British Virgin Islands – September, 1996
Looks Like 4th Time's The Charm
by Eric (Wind Scoop) Anderson
BVI - IV
PORTS OF CALL -
Cane Garden Bay
Jost Van Dyke
notes on a 4th trip to the British Virgin Islands for some bareboat
sailing - the
term applied to sailing a chartered boat without its owner aboard.
As with the '92 trip, the stalwart crew for this voyage is comprised
of Ed, Marge, Eric, Debbie, John (our Captain) and Cindy. We charter something along the line of a 45' boat, then provision it, crew it, and sail it
ourselves around the idyllic waters and islands of the BVI for
a week or so. We've done three previous trips in the BVI, all
from the Moorings, and wouldn't
try anyone else.)
I'm not sure who it was that said 'you can't go home again' - certainly
not me. Because, incredible as it may seem, we actually wangled
(or, more properly, E & M sponsored) yet another trip to the
beautiful BVI! Beginning in 1986, we had the voyage of the Greene Flash. And, in 1988 came the voyage of the Figment II.
Then in 1992, our 3rd, and heretofore greatest adventure, was the voyage
of the JASDIP. Now, it seems we
were preparing to embark on our 4th trip to sail the waters of
the BVI aboard Pacemaker, another Beneteau 445,
same as the last trip. This time though, the boat was a little
older - of course, so were we! Also this time, in addition to the usual
battery of cameras and camera batteries we hauled along, Ed brought
along his relatively new video camera to memorialize the event.
(Have you ever done hour upon hour of sea watching on video?)
|Thursday, September 26th - 1996
Departure & Arrival
arranged to fly from Orange County-John Wayne airport on a day-time
flight, rather than taking the usual red-eye from LAX. Nevertheless, we were up at o'dark-thirty, otherwise known as 4:30 am. Marge & Ed drove to our
place, and the 4 of us grabbed a 5:45am cab to the terminal. John
& Cindy met us at the airport after dropping off the dogs
and 9-month old daughter Kennedy, at various points along the way. Our Boeing
757 left OC at 7:05, arriving in Chicago at 12:45. From there
we took a 1:45 flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico, arriving about
7:30 for our 8:30pm American Eagle flight to Beef Island. Finally
arrived in the BVI at 9:15, cleared customs, picked up our Mooring-supplied
shuttle ride and checked into the Mariner Inn by 10:00 pm. Whew
- what a long day! Luckily, we still had time for a drink at the
Mariner bar before their 10:30 closing. Ignoring the several cockroaches
in and around the bar, we started to relax and get on BVI time.
We took a walk out onto the dock to see our boat, Pacemaker,
a Benetau 445, then retired for a quiet night - in contrast to
BVI-3's regatta partying.
|Friday, September 27th - Day 1
Road Town to Norman Island
at 7:00 the next morning, we checked out our boat in daylight,
and all felt fairly alert and chipper at breakfast.
We all agreed that this flying-during-the-day thing was definitely the way to go! After mostly banana pancakes
all around, one of the Moorings personnel, Julian, introduced
himself and let us know that we could hold an informal Captain's
Meeting, since we'd already seen the orientation video and
there were no other boats scheduled to cast off today.
Julian covered the usual, "...don't do this, don't do that"
stuff, John asked about visiting Anegada (a reef-based island
some 15 miles NNE of Virgin Gorda. We were interested in
making our first visit to this out-of-the-way island and
had left our itinerary a little loose to allow for a visit.)
Julian advised us that, due to the reef surrounding the
island, it was off limits - unless we had either sailed
there before, or would arrange to follow some other boat
over and in past the reef, or hire a skipper for that particular
leg of the voyage. Bummer, it was our own little "catch 22" - if they won't let you sail there, how can you get the prior experience of sailing there? Well, at least we tried.
the orientation, John stayed for the boat check-out while
the rest of us went for supplies. We walked down the road
a short distance to the Rite
Way market, where we were able to get most of our provisions.
But, we came up a bit short and still needed some near beer,
bread/buns, and liquid soap. E&M picked up the rest
of the items from local Captain's "Gallery" (it's really
"Galley," but being a water
color artist, Ed has "gallery" on the brain!).
