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Our Omega Event for Sailing

sunny 80 °F

Here we sit in Soper’s Hole for another night. Carol has decided that she wants ice cream for dessert, and it is on hand at the Harbour Market. She also claims that I am tired, a way of saying that she is tired, and that we need a day without travel, a day to rest. I am OK with that.

This trip was always going to be the consolation prize: the “kids” could not be here; we have no access to the USVI; 17 days in the BVI is a lot. What made the trip, for me at least, was the incredible, consistent wind. I would estimate that we wind in excess of 10 knots well over 90% of the time. Almost every time we put up the sails, we could sail like we had rarely done before. This was good, very good. The other nice surprise was how good Verizon’s cell coverage is. I have always been able to get to the internet, always with good 4G coverage.

I have another trip that I very much want to take: Croatia, a place most Americans could not locate on a map. It runs along the eastern side of the Adriatic Sea and includes Istria and Dalmatia, places where the rough sandals of Roman legions once marched. At Croatia’s southern point is Dubrovnik, dubbed by Lord Byron as the Jewel of the Adriatic. I have charts and charter agreements with the intention of going there next May. This is not a whim; I have literally been researching this trip for years.

My career was, more or less, an advanced degree in real life. One of many lessons I learned, and one of the few lessons that I taught, was intellectual integrity, a fancy name for learning to look at things objectively, as they are, not as a person might hope, want, wish or need them to be. The first step of all twelve step programs is recognition of having a problem, hard to do if a person is not dialed in to objective reality.

I now find myself, and to a degree Carol, in the uncomfortable position of doing this objective review on myself, not some abstract business situation. We have done well enough; we have not made any major mistakes; we have not put ourselves or the boat in a position to suffer harm. What disturbs are two things. First, we have been sloppy in our execution of basic boating stuff. Most of my course changes have been terrible; the few good ones raising to the level of bare adequacy. These are not fatal flaws, but they show clearly that we are now far removed from the practiced skills we had before we sold our boat in 2013. The second concern is stamina. We have both been tired most of the time. That cannot be the result of long legs of trips; at most we have gone about 25nm in a day, short sails in a small area. The Adriatic trip, if taken, would require much more mileage to be covered in a day.

As an objective observer, I can only conclude that another trip, to the Adriatic, would be an overreach, something that we could do, but in the doing there would be little enjoyment. So, quoting myself …

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Setting aside the metaphysics of Deities, everything has an ending, an “Omega Event”. Astrophysicists tell us that the very universe in which Carol and I have sailed will one day collapse back into itself. If there is no BIG BANG then, maybe, there will be a giant slurping sound like a straw siphoning the last few drops from the bottom of a glass, although it is hard to hear noise in the vacuum of space, and there will not be anyone around to hear it, anyway.

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This trip is to be our last, our "Omega Event," and it will be. Starting and finishing our life's great adventure in the same place seems an artful symmetry, a closing of the circle. Our future joy will come in the remembrance of things past.

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This blog posting will be number 186, and there will be only one more after this is posted. I started the blog in 2008 so that my mother would have a way to know where we were and what we were doing. She passed, but the blog went on, a quotidian diary of our boating lives. Our blog has been read by so many times that the number staggers, a little. It is humbling to think that Carol and I have shared a portion of our lives with so many others and that it has been interesting to them. Carol and I have been fortunate in our lives and in each other. It has been my pleasure to share some of our good fortune with blog readers.

Posted by sailziveli 14:39 Archived in British Virgin Islands Tagged islands sailing british boating virgin bvi Comments (0)

Soper's Hole

N18 23.161 W64 42.187

sunny 80 °F

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I seem to be having a bad run on photography. Lots of shutter clicks, not much I want to put out there. Sunset from Cooper Island, such as it was. Cloudy, amber, and only rising to the level of OK. That turned out to be an unusual place, but hard to describe. Manchioneel Bay, where we stayed, is not so much a bay as it is a wide arc; there is nothing extending around the sides to form a shelter. So all the boats should have been riding into the wind approximately the same way. Not even close. Catamarans were helter skelter as were the few monohulls. No logic seems to apply.

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We have passed by Soper's Hole two times on our way to other places. From looking at the chart I had thought Mr. Soper to be a very clever fellow having found a sheltered place and assigning it his name. Just one more item on the growing list of things I have gotten wrong on this trip. The "Hole" is formed by the very western tip of Tortola, called West End, of course, and Frenchman's Cay. This being the British Virgin Islands I guess that any proper Englishman, e.g., Mr. Soper, has naming rights, but a Frenchman does not. There is a gap between these two land masses that is not only is a conduit for easterly winds, but it also seems to act as a venturi for them, quickening their passage across this spot of water. Not any particular problem, just not what I expected. Despite the high winds we got the boat moored and secured.

The rationale for coming here was the expectation of buying ice for our last few nights on the boat. The run from Cooper Island to Soper's Hole was not very long, maybe 10nm. We were on a run, downwind, but not very much wind, which would have taken about three hours to Soper's Hole. I had the thought that the day was rather like Pamlico Sound in North Carolina where we first learned sailing. There we would go out in the morning and just sail, no plan, other than to handle the lines and to work with the wind, moving the boat. So, today, we did the same.

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We broke south toward Norman Island, the subject of a prior blog entry. In the far distance I saw something that I could not understand. This is Pelican Island, adjacent to Norman Island. It has a nasty set of jagged rocks to the west. I could see those rocks but there were also some great clumps of white which could not be surf.

