Wednesday, September 2, 2015

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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tropical Cyclone Bill - Expected to hit Texas Coast tonight

We have been watching the tropical disturbance forming in the Gulf of Mexico now for a few days and yesterday it started to organize late in the day.  The barometer was dropping to about 1007 millibars and NOAA was flying a hurricane hunter into it for observations.
Seems that it is has organized and went from a tropical disturbance and now formed into a tropical cyclone.  That threw me for a bit not knowing what the difference is between a tropical depression and a tropical cyclone (especially in the Northern Hemisphere).

I did a bit of research and in the end, cyclone, typhoon and hurricane are all the same darn thing.
That said in all my time on the gulf coast, I don't think I have heard them referenced as Cyclones, but for some reason Tropical Depression Bill is being reported that way.

Deb and I are really carefully watching this storm, mainly because it is going to hit the Texas coast tonight or first thing in the morning.  The challenge is that we can't really leave DreamChaser alone because I expect the water to continue to rise even here in Louisiana and we are not a floating docks, but rather fixed piers so we are needing to adjust lines as the water rises from the wind pushing all that water up from the gulf into the bays, lake Pontchartrain and ultimately up the Tchefuncte river.

That leaves the question of Last Affair.  She is berthed in Galveston Bay right now.  She is secured well and tied on floating docks in a very secure marina.  The issue is that with sustained winds at 40+ for 24 hours straight, it can start to cause havoc on things.  Luckily we still know a lot of folks in the area who have checked on the boat for us.  She is tied secure and still riding out well.  We have added some additional security to the sails being secured by taking a few extra wraps of the jib sheets around the roller furling up half way.  An additional tie around the lower portion and cleating all of those lines well in hopes that the sustained winds don't start to grab that sail and work to unroll or tear it from it's furling.

The main is covered and secured tightly with sail ties, and cover secured well.  Someone also went
over and ensured that the bimini was closed up very tight as well.  I didn't want to ask someone else to take it all off of the boat, but the thought is that as secure and solid at is it (Rigid frame and not webbing to hold certain parts in place) she is a very secure frame.  With the side flaps all zipped tightly it won't allow wind to get in and lift it like a parachute.

I have been watching the newscasts for how the weather is starting to effect the Galveston/Kemah area.  Right now the water is up higher than the highest we have seen it since moving there.  It is already starting to rise above Toddville road.  The Kemah Board walk is already starting to see some breaking waves hitting the dock itself.

Typically when we would walk that back part of the boardwalk, the water is 6-8 feet below the dock even at the highest of tides, so this is certainly up quite a bit and I suspect it will continue to rise at least until the this thing is 50+ miles inland.  Given the counter clockwise rotation of the weather systems, it is going to keep pushing water north and then as it hits landfall South West of Houston, that water will continue to drive that way even after landfall as the wind starts forming as westerlies.

Deb and I may need to split responsibility and have one of us go to check on Last Affair while the other stays here to manage and monitor the lines on Dream Chaser.  Even here in Louisiana, we are up about 3 feet already and we have had to let some line out to accommodate the drift.  Another foot to foot and a half or so and the water will be going over the dock surface.  Our living blocking board is rigged up between posts so even if the water were to go high above the docks, we will still have a good surface to keep us from moving toward or over the dock.   (Thanks Rat for the nice rig and setup you left in your slip when selling your boat.  Rat had the slip we are in before us and let me know what he rigged up and how he set it up.  It works well and he even took a step to automatically adjust the blocking board to rise up and down on blocks in relation to his boat so it would go up even if he was not at the boat.

Below is the weather forecast from Houston showing the details about the disorganized system and what the hurricane hunter plan was reporting on the North and East side of the storm.  Just over 50 mph.  I was looking at Bouy data and ship reporting and there are some reports of 19 foot seas and 54 knot wind gusts out in the Gulf tonight.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Peter Island, Roadtown (return Boat) then Trellis Bay - Sailing the BVI's (10 of 10)

Well this was it, it was the last day we would be on the boat.  Our plan today was pretty simple.  We were only about 45 minutes from Roadtown so our plan was to prepare breakfast, clean up and stow all the dishes (With the exception of glasses as we knew we would have some drinks) and then clean the boat and pack our stuff.

We awoke as usual to fresh coffee and juice.  We prepared a great breakfast cooking up any of the breakfast meats we had left (Bacon and Sausage).  We had a good meal, and started the clean up process.  We used the deck brush and buckets of water to clean the boat off.  Mainly the cockpit was the area that needed the most cleaning.    We went inside the boat and straighter up all of the food that we had stored putting it in boxes to be given to local's at the Marina or to other cruisers that may be heading out for the start of their trip.