We picked out some swim fins, a couple of wind scoops, and
a some extra bags of ice, then stowed our provisions and
gear, and finally collapsed in a heap in the cockpit,
thoroughly exhausted. (All this activity our first day in
the tropics - maybe we should take a little nap first.)
We decided to eat lunch while under way, and departed about
12:45 for our first anchorage at Norman Island.
excellent winds, we arrived well ahead of schedule and opted
to continue sailing out past
Norman and into the Caribbean. On the other hand, maybe
Helmsperson Debbie was having too much fun. We finally doubled
back about 2:30 and picked up one of the newly installed
moorings in the Bight. It was a beautiful and quiet setting,
just a little further North than our previous anchorages.
had bought a cool new Quicksilver widebrim hat for this trip.
And, remembering how everyone got jealous with his hat on
the last trip (okay, it was only me), he had secretly bought
two extra hats - one for Ed and another for me. After anchoring,
he held a little impromptu ceremony, and presented us with
our hats. Now, with the guys outfitted in proper headgear,
everyone was eager to get over to the William Thornton,
or the Willy T, as everyone prefers to call it, and
check out the bar once again.
we tied up the dinghy at the Thornton dock, we looked
up to see none other than Nick, still tending bar. It's
as though we never left! ("Hey, Nick, we came back! You
gotta remember us - we were here 4 years ago!") Nick looked
the same, but somehow the boat looked a little different to us.
Nick told us the original boat sank in Hurricane Marilyn, September '95. Although
they raised it the following January, it was deemed too
costly to repair, so the owners just bought a different
boat, outfitting it to look vaguely similar
to the original.
supplied almost all of us with our favorite "Painkiller." However, one of us ( isn't there's always one) noticed a margarita machine churning away behind the bar, and broke with tradition
by asking for one of Jimmy Buffett's "cool concoctions."
It turns out Marge had the last laugh on us. Not only did she get the aforementioned
margarita served in an official Jose Cuervo cactus-stemmed
glass, but she got tattooed as well! Yep, Nick put a Jose Cuervo lipstick-kiss tatoo
right on Mom's arm - you know, the arm where the anchor
used to be before it was removed. (From here on, Cuervo
was to be pronounced 'Swear-vo.') I of course inquired about gthe availability of Thornton T-shirts, but was told there weren't any XLs aboard. And, while he
couldn't promise anything, Nick said to try back on Friday, as they sometimes get a delivery.
We headed back to Pacemaker about 5:30, fired
up the BBQ, and cranked out some hot dogs, then just relaxed. We smoked a few Cuban
cigars we'd picked up at the
Moorings, and reminisced about the day 'till 10:30 or so.
Strong winds during the night, and some momentary heavy
rains about 2:00 am.
|Saturday, September 28th - Day 2
Norman Island to Cooper Island
at 8:30 for breakfast bars and
cereal. We slipped our mooring and headed out of the Bight
about 10:30. Excellent winds again today, so back out into
the Caribbean we go, taking
the Salt Island passage over to Cooper Island. Arrived at
Cooper about 2:15 and had chicken salad sandwiches aboard
for lunch. Then, ignoring the 2-hr wait before swimmin',
into the water we went. John even showed us about the other
use of life vests - FDLP - Floatation Devices for Lazy People.
Back aboard, we showered off and got into our bar-hopping
clothes for a visit to the Cooper Island Beach Club bar
about 5:00. We chatted a bit with the lady bartender about
the nice crop of biting bugs they've had this year (we'd
already picked up some that first night at the Moorings).
Then, as if right on cue, while sitting at the bar I saw an odd looking tiny critter on the stucco just under
the bar itself. "That bug. He suck your blood," said one
of the island locals as he pointed at the bug while handing
me a can of "Off" bug spray.
Naw! I'm sure I'd have felt a bite, I thought. Nailing the
bug with the tip of my topsider produced a good-sized smear
of blood, both on the stucco wall and on the tip of my shoe.