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The clumps were four catamarans anchored between Pelican Island and these rocks. There must be a shoal or a ridge between the two because the boats did not seem concerned about dragging anchor. Pretty gutsy, actually, although once you get past the shock value it does not look like a comfortable anchorage even if it is a safe one. I like monohulls even if catamarans are faster. The America's Cup contest has catamarans with hydrofoils that can go over 40 knots, about 45 MPH. We have seen beaucoup catamarans this trip and they do one thing that I somewhat envy. They have no keels, the second hull acting as the counterforce to the wind in the sail. Where we draw about 5-ft. they may draw only 3-ft. They can get crazy close to the shoreline and anchor in very shallow depths.

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We did some back and forth runs on a five-mile leg to try our boat handling while coming about, reversing course. Total FUBAR disaster, but we did get out to open water, ocean swells, and unattenuated wind. Very nice. Having tired of that, we decided to sail around Flanagan Island. If islands could sing, this one would do Simon & Garfunkel's I am a Rock, I am an Island, it being both: a tiny island or a large rock. This loop took us into the USVI for the first time. Fortunately, there were no sailing police and we returned to BVI waters fairly quickly. and then proceeded to Soper's Hole.

For the first time on the boat Carol deigned to eat out. This is quite out of character for her, she being a foodie and all. So to capture the memory I took my very first selfie. Maybe it should be called an usie since there are two people in it. I am not current on all the cell phone cultural issues. Anyway, two old people having dinner at Pusser's.

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These are what we see to starboard and to port. Bright and colorful, kind of how we might imagine a tropical Caribbean place to be. For some reason, this place has more active commercial activity than any other that we have visited save for Roadtown. Two things of note: (1) we scored 40-lb. of ice; (2) it's cloudy, no sunset picture today.

Posted by sailziveli 22:38 Archived in British Virgin Islands Tagged islands sailing british boating virgin bvi Comments (0)

Cooper Island

N18 23.028 W64 30.917

overcast 80 °F

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I took a lot of pictures today; few turned out to be worth the effort. That was a lot like today on the boat, a lot of energy expended, but much of the day was worth the effort.

We had decided to go to Great Camanoe Island, not far from Cane Garden Bay, and close to Lambert Bay where we spent our quarantine. Last night was very hazy, like this sunset over Jost Van Dyke. Same deal this morning but with cloud cover added to the mix. The sky was mostly overcast, thick with cumulonimbus and altostratus clouds to block the sun. When the sun found a crack in the clouds it was visible it was through various cirrus clouds, maybe fair weather, maybe not. The clouds did thin out in the afternoon but never enough to make a sunny day.

The wind started as promised: a brisk 10-15 knots, great for sailing. As we headed east the wind got patchy with some low speeds mixed up with extremely high gusts. It averaged out OK and the sailing was good. There is a Camanoe Passage that the books say requires some thought and planning. The boats we saw from Lambert Bay heading east were all going through the passage. This is a short cut to Great Camanoe. Since the day was nice, I decided to sail around the islands and approach them from the east, not the west. This was an OK plan; it should have worked better than it did. About noon we hit the point to turn south. The wind had shifted to the south. I am having trouble taking this is, because it should not be true, except that it is. No forecast had the wind south of SE.

So, we motor a long leg, no other choice and, eventually we get there, not really too sure about where there is. It is a bit tricky with islands and passages and we are looking for the boatyball mooring balls and coming up empty. So much for plan A. Plan B is Trellis Bay but it is at the end of the Beef Island landing strip. Plan C is Fat Hog's Cay, but that turns out to be too shallow to attempt without good depth data. Plan D became Cooper Island, not a place I had ever thought to stay. But it is sheltered from the east to the south; it has mooring balls and Plan E, which would have been Peter Island, again, would just have added more time to a, so far, tedious trip. So, here we are, moored and secured.

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The harbor has about 40 mooring balls, most empty, and of those filled, most are holding catamarans. But there was a surprise for us: this old boat, reminding me a lot of Victoria's Cape Dory 36. It is a fact that modern boats sail better and have lots more room. However, none of them have the simple grace of this venerable boat. Most new boats, especially the catamarans look like Klingon War Birds, Star Trek vessels from some other watery world. But this boat looks like it is at one with the sea.

After the sailing day is done, Carol's other role starts food and cooking. Most of what we eat is simple to prepare; multi course meals are not on the menu although there are salads as long as the spinach lasts. In truth, it is warm, she would say hot, and the gas stove just adds to her misery. The Moorings lards their boats with so much stuff that there is little room for people. Last night Carol wanted to open a can. You would think that a can opener would be part of any deal. Not so, but my multitool came to the rescue. I am probably down a pound or two, but she has made sure that I get enough to eat, something which, on occasion, I forget to do.

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Europeans have been sailing these waters for about 500 years; the indigenous inhabitants, far longer. These islands are rocky. If a ship founders on these rocks the hero of the story will not wake up on a sandy beach, covered in seaweed. There are no spots for a soft landing here.

We only have a few more nights. We will disembark on Monday, May 24th, as originally planned. The Covid machine must be served if are to get home. That narrows our choices since we have to moor in a place close to Road Harbour on Sunday to arrive on Monday. This will all work itself out. We may be off tomorrow, or we may stay here. That decision will be made tomorrow. We have not used too much water so tonight Carol and I will have regular, fresh water showers on the boat. Tonight we are tired and will enjoy our moments of cleanliness and repose.

Posted by sailziveli 21:36 Archived in British Virgin Islands Tagged islands sailing british virgin bvi Comments (0)

Cane Garden Bay

N18 25.623 W64 39.625

semi-overcast 78 °F

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The wind direction here has been very constant: E, ESE or SE. When moored the boat's bow will ride into the wind meaning that the stern is facing: W, WNW or NW. Over the stern, every night, there is a sunset, some spectacular, others have a more muted beauty, as was this one at Peter Island. I like them all. This, and all the others, will fill my two computer screens and help to recall wonderful times for years and years.