We gathered everyone's stuff from around the boat and put in down on each persons bunk.  Before we actually packed our clothes and bags, we decided to sit and just chat and have a few drinks and relax. We had brought a lot of music with us, including songs from about every genera and era.  We decided that this boat full of Texans needed some old school country.  The best part of old school country is that most of us knew the words to the songs and Oday can't stand country.  Knowing Oday doesn't like country made us all want to have a sing-a-long.  

We belted out sounds from Tammy Wynette, Roger Miller, Dolly Parton and even Claude Kings 'Wolverton Mountain'.  The funny thing is we were doing this while anchored in this harbor with about 20 other boats.  I don't know if they heard us or not, but it sure was funny to all of us except for Oday.

When we finished our sing-a-long, a peace offering was made to Oday who got to choose the CD he wanted to listen to next for our sail back to Tortola and Roadtown harbor.  We lifted the dinghy on the davits and secured everything for this last leg of the trip.  We dropped our mooring ball and headed almost due north toward Roadtown.

There was only 1 thing left to do on this leg of the trip and that was to drop off our message in a bottle at the place we thought it would likely travel the furthest.  We wrote our note essentially saying that we were a group of people sailing in the British Virgin Islands and that if this were found, to please send an email and photo of the bottle where found to us (and we listed our email addresses).  We put the note in a waterproof zip-lock bag and rolled it so it would fit in the wine bottle.
OBarr tossing out our message in a bottle
The bottle already had all of the labels removed and the cork was pushed back in to keep any water out of the bottle.  We planned our drop at the place where we assumed that the wind and current would carry it West, Southwest down the Sir Francis Drake passage and south of St. John toward the open Carribean Sea.  It could wash up on Puerto Rico, The Dominican or if it starts to head south, any where in Columbia or Venezuela.     It would be really cool to hear back from someone if they find it.  I just hope if it is found we don't get a note from St. John indicating that it would not have traveled more than about 10 miles.

We arrived back at Roadtown and called Conch charters who had us pull over by the fuel dock.  They sent one of their guys out to the boat in a dinghy and he hopped up on board, took the helm and parked it behind another boat at the fuel dock.  Because it was Sunday the fuel dock was closed so they were going to just fill it up on Monday and let us know how much it took.

We found another guy that was heading out for his charter, so we gave him some of our food stores that we hadn't needed.  He was glad to get it and loaded it up into a cart and took it to their boat.  We then set everything else out on the table for the woman who cleans up the boats to take home.

We loaded all of our bags into a cart and went through all of the check out procedures.  It took about 15 minutes or so and they let us know they would dive the boat the next morning and verify that there was no damage to props or rudders and we could be on our way.  We hopped in a van and headed back over to Beef Island, Trellis Bay where we would stay in a 'hotel' for the night to catch our early morning flight back to Puerto Rico.

This was the view from the front steps of where we stayed our last night
The place only had 4 bedrooms and a shared living room and no air conditioning.  But, they did have a nice little beach front bar that we had a few drinks in and lunch.    The hotel was called "The Loose Mongoose"  It was rustic for sure.  They didn't have air, but did have a fan in each room.  They also were to have Wifi and since most of us had been without it most of the time, we all wanted to check in and check out what was going on.  We couldn't get it to connect.   I finally saw the owner and asked if he was ok with me taking a look at it to see if I could get it going.  He was, but he couldn't recall his admin password for his service.  Luckily, routers in the BVI's just like the US tend to have some fairly generic user name from the factory so I was able to hack in within about 10 minutes.     The good news is that I fixed his connection and we were able to get on-line.

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This area is known as Trellis bay and there were quite a few boats anchored or moored just off the beach.  This is also where they throw the other full moon party on the island.  This one is on the East side of Tortola as opposed to BombaShack on the far west side of the island.  Aragorn Art Studio makes the large decorative fire balls used for the full moon party and their studio is right on the beach.  They have some really cool stuff such as smaller fire balls for home, tons of carvings and art made of the wood that drifts up onto the beach.  The owner of the studio came out to our boat on our first night to see if we were interesting in coming by the studio the next day or picking up some t-shirts.  You can check out their site here - Aragorn Art Studio.

