We leave St. John early to head to the marina in Red Hook on St. Thomas where we’ll stay for two nights. The sun is just coming up. Matt looks over at me and says, “You’re beautiful.” Then he pauses and adds “…… both of you.” He is referring to me … and to my alter ego Crabby who has also been living with us these past few days. I’m not sure when it started … was it after a day of sailing and checking in and out of customs when we were supposed to stay in a marina (but didn’t) where I would get a much-longed-for shower or was it when we realized our dinghy engine was dying and had to start rowing everywhere? [the dinghy engine, an 8-horse power, was getting increasingly temperamental. First it was getting difficult to start. Then, even once it started, it would sometimes stop unexpectedly. By the end, it seemed like a 2-horse power engine (one lame horse, the other dead and being dragged behind us). A new engine is around $3K, which I just don’t understand]. Continue reading
When flipping through the guidebook, Joshua saw a picture of a gorgeous tiny island, showed it to Matt and said he’d like to go there. It is called Sandy Spit and is right near Green Cay of Jost Van Dyke. It is picture-perfect – one of those places you see on a postcard and say “Is that real?” Continue reading
We arrive late in the day at The Bight on Norman Island. The restaurants or owners try to put mooring balls in all possible spaces so they can collect their $25-35 dollars per night, making it hard to find places to anchor. We motor close to shore checking the depth on the edge. Someone drives by in a dinghy and tells Matt that a similar sized boat was anchored here before. “That’s all I need to hear,” Matt says. He is determined to angle us in
there. We set the anchor and back down the engine in reverse. I stand on the chain waiting for it to go taut so we know the anchor caught. After letting it settle for a while, Matt jumps in to snorkel over it just to be safe. Nothing is more frustrating than a sleepless night worried about the anchor holding (well, actually, there are tons of things more frustrating … identity theft, stolen wallets, losing one’s job, fire damage … ) but you know what I mean.
On Wednesday we get up early and dinghy over to Treasure Point at the entry to The Bight on Norman Island. The locals refer to this as Treasure Island because there are four caves here where the infamous pirate Blackbeard stored some of his treasure. This is the best snorkeling we’ve experienced so far. Perhaps because of the popularity of the place (and because some people feed them), the hundreds of fish do not seem scared and come right up and
surround us. We snorkel along the wall of rocks and dip into some of the caves. The largest one is long and narrow and goes back about 80 feet. We’re all getting a little freaked out and we’ve forgotten our flashlight. We go back to get it but it’s still a little scary. Occasionally, schools of fish will fly out past us. I keep wondering what is at the end – Jaws, the Loch Ness, Blackbeard’s skeleton? Once we have seen all of the caves and the long wall of rock, we swim back to the dinghy. On the way, I see a sea turtle stick his head up. He’s less than 10 feet away from us and just keeps swimming around. We float near him as I curse myself for not bringing my camera (Joshua reminds me, “Just be here, Mom”). The turtle finally heads to the bottom where we continue to watch him. We absolutely love the sea turtles. We head back to the boat where Joshua, commenting on the caves experience, says indignantly, “There was no gold in there!” I think they were expecting pirate chests full of treasure and gems.
We stay in The Bight for two nights and moor our boat at the caves to snorkel one more time before we head out. I have my camera and keep hoping the sea turtle will visit again but he doesn’t. We finish snorkeling and get back to the boat and find a 65-foot catamaran banging against her. The captain moored after us and is right on top of us – his boat is too large for the day moorings. He is trying to fend our boat off and makes it seem like it’s not a big deal (probably because he is a hired captain and has charter people on board). This is a big
violation of boat etiquette and Matt is not pleased. He mutters something about poor judgment. We get off the mooring ball and head to Pelican Island and the Indians. Another spot with incredible snorkeling. We finally see a moray eel! Someone else spotted it and points it out to us. They blend in so well with their surroundings that they are easy to miss. These past few days have been such a blast.
We leave Anegada Sunday morning at 7:30 in very light winds. They’re so light that we put up the mainsail while still on the mooring ball but are ready to let it fly if we get pushed near the reefs on either side of the channel. We float along slowly at 2 ½ knots (the winds are less than 5). The boys wrestle on deck while I make French toast below. Matt comes down below, and in those few moments, the boys unknowingly knock a small blue cushion overboard. Matt doesn’t realize it until later and, because litter makes us crazy, he goes a little ballistic. We use the binocs but can’t see it anywhere. Matt comes down and says he feels badly and wishes he had reacted differently with the boys. Continue reading
The BVI is such an amazing place to explore because there are so many different islands and they are relatively close together – yet each fairly unique. Anegada is by far the furthest away and the northernmost of all the islands. We leave early with winds that are 20-25 knots, with all three sails out and a reef in the main. We are going at 7 knots and it feels great. We pass a charter cat that is barely moving. They only have their headsail up which doesn’t work with this wind direction. They look at us in bewilderment as we fly by them. Continue reading
On Sunday we sail to Soper’s Hole (west end of Tortola) to exit British customs. We then sail to Cruz Bay on St. John to check in at US customs. It’s the first time I’ve been through customs on a boat. We pull up to the customs dock with only inches to spare behind a government boat. I leap from the side of the boat to the dock and tie the lines before Matt stops the boat. Two customs officials are outside. They do not seem impressed by my aerial agility. Continue reading
We keep our mooring ball at Peter Island but tie the kayak to it so no one else takes it. Our plan is to sail up to Salt Island to view the wreck of the Royal Mail Steamer Rhone. Right outside of Great Harbour is Dead Man’s Chest – an island supposedly in the shape of a coffin when viewed from the northwest (hence the name). The infamous pirate Blackbeard allegedly left 15 men there with nothing more than a bottle of rum. Some tried to swim the ½ mile to Peter’s Island but didn’t make it. Continue reading
We arrive in Great Harbour, Peter Island. It seems like the perfect place for us. I tell Matt I don’t want to leave.
Our anchor holds, as does everyone else’s. We’ve had no time to explore but decide to leave immediately in the morning. Most of the other boats do the same. The Christmas trades will continue for another night or two before they ease up. I’m using the windlass to pull up the anchor chain. It is a motorized mechanism that hauls in the chain and drops it into the below-deck
anchor compartment at the bow of the boat (there is a foot-operated covered button on deck). I see the anchor free from the bottom but there is still about 30 feet of chain out. Matt yells that it’s torqued. I’m trying to manually unwind it before I pull in a few more feet. I accidentally step on the button as I’m trying to untwist it. Before I know what’s happening, my finger gets pulled into the windlass. Matt is yelling. I’m yelling. Continue reading
We pull into Little Bay on Peter Island. We were here over a decade ago and there were only two boats in it. Today it has about 30 and it is a small bay. It looks like a marine parking lot. Instead of just being anchored, everyone is anchored and tied to the shore so they don’t swing, such that more boats can squeeze in. We motor through it and find some potential spots – a mere 10 feet from other boats. A huge dingy is hauling screaming kids around on a water sled. Matt asks what I think. I try to let him make these decisions based on what places provide good protection but my inner introvert is screaming NO! Continue reading