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Well, Cane Garden Bay was the Nordic Princess's destination of choice, so here we are. The destination had less to do with the allure of exotic places; it was more about where to off load trash and where to buy ice. We have two coolers on board and buy ice in 3 or 4 bag increments of 10-lbs. each. They last at best 72-hours, more ice lost to melting than our consumption. I cannot believe, or do not want to believe, that Beneteau eliminated freezers. I am dead certain that I will never purchase another Beneteau sailboat.

The trip here ran some gamut to another. The wind forecast was for 10-15 knots all day, just like yesterday's and just like tomorrow's. Except, when we got underway, at about 0730, the apparent wind speed was 0.0 knots. We got to open water and hoisted the mainsail, it rising with little problem because there was no wind. We motored for a few minutes and there were no whitecaps, there were not even a little bits of frothy bubbles. Eventually we cleared Peter Island and there was a hint of a breeze. I am on a sailboat and I am going to sail. We put the foresail out at the 2nd reef point; there was not enough wind to fill the full sail. Even with shortened sail, it collapsed sometimes before slowly filling again. For a while it was 2.something knots, then 3.something knots. We were sailing through the narrows, again, the same route we had taken to Jost Van Dyke.

Carol thinks that she needs more than the 16% oxygen on which the rest of the world thrives. Fans and breezes. So, I try opening the "glass" panel in the dodger, more air, you see, more oxygen. As I should have expected, all the clips were broken, there was no way to roll it up and keep it open. Rather than go around the dodger, I tried to jump forward to the the companion way stairs, something I have done many times on our boat. Except this wasn't our boat. I fell about 7-feet, bounced off a couple of the stairs and landed on the cabin's floor. I should have broken something, maybe several somethings including my neck, but I did not. I know I will be sore tomorrow because I am already sore today.

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We live in the mountains of western North Carolina. Many of the roads are steep, many of the driveways to homes are steeper yet. I was watching this scene at the very western edge of Tortola, which does have not the highest terrain. It struck me that people getting to these homes and to other areas of the island probably have tougher climbs than we do at home. Some of these roads are seriously steep and have severe switchbacks.

As we headed to the end of the narrows, we had achieved the remarkable speed of 4.something knots. We went around the headland and set a course for Cane Garden Bay, maybe 4 or 5 nm. We had hit a heavy rain storm leaving Jost Van Dyke for Anegada. Today we were in almost the identical place at the identical time. And the rains came, and they came hard. It was interesting in a way, as long as you were not piloting a sailboat. The wall of rain was like a gray shroud being tightened around us. Visibility shrank, islands disappeared, our world became very small. This could have been worrying, but I knew that the course laid in would avoid any trouble for at least an hour. And when the rains came they brought with them the wind, a lot of wind. The sails were set properly, the boat surged and heeled over, and we flew.

Ten minutes of hard rain, ten minutes of light rain, then no rain at all. The trip on the north side of Tortola was easy and quick. I had not given entrance to this bay much thought until we had the sails down and were motoring our way there. Turns out that this bay has a reef on each side and the two form the outer edge of the harbor. For me finding buoys comes in three stages. 1 - locate them on the horizon. 2- identify a red or green buoy, always Carol's job given my poor color perception. 3- From a distance the scene is in two dimensions, it's difficult to distinguish which are in the foreground and which are farther away. You have to get fairly close to get three dimensional perception.

It always works out. We cleared the channel, found a mooring ball and settled in. We arrived about noon and there were several other boats in the harbor. By the time were were secured, most had left. My guess is that they had better wind forecasts than we did.

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This is a picaresque place, colorful buildings, a bright, white sandy beach, elegant houses clinging to the steep hillsides that form the bay. The first order of business was: two huge garbage bags off the boat; 4 10-lb. bags of ice onto the boat. I asked Carol, again, if she saw any restaurant that interested her for dinner tonight. She demurred again, too much fried food.

Posted by sailziveli 19:03 Archived in British Virgin Islands Tagged islands sailing british boating virgin bvi Comments (0)

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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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Ginger Island

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Cooper Island

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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 Comments (0)

Anegada

N18 43.350 W64 23.184

Getting to Anegada

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We were underway early this morning, as is our wont. By 0730 we had cleared Great Harbor and we in our usual mainsail muddle. Got it up on the 3d try, which now seems about average for us. I am sure that I do not need a cardio stress test. If raising the sails did not kill me, then nothing will.

The weather forecast was for showers until noon, then partly cloudy in the afternoon. They got that one exactly right. We had a heavy shower sweep over us and, as it passed, we saw this rainbow in its wake. Carol thought it quite unusual that it lasted as long as it , did.

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It took us about an hour to clear the island congestion. When we finally did we had a straight 23nm blue water run to Anegada. But we keep going up against the wind thing. This was an easterly run into a wind from the E to ESE. Having grown tired of tacking, we only did one this morning, I decided to just sail as close to the wind as possible and work out the details later. So, we did. This was a simple, one point of sail run for 23nm. And, mostly, the only action was to adjust the autopilot a point or to as the wind veered in small increments. Cruisers do not obsess over sail trim, however it cannot be completely ignored. Today, with little else to do, I started working on better, not perfect, sail trim by using the telltales on the jib. This jib has three sets: 3 telltales near the sail's foot; 2 in mid-sail; and one near the head of the sail. The object is to get then all streaming horizontally. As a practical matter, only the bottom ones are useful; to get the higher ones streaming, you need to use the leech line, built into the sail. This involves going onto the deck under full sail, reaching out, across the lifelines to grab a small piece of string, and then messing with it. I maybe tried it once, just after we bought the boat; haven't tried it since. Even though only the bottom telltales were streaming it made an obvious change in the boat's speed. Worth it.