We walked down the beach and found this really large starfish on our hike.  It was the largest start fish I have every seen up this close.  It was only in about 8 inches of water just a few feet from the shore.  Deb picked it up so we could show just how large the thing was.  We put him gently back where he was after the photo.  We also found a section of the beach that was just littered with old dinghies.  There must have been at least 8 of them that were flat and tossed up on the beach just beyond the sand line.  It was an odd site, we joked that it was the island where Dinghies went to die.

We went back to the Loose Mongoose and relaxed on the benches that were water side.  It was a great location right on the beach.  What we didn't think about was the fact that the house we were staying in was 20 feet from that great little beach side bar we had lunch in.  The live band setup and people started hanging out in the front yard with us.  It was not too bad, but not something i had planned for. We went to bed at a decent hour since we had a very early morning flight.

Up in the morning, loaded our bags into a van and headed over to the airport less than a mile from where we were.  We boarded our small plan and flew back to Puerto Rico to catch out flights back to the US.  All in all this was one of the best trips I have had.  We spent it doing what we love to do, sailing and cruising, we got to spend it with great friends that are all sailors and easy to get along with.  There were no incidents of someone getting on someone else's nerves, just a great time with friends that I can't wait to do again.  We are already starting to talk about the next trip.  Monohull maybe, and we are thinking a one way sail starting or ending in the Grenadines.

See below for the last video installment from this Blog series.  Remember, if you are looking at this from any site or method that doesn't have an embedded video below, please click the link here to see the video - Sailing BVI's - Last day, Peter Island, Roadtown, Trellis Bay

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cane Garden Bay - Great Harbor Peter Island - Sailing the BVI's (9 of 10)

We woke up late this morning, assisted by the drinks at the BombaShack the night before.  I was looking forward to getting to see the beautiful CT/Formosa that we dropped off some folks to last night.  Sadly they boat had left the anchorage before we got up.  We relaxed and had our morning coffee and fresh fruit and yogurt for breakfast.

This anchorage is really nice and I could see spending a few days for sure in Cane Garden Bay but for us, we knew we were going to head over to Peter Island for tonights stop.  It was not a far sail and we planned it this way so the day we had to return the boat (the next day) we would just be a short 45 minutes from Roadtown on Tortola.

Knowing that we had a short trip the next day, it allows us to hang out for a while where we were and take a little dip.  We decided that it would be good to see if we could hang Oday's hammock from under the boat between the hulls.  There were towing points there and it sure seemed like the hammock might hang just below the surface of the water.

Sure enough it did and it was a great place to relax.  We put some warm beers from storage into a mesh dive bag, tied it to the rail and dropped it in the water to cool them down to the water temperature before we transferred them into the cooler.  I love this picture of Deb chilling in the hammock with a sack of beers floating right next to her.

We had a great swim, and then took our short sail over to Great Harbor on Peter Island.

When we arrived, we really just relaxed, swam and hung out.  We grilled another gourmet meal on the boat and dinghied around the Marina and gave some of our left over beer to people we could tell were cruisers.
Sailing SouthEast just passing the western end of Tortola (toward Peter Island)

Anchored in Great Harbor on the North Side of Peter Island
We enjoyed the evening with friends and were wishing it was not all coming to an end tomorrow when we had to return the boat.
Another great meal prepared on the grill as the sun was setting

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sopers Hole to Cane Garden Bay & BombaShack Full Moon Party - Sailing the BVI's (8 of 10)

Today after awakening in a great anchorage with a nice breeze, we fixed breakfast and coffee.  We all decided we would head to shore today and check out the stores and shops on Soper's hole.  There were still a few souvenirs that folks wanted to get and there were several shops along the water front that had t-shirts cheaper than a lot of other places we had seen them before.

We loaded up to the dinghy and returned to the Pussers Landing dinghy dock where we had drinks with the O'Day's the night before.  We walked along the water front and stopped in a few stores.  Mary bought a really cool shirt that was of a woman in a bikini so when she wore it, it looked like she was wearing a little red bikini.  There were shirt and gift shops, there was a dive shop and some clothing stores.

They also had an island spice company which was pretty cool.  It was a place to get whole nutmeg and a grater but we knew space was limited in our bags returning.  (The whole nutmeg ground on top of the PainKillers made them so much better.)

We had a short sail today from Sopers hole, west and then North up the western side of Tortola.  We decided to get over to Cane Garden Bay a bit early to see if Sandman was over at Myett's.  Obarr really wanted to try to catch up with him.  Deb had ordered that glass turtle that we didn't have time to wait for last time we were here so we told them we would pick it up today.

