful, so far, although I did feel a couple of raindrops this morning from a passing cloud. The temperature has been in the low 80's; the humidity has to be very high this close to the water. But the temperature and humidity to not combine here to be oppressive; this feels better than similar conditions did in Charlotte.

This afternoon I had a radical idea: I'm at the beach, there's water, there's sun. So, I got a beach chair and lightly sautéed myself, just short of a sunburn. Then I went for a swim. The water was quite warm, very pleasant. A great afternoon. Dinner was what it was... but dessert was key lime pie washed down with gin & tonic water. A great evening. Feels kinda' like a vacation even if it is a quarantine.

Day 4
At home my cell phone is never far away. I have a series of apps that I use everyday. It is more of a pocket computer than a communication device, not a surprise, since Carol is the only one allowed to talk. The only times the phone has been turned on here was when I needed better download speeds.

Today, we got our 2nd Covid tests, at the hospital in Roadtown, there and back in about an hour. The driving here is not for the faint hearted. The vehicles have American steering, on the left hand side, and British road rules, driving on the left hand side. Some of these hills are tall, so switchbacks are everywhere, the roads are very narrow, all in all, maybe tougher than our mountains. Didn't even expect that. We got a glimpse of the marina, mostly masts. The city looked clean, maybe prosperous. Not so many people around, but it was 11 a.m. They told us 24 - 36 hours for the results to come back which creates a bit of a pickle with check out, check in times. This is manageable.

Today, it has finally hit me: quarantine fatigue, an oxymoronic concept that doing nothing can wear a person out. This has been dead time for us, it accomplishes nothing and does not do anything to move us forward. The only consolation, that of negative comparisons, is that a year ago most quarantines were 14 days, not 5. So, I'm back to that 2% empty glass. So, I will end this entry, and move on to the good stuff.

Posted by sailziveli 15:55 Archived in British Virgin Islands Comments (0)

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