Hmmm. Was this my blood? Then I looked around and
noticed something on the patio dining tables setup near
the bar. Salt, pepper, hot sauce, and a can of Off were
on each table. Guess that's got to tell you something.
now been served notice by the local bugs, that we'd better
be prepared to get bit. So, despite the fragrant aroma of
curried-something, it appeared that any thought of eating
dinner ashore would have put us in the mother of all bug
battle zones. Although we had brought along various insect
repellants with us (including Avon's Skin-So-Soft - which
we took to calling 'Skin So Bitchin'), we figured it would
be best to hit the road - or the dinghy in this case.
buying some T-shirts, we headed back to Pacemaker for
burgers. Oops! While preparing to re-board the boat, the
dinghy got a little crunched against the swimstep at the
stern. I'll bet a little sail tape will fix that! The mostly
tired bunch retired by 10:30; the mostly retired bunch weren't
tired by 10:30. It was a good sailing day with the winds
very good to great.
|Sunday, September 29th - Day 3
Cooper Island to Marina Cay to Guana Island
our mooring at Cooper Island about 10:30 for the short trip
to Marina Cay, just off Beef Island. Saw a sea
turtle as we approached our mooring. Arrived about 12:30,
and went ashore for lunch at
the new Pusser's Landing. Very nice place with one of the
best, if not the best views in the BVI.
an apparent promotions gimmick, Marina Cay recently christened
itself "The Republic of Cuervo Gold," so we were
hoping to score a few T-shirts emblazoned with the logo.
Unfortunately, there were none to be had - we were a couple
of months too late. We did have a delicious lunch though
- even got a couple of drinks (Painkillers) compliments
of an slowdown in service due to an "accident" in the kitchen
(probably chasing some Jerk Chicken around for my sandwich).
Deb noticed a wall poster advertising a Pusser's Pennant
that could be had for ordering a Pusser's Painkiller at
three of any of their four BVI restaurant/bar locations.
They call it the Pusser's Triangle. Triangle, huh. You mean
we have to go to three Pusser's? Well, now there
was a challenge that we could rise to.
running low on bread in our own little commisary, Marge
managed to locate a loaf at the Pusser's gift shop. We took
a last photo opp, and then
headed back to the boat for a little snorkeling expedition.
Taking the dinghy over to a shallow area by Camanoe Island,
we found a really good fish spotting area.
to boat about 3:45, we motored over to our intended overnight
anchorage at Monkey Point on Guana Island. A closer look at
the anchorage raised some concern that we might be wrong about
this being an overnight anchorage. Judging by the color of
the moorings, it appeared to be for day anchorage only. With
the sun dropping rapidly, we rounded the Point, headed 1/2
mile North and put into White Bay for the night. Payed out
lots of rode on the anchor, and BBQ'd hot dogs. There was
a nice looking house ashore, along with a private dock and
several private moorings. Over to the South on the back side
of Tortola was some sort of prison or something. At least
it appeared to be all fenced in. Maybe it was just a net to
keep in the errant golf balls or tennis balls from going
into the sea. We never did figure it out.
darkness fell, we fed some odd-looking florescent fish off the
window sill...er, transom. Any question we had as to why
they call this Guana Island was soon answered. Bats
kept dive-bombing the food that was being thrown into the
water for the 75-watt fish. Ed tried to convince us that
they were just birds. Uh-huh, rat-birds. Finally, all
to bed about 10:00 to a night of odd noises, winds, and
|Monday, September 30th - Day 4
Guana Island to Cane Garden Bay to Sandy Spit to Little Harbor,
at 8:15 for a quick breakfast of B-bars. John winched up
anchor (this turned out to be a piece of cake. Well, that's
just great! Now, Ed and I were out of a job) and with very
light winds, we motored over to Cane Garden Bay. Arrived
about 12:15 to only one other boat in the harbor. Took our
usual "team" picture,
lunched aboard with snacks and jerky, then "surfed" the
dinghy ashore to a small shorebreak. Cindy got a little
wet, but at least we all survived! Beached
the dinghy, and browsed the only open store, located
behind Stanley's Beach Bar. Bought a T-shirt and some more
supplies, then pushed/carried the dinghy back to the water.