Today was Friday, it was a full moon and it was the night of the Bomba Shack Full Moon party which  we planned part of our vacation around.  We planned our itinerary such that we would be here in Cane Garden Bay on Friday and planned the week of our trip to coincide with a full moon.

We dropped our mooring in Soper's hole and sailed Southwest and then West around the tip of Tortola.  There is a great property right on the southern tip there that has some rooms for rent, a great dock at the water level and it seems to be built hanging over the rocks on multiple levels.  As we passed  Mary took a great picture of this place.

From the point in this picture we headed North and kept the island of Tortola to starboard as we went the short distance to Cane Garden Bay.

True to form and based on Obarr's tradition we tuned the music to the Jimmy Buffett Album, Son of a Son of a Sailor and cued up Track 9 "MaƱana" as we sailed into Cane Garden bay.  (See one of the earlier blog entries on Cane Garden bay for the lyrics and why we play it when entering this harbor.)

As we sailed in we found place fairly close to where we stopped earlier in the week when we stayed in this bay.  We picked up a mooring ball and just relaxed.  At this point in the trip, we were completely into the island lifestyle and did nothing in a hurry.  We milled around and cleaned up the boat a little bit.  Played some cards, had a few drinks, sat around and shot the bull with each other and as Oday and T decided to take a swim, Me, Deb and Mary decided to head to shore.

Earlier in the week when we were here, Deb found a glass art studio where they used recycled bottles from the beach and all of the funds went to support the local waterfront community.  Deb liked one of the turtles but wanted a different color, so they started to make a custom one for her, but we had to get going and let them know we would pick it up today.  That was one of the errands we would run on shore.  Mary also wanted to head back to Myetts to pick up a couple of souvenirs and we were going to get ice on the way back to the boat.

Dinghy ride  to shore (this is a CT/Formosa-Deb and I love this style boat)
As we were loading in the Dinghy, T and Oday dove into the water off the side of the boat, and we motored through the crystal clear water to the Dinghy dock.  This time Deb took the helm and she drove the dinghy.  We walked over to Myett's first and Mary picked up a few things she wanted and then we stopped at the Glass studio on the way back to the boat.  The turtle looked great, right along with the blue swirl deb wanted inside the clear glass shell.  We picked up a 20 pound bag of ice, and loaded back up in the Dink.    After getting back on board the boat, Obarr wanted to see if SandMan was at Myett's so we decided that we all wanted a few pain killers and cracked conch anyway.  (The cracked conch at Myett's was unbelievably good).  Sandman was there and Obarr got to speak to him for a little bit which was really cool.  Sandman said he didn't remember Mike's name, but he did remember quite a few good dinners and parries on their boat.   (this goes back 10-15 years).
View from the Myett's Patio.
The Good news is that the View from Tony's is the same
We found out Sandman would be driving tonight to BombaShack so if we needed a ride, he said to just give him a call.   Sadly, Myett's was out of Cracked conch, so we decided to walk down the beach to a place called "Tony's".  They had 2 Painkillers for $6 so we figured if we were just going to have a drink, we would go to the cheaper place.  The view of the water was the same.

I swore to myself I would only have one painkiller because these things, combined with the heat, and not doing a whole lot, put me to sleep and I wanted to save some energy for the full moon party.

We went back to the boat, had a great dinner of marinated MahiMahi on the grill along with fresh veggies and some rice.  Another great meal aboard Kastor Pollox.  We all took showers as the sun started to set and then got ready to go to BombaShack.
Sun Setting  from Cane Garden Bay

When I say, "get ready" it doesn't mean get all dolled up, nope, this is a dive.  A dive may actually be considerably nicer than this place.  So by get ready, I mean we ensured we had cash, cigars, and some bug spray.  Robert and Mary decided to stay at the boat, mainly because of how winding the road over the mountain would be and Mary had a touch of motion sickness on the first day when we did this on the other side of Tortola.  We loaded into the dinghy again and headed back to shore.  Right at the top of the dinghy dock there was a cab waiting there so we just hopped in.  The cabs here are really just a mini van with a lot of seats in them and all of the windows open. To have some extra room, you tend to hang some part of your body out the window (it may be your arm or even your head).  There were five of us and only 3 other people hopped in, so it was not too overloaded.  I climbed all the way into the back and off we went through some very winding roads.  In the BVI's the cars drive on the left side of the road.  When we were coming down the back side of one of the hills, the switchbacks were so steep, when I looked out my window to my left as we went left around a hairpin turn, it looked like it dropped straight down.  (If you want the video at the end of this blog, I traced the road on a map to show how sharp these hairpin turns were.)