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We ended up about 4nm from the waypoint, not a surprise, and motored to the channel entrance. I remember the captain, Dave, all those years ago saying that this was a tricky bit. I have a Maptec chart kit for the Virgin Islands and I am assiduous about their waypoints. They were not good enough today. A cruising guide had some waypoints for closer in including one for the dead center of the first two channel markers. This was good. The same cruising guide gave guidance and one point was: if the water is less than 20-ft. you are in the wrong place. Clear and concise. Except that I am dead center of the channel showing 8-ft. then 6-ft. but I am not in the wrong place, I'm clearly in the channel. Eventually, we clear the channel and head for the mooring field which the cruising guide says is fairly shallow. I have some sea miles on my resume, but I have never been in water that had a negative depth. It's a little hard to see but we are anchored in -1.4 feet of water. This boat has a depth sounder and cannot tell the water's depth.

The depth is way out of whack, but I can fix this I thought, because it was a frequent check on our Raymarine system. How to measure the depth? There is no spare line on the boat but there is an anchor line for the dinghy, with an anchor. So, drop the anchor over the side and mark the depth with a clothespin. I have an 8-in. ruler for plotting on maps, the only measurement device on board. 9.5 units of 8-inches comes to about 6.5 feet. Now all I have to do is find the way to manually change the depth, which our Raymarine could. An hour with menus no luck. So, I drag out the B&G manuals. This is true because I have them at hand. There are Quick Start Guides in Deutch, Italiano, Nederlands, Norsk, Suomi, Svenska and Chinese. In fairness, Chinese kanji characters are usually readable by the Japanese, so I'll give them credit for eight languages, none of which are English, the native language of the British Virgin Islands, and, by the way, almost all of the Moorings customers in the BVI.

There are many obvious and not so obvious problems that can arise from not knowing the accurate depth of the water. In the event of an accident of anything, any of those problems would be caused by negligence, a failure to act as would be expected by a normal person. It will be impossible to recommend that anyone ever charter from the Moorings. They will send customers out on any boat regardless of its condition.

Setting all other concerns aside, it was a good day that ended with this sunset, which if not a 10 was at least a contender. The low row of trees are Australian Pines, which are not pine trees at all. They seem well suited to beach areas and are able to withstand many hurricanes. This put me in mind of Garrison Bight, the mooring field in Key West, FL. Carol and I saw many wonderful sunsets over a fringe of these trees.

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Being on Anegada

Anegada is the stepchild of the Virgin Islands including British, United States and the Spanish. which are part of Puerto Rico. All those several islands have height above sea level. Some are over 1,000-ft. high; those that aren't approach it. The highest part of Anegada is 28-ft. above sea level which is why the name translates as drowned or inundated: an average storm surge during a hurricane would put most of the island underwater. It must be uninhabitable during almost any hurricane. The whole place belongs in the Bahamas or the Florida Keys. There are no rocks as seen on the other Virgin Islands. It is an anomaly.

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The first picture, the island's VFD fire and rescue vehicle, is for our dear friend Stan. Carol and I wanted to explore the island and had thought to rent a motor scooter. Given Carol's aversion to the sun, we settled on the orange thing, sort of a golf cart with a transmission dressed up to be a jeep-looking dune buggy. It did shade her.

Off we went with absolutely no idea of the geography except for a small pretend road guide to drinking places. We must have driven over every mile of paved road, and many additional miles of sandy roads. Almost every mile of paved roads here are concrete, very little asphalt. Best guess: concrete roads can withstand hurricanes. Strange thing, to me anyway: they drive on the left hand side, very British. The speed limit signs are in MPH not KPH. These were the first speed limit signs we have seen. On the other islands they just put a speed bump every 100 meters. It does the job.

The sense of what we saw was this: the interior of the island is covered with tenacious and tangled vegetation, that is impenetrable in many places except by bulldozer. There is nothing of beauty or grace to be found in the interior. But the beaches and the water and the reefs will make you think of Polynesian islands. It is stunning. The pictures will tell some of the story better than I ever could..

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This is the transition from beautiful beach to unbeautiful interior.

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We drove down a sand road with no idea or end in mind. It was just there. What a fortuitous choice. At the end of the road, maybe 100-ft. from the water was Ann's. It was a Sunday, not much happening. I took several of the previous pictures there. I joined Carol in the shade of the bar and decided to have my first Caribbean beer called, what else: Carib. I don't know if it was great beer, but it was cold beer. And on that day, at that time any cold beer was good beer.

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Going down another sandy road we came to Keel Point. There was an abandoned resort there that could have been in the South Seas. The guest rooms were all thatched huts. The beach there was the one with the blue beach chairs, above. I thought that the yellow rowboat was worth a picture.

We were gone about five hours, leaving around 9am and back by 2pm. Bought some ice and drove the dinghy back to the mother ship. My dinghy skills are not very good. I think that I can handle a 42-ft. sailboat better than a 12-ft. inflatable.

Today seemed hotter than most other days. Carol has struggled with that and has had a difficult time this whole trip. We are both tired and she looks like a train wreck survivor, bruised and battered. I suppose that I have pushed a bit, that's what I do. So, tomorrow we are off, and tonight I have no idea where we are off to. But, given that we are at the eastern edge of the island chain, I am sure that we will have a tack free trip.

Posted by sailziveli 21:15 Archived in British Virgin Islands Tagged islands sailing british boating virgin bvi Comments (0)

Jost Van Dyke

N18 26.509 W64 45.086

sunny 80 °F

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This has to be trophy home heaven. This picture is Mosquito Island, which forms the NW barrier of Gorda Sound. Every home on the island, and there may be a dozen, possible more, has to have cost millions since each yard of cement had to get to the island by vessel. We saw a lot of these in the Bahamas, which are much more accessible from the USA. Regardless, I think that these islands must have 10 times the number of homes. Saw even more on one side of St. John in the USVI as we sailed past. Very few are near the water's edge, which eliminates hurricane storm surge.

