near "The Baths", Virgin Gorda, British Virgin
March - Anegada Passage - Anguilla to Virgin Gorda BVI
- We crawled out of bed at 0530, threw on some coffee,
toasted a couple of precious bagels secured in St. Martin, and had
the anchor aboard and steaming lights on by 0600 with the bow headed
west towards Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands just as dawn
began to break.
details of the passage, pick just about any day from our Atlantic
Log - 15 to 20 knots from the East, moderate seas, blue skies, some
puffy white clouds, no traffic, making six to seven knots over the
ground, gently rolling back and forth, nap, watch, nap, eat,
watch.... but it only lasted 12 hours instead of 18 days this
time! Eighty miles in the bag.
rounded the tip of VG just as the sun was setting - a bit nerve
wracking with a 5-7 foot swell running, reefs and breaking surf 100
yards to port, a rocky point 100 yards to starboard, the depth
steadily falling and the sun in our eyes - but as we entered, wow is
all I can say. It's like we entered a new world. The
large bay between VG, Tortola and a myriad of other small
islands was fairly calm (no swell) and golden in the sunset.
Islands all around. Trees again! Palm fringed beaches
between massive boulders, yachts at anchor, beautiful homes.....
what a dramatic change from St. Martin.
motored the few miles up the coast to the anchorage off Spanish Town
and dropped the hook in 20 feet of calm water. Tomorrow, we
March - Road Town, Tortola, BVI
- We dingied into to check in with customs and immigration
in Spanish Town. This seems like a major revenue racket, and
we took serious pity on charter boats that appeared to be getting
stuffed the worst. A poor French man in line in front of us
was told that on top of the port fees he had to pay US$4/per day/per
person on his boat because they were chartering it. When he
was told the total bill was US$240, he pleaded with the officer to
let him come back after going to the ATM for more cash. We got
off with $17 port entry and $5 port exit fees as a private
yacht. However, they asked us for 20 cents to pay for our
immigration entry card forms. Despite having just landed from
a foreign country (St. Martin) the immigration officer expressed
surprise that we didn't have change in US dollars and said we
couldn't use a US$1 to pay the 20 cent fee and expect change!
Luckily I scraped up 15 cents at the bottom of my bag, and she said
that was better than the one dollar bill, and let us go with a five
Town seemed to hold no more attractions than a marina and the
customs/immigration office, so we dingied back to Redwings and
raised anchor. We motored 2 miles south to the famous
"Baths" of Virgin Gorda. We anchored two bays north
of the Baths, as the Baths area itself was chockablock full of
charter boats on top of each other. We think the name of the
inlet was Little Trunk Bay - its hard to tell on the chart.
Anyway, this struck us as one of the loveliest beaches we've ever
seen in the world. There were barely a handful of boats in the
bay, and only four or five people quietly enjoying the beach.
The beach was totally pristine, baby fine white sand, with a border
of mangroves and palms behind, with splashes of color from bougainvillea
and tasteful wooden homes. We dingied ashore, and
snorkeled in the most inviting water we've ever seen- crystal clear turquoise
begging you to dive in. Unfortunately Aaron badly
scraped his shoulder and head on some coral when diving under to
view the fish - a bloody mess.
dingied further south through the Baths - which seem to be smooth
boulders with pools of water between them - basically interesting snorkeling
and swimming scenes. Aaron stayed in the dingy for
a half hour not wanting to re-expose his scraped shoulder to the
water, while I snorkeled in and out through the
lunch we took off for Road Town, Tortola, the capital of the BVI's.
We were all smiles gently rolling downwind for the 10 mile sail with
only the genoa out and no sea in the protected bay. I was
looking backwards luckily and spotted our dingy floating away which
broke up the reverie! After two tries with the boathook we
finally retrieved it. Aaron guessed he didn't tie the painter
on tight enough.