We arrived at the Bomba Shack and it needs some explanation.  On one side of the road is the shack, 2 bars and the beach (and bathrooms), on the other side of the road is the place where you can buy drink tickets, there is a kitchen, large outdoor bar and huge stage and dance area.  When you walk up to this it kind of looks like someone built it out of old pallets or wood that washed up on the beach.  There are t-shirts, bras, panties, hats, flags, roadsigns and you name it that are covering the walls.  (Walls that don't really keep much out, most walls have gaps and holes in them.  
As you walk into the entrance on the beach side of the shack, there is a bar to the left and a few make shift benches out of stumps to sit on.  There is no floor, so you kick your shoes off and enjoy the soft sand on your bare feet as you walk through the bar.  It is not really small.  Maybe 200 feet long or so when you get inside.  There are areas to sit, there is a ledge you can put a drink on and look out over the beautiful bay.  Oh, this is also where there are a few local entrepreneurs offering up mushrooms for sale that will surely "take you on a ride"   There is hand written notes all over the wall.  Some are funny, some are more like "ABC was here".
On Full Moon Party night, they don't take cash, you have to go across the street and buy tickets.  (Essentially drinks were $5 each if you bought the tickets).  I bought $20 worth of tickets and walked back across the street to get a painkiller.

We decided to walk up the street a little bit as we could see there were some things going on there too.  They had a stand making snow cones.  Someone was selling jewelry, and several folks selling shrooms again.  Then we found the most entrepreneurial of all of them.  A guy had a card table with a whole bunch of bottles on it.  He was selling drinks for $3 about 100 feet from the entrance to the BombaShack and there were about 20 people hanging around there.   He was working hard trying to get Deb and T to do Mushrooms with him but they passed.
Game where you had to swing the ring on a string and get it on the hook

As we walked back, deb decided she wanted to do the "All you can drink pass" that they were selling.  It was $50 and included all you could drink all night, a BBQ dinner and gave you access to the Mushroom tea that BombaShack makes and a t-shirt.    We decided to check out the other side of the street since we were at the ticket shack.  We walked around into the dirt path that led behind all the bushes/shrubs and trees and there was a huge bar and raised stage and picnic tables.  We met Bomba who was hanging out near the back door of the Shack.

We also ran into Sandman and hung out with him on and off most of the night.  The band was good and as it got later more and more people started to show up. I guess by about 11pm or midnight, there were a couple hundred people there all together.    It was a great place for people watching.  We saw one person so drunk that he couldn't really walk on his own.  We saw one poor girl stumbling and throwing up near the bushes and went to check on her because we thought her friends had left her, but her boyfriend had just gone to get her some water.    I also saw a guy selling shrooms way in the back of this outdoor field/dancefloor/bar/stage/dining room or whatever you want to call this giant outdoor area cut out of all of the trees and kind of hidden from the road.

I heard the band yell "So how many people do we have here from Texas" and there were a bunch of cheers.  I walked over to talk to some in front of us that had cheered and when I asked where she was from, her response was "I am from Oklahoma, he is from Kansas, close enough, right?"    I just shook my head as I walked back to our group.

Before the party was really getting going, Deb and T decided that they wanted to dance, so went right up in front of the band and just started dancing with each other.  We were all back near the road talking to Sandman and got a kick out of the whole scene.  There is something funny that happens when girls dance together, all of the guys stop what they are doing and watch, so at one point, there are maybe 75 people milling around this large area, Deb and T are the only ones in the middle of this field dancing with each other, and of the 75 people milling, 50 were just kind of watching them.   It was pretty funny, but to their credit, they got others to start doing some dancing too.

I wish we had more pictures of this place, but it is not like being in a well lit area, so most of our pictures didn't come out very good at all while we were there.

Sandman with OBarr, T and Deb (at the BombaShack)
We finally decided it was about time to head out and asked Sandman for a ride.  He said yes, but that he was also taking 3 other guys back so we all decided to go back together.    The other guys are nice enough, one was from the Coast Guard stationed in St. Croix.  They were on a holiday for a few weeks and sailing with one of the guys aunt and uncle.    On the way back, I remember hearing one of the guys talking to his buddy about the plan when they got back to shore.  They were going to try to shine a flashlight at the boat they were on in hopes that their Aunt or Uncle would see it, get in the dinghy and come get them.  If that didn't work, they were going to swim out to the boat.