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This morning we woke a little later than usual, that means about 0630. I ran through my checklist; this boat has lots of boat stuff, some new to me. That didn't take too long and by 0700 we were ready to get underway, except no one was around to help with the lines. No hay problema. The wind was helping, pushing us away from the seawall. The boat got crooked the wrong way, fixed that and we were off for Jost Van Dyke.

First thing, after clearing the harbor into open water, deal with mooring lines and fenders. On the 38-ft. boat there was room for that in the lazarette. Bigger boat, the lazarettes are completely full, so less room. The oxymoron of bigger boat, less space, continues. So, Carol and I are on the deck, the boat on autopilot, while we tied everything on the handholds just after the mast. Nothing new to this, it's what we did on our boat. However, in these parts that makes us look like low renters but who cares.

This boat has the same B&G navigation system as the 38-ft. boat. So, no learning curve should have been necessary, except that one was. The same system, displayed the data boxes differently, with no waypoint information. I must have spent 30-minutes trying to find a way to rearrange the data boxes. No luck although I knew it could be done. There is an obscure gauge on the port side, one of which I knew nothing, not even why it is there. Started scrolling though those menus and, voilá, there it was: the perfect display of all waypoint data: direction, distance and time.

All of this stuff must have taken an hour. Now we were ready for a new and improved mainsail adventure. Our mast was 51-ft. so this one must be at least 60-ft. Could be more. My guess is that the sail is at least 45-ft. top to bottom. It can take a while to raise this sail a few inches at a time. On competitive racing boats, think America's Cup, they have guys called grinders, whose sole job is to work the winches. They all look like linebackers, something to which I have never been compared. Eventually, we got it to-block. Carol, for the first time recently, actually held the boat in irons which made the whole thing easier.

We passed through a bit of the Sir Francis Drake Channel, and headed for the off ramp: the Narrows. Not overly narrow, to me anyway. The wind was right over the stern, but was bouncing a little from side to side which made it impossible to set the foresail. It would luff to one side and then luff to the other. Having proven that we can sail with just the foresail, today took in the foresail and we proved that we could sail with just the mainsail and do it equally well. Maybe the final exam is to use both sails. Might be too hard for us.

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We made surprisingly good time through the Narrows, passing small BVI islands to starboard and USVI islands to port. This is Whistling Cay, forming part of Francis Bay, a very sheltered anchorage in the USVI, which may have had 20 boats in it as we passed by. At the end of the Narrows we made a northerly turn. It was dramatic. With the wind over the stern, the boat cruised like a luxury car on the interstate... smooth and quiet. When we came around to the new point of sail, a close haul, again, it was like my 4-wheel drove truck going up our driveway ... loud and bouncy. And the thing is that the speeds over ground on both points of sail were about the same.

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Today, the wind was more like what we have experienced. 10-15 knots with gusts, down from 15-20 knots with gusts. Back in the day, if the winds were too high we would hunker down and wait for a better day. In that respect it was an easier day for us. Sailing is work; the higher the wind speed, the more the work to do it.

We were moored on the second pass at a mooring ball, about noon. By 1300 we had Carol ashore, at the clinic to have her stitches removed. No infections so she should be good. Asked if she wanted to celebrate with dinner on shore. She demurred, too tired. Anyway, this is her new stitchless look. Closed mouth, of course, a tooth is broken. Strange picture, she actually does have clothes on. This evening I almost blew it. Getting ready to dive into the water and remembered that my hearing aids were in. I really cannot form a picture of Great Harbour from those years ago. Kind of fuzzy. However, I do remember that we ate at Foxy's because I had a t-shirt with Foxy's on it. There is still a Foxy's, a venerable place by now, although the real Foxy may be different than the one in the early 90's.

This place holds little allure other than noisy people at a bar serving not very good beer. I think tomorrow we will head to Anegada, a longish trip of about 25nm.

Posted by sailziveli 21:57 Archived in British Virgin Islands Tagged islands sailing british boating virgin bvi Comments (0)

Trip Interlude, part 2

N18 25.50 W64 36.80

sunny 83 °F

Honestly, I am too tired to make this stuff up. Having agreed with the base manager that the Niou Dem II was not a serviceable vessel, we headed back to Roadtown to get a different boat. Simple enough. But I want to sail, so we exit Gorda Sound, move away from islands and reefs to find a clear path to try to go into irons and to raise the sails. It is blowing 15-20 knots, good for sailing if only we could get the mainsail up. And we cannot despite attempt after attempt, for 30 minutes we try. The acme of our success was to get the errant batten tangled with both sets of jack lines.

No mainsail, no problem. We will motor sail using the engine and the foresail. We know how to do this and can do it well. It can be a pretty quick way to cover ground. We are maybe 5 nm from the harbor and the engine alarm goes off: overheating. Shut down the engine and take a look at the engine compartment. There is an obvious problem with the water pump. It is leaking sea water into the compartment. Now we are down to a foresail and getting pushed towards Beef Island. So, Carol calls and gets some Moorings’ guys to come out. They quickly agree that the engine is not going to be used. So, with one sail, and the benefit of a wind coming over the stern I sail about 4 of the last 5 miles and do it pretty well, making maybe 4 knots. At the end, they tie on to the boat and get us to the dock.

Everyone is nice and genuinely apologetic. But I get the sense that they think that we should have carried on, somehow, with the main sail problem. Uncharacteristically, I hold my tongue, but I am thinking why should I adapt when I am paying mucho dinero. The boat should work so I do not have to adapt. So, they are giving us a 42-ft boat in lieu of the 38-ft. boat. Should be great, right? It is the sardine can thing again. This boat has 3 cabins, each of which is smaller than either of the two cabins on the 38-ft. boat. But it was a nice gesture and not one that could be gracefully declined. But it does have a nav station.