Road Town we tried to hook up with internet and to find our friends
Dick and Clare Kanter form Runaway who are staying here for two
months while their boat is refitted. We had no success with
neither mission, which was rather depressing. Tortola looks
like a miss without much to do besides drink at dockside bars with
lots of yachtie wash ups and US tourists fresh off the planes from
up north. We did manage to spot the location of the famous
Davy Jones weather center, and we also spotted Asteroid on the dock,
with what looks like its new owners (we cruised up the Red Sea with
Asteroid when our buddy Paul Johnson was the boat's captain. He has
since left the boat and last we heard it was up for sale in
fruitlessness of our journey ashore was further compounded by the
fact that we spent a rather uncomfortable night in a very rolly
anchorage there for it. We swayed and swayed, with both of us
getting little and fitful sleep. Finally in the middle of the
night I tried sleeping sideways in the bed to go with the
roll. I achieved this in our narrow bed only by putting my
head halfway in the clothes drawer next to the bed. Pretty
pathetic, but it helped a bit.
March - Jost Van Dyke, BVI
- Again, another pleasant downwind sail in protected waters
to Jost Van Dyke, another island of the BVIs. It looks like a
freeway for boats around here there is so much sailboat
traffic. Aaron says it reminds him of Penobscot Bay in Maine
in the summer.
The most notable thing about Jost Van Dyke seems to
be its famous Foxxys beach bar. Our buddies on Gigolo were
coming over for Foxxy's St. Patrick's day party, and we thought it
sounded like a nice idea. The anchorage was pretty crowded,
and we got a first hand look at the charter boat anchoring
took a brief walk ashore and enjoyed watching all the pelicans dive
into the water for fish. Gigolo came over for sunset cocktails
before we went ashore for the evening. The St. Patrick's day
party seemed the same as every other night at this beach bar, with
the exception that the stunningly rude and belligerent bartender put
shamrock stickers on her shirt situated where her nipples would
be. This was hardly very exciting to patron however since on
top of being rude, she was rather unattractive. The bartender
seemed to be put out if anyone wanted a drink, so getting them at
the bar wasn't a pleasant experience and we didn't last too long at
who charters a boat in the BVI's feels they must call in at this
bar. Consequently, we managed to meet 3 different people from
Maine without even trying in the space of 30 minutes who approached
us while we were talking about Maine to Gigolo. This seemed to
make Aaron think maybe beach bars in the Caribbean aren't so bad
18 - St. John, US Virgin Islands
- Well I guess its a momentous day when Redwings checks into customs
in her first US port! We sailed over to Cruz Bay, St. John, US
Virgin Islands, dropping the hook at around 11:30 am (the customs
officer wanted an exact time of entry ?!? so I remember). The
harbor was horribly small and crowded so we felt our stay to check
in and look around should be short, we were almost blocking the
made the mistake of checking in on a Sunday, whereby there will be
overtime charges, to be split somehow amongst all the boats that
enter during that day.
They can't estimate the charges until
the day is done and they know how many boats they will be split
between (although maximum per boat would be US$25/boat), so they
request a mailing address and say they will mail the bill to us to
pay later by check!!!!
Now, this could easily be the stupidest
policy I have ever heard, remarkable that one of the most advanced
nations in the world is embracing it. We tried to plead that
we lived on our boat and didn't have homes to pay the bill from when
it arrived asking if there was anyway we could pay on the
spot. The customs officer had no conception of the idea that a
boater wouldn't have a land address they could pay bills from.
So we'll see what happens, he said the bill should arrive in 2 to 3
Bay didn't seem so bad, mildly quaint, but very overweight trinket
shops and beachside bars. It feels strange to see people
boozing it up in bars at 12 noon, but I guess they're all on holiday
from a very cold place...
Virgins are lovely and quite clearly a cruisers paradise, endless
little sweet anchorages that can be sailed to pleasantly in a
protected beautiful bay. Lovely beaches, fantastic
snorkeling. I guess we just don't really fit in though right
now, as we're not part of the 10 day charter crowd looking for the
beach bar. Maybe that and the fact that we having a nagging
itch telling us we need to keep moving if we want to make it through
the Bahamas by end April means we'll be heading on tomorrow towards
Culebra in the Spanish Virgins, after a
really pretty brief cruise through the US Virgins.
motored over to Christmas Cove on St. James Island to spend the
afternoon and night. Aaron and I went snorkeling off the
southern tip and saw a large shark as well as a turtle, sting ray,
and lots of fish.