Of course we said we would take them to their boat.  So now we had 8 of us in the 10 foot dinghy.  We certainly had this thing loaded down so we just kept it slow.  The water was flat as could be anyway in the bay so it was a nice quiet smooth ride out to the boat.  So as we left the dock, we asked which boat they were on and sure enough if it wasn't that gorgeous CT (Formosa) that we had seen in Cane Garden Bay, Jost Van Dyke and The Bight.  Deb and I love this boat, it is the style and size we really like/want eventually.  When we pulled up next to the boat, there was no boarding ladder, but these guys were young and nimble, they just climbed up the port holes and rigging up onto deck.  His Aunt came up into the cockpit with the commotion and we complimented her on the boat.  She invited us to come over tomorrow in the daylight and she would show us down below. (Sadly we slept in a bit and when we woke up they were gone the next morning).

All in all, the BombaShack was a good time.  OBarr did say that it was not nearly as big as it had been many years ago and when we talked to some locals about it, they said that it used to be the only one on the island so everyone came to that full moon party.  Now they do one in Trellis Bay, Cane Garden bay and Cappoons Bay where BombaShack is.

Below is a short Video for the morning in Soper's Hole on Tortola and sailing up to Cane Garden Bay for the Full Moon Party at the BombaShack.    If you are don't see a video below, please click this link to go the the video on YouTube.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Leverick Bay, Key Bay Peter Island, Sopers Hole - Sailing the BVI's (7 of 10)

We really enjoyed the air conditioning from being on the dock so much so that we all slept in, we prepared coffee and breakfast in the air conditioning and then each went and showered on shore where we could take as long a shower as we wanted.
Sailing to Peter Island (you can see boats anchored ahead at the Indians)

Sailing to Peter Island

 We had talked about wanting to spend one night in a very deserted area where we would be the only boat.  There is something just picturesque about that thought, so O’Barr again came through with a recommendation on the southwest side of Peter Island.  There was a small point that pointed to the south and would protect us from the swells that would come from the east.  This spot would also allow us to be behind the windward shore that was only about 2 ft above sea level so it allowed all the wind to still come across the bay.  We pulled in and attempted to anchor.  We could see the bottom in 15-20 feet of water and dropped the hook a perfect anchoring sand, but it just wouldn’t grab.  The first time, we assumed it was because there was rock below it.  We pulled it up and made another attempt this time a bit closer to shore and in water that was more shallow.  Again the anchor wouldn’t grab.  We dove the anchor and it just didn’t look like the point of the anchor was aiming correctly.  We pulled up and attempted it again and the same thing.  When diving to inspect our hold we saw the same problem.  We pulled up the anchor and realized that the darn thing was broken. The spade and the shaft were not aligned like they should be.  We started to think about re-rigging the spare anchor but none of us really wanted to chance having an issue in the night.  We started to consider how lucky we were earlier in the trip.  We only anchored 2 other times.  Once was just for lunch and the other was an overnight in Cane Garden Bay.  We really lucked out that we didn’t drag since it seems now that the anchor likely was not set real good earlier when we used it also.  
Deb Relaxing for the short time we were at Key Bay (Peter Island)

What do you do when you have a problem but it is not an emergency?  You open up a beer, and think about it for a few minutes.  We did just that and came to the conclusion that we would head over to the West side of Tortola to Soper’s Hole.  We could pick up a mooring there as there seemed to be a good number of them in that bay.  A plan was hatched and away we went.
We sailed northwest toward the western side of Tortola, passing St. John on the Port side again.  We went North between Little Thatch and Frenchmen’s Cay and then Eastward to Soper’s hole.  By now, we have circumnavigated all of the BV Islands with the exception of Anageda which the charter companies don’t like you to take their boats too because of the shallow water and reef surrounding the island to the north of Virgin Gorda.  

View into Sopers Hole from just between Thatch Island and Frenchman's Cay
We picked up a mooring and watched all the activity on a tall ship that was docked near us.  The ship was called Ocean Star and was an 88 foot Schooner that weighed 75 tons.   She has a staff of 4 professionals and 16 student crew that sail this boat while taking classes, and getting life lessons and certifications in diving, etc.  They offer 20-90 day voyages and this particular ship works mainly in the Caribbean.   While we were there, we saw the kids working on the boat and cleaning the decks, etc.  We saw them getting lessons in Dinghy handling within the anchorage and as evening drew near, they were all swimming and having a great time jumping off the sides and off the bow sprit for some relaxation time.  What an awesome experience for kids.  I looked it up when we returned, it was pricey but still an awesome experience or opportunity for a kid.  It was about $4,500 for a 20 day sail with lessons, about $10K for 40 days.  I asked our Granddaughter if she would be interested in something like that and she said “I would not go to school on a ship, you would waste your money on that”.  Funny how brutally honest kids can be.
Sea|Mester Boat - Ocean Star