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We spent most of the day moving stuff from one boat to the other. My stuff was fairly easy. Carol and groceries, not so much. It was hot and we were soaked. And, just when you think you are close to done, I looked up at the mast and noticed that there was no windex, the most basic instrument for sailing. They added one.

The boat’s name is Contango, and I knew that the owner was probably a commodities trader. A contango is a situation where the futures price of a commodity is higher than the spot price.

We are both tired and told one and all that we would not be leaving until tomorrow and will not be able to do that without some help. We are hard against a sea wall with little room to maneuver the boat. We also negotiated another day since this one went down the rat hole.

I do not have much of a plan yet, other than that Jost Van Dyke, where Carol can get her stitches removed, and Anegada will be our next two stops. After that, jump ball.

Posted by sailziveli 21:28 Archived in British Virgin Islands Tagged islands sailing british boating virgin bvi Comments (0)

Trip Interlude

sunny 80 °F

One of the nice things about being on a charter vessel, versus your own vessel, is that there is no maintenance to be done. Owners have, or should have, intimate knowledge about their boats. Any day that is a layover always has a to-do list of consequence. So today was a layover day on a charter vessel and I am doing maintenance. The mainsail has been gnarly to lower, so we bought some silicon dry lubricant and I lubed each car and guide on the sail. At least an 80% improvement; not perfect, but workable. I spotted one other issue that seems to affect lowering the sail but I am not going to pursue it. While we were futzing with the sail, I figured out why we were having such problems raising it. One of the battens came loose somehow and sticks out about 3-inches past the edge of the sail. Of course it gets caught in the jack lines. This sail needs to be repaired.

We have been communicating with the Moorings folks on Tortola. Long story short, we will return to Tortola tomorrow and swap boats. The leaky water tank and the mainsail are not problems which can be resolved quickly or away from the dock. The good news is that we will be heading in a westerly direction with a wind from the east. My next prediction is, at last, a day without a single tack.

We will continue the blog when we are underway again.

Posted by sailziveli 15:13 Archived in British Virgin Islands Tagged islands sailing british boating virgin bvi Comments (0)

Virgin Gorda, Gorda Sound

N18 29.938 W64 23.426

semi-overcast 79 °F

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An addition to the previous entry. We saw this boulder on the path leading to the beach at the Baths. In a Rorschach test I think that most people would see a skull; at least I did. I could just imagine a Voo-Doo queen, or even a mere princess, dancing with abandon to the beat of Carlos Santana's Black Magic Woman, or the Hollies' Witchy Woman.

From the 29th of April, the day we arrived in the BVI, to the 9th of May the weather was perfect, courtesy of the Truman Show. Clear skies with puffy cumulus clouds, the sun was always shining and it was good. Now we are in for some cloudy days. This is obviously good for Carol, the sun is not her friend. It will also be good for me. I have been wearing shorts and t-shirts; we're in the islands, on a boat so what else would I wear? In just three days I have crispy-crittered my forearms and shins. They are sore, one ankle seriously swollen. So, some cloudy days will be a relief. Although the cloud cover has changed, the wind has not. Every day the forecast is the same: 15 - 20 knots from the E to ESE, and gusts much higher. When I check the apps on my phone it looks like every day was copied and pasted from the previous day; they are identical. I wish we had gotten here sooner. It's like going to sailing heaven without the dying part, which never sounded like much fun.

I distinctly remember being at Virgin Gorda those many years ago. I had thought that we were in Spanish Town and taxied to the north side of the island. Now, I am not so sure. We probably were in Gorda Sound. Doesn't much matter because on this trip we will have done both.

Today was a true boating day, a trip down memory lane, bringing back all the joys and all the frustrations, in just four hours. The water gauge indicated that we had consumed about a quarter of the 80-gallons in the water tanks. That seemed like a lot, but maybe our water usage is not quite as strict as when we were cruising. Fair enough. Before leaving it seemed like a good idea to top off the tanks, not knowing when the next opportunity to di that might be. It took a lot longer than I thought it should, since this boat is, more or less, our former boat. Off we go. Same old story raising the mainsail, but worse today. Regardless we got the sails up and headed east, more major tacking. We are getting worse, not better. At one point on a tack, we were down to 0.5 knots after the turn, maybe a new age group record for 65 and above.

Then Carol tells me that the cabin is flooded and that the deck plates (the cabin floor) are awash. Well, that is pretty seriously not good; I could probably find the problem; we had it happen twice while on our boat; once in Miami and again in the Bahamas. But that is not my job now. But not to worry. There is a bilge pump that will solve the flooding problem. Except that the bilge pump is not working. OK, fine! We’ll deal with that later.

Theoretically, a tack should change the course by 90o. In practice 100o to 110o is usually the outcome. Today, I was trying to tack to waypoints, with the boat getting kind of close to the location at the end of the run. Never even came particularly close even using 120o. We were getting pushed sideways in some considerable relation to our forward progress. On the day’s last tack, I came within a 1/2 mile of our last waypoint, and thought that I had done quite well. We watched a catamaran and a monohull that had given up, choosing to motor through the wind. In the end we did the same, although much later than they, opting to motor through the passage to Gorda Sound and from there to a mooring ball. Even Stan and Ollie can moor a boat after enough attempts, so we did.

Meanwhile, the bilge pump had not started working while we were sailing. Gallons of water of water were sloshing from side to side as the boat rode into the variable wind. Waiting did not seem like an option, so Carol and I bailed for a half hour, or more, and got the water level down to a reasonable level. Called the Moorings in Tortola and after a while got to speak with someone in charge of something. Under duress, he agreed to send a boat out tomorrow to take a pass at the bilge pump and the water leak. With the mainsail on our minds, we also asked him to bring some dry lubricant. Then, in the way of these things, the bilge pump started pumping at warp speed, quickly draining the residual water. So, three problems became two problems and two is smaller than three. Boating progress.