19 - Culebra, "Spanish" Virgin Islands
- Following a good night's sleep in the anchorage at St. James
Island, we got up and got going early lifting the hook at
0830. We are in moving-mode and feel more like putting in
miles and getting on with it than hanging around. It was great
to spend the afternoon snorkeling, and this is a nice spot, but the
next spot will probably be just as nice as well as different and
further down the track.
stop on today's itinerary: the main port on St. Thomas to try to buy
a duty-free digital camera. We motored the seven or eight
miles across the bay to St. Thomas and entered the large main harbor
of Charlotte Amalie with low expectations. We expected cruise
ships, gross development, a poor anchorage, and local hassle.
fact, it was a pleasant surprise. Large anchorage with good
holding, a fairly clean and pleasant harbor. Ok yes there were
three mammoth cruise ships in, but they pulled up well away from the
it was the tourist Mecca expected: jewelry shops every ten feet with
all wares "75% off", guys selling t-shirts that change
color depending on how much sunlight there is, mozzarella sticks, buffalo
wings, and sweet pink drinks in plastic cups for US$8.00 per pop -
the cruise ship minions were having a ball. We got in on the
duty free action too, however, and bought a new Minolta digital
camera. A new toy for me! Lots of pics will follow on
the website pages now that we don't have to wait to scan in our 35mm
hauled anchor after a quick lunch and headed out for Culebra, which
is part of the "Spanish Virgin Islands" which are several small isles off Puerto Rico that are actually a part of the
territory of Puerto Rico (i.e. USA).
had a pretty uneventful five-hour down wind sail. The wind was
fairly light and we had to pole out the genoa. Such a small
sail handling event seemed momentous as we have not even raised the
main since we sailed from St. Martin to St. Barts about a week
ago. We are getting pretty used to the easy down wind life of
just unrolling the genoa, putting the boat on auto pilot, and
putting in 20-30 easy miles in a morning or afternoon. We did,
however, catch two barracuda on the way, which kept my pulse
picking our way in through the well-marked reefs of Ensenada Honda,
a huge inlet of several miles that penetrates Culebra, we dropped
the hook at around 1600 in 15 feet of water behind a small island
just off the town. Flat calm. Beautiful anchorage.
A few cruisers, but we are now away from the charter hordes.
small canal connects Ensenada Honda with another anchorage / port on
the other side of the town. Cheryl and Heikki on Venla were
anchored over there and we all met for a drink in town. They
have been exploring Culebra for several days and really like
it. Great reefs and anchorages. They will take off
tomorrow for the north side of Puerto Rico and we for the south so
we probably won't see them again until the end of April in the
northern Bahamas when they are preparing to cross the Atlantic back
to Finland and we will be preparing to cross the Gulf Stream to the
village. Totally bilingual, lots of small colorful houses with
character. Cats and dogs everywhere. Could come back and
spend some time here. Next time.... feel like pressing on
20 - Green Beach, Isla de Vieques, "Spanish" Virgin Islands
- We dinged in at 0900 to check in (to Puerto Rican territory) but
that was not
early enough according the customs guys. They were a bit mad
that we did not call in last night and mentioned that there was a
US$5,000 fine for not checking in "immediately".
Everywhere else, "immediately" means within 24 to 48 hours -
especially if you arrive after office hours. Well this really
is the USA and things are different here I guess.
asking if we had any Jaguars on board..... (apparently they were
tipped off that someone will soon try to illegally import one to the
island - the actual feline version that is), we cleared in quickly for the low low price of US$25 for a
"cruising permit" and were on our way.
had a hard time figuring out where to go and what to do but finally
decided to head for another "Spanish Virgin" Isla de Vieques,
stop there for the afternoon / night, and then push on tomorrow for
PR. The sail was a bit sloppy and we ran into a dark squall
line right at the tip of the island. The wind quickly swung
right on the now and we found ourselves pretty close off a lee shore
in 20 knots of wind, darkening clouds, and rain in a matter of minutes.
We quickly turned on the engine and got around the point, and all of
a sudden, the wind died..... so we just motored all the way
down the coast of the island (catching two barracuda on the way) and
finally tucked into a small inlet on the western most tip of the
island off "Green Beach" (see photo). Twenty more
miles in the bag.
lovely. Quiet. Two fishermen in open boats
jigging for mackerel. Waves lapping the palm fringed
shores. Rainbow and powerful sunset.
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