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January 2007 Trip
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Link to this postPosted: Tue Jan 30, 2007 2:22 pm    Post subject: Martini January 2007 Trip

Only too long ago, now that it is zero here, my wife and I returned to the BVI for our 12th visit since 1993. Overall this was one of our favorite trips as the Christmas winds were virtually non existent, and we were able to get to some new places as well as visit some places we had not been to for a while. Average wind was 15, with a few days pushing mid twenties. Our experience the last few years at this time of year is mid 20's and higher, especially in squalls. We've been to the Grenadines as well at this time and had even stronger conditions.

Day 1
We arrived Tola around 6:30PM and as the boat would not be ready until the next day stayed at the hotel at Sunsail in Maya Cove. This was our first experience in this hotel as we usually sleep aboard. It will be also be our last as running water seems to be optional here, especially according to an flight crew that overnights there often. We had dinner at Calmaya at the base as we were tired and thirsty. This was okay but nothing special. As we were up at 3:30 AM for our departing flight, sleep came easily.

Day 2
We had water in the morning to flush the toilet, though it took a break for an hour. It did return for enough time to get in a shower though. As our Oceanis 343 would not be available for boarding until about 5PM, we took a taxi into Road Town. We wandered, got some nutmeg for Painkillers at Sunny Caribbee and had lunch at a place I don't remember at Village Cay. We wandered some more, and got back to Sunsail around 4 and were able to get aboard. Provisions arrived around 5 from the Ample Hamper. We got them stowed, got ice and got the boat on shore power to chill the fridge. Cocktail hour(s) was now upon us and it felt good to be back on a boat and sip a few Painkillers. Dinner was at Fat Hog Bob's which was much better than the previous evening. We ate at the bar as it was extremely busy. Our Jamaican bartender (whose name I don't remember) was very attentive and kept the cold beers coming.

Day 3
After our 7:30AM boat briefing from Egbert (it was a busy outbound day with around 30 boats going out), we had coffee, got snorkeling gear, loaded up on ice, and were able to get away from the dock by 10:30. Our normal first day out we tack up the channel for a 2 hour or so sail up to Marina Cay. Our logic is that by not going too far the first day, we get a chance to get a feel for the boat, and if there are problems we are not too far from the base so they can get to us, or we can get back easily downwind. This has come in handy on several of our charters for a variety of reasons. We were tied up to a mooring by about 1:30, and after lunch aboard and some lounging took the dinghy over to Scrub to view the further desecration of the BVI by the new development under construction. Rumor has another resort planned for Norman, Smugglers Cove, as well as the CowGusta National on Beef. Sorry for being a bit negative on the development here, but we remember this place when there were no moorings in The Bight, Saba Rock was run by the Kilbrides and was little more than a rock, the chickens at the old airport etc. etc. The balance of the afternoon was spent sipping painkillers, going for a swim, sipping painkillers ... Dinner aboard presented the usual challenge for me of getting the charcoal grill lit on the stern rail. If anyone has any tips on doing this with less than a full bottle of lighter fluid, a half roll of paper towels, and a half book of matches I welcome the suggestion. Tonight it was not too bad as the wind was around 5-10 knots and I got it lit with half the usual aggravation.

Day 4
We got underway around 10:00 after our usual leisurely morning of goofing around for a while. Aragorn never made it to Marina Cay as business must have been too good in Trellis which looked jam packed. Our initial thought if the wind cooperated was to reach from the tip of Scrub up to Anegada. The wind, though only about 15 knots wouldn't let us steer the 30 degrees or so magnetic we needed, so we beat up to Gorda Sound. We spent the night as the only boat at anchor in Drakes. Curious that since the small resort and fantastic restaurant closed a few years ago, that the current edition of the cruise guide says nothing about this pretty place with beautiful views of the reef and Gorda Sound. Please note that the moorings have been removed. The shore view is not as attractive as there are "No Trespassing" signs everywhere, but we had the place to ourselves. A good number of turtles kept us amused in between, you guessed it, a cocktail, a swim, a cocktail etc. We had dinner aboard and faced the grill lighting ritual for the final time on this trip as we would be using the stove for the rest of our trip.