The Virgin Island chain is not very wide from east to west. Norman Island is the western most edge except for a narrow peninsula on Tortola. We have now, in two days gone across the entire chain into the wind, tacking more times in the past 10 – 12 sailing hours than in most months when we were cruising.

We were moored, we had help on the way, and the sun came out. To make it even better, the Moorings guys cane by this evening rather than tomorrow. The problem is a crack on the top of the forward water tank, not easily repairable. But I can work around this now that I know the issue. Should not have to, but I will if pressed.

Haec vita in navi.

Posted by sailziveli 22:42 Archived in British Virgin Islands Tagged islands sailing british boating virgin bvi Comments (0)

Virgin Gorda, Spanish Town

N1826.977 W64 26.199

semi-overcast 80 °F

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The evening before we left, I took the dinghy out for a bit of a ride. I had tested it before we got underway and it started OK, but I wanted to give it a workout. It ran very rough, needs work, but it ran. There is a restaurant at the head of the Bight that had done some landscaping which I liked. From this picture you might expect to find Paul Gaugin sitting at his easel.

Had my first cruiser's shower at Norman Is. Down went the swim platform and into the water I jumped. This was deeper water, maybe 70-feet, than at the beach, so much cooler, but not bad. We brought along one of those camp showers, a plastic pouch with a hose and nozzle, and had set it out in the sun to warm the water. It was hot shower hot, almost too hot, but it felt good. Then the hard part: lifting the swim platform back into the closed position. That thing must weigh close to 200-lbs. or more. It got back up but my thought was that the lifting line was not properly rigged.

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We saw this sunset over St. Thomas in the USVI. Not spectacular, but nice. Scientists tell us that the earth is 4.5 billion years old. If true, then the earth has made 1.6 trillion rotations of 24 hours. Homo Sapiens has only been around about 200,000 years and for most of those years the setting sun meant only darkness, danger and, possibly, death. Beasties walked at night. Sometime in all those years there was a first person, he, or she, that looked at the setting sun and saw something for which a word probably did not then exist: beauty. That person was humankind’s first poet. I have not the words to be a poet, but I love sunsets, more than sunrises, though I could not say why. I have seen so many wonderful sunsets sitting in the cockpit of our boat. I look forward to a few more on this trip.

Our next stop was going to be Virgin Gorda. There is a clinic there where Carol can have her stitches removed. I did not want her to have to worry about the dinghy ride which could be very rough. So, we opted to stay in a marina for a night or two. We never got much of a sense of this place those decades ago, and there are supposed to be some interesting things to try to see.

We got underway at about 0700 and had the sails up by 0730. Only one snag of batten to jack line, easily fixed, much better than yesterday. I used the autopilot and we two did fine. The functional course from Norman Is. to Virgin Gorda probably runs about 85o and we would be heading almost due east; the wind was coming straight on from 90o, directly from the east. My prediction was a long slog with a lot of tacking, not a Jeopardy question I wanted to get right. The route was not much more than 15nm. We must have traveled at least 25nm, probably more, to get to the harbor. Along the way we mastered the 5-minute tack, not a competitive advantage except when compared to the 10-minute tack which we perfected in the afternoon.

In truth it was a hard day. I do not recall ever having sailed in such winds, consistently running 15-20 knots with gusts much higher. We ran close hauled the entire way. This is a fun point of sail, the boat flies, spray breaks across the bow, the downwind rail is close to the water. It is also a tough point of sail to control, demanding exacting helm control. Auto pilot was not an option; the wind direction was bouncing around. At one point today we were well heeled over to port; a gust came along and knocked us further over and came quite close to putting me over the side. Seemed like a freak thing until it happened again a few minutes later. For only the second time I put on a safety harness and tether while at the helm in daytime; it was mandatory for ant nighttime passages The boat had to be manhandled every foot of the way. It was hard work, and I am tired.

Carol got her first turn at the helm today. In the first few minutes she must have turned 6 or 8 doughnuts, not a maneuver recognized by the U.S. Sailing Assn. Eventually she got the hang of it.

I may have learned something new today. Our first leg was a starboard tack, the wind coming from the starboard side. I was on the port helm, not much reason for that other than that is where the chart plotter is. We were moving along quite nicely until the next tack, to the port side. I was still on the port helm and for some reason the boat and I were badly out of sync, sailing poorly. Not having any better idea, I moved over to the starboard helm. Huge difference, everything was working again, and we were sailing along nicely. I am prepared to believe that this was the placebo effect, and it may have been. However, I kept the rotation from side to side all day and handled the boat well.

Sailing today had an interesting aspect to it. We were never able to know where we were. We could see a position on the chart plotter screen but could not place that position in context. Out here with no local knowledge all these islands look alike from the water: green/brown blobs, nameless and shapeless to our untrained eyes. It wasn't until well after noon that I was able to know with assurance where Spanish Town was on Virgin Gorda.

The first time we recovered the mainsail I just opened the clutch and let it drop, as I have done in the past. Today I tried a slower lowering, maybe a little better than yesterday, but not by much. I still had to go out onto the deck to get the sail down and stowed. Were this my boat, I would have had a can of Sailcoat which I would have applied liberally the guides and the mast. I think that there is a fundamental difference in chartering from the Mooring. The other boats we chartered were all privately owned and used by their owners. The owners would notice issues and have them repaired. Here, a charter captain might mention something to the folks at the docks but there is no pressure to fix things. This boat is not a mistake, but it does not seem well maintained. In that vein, there must be a battery issue; the screen read 12.0v this morning, a silly low number if it is accurate. On balance, I have to say a good thing about the Moorings: they have great towels, big and thick, and they feel good.

