Monday, July 7, 2014

Cane Garden Bay, Callwood Distillery and Saba Rock - Sailing the BVI's (5 of 10)

(Editorial Note - You will notice that the chapter count is now x of 10, I had to increase the # of chapters with the content we had from the trip) 

It is amazing how great we all slept every night on this trip.  This was another night where we slept at anchor, breeze blowing in nicely and while a bit warm, always comfortable with that breeze.  We were really worried about not having air conditioning on the boat thinking it would be a too hot at night.  O’barr was adamant that it wouldn’t be needed and he was right.  Each bunk on the boat had a small fan that had both a high and low speed.  They drew very little amperage and just having it on low speed was enough to just keep the air moving.
We did find that it was cooler if we slept with the stateroom doors open.  The wind would come from the bow (where our stateroom was) and blow through the hallway to the aft stateroom where Obarr was sleeping.  He had his windows and hatches open as well so they ended up being a wind tunnel.  It was the same setup on the other hull sleeping configuration with Wild Mary and Robert up front and Oday and T in the back stateroom.    You just had to be a little cautious when you got up early or in the middle of then night to use the restroom.  I would do a bit of a peek around the corner to see if Obarr was sleeping before moving around in the stateroom.  And I guess in the end, you had to just be ok that if someone saw something, oh well. The risk was worth the reward of a good breeze every night through the boat.
By this time it was becoming very routine that whomever was up first would put on the coffee and everyone would just enjoy it as they came up from their bunks.  Another morning of a well cooked breakfast.  Today we had fresh fruit and some yogurt with our breakfast.  We had oranges, apples, grapefruit and some mango that we had fresh from one of the markets so it was quite a treat.  We started to rinse out the coffee grinds on the aft deck rather than in the sink as it was much faster to get the grounds out of the percolator.  The process was pretty simple.

Look at the Teeth on this guy up close
We had a bucket tied to a short line and we would drop it off the back of the boat and then use that to rinse the parts and dump it overboard.  Today we happened to notice a fairly large fish swimming off the back of the boat.  We figured he was used to hanging out in an anchorage and looking for food scraps to be tossed overboard.  So we didn’t disappoint.  We took a bit of some left over steak we had on board and cut a few pieces and dropped them in while holding the camera down below.  He was a 3-4 foot barracuda and had a pretty amazing set of teeth.  It was really cool seeing him up so close.  

We planned a trip over to Myett’s gift shop and the Callwood Distillery so we needed to get going as we had a pretty good long sail today to get to Saba Rock in the North Sound.    We all piled into the dinghy and headed for shore.
We walked back to Myett’s and the girls all went a little crazy with souvenirs.  We saw these cool black and white shirts there that filled in with color when they were in the sun.  Deb picked one up for our GrandKiddo and T wanted one as well.  The good news is that she was able to fit into one of the kids shirts they had there so she got a pretty cool one for herself as well.  

We walked down the street toward the distillery, passing the grocery store, an art studio and the postoffice, churches and the school with all of the children in their uniforms there.  Pretty amazing view these kids have from their school which was a great view through a few trees of the beautiful Cane Garden Bay.  We made the left hand turn onto the Distillery road and as we walked the block toward it we could already see smoke rising from the still.

This place is really amazing, it is the Callwood Distillery and has been in operation here in Cane Garden Bay, Tortola for over 400 years.  They are one of the oldest operating pot distilleries in the world.  We met the one employee working that day who was outside stoking the fire to heat the mash.  From that outside still the pipe comes in through a wall and into a small bucket (about 4 gallons) on the floor inside.  As it fills up, it is poured from there the bucket into the storing vessels.  These vary depending on the type of rum they are making.  For white rum, it is poured into glass vessels of about 4-10 gallons (they just had a variety there).  If they are going to be making spiced or aged rum, they would put it in the wood barrels and store them.  They get their barrels from Kentucky (old Whisky barrels) but I forgot to ask what they did prior to that.
The gentleman working there was really generous and provided samples of any of the variety they had there.  Mary had some fun with him when we were selecting what we would buy and after him counting out the bottles, Mary asked "So what do you own me" and he was stumped for a minute.  It was pretty funny and I think he had a clever retort like, if we had this discussion at 4pm, that may have gone more in your favor.  We ended up buying quite a few bottles based on what we would drink on the rest of the trip as well as what we could take home.    Deb and I picked up a bottle that was really good, lightly wood barrel aged, but had a large stick of sugar cane in the bottle to sweeten the drink.
The entrance and sign for the Distillery                                 The stock to be purchased (note TX flag)
After the distillery, we were walking back to the dinghy dock and saw that glass blowing studio.  This is the Green VI Glass Blowing Studio and it was founded as a way to have a more sustainable way of living on the BVI's.  The studio uses all glass that the find on the beaches and in town.  When we were there, they were telling us that they are about to convert their furnaces to use old cooking oil as a way to further enable their sustainability.  See their beautiful work on their Facebook photo album.  It was really cool and they were making starfish and turtles out of molten glass they found on the beach.  We watched them doing this for a while and got some pretty cool video of them doing it.
Basically they take a molten hot glob of this class, and spinning it get it to the shape they want.  They then take other molten glob of glass and touch it to the body and shape it with pliers to make the fins and head.  They were willing to custom make one any colors that we wanted so Deb picked out what she wanted.  We were running out of time and had to start heading to the North Sound so we asked them if we could pick it up on Friday when we come back to this spot for the Full Moon Party.  Arrangements were made and off we went back to the boat stopping to refill the ice in the coolers since this was a cheap place to get 20lb bags of ice.