Back aboard, we motored Pacemaker over to Sandy Spit
for some snorkeling. Arrived about 3:00, and snorkeled ashore
(Ed rock-surfed a bit on this one). Funny, it looks so inviting
from the boat, but when you get there, there isn't a heck
of a lot to look at.
back to the boat about 4:00, and motored the short distance
over to Little Harbor, Jost Van Dyke. We grabbed a mooring,
and sat back to wait for someone from each of the three
restaurants to dinghy out with their menus. Time passed...and...nothing! This
was really unusual. Generally, each restaurant sends out
a dinghy to solicit dinner business from the boats anchored in the bay.
with nobody knocking on our door, our intrepid trio of guys
set out to Abe's to see what was happening there. We'd heard
good things about Abe's (well, at least we heard loud crowds
at Abe's), and had promised ourselves to give it first call.
We tied up, and walked inside to pick up a menu. They seemed
friendly enough, but we were told if we wanted dinner we
needed call for a reservation. Sh-yeah! Were's the big crowd,
Abe? Reservation indeed. Abe's wasn't offering us any deals
either, not even a complementary dinner for the Captain.
across the harbor we went, over to Sidney's for his menu.
(On our way back from Abe's, we noticed a dinghy heading
over to our boat from Sidney's. AhHa! So they did come
crawling dinghing over to us to ask us to eat at Sidney's. Nope,
it was just Sidney Junior offering a trash pickup. Surprisingly to us,
while talking to us he left a Conch shell on the deck of our boat. Wow! Deb thought
she had hit paydirt. But, once we got ashore, Sidney Jr.
remembered that he'd left the shell by accident and would
be back in the morning for it.)
at Sidney's dock, Mrs. Sidney was only to happy to give
us a menu and remind us that "...at Sidney's Peace and Love,
the Captain eats for free." Looking over both menus
back on our boat, we could see that Sidney's and Abe's were
priced about the same, except for the complimentary meal
at Sidney's for the Captain.
Seemed like a no-brainer. We figured we'd had a great time
the last time we were in town, plus, we wanted to check
out the T-shirt that we'd hung up in '92. And besides, the
Captain eats for free!
lathering up with Skin-So-Bitchin', the Captain and crew
headed for Sidney's. After a few rounds of happy-hour Painkillers we ordered our usual: lobsters all around. Meanwhile,
we browsed through all the hanging T-shirts, looking for
the one we'd nailed up in '92. But, we we're having a lot
of success. The dinner of lobsters, potato salad, cole slaw,
and green salad was just plain delicious.
dinner we started the search for our old shirt in earnest.
We think we finally found it - at least Ed had located one
with the right logo on the shirt - but, it didn't have any
writing. There had been more than a couple of hurricanes
since our last visit, and it looked as though all the writing
had just faded out over the years. Undaunted, Ed re-lettered
|Tuesday, October 1st - Day 5
Little Harbor, JVD to West End to Great Harbor, JVD
at 8:30 for B-bar breakfast, and departed for West End about
10:30, and arrived about 11:20 at a mooring. Going forward
with the pole, I grabbed the mooring painter and prepared
to cleat the line. Unfortunately, we were still moving through
the water a little too fast, and I probably should have
released the painter before it either snatched the pole
from me or pulled me into the water. John suggested I quickly
move aft with the pole, so he could try to cleat the line
at the rear of the boat. Success. The line was cleated.
things started going wrong. First we jibed (not good in
this case). While John tried to steady the boom, he told
me to bring in the mainsheet. Mainsheet? I didn't see any
mainsheet. I know it used to be right there. "Forget
it - it's gone," says John. Gone? That didn't sound so good
to me. Quickly, we dropped the mainsail and started what
turned out to be a 45 minute process of re-threading the
mainsheet, which, when we jibed, had pulled through the
springlok clamp and travelled forward under the deck panels,
and all the way up to the vang at the foot of the mast.