Deb and I saw a couple of really nice looking boats moored in this well protected bay and wanted to take a dinghy ride to explore them.  First Obarr and Oday took a little cruise around the anchorage to see if there was any chance that he knew of, or had met, the folks that were on board the Morgan Out Island.  After they came back, Me, Deb, Oday and T loaded a couple of beers in the dinghy and slowly tooled around the anchorage.  We saw 2 beautiful Hinkley’s, and several boats that you could tell were cruisers that had hunkered down in this place as a hurricane hole.  We even saw one boat closest to shore that had about 5 anchors deployed, 3 forward and 2 stern anchors.  It was an odd setup but it looks like they certainly didn’t want this thing moving.  

We decided to run up to Pussers on the waterfront for a drink.  They had a great dinghy dock and it was amazing at how clear the water was here as well.  Just a few feet off the shore the depth dropped from 4 feet to about 20 feet because just 20 yards from the shore was a large fishing boat that likely drafted 6 plus feet of water.  

We had a couple of drinks on the water front and then returned to the boat for a relaxing evening.  It was an early evening so I was able to copy some photos and videos down to the computer and sift through what we didn’t want to keep.  

Another relaxing night hanging out with friends.  Robert took this picture off the back of the boat as the sun was setting.  After another great day, we were off to bed.
Sunset out of Soper's Hole (aka West End of Tortola)

See below for a very short video clip from this day of the trip. If you are reading this in an email or PDF, you may not see the embedded video below.  If not, please go to the following link to see it - Click here for Sailing the BVI’s Chapter 7 of 10 - Leverick Bay to Key Bay to Soper’s Hole

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Saba Rock to Leverick Bay - Sailing the BVI's (6 of 10)

We decided today that we really needed to get water.  We were down to about 30 gallons or so and it just made sense that if we were going to come to a dock, we may as well top off fuel too.  Since we were not able to get a mooring at Saba Rock the night before we would have to pay for water and fuel. Methods was not a huge problem but we were a bit concerned about maneuvering up to the fuel dock with the direction of the wind.  This was going to be the first time we take the catamaran to a dock and just didn't want to increase our odds of hitting the dock or not being able to get close enough to tie off.  We did a little checking and found out that we would get some free water (100 gallons) with a mooring at Leverick Bay and based on the guidebook and so e Ariel photos, it appeared that it was going to be a better spot to fill up.
This would be our shortest travel day of the entire trip, so we decided to take advantage of it and do some sight seeing.

We went back over to Saba Rock in the dinghy and walked the island.  It is a beautiful resort.  We walked the docks, around to the grassy lawns overlooking the Caribean.  As we walked along this area we saw a small headstone that read "Ganja the cat" and it looked like Ganja was good to him because based on the dates he lived 18 years.  

We continued our walk toward the sandy area and back again into the docks where the underwater lighting attracts the Tarpon at night.  

We all loaded up in the dinghy and crossed the channel to walk around the Bitter End Yacht Club.  This place is really interesting and very well appointed.  The dinghy docks were in great shape and were right in front of the hotel.  We were amazed at the wood carvings in the lobby.
View from the Hotel entrance toward the Dinghy dock

This is a typical island resort layout with all open walls but this one had really nice wooden floors and walls.  The all appeared to be hand sawn.  We walked through the lobby and certainly had to take some pictures of the wood carvings and a group photo of us all standing right behind the Bitter End Yacht Club and logo.  

We walked down the water front and looked at some of the boats that the Hokin Family had bought over the years.  The story behind the Bitter End Yacht Club is a bit interesting.

In the mid 60's they family brought their boat to this area for recreational fishing off this remote island.  In the late 60's and early 70's the land where the Bitter End Yacht Club (BEYC) is now was just a fishing camp with no running water and no electricity.
there was a Bakery with fresh baguettes for sale 
They loved it there and thought it would be a great place to live.  The attempted to lease an acre of land to build themselves a house there, but the owner "Basil" at the time didn't want to lease them an acre, but instead offered to see the whole place to them.