Day 5
Usually when in Gorda Sound at this point of a trip, we take the opportunity to top off the water tanks which usually is enough to carry us for another 7 days+ on a boat that holds 85+ gallons. As there is now water on JVD where we planned to go later in the trip we decided to pass on waiting at the dock, and got underway to Heaven on Earth a.k.a. Anegada at the early time (for us) of 9:30. This was one of our best sails ever up to Anegada as we were full sail with winds abeam between 15-18 and a nominal 3 foot sea. We averaged about 7 knots and were on a mooring by 11:45. Walker’s waypoints for the entrance buoys were spot on and saved us the normal 15-30 minutes of trying to find them. As I recall, there was one red buoy one green stake missing from what is shown on the chart. This is pretty typical in our experience going in here. If you are not familiar with the way into the harbor, it can be a good idea to call ahead the ARH on the VHF to find out what buoys are there to minimize confusion as you enter.

Shortly after securing the boat, a few locals from the Whispering Pines (next to Neptunes) came out to us in a dinghy with their menu. As we were sick of turkey sandwiches, hungry, thirsty and respected their enterprising spirit we gave it a try even though we had tentatively planned on lunch at the ARH. The setting is quintessential BVI – beautiful. Though the bar was not necessarily self service, it was no problem to help one’s self, and I did on several occasions. Service otherwise was on island time. Though the food was mediocre (cheeseburgers in paradise as the person who made Roti was not around), the beer was cold and the price within reason.

After lunch we made dinner reservations at Neptunes, wandered the beach, reloaded on rum and water at Sue’s shop and returned to the boat to commence our afternoon of laziness. As sundown approached, we had a good chance at seeing the green flash but a last minute cloud came into play. I have only seen this once in my life and it was at Anegada. The only reason I’m sure I wasn’t hallucinating is that at the time we saw it, there was a loud “Wow” from everyone else in the anchorage at the same time. Dinner was lobsters which were so so, especially for $45 per person. Service was good and the atmosphere unbeatable.

Day 6
Once again we were under way by 9:30 headed for Jost Van Dyke. Winds were around 10-12 knots with little sea and we made it to Diamond Cay by 2:30. The trip was uneventful and we did not see any dolphins which we have in the past. This was our first time there and we enjoyed it, though we did not make it to the Bubbly Pool. We were not in a swimming mood, though this is a good place to moor and take a dinghy over to Sandy Spit. While lounging on deck sipping Painkillers, I happened to be looking in the right direction at just the right time and saw a good sized ray leap about 3 feet out of the water - wow. Dinner at Taboo was very good though a bit pricey by BVI standards.

Day 7
With only a few days left it was time once again to reload on rum, painkiller ingredients, water, and cigarettes so we motored over to Cane Garden as there was very little wind and the sea was like glass. We arrived around 11:30 and tried Quito’s for lunch but they were not open until noon. We went to the next restaurant down, (I forget the name) and dined on the fish burgers which were good. The cruise ship crowd was all over the beach almost wall to wall. This was not a pretty sight with very overweight men in Speedo’s and elderly women changing out of bathing suits in front of us on the beach. Fortunately, by the time our food arrived it was time for the bus to return them to Road Town and the place cleared out. We made our vice run at Rhymers and were able to sail back to Little Harbor as there was now enough wind to make 3-4 knots. Note that the buoys shown on the cruise guide at the entrance to Little Harbor were not there. We grabbed a mooring, and went in to Sidney’s for a few drinks, make dinner reservations and to catch up with Sidney who was in a good mood. He is also looking better than he has in while having lost 20+ pounds.