Worst of all, John lost one of his sandals overboard. (Marge
continued to look for that sandal throughout the rest of
the trip - she even had the plane circle the islands as
we left the BVI.)
removed a few pieces of deck panel attempting to gain access
to the roller guides so we could re-thread the line, but
no luck. Then John had a brainstorm. He used one of the
braided metal lifelines as a probe, and taped the line to
it in order to push the line the 6'-8' or so through the
hidden area. Success! Whew!
done, we went ashore for some lunch and much needed Painkillers
at Pusser's. This visit also allowed us to pick up our 2nd
stamp toward the Pusser's Triangle Pennant. Afterward, we
browsed through a few stores, picked up some provisions,
and headed back to Pacemaker. Heading
out, we sailed by lots of wrecks and derelict ships left over from hurricane Marilyn the year before. Our destination was Great Harbor, JVD for an overnight anchorage
and dinner ashore at Foxy's.
After anchoring, the guys headed
for Foxy's to check out the menu. Bummer, the bar was open,
but the restaurant was closed until October 30th. The gift
shop was closed too, so we couldn't even check out T-shirts.
Now, what were we going to do for dinner? Hey, what about
those beef and bean burritos? Yeah, that would make us all
feel better. Later, we tried chumming for fish off the stern,
but no luck. To bed about 9:45.
|Wednesday, October 2nd- Day 6
Great Harbor, JVD to St. John to Norman Is.
at 7:30 for an early start on what will be our longest sail
- around St. John, and over to Norman Island. Quick breakfast
and set off about 9:20. Made good time getting to Cruz Bay
on St. John, took a parade lap around the harbor with lucky
me at the helm, then continued around the island and tacked
back up toward Norman Island. By 4:30, with light winds
and still several miles off the West coast of Norman, we
finally decided to motor into the Bight. Anchor or moor?
Heck, with the great anchoring gear on this boat, why spend
Painkiller money on mooring fees?
over to Willy T for Painkillers. Also hoping that
the T-shirt supply had been restocked, but, no such luck.
While there, the White Squall II sailed in and anchored
nearby. (This was a daysail schooner built in Sydney, Australia in 1936. Marge & Ed had taken a day cruise during their trip to the BVI last Winter.) With no
passengers aboard, the Captain and mate came aboard the Wm. Thornton to hoist a few.
After a few drinks, we checked
out the menu. Having never eaten here, we thought it was
about time. So, the kids decided to treat Mom & Dad
to dinner. The shift bartender, Kevin, said he could have
dinner ready for us at 7:00. So, we headed back to Pacemaker about 6:00 to dude-up.
back to the Thornton for delicious dinners of roti,
mahi-mahi, and shrimp creole. We even tried some of the
local hot sauces, which nearly knocked off both the Captain
and my anchor mate. (Too bad they're not Cajun, like some
people!) This was, however, some major league hot sauce,
and it seemed that the chutney was the only thing that could
cool the heat. We bought some souvenirs, and Deb got a T-shirt.
I was still bummed that the XLs didn't come in, but resolutely
refused to buy an L. After almost too much fun, we headed
back to Pacemaker about 8:45, and finally to bed
|Thursday, October 3rd- Day 7
Norman Is. to Peter Is.
about 8:30, after very windy night and morning. (As it turns
out, the wind scoops probably weren't necessary during most
of the trip. When the wind really starts up, it turns the
berths into wind tunnels. Besides, some people can't seem
to get them tied down quickly or properly.) After Deb made
her morning appearance in a new Willy T T-shirt,
I had second thoughts about not having bought one. So, after the nagging
of the crew became too much for me (I was doing them all a favor),
Ed and I dinghy'd back over to the Thornton to get an "L" shirt.
the crew finally quieted down, we departed anchorage about
11:30 for the nearby "Indians," an outcropping of pinnacles
near Pelican Island that rise from the sea to provide excellent
snorkeling and diving opportunities. With light winds again,
we motored over, secured a day mooring, and Deb and the
guys went in to check it out. Back aboard for a brief lunch
of quesadillas, and then all of us took to the water to
see the sights.
Overall, we had some great snorkeling, with sightings of
a few jellies and lots of fish. Ed even had a thong swim
right past his face! Finally, back to boat and headed out
for Deadman's Bay on Peter Island about 3:30.
about 4:15, anchored, and Marge, Ed and I went ashore to
explore and check on T-shirts and provisions. We noticed the
beach bar/restaurant was open, but wasn't doing any business.