We had our nightly G&T's in the cockpit after supper as dark, low thick clouds rolled in beneath higher dark, thick clouds. These were definitely weather clouds, the first we have seen since our arrival. Sure enough, about 1900 the rain started, a serious rain not a passing shower.

I have been consuming huge amounts of fluids, mostly Gatorade, some iced tea. It has been warm but not hot. The perspiration must be insensate, the wind drying it before awareness, because I have always been thirsty so far on this trip.

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This the vegetation that covers all these islands. It is not much to look at. Scraggly is a kind word to describe it. These trees and shrubs have to be the cockroaches of the plant kingdom. There is no topsoil in which to grow, they survive hurricanes and get by on little water.

We're only a couple of days into the trip, maybe too early to say, but it looks like our preparation was good. We have not had any obvious oooops moments. One question I did not research was a freezer on the boat. Of course a 38-ft. boat has a freezer just like our did. So we have adapted with an igloo ice chest. Ice lasts about four days and a freezer would not have held the three bags of ice we are carrying. So, probably a neutral trade off.

When Carol called this marina to make a reservation, she got a message, more or less saying that the call could not be completed due to non payment of the phone bill. They were doing email so everything worked out. As we approached the marina I saw a lot of masts, probably 50 or so, and thought that it must be a big deal. Turns out that all those masts were in two boatyards, all of them out of the water, perhaps in anticipation of the hurricane season. They may not be paying the phone bill but they must be paying the electric bill; we are on shore power.

We got up this morning, after last night's rain, to a surprise. This was the first day that the sun was not visible due to the clouds. It looks like the weather is blowing by.

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There is a National Park on the island that we never got to see: the Baths, so named for all the boulders on the beach that make small pools, ergo Baths. I had thought that we could walk there; the chart had the distance of about 1.5 miles. A good thing we didn't try; the actual route was much longer and we would not have found it anyway. The place is a literal jumble of boulders. I thought that our mountain home had rocks, and it does. But this place is so much more boulder-ous. It was clear that many of these gigantic rocks were granite, an igneous rock. But the entire chain of islands that goes from the tip of Puerto Rico to the coast of South America lie on a fault line. There are Caribbean volcanoes so, of course, there is igneous rock.

Carol went to the clinic this morning to have her stitches removed. They took some out and left others in; told her to come back in 4-5 days and the rest may be ready to come out. Tomorrow were are off again, to the north side of the island and Gorda Sound.

Posted by sailziveli 18:59 Archived in British Virgin Islands Tagged islands sailing british boating virgin bvi Comments (0)

Norman Island, continued

N18 19.048 W64 37.175

sunny

Carol was tired and asked that we lay over for a day at Norman Island, so we did. There is nothing compelling about this location. However, the mooring balls are secure, the Verizon cell coverage seems to be intermittent but generally workable. The predicted weather never arrived, although it was very breezy, 15-17 knots, so the boat moved a lot during the night. We were both tired and Carol was gone by 2000; I was tired, but not sleepy so did not sleep as well.

There are not many things on a boat more important than power management. During the walk through, Dale, the person showing me about the boat, said that we should leave the engine battery in the on position, making it part of the house circuit; do not touch the battery control panel. This goes against every boating manual ever written. He also recommended running the engine for an hour in the morning and two hours at night to charge the batteries. This has all seemed strange to me. The writeup for this boat said that it had more than 600 Ah, more than the 585 Ah on our boat. So, I have been paying close attention to the battery readout on the control panel. It did get extremely low overnight, down to 12.3v which, in my experience, is too low. So, as advised, I ran the engine. There are two solar panels on this boat, built in, not added on. It is early days yet, but they seem to be maintaining the power at an acceptable level. I am going with what I know: the start battery switch is in the off position when the engine is off.

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There are things to love about this boat, and things to dislike. We are staying in the front cabin and it is delightful. I still do not get the two helms thing, but who cares. Beneteau makes a fat boat, broad across the beam. That extra width makes the boat comfortable. Most boats I have seen back in the day, a pronounced taper from the widest part of the beam to the stern. This boat, and the modern Beneteaus, taper very little, maybe only a foot or two. I do not know the reason for this. It does create much more space on the boat; it might be to accommodate the two helms. There is one feature that is entirely new to me. The entire transom folds down to make a swim platform. Just incredibly cool. My first thought was that they had created another fail point, of which all boats have too many, simply because they are boats. But there are no mechanics involved other than hinges. A total plus.

On the other hand, people want a boat, so they contract with the Moorings to purchase one and put it out for charter. The Moorings specifies interior boat design to cram people in like sardines for a week or so, not for functional cruising. Eventually, the boat is paid for and the owners want to use it. However, the boat they bought is ill designed for two people to cruise. The only explanation is that I can see is that the owners have never spent a lot of time on boats, so they do not understand all the tradeoffs.

The weather continues to be dead, solid perfect, maybe in the low 80’s during the day; down to the 70’s at night. The breeze is constant; out of the direct sunlight it is very comfortable.

These islands are quite different from the Bahamas. First, they are rocky, as in real granite and other stuff. These islands will endure, the sea will not take them away. The Bahamas are soft limestone and are eroding. Most of these islands seem to have some height, at least several hundred. The highest point in the Bahamas is about 260 feet. What is not different is the vegetation. It is all low, 15-20 feet tops and fairly dense, well able, it seems to me, to survive hurricanes.

Tomorrow, Sunday, we will be off to Virgin Gorda. There is a clinic there and Carol will get her stitches removed.

Posted by sailziveli 13:47 Archived in British Virgin Islands Tagged islands sailing british boating virgin bvi Comments (0)

Norman Island

N18 19.048 W64 37.175

sunny 79 °F

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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.

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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.

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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 Comments (0)

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