Cocktail hour back on the boat was enjoyable and we got to chat with Nippy (Traveling Salesman as well as employee of the JVD Highway Department) and get caught up on the local gossip. He repainted his dinghy and it actually looks quite good as compared to the past. I have a few photo’s of him in his refurbished sled drinking one of our beers I’ll email if anyone is interested. He is supposed to have his niece email me so I can send the photos as he wants to put up a web site. Don’t hold your breath. For the first time ever we bought something from him as he seems to have upgraded his merchandise a bit. Lobsters at Sidney’s were quite good and a little easier economically at $35 each for medium ones.

Day 8
Today’s trip was to go up to Norman, and we had another great day as winds were up to around 12 knots and the seas pretty quiet. The wind was also bit more easterly which helped us clear the eastern end of St. John with only 2 tacks after clearing Thatch Cut to get across. As we were coming up on Norman we noticed that there was no one in Key Bay at 1 PM so we detoured and anchored there for a leisurely afternoon and evening. Though we were eventually joined by 2 other boats, this is about as private as one can get in the BVI in January. The snorkeling was spectacular and the night quiet with enough wind to cool us off down below.

Day 9
Shortly before getting underway around 9, we saw what seemed to be a cruise ship coming into the channel between Norman and Peter. As it got closer, the aft deck seemed to look more like a freighter, though the foredeck looked way too nice to be a freighter. As it came closer, it was apparently a large private yacht with a helipad on the stern, and what looked to be about a 30 foot J type boat attached to the deck amidship. Talk about bringing your toys with you when you travel. They anchored in White Bay. Our initial plan for the day was to go up to Deadmans on Peter, go for a walk ashore, swim, etc., and have dinner at the beach bar there. As we were leaving Key Bay around 9:15, I noticed that there was no one across the way in Benures where we had not been for a few years. After about 30 seconds of discussion, we changed our plans and were at anchor by 9:45. The snorkeling and wildlife again were great. A bit boring perhaps for some, but it was a wonderful day. There were a good number of turtles going through and several impressive rays cruising the bay. We used up the last of our pasta and our last bottle of wine for dinner to end a great day.

Day 10
As we need to bring the boat back the next day, the groaning that we should have stayed longer is now setting in. Around 9 we went over to the Caves and grabbed a National Park Mooring for some snorkeling and hung out there for a few hours. We decided to spend our last night at Cooper to make it easy to get back to Maya Cove the next day. The sail up was close hauled in 22-25 knots and it took us 4 tacks I think. Just as we got moored at Cooper a giant squall came through and the channel disappeared for 15 minutes. It was good to have missed that having been caught in them before. By 3:30, all the moorings were occupied and there were some people who were trying to anchor inside the mooring area, fortunately not close to us. Dinner ashore (mahi-mahi) at CIBC was very good and the restaurant was not as crowded as the number of boats in the harbor would have indicated. The evening was pretty rolly as the wind was very gusty from one direction with the sea from another.

Day 11
It was time to bring our pony back to the barn and we were underway by 9 for the one hour crossing back to Sunsail. After getting tied up to the dock we had breakfast at Calamaya and cleaned up the boat. It turned out to be a good thing we still had fresh water to shower with left on the boat as there was no running water at the base anywhere. We were on our way back to the airport by noon looking forward to our next visit, hopefully this summer.
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Link to this postPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 3:39 pm    Post subject:  Tip for the barbecue

Nice write up!

We always buy the impregnated charcoal, either comes in cubes set in impregnated pulp container or the 'light the bag' variety.

Works for us everytime.
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Link to this postPosted: Mon Feb 19, 2007 4:07 pm    

Thanks for the tips, but I think I am more a victim of heavy winds the last few years as we rotate between the BVI and Grenadines usually in January and have had 20-25 knot winds until this past trip. My inabilty to light the grill is not for lack of flammable material as we use impregnated charcoal soaked in fluid. I think I need to break down and check baggage to bring a windproof lighter, or buy one locally to commence ignition without cursing up a storm as well as to minimize the finally resulting inferno. We will go back in June and I'll try the light in bag or pulp type.
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