We hiked up to the resort, but truck out on the T-shirts too (they never seem to have any
of the cool shirts left in XL by this time of year). Marge was able to talk the desk
clerk at the resort into selling her a pint of milk. Back
to the boat. Since we'd really expected to eat ashore more
often, the supplies were dwindling a bit, so pot luck became
the bill of fare that evening.
|Friday, October 4th - Last Day
Is. to Tortola
at 7:30 to pack (although some had already done this the
night before) and spiff up the boat a bit. Took a few more photos of everybody and Finally departed Deadman's
about 10:20, for the last leg to Road Town. Slow sail, since
the winds have died down a bit. We also had to thread our way
through the regatta ('Anegada re-gatta, baby') of airline
folks. Also sailed past a big cruise ship that was docked at
the Customs House, finally arriving at the Moorings about 11:40,
and disebarked with our stuff as well as some of the provisions. E &
M's room was ready for occupancy, so we all dropped our stuff there
until the other rooms were available. Had lunch at the Moorings
and poked around the gift shops for awhile.
up a bit and headed for town. Took a cab to Pusser's for
the 3rd stop of our Pusser's Triangle and we each got our pennants. What
a mob scene! Intending to make a dinner reservation, we
found out they'd shut down the upstairs restaurant. Okay, so
we looked for another little place that Ed & Marge had
found on a recent trip. No luck there either; that restaurant
was closed for refurbishing. Man, they're killing us with
these restaurant closures. Checked out the tent bazaar across
the street from Pusser's. It seemed a bit tacky, probably having
been set up primarily to entertain passengers from the newly
arriving cruise ships. There goes the BVI!
a little T-shirt shopping, Deb and Eric stopped at a liquor
store to pick up some Cuban cigars and Pusser's rum (cheaper
than the Pusser's Company Store). In making our way back
to the main street, I tripped over a really tall porch stoop, falling
down on the concrete and tile walkway with the bag containing
two bottles of rum and the cigars. Ugly scene. One of the
bottles broke, and I got cut a bit. Broken, but unbowed,
we headed over to Sunny Caribbee, the spice store that was
largely responsible for the local hot sauces. Grabbed a
few items, and went in search of a cab for return to Moorings.
Who should pull up but the "Gill's Taxi," and the same guy
that brought us back from our provisioning trip at the Rite
Way the week before.
back at Moorings about 5:45, we checked into our rooms,
and met at 6:30 for our "free rum punch." About 7:15, moved
over to the restaurant for dinners of grouper, garlic chicken,
jerk chicken, and lobster. Did a little walkabout, then
back to the rooms about 8:40. Early to bed for 1st night
back on land, and last night in the BVI.
|Saturday, October 5th - 1996
at 6:45 for 8:00 breakfast at the Moorings. Usual banana
pancakes all around. We did a final shopping flurry (Gourmet
"Gallery," Underwater Safaris, Moorings gift shop) and checked
out of rooms at 11:00. Said goodbye to the Moorings, and grabbed our cab ride to Beef Island
airport at 11:15, where we waited 90 or so minutes for our
1:30 departure time. Whew! It was swelter city in the small
non-air conditioned terminal - which wasn't helped at all by some people wearing sweaters. Finally boarded the American
Eagle flight to San Juan, and departed on time.
plane window, Ed got some great video of Marina Cay and
JVD, and Marge thought she saw John's sandal. From a vantage
point on the other side of the plane, Deb and I got a great
view of Anegada.
Arrived San Juan, and cleared Customs with
no problems. (Oops, somehow, I must've accidently brought
some Cuban stogies back with me.) We grabbed a bite to eat
and roamed around the terminal while waiting for our flight
to Dallas/Ft. Worth. Picking up our connecting flight proved
close, and we had to rush to gate for our 5:15 departure
for trip back to Orange County. Arrived back about 10:45,
got a cab, and headed home.
a stellar trip! Sailing conditions probably couldn't have
been better. We had good weather and strong winds most of
the voyage. And, when the wind did die out, it was right around
the time we wanted to do some snorkeling anyway. The Marina Cay
Pusser's was a great stop, all of our meals were terrific, and,
except for me, no one ever became a problem to the others.
Undoubtedly, this was the best and most relaxing trip we've
had to the BVI. Thanks Mom & Dad, we had a great time!
When do we go back?