We sailed North of Tortola and had planned a few course changes to keep the wind moving us at a good pace.  We happened to notice the depth on the charts showed that just a little ways beyond where we intended to change course the depth would go from 150 feet deep to 1400 and we thought it would be cool to sail out into that really deep water.  We extended one of our lay lines and were excitedly watching the depth sounder.  It went to 200, 220 and then up to about 75 feet which we expected, and we were anxiously waiting for the drop with cameras ready to capture the view on the depth sounder.  It started to drop, 90, 110, 160, 190, 200, 240, 270, 320 and then the depth sounder just went to three dashes when the depth sounder could not longer read depths more than that.  It was really disappointing because I was really looking forward to that.

We sailed into the north sound by heading directly toward Sir Richard Branson’s island (small light colored island on the top right of the map enclosed) and then turning to the south around the shallow reefs.  We went into this great area of North Virgin Gorda Sound with Virgin Gorda in front of us to the south.  We nagivated in with Prickly Pear Island to our port, and as we rounded Prickly pear, we could see the Bitter End Yacht Club and Saba Rock.   Our intent was to grab a mooring at Saba rock because if you paid for a mooring there, you could get 200 gallons of water and a bag of ice for free.  We got there a little late and there were no moorings left at Saba Rock.
We actually thought there were a few but as we got close we noticed they were labeled as "private".  We decided that we would grab a mooring at the World famous Bitter End Yacht Club.  I had the helm and found that it really is pretty nice to have the dual engines for maneuverability.  We picked up the mooring and decided to just take a swim for a little while after our long sail.  We were moored just outside of a channel that was used for boats taking workers to resorts on some of the outer islands, so we had to swim fairly close to the boat at all times.  Each time we swam, we typically just jumped off the very low stern entrance and into the water, but today we decided to jump from the sides of the boat.  I was amazed at how wimpy I was about it.  I thought it would be no big deal, but I had to think about it for a 3-4 second period of time before doing it.  Geez.

With the current coming in from between the islands in front of us, we decided to tie the life ring to a line and let it flow behind the boat.  That way if we were swimming or relaxing on a float, we could just hold onto the line and relax.  We did this for a couple of hours before grilling a nice dinner of marinated Mahi.  It was such a nice and relaxing evening.  We sat in the cockpit after dinner and just had a few drinks.  After dinner we decided that we should head over to the bar at Saba Rock and maybe grab a drink.  Saba rock has a great dinghy dock with underwater lights as you get close to it.  From the lights, you could see a bunch of 3-5 foot tarpon.  They feed them at certain times during the day, and we heard someone at the bar talking about them doing that at 9am in the mornings.  We made a mental note to head back in the morning to check that out.

Another case of "it's a small world", we sat at the bar and ordered some drinks.  We started talking to some folks at the bar who were sailing for the first time without the kids. Sounds like their kids usually come with them but not this time.
Turns out they are from the same town that several from our party are from and Deb lived for many years.  Contact info was swapped and we received a nice invite to come to their house for a party near the end of July.  Really cool to meet people so nice and close to home.  We did count the number of boats in the mooring field flying the Texas Flag and we counted 5 boats including ours.  We met at least 2 other people from Texas that were not flying the flag, so Texas was again very well represented.

We headed back to the boat from Saba rock and just relaxed before calling it a night.

Below is a video that summarizes the days activities.  If you are reading this blog from email or a print out, you will not see the video embedded below and will need to click on the following link to our Youtube Chanel.   Please click here to see the video of Callwood Distillery, Cane Garden Bay and Sailing to Saba Rock.