Wednesday, March 23, 2016

BVI Charter--a summary

This past week of sailing in the BVI was so amazing that I didn't feel like writing, reading or even taking photos while we were on the boat. In fact, most of the photos I am posting were taken by Denise. Throughout the week all I wanted to do is just be in the moment and take it all in. I didn't want to do anything that would pull me away from the fantastic experience. Now that I am sitting in the crowded, chaotic airport in St. Thomas I can begin to think about writing a blog post. Here are the highlights:

Sailing--The sailing was absolutely fantastic. As is typical this time of year in the BVI, the winds were a consistent 10-20 knots from an easterly direction. We were able to sail every time we moved between islands. I especially enjoyed the longer days of sailing. I loved sitting on one of the little seats in the bow when it was shaded by the jib. I learned some things about sail trim and "twingers" to change the shape of the jib. Joe helped me to learn how not to oversteer when going downwind. He had a great way of explaining how the waves push and pull the boat.

The Water--The water in the Virgin Islands is a gorgeous shade of blue. It is just mesmerizing. It is also a perfect, refreshing temperature for swimming, which we usually did a few times every day.

Snorkeling--Our charter boat included snorkels, masks and fins for everyone on board. We snorkeled several times, including twice before breakfast. We saw so many beautiful fish, corals and rock formations at The Dogs, Savannah Cove, Prickly Pear Island and The Caves.

The Boat--We chartered Limin' Time, a 39-foot catamaran. The eight of us stayed in four cabins and had the use of two heads. It sailed better than I expected. This was George's and my first experience sailing on a catamaran. Although we prefer the experience of sailing on a monohull, we thought the catamaran was a perfect choice for that many people. It was good that it doesn't heel so it was a better ride for anyone who might get seasickness. Speaking of seasickness, I truly believe that the Puma Method exercises worked! I didn't feel seasick at all either on the rough ferry ride between St. Thomas and Tortola or on our catamaran.

The Crew--We had so much fun with everyone on board. We were laughing all week long. Tom and Mary Ann were the only people we knew very well but we trusted if they were comfortable being on a boat for a week with the other people, we were too. It was a pleasure to spend the week with everyone and get to know them. The men took care of most of the "blue jobs" (anything to do with sailing or the boat). The women took care of most of the "pink jobs" (provisioning and cooking). We fell into a natural rhythm and everyone pitched in. We were all offered the opportunity to be at the helm and those of us who were interested took it. I really enjoyed watching the three men work so well together on boat handling and navigation.

Provisioning--The provisioning worked out beautifully. We had planned to eat dinners on shore and buy provisions for breakfast, lunch, snacks and drinks. Mary Ann had a friend who had a lot of experience cruising in the BVI. The friend provided a framework for provisions. We went to the store, filled two carts with food, one with alcohol and one with 25 gallons of water. I think we spent about $750. The five women started out walking to the store but as we were leaving the Moorings property, a driver offered a complimentary ride to and from the store. Although we were a little leery, we took Smitty up on his offer. He drove past the closest store and took us to a store that he promised had more food and better prices. He waited for us as we shopped, helped load the provisions and found another driver to drive some of us back to the Moorings since we couldn't fit in his car with the provisions. In the end, it worked out perfectly. We decided the store must pay him to bring customers to it. At the end of the week we had very little food left and were pleasantly surprised that we had done so well provisioning.

Our Itinerary--We picked up Limin' Time in Road Town, Tortola. Joe drove her out of the slip and we sailed over to Peter Island where we spent our first night. From there we sailed to The Baths on the south end of Virgin Gorda and then on to Trellis Bay on Beef Island for our second night. Then we had a long sail to Gorda Sound and anchored for our third night near the Bitter End Yacht Club on the northern end of Virgin Gorda. Along the way we snorkeled at The Dogs and Savannah Bay on Virgin Gorda. The next morning we motored a short distance to Prickly Pear Island and anchored near a lovely beach. Everyone did their own thing that day which included kayaking, swimming, hiking up a goat path and relaxing on the beach. Joe took the dinghy and found a great snorkeling place nearby. Joe, Barb, Cindy and Denise dinghied to the Bitter End Yacht Club and had a blast at a karaoke bar while Tom, Mary Ann, George and I relaxed on Limin' Time. The next morning before breakfast some of us snorkeled at the spot Joe had found. On our fifth day we had another long sail to Great Harbor on Jost Van Dyke (home of the famous Foxy's). It was downwind sailing and we were wing on wing most of the way. On our sixth day we sailed to The Bight on Norman Island. On our last day we picked up a mooring ball at The Caves before breakfast and went for an early snorkel. It was my birthday and Barb had thoughtfully smuggled a piece of cake on board along with a very touching birthday card. What a lovely way to start my birthday. After breakfast we returned Limin' Time back to the Moorings at Road Town. We spent our last two nights at Sebastian's on the Beach on Tortola. We had a lovely beachside room with a balcony. George took our Spot tracker with us so we could have a record of our travels. You can find them here or by clicking on the Breeze On's Adventures button under the photo above.