In 1973, the Hokins bought the property.  The family didn't know anything about running a hotel or "camp" as it were then, but they were enthusiastic about their new property.  Each year the family would all come to this area and they discovered the great sailing, diving, fishing and snorkeling from Anageda to Tortola.  They had a desire to share their love of this area with others, and had the building designed and built.  Today the Resort creates it's own electricity, collects and distills it's own water and uses treated gray water for irrigation.
View from the upstairs lobby of hotel toward Prickly Pear Island

Today is a premium stop for anyone going to the area.  Beatifully appointed, and well maintained, it is the kind of perfect trees and flowers that you expect to see on a Hawaiian resort or Disney land, but the people are all laid back islanders.

We took a walk all along the water front and shops at the Bitter End.  I did end up buying a great portable cooler.  It is a neoprene cooler that you wear on your shoulder (Soft sided) that will hold a 12 pack of beer or a 6 pack and 4 bottles of wine.  It is a great bag and I look forward to using it at sundowners and events at other people's boats when we are back home.

We filmed some of the water front buildings, including a Bakery, Movie Theater (outdoor of course) marina office, fuel dock, hotel, gift shops, restaurants, pubs and what not.  See the video at the end of this blog for some more views of this including a great little bench that was built under a stone arch for shade.

View from slip back toward the shore
We loaded up into the Dinghy and headed back to the boat to pack up for the very short trip to Leverick bay.   We dropped the mooring and headed across the North Virgin Sound and circled the fuel dock finding our best place to pull up to it.  We waited for another boat to pull out and worked our way right onto the dock between 2 other boats side tied.  O'day did a great job and the guys on the fuel dock were really helpful with guiding us to the right spot and making fast the lines as we came in.

While we fueled up, Deb inquired about the Mooring versus a slip in the Marina.  We were shocked to find out that if we took a slip, we would get al the water we needed for free.  So a slip, with electricity, was only $25 more for the night than the mooring ball.  It had been 5 nights and we all thought that we would take advantage of the power and air conditioning while we were here.  After fueling up and filling with Water, we moved into our assigned slip.  Again Oday made it look like he had been Captain of a Catamaran for many years.  Once tied up, we connected power and flipped on the Air Conditioning units in the boat.  No water flow coming out, so we started to investigate what happened.  Turns out that with all of the sailing and beating, we just lost the prime to the pumps.  After reprising the pumps for each air conditioner, we were pumping cold air into all of the staterooms and salon.

Lunch time visitor
We emptied the trash, cleaned up the boat (Taking advantage of the water) and walked up to the restaurant for lunch and some Pain Killers and Caribe beer.  I love Island restaurant, it is not uncommon to see a dog wandering through looking for a handout.  In this particular one, we had a chicken come through looking for some food.

After a really good lunch including drinks, Conch fritters and cheeseburgers in paradise, we decided to go for a swim in the pool on shore that was included with a slip rental.  The water was warm, but it was very relaxing to just chill in the pool for an hour or so.   Right next to the pool was one of those great outdoor tiki style bars, so we had to swing on over and have a drink or 3.
Yep, Texas Flag is us

One of the other cool things about hanging out in these water front bars and restaurants is the characters you meet.  We met a guy that was there and he was full of rich stories.  Really nice guy, and he was sailing "down island" on his "french cat" that was anchored out in the bay.  In the hour or so we sat there he shared all kinds of interesting stories.  If I were to sum it up quickly, he was a cowboy from Wyoming or something like that.  He told stories of doing work for Nasa and rockets.  He also talked about doing some kind of work for the Russian space program.  He discussed national security type work he had done, He supposedly did delivery of private Boeing aircraft including delivering the 777 to Sir Richard Branson.  He suggested that he was going to stop by Richards Island, but the wind was just too good, he didn't want to stop sailing.  He is a test pilot and, oh yeah, he is a kite surfer that flies to all locations when there is a hurricane so he can kite surf in those.    I personally think 85% of it was BS, but it was all interesting.
View of the restaurant, stores, bar and pool from up on the hillside

While we sat at the bar, Obarr took a little walk up the hill and around this part of the island.  He used his amazing zoom on his camera to get pictures of the boat, the marina and even zoomed in on us sitting at the bar from a 1/4 mile away.

We slowly worked our way back to the boat and enjoyed the nice cool air that was in the boat.  We were able to connect to the Leverick Bay restaurant's wifi connection so we all posted a few pictures on Facebook and I must confess I did download my work email so that I could sift through it to find the important stuff.  We slept really good at the dock and planned to sleep as late as everyone wanted to.

We have a small video from our walk around Saba Rock and also Bitter End, It you are reading this anywhere other than the blog online, you will need to click on this link for the Saba Rock, BEYC Video.