Friday, 23 March 2012

Anchoring between the lines. The BVI’s

SeaGalMarch2012 014Having come from the peace and quiet of cruising in relatively quiet places where it is easy to find an empty anchorage and it is not uncommon to spend a day or two without seeing another boat it was rather a culture shock to arrive in the BVI’s. The relatively sheltered sailing area around Tortola  makes this the busiest charter area in the Caribbean, almost as crazy as the Ionion in Greece. Adding to this the fact that the cruising guide book we have is likely to be the same book as every other boat. This means reading between the lines to find the quiet spots.

So translated :-

Difficult entry, local knowledge required – Charter boats not allowed as you may need to pay attention to what you are doing, turn off the auto pilot and tear your eyes from the chart plotter. Quiet anchorage, but still has crewed boats.

No moorings available – Keeps away the crowds too, people love to pay $25 not to pull up an anchor, even if they have an electric windlass.

Popular with cruisers – Free dinghy dock, book swap, free water tap and a laundry near by. Local bar has very long happy hour.

Hurricane hole – very sheltered bay full of derelict, hurricane damaged boats.

A bay not even in the guide book due to the lack of restaurants to pay for advertising – Empty, perfect.

SeaGalMarch2012 010The BVI’s does have reason to be popular, there are many beautiful anchorages within a very small area, many fine bars with great names, the Soggy Dollar, Fat Virgin, Foxys and the Bitter End yacht club, all had to be sampled and cocktails tested.

We had a lovely time with Iris, Dianes mother, exploring the quiet and busy spots. Even managed a beach BBQ in a one boat bay, we checked out the amazing boulders and caves of the Virgin Gourda baths, saw sailing boats SeaGalMarch2012 040of all shapes and sizes.

After a few 3 weeks it was time to leave. We headed to East End to fill up with propane, we heard of a place that would do it in a couple of hours. That took 2 days. In the meantime a large ferry at anchor bumped into us at night and damaged a back stay. That meant a visit to Road Town to buy a new one and fit it.

We needed to go to Road Town to check out too, so not much of a detour. After lunch and a haircut the strangest thing happened. The wind decided to blow from the North for a day instead of the constant East of the past few months and we used this to our best advantage and set sail for Anguilla, the end of the Thorny Path and the turn south.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

St Croix and the US VI’s

After hanging out in Viaques and resting after our visitors had left, we eventually decided it was time to leave the country. Bored with the the constant battle to get east against the prevailing wind we headed South for St Croix and were mostly delighted. We landed in Frederiksted on the western end of the island to a surprisingly calm anchorage. Were invited to a bar by the owner on a paddle board. We watched the sunset over painkiller and nachos while admiring the praying-mantis the bar kept as a pet. All the calm before the storm.

SeaGalMarch2012 009

We also caught up on some email and discovered Iris was planning to visit soon, so the rush was back on the get all the laundry done, fill the boat back up with food and head to the BVI’s where there was more than one anchorage. St Croix had been nice, but the northern anchorages were very exposed. We battled through strong wind to St John then onto Tortola to check into the BVI’s and with hours to spare we arrived on Beef Island and anchored under the flight path for our airport pickup.

Kieran my brother tells of a journey in Madagascar to pick up his mother involving a 4 day trip with dugout canoes 4*4’s and many other jungle adventures. This was the opposite, with the terminal building a leisurely 2 minute walk from the beach and dingy dock.

With Iris safely on board we were on our way to explore the rest of the BVIs battling the charter fleets and mooring fields of a rather busy corner of paradise.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012




For the past few month Di has been trying to grow some vegetables on the boat. She started with a variety pack of salad seeds. Cress is a great moral booster as you can eat a lovely egg and cress sandwich within days, the rest take a lot more patience.

Many seeds don't seem to like the climate or the constant moving them from the deck for the sunshine, then back to the safety of the galley sink for sailing. One plant that is very successful and the most rewarding to observe ( my point of view ) in the tomato.

SeaGalFeb2012 120Ironically the one ‘fruit’ Di doesn't like.

They are quick to germinate, fast to grow, and even have produced a few fruit. Once the flowers appear we were then worried about pollination, as we don't have bees on the boat yet. So we have to ‘sex them up’ with a toothpick! Luckily we have three plants so they can mix it up a bit, but I am sure they are cousins.

Within a few weeks we have ripening tomatoes.

Apart from the cress, the only other vague success is a lettuce that is gaining shape quickly. We just need a pig to make my favourite BLT sandwich.