Oceans 7 on Peter Island.

Loose Mongoose in Trellis Bay. It was some sort of holiday and a VERY loud band was playing.

The Crawl Pub at the Bitter End Yacht Club.

The Sand Box on Prickly Pear Island.

Foxy's on Jost Van Dyke. We joined their St. Patrick's Day celebration.

Pirate's Bight on Norman Island. Danced up a storm here.

Sebastions Restaurant on Tortola.

Limin' Time, aka Lemon Lime, Lime Away, Clementine, Lemony Snicket


Joe, George and Tom
Denise--this was her first time on a sailboat.


Joe and Barb
L-r, Barb, Joe, Mary Ann, Cindy, Tom, Bev, George and Denise (otherwise known as the Choptank Boomers) at the Baths
Joe on the trail between the Baths and Devil's Bay
George at Devil's Bay


Bev at the helm
Mary Ann and Barb, Mary Ann is driving the dinghy.


Cindy, Mary Ann and Tom


View from the goat trail on Prickly Pear Island. Looking out toward Anegada. Notice the sailboats on the left, all headed toward Anegada.


Beach at Prickly Pear Island.
George and Bev


Joe on the dinghy investigating the mega sailing yacht that came into the harbor.


Barb, Joe and George


View from the cabin.
Tom and Mary Ann.
Bev in her favorite spot.
Cindy, Denise, Mary Ann and Tom at Foxy's.
George, Barb and Joe at Foxy's.
Sailing wing-on-wing
The Millennials and the Choptank Boomers at Pirate's Bight. Seated l-r: MK, Scott, Rikky, Adam, Steve, Denise, Tyler, Mike, Farley, Laurel and Shannon. Standing l-r: Joe, Barb, Mary Ann, Cindy, Tom, Bev and George.
The Choptank Boomers at Pirates Bight. L-r: George, Bev, Barb, Denise, Mary Ann, Cindy and Tom.


Tom's rock sculpture at Sebastian's on Tortola.


Our resident rooster, he did not have a good sense of time.


Cindy and her daughter, Rikky (Erika)
Bev and George on Bev's birthday.
On the ferry waiting to return to St. Thomas. First row l-r: Mike, MK, Adam. Last row l-r: Steve, Rikky, Scott, Denise, Cindy and Shannon.
On the ferry waiting to return to St. Thomas. Back row l-r: Denise, Cindy, Shannon, Bev, George, Mary Ann.


Our ferry, the Provincetown III. It spends the winter in the Virgin Islands and summers in Massachusetts.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

BVI Charter--First Night, St. Thomas

A few months ago some friends called and asked if we were interested in joining them and a few others on a charter boat in the BVI. My first instinct was to say "Yes!!" but George and I both thought we should think about it. We love the BVI and we knew we would have a great time with these friends but we hadn't budgeted for a trip like this. In the end we thought we should just go for it. We shouldn't pass up the chance for a fun week of sailing with good friends.

We left the house early this morning for our drive to Dulles Airport. We went with another couple and parked in a lot near Dulles. George called for an Uber car and the driver was there in less than 5 minutes. He dropped us right at the terminal. It was our first experience with Uber and we were amazed by how well it worked.

The flight went well and we arrived in St Thomas. It was a bit of a madhouse getting a van outside of the terminal. Some of us went in one van where the driver said it would cost 12 dollars each. He was talked down to 11 dollars each and told a story about almost being fired last week for only charging 10 dollars. When we arrived at the hotel the group in the other van said the paid 10 dollars each! Oh well, live and learn.

We walked to a restaurant near our hotel for dinner. When it looked like one restaurant was too busy to seat us very quickly we went to a nearby restaurant that wasn't busy at all. It turned out to be a very lucky find. The food was absolutely delicious and the presentation was beautiful. I can't begin to tell you everything we ate, but the menu at Epernay is here. If you visit Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas please stop by. We ate on their front porch and stayed dry when a brief rainstorm rolled through. We walked back to the hotel in a light rain. Tomorrow morning we will catch the first ferry to Road Town, Tortola.

View of the harbor looking toward our hotel
A sudden rainstorm as we were finishing our meal