Well, we made it finally to our destination
, the British Virgin Islands
We left on October first around noon after finding that both fuel
gauges that we had St Barts install the days prior were both malfunctioning. As we filled the tanks
the needles didn’t move and that’s not good. After a few words with St Barts (the boat brokerage) we had our good friend Rob at the boat to make things right. We never got the new gauges to work but Rob was able to get our original digital gauge working again. We left with 180 gallons of diesel
, and we estimated that would be enough to motor
for 5 days at 2300 rpms or approximately 750 nautical miles. The total mileage from Charleston to Tortola is about 1,300 nautical miles.
Along for the trip were two recruits, Josh and Austin from our STCW95 class the week prior. The STCW95 is a safety
training for offshore vessels in foreign countries and is required to work in the BVI.
Josh was working towards his captain’s license
, had just completed Seachool and had good sailing abilities, Austin was interested in finding work in St Thomas and had been a Bosons mate on the aircraft carrier Nimitz.
The first 24 hours at sea are always a headache, especially since we were to be crossing the gulf stream for around 12 of those hours. We had a nice 15kt SW wind which got us a top speed that first day of 13.5kts and covered over 200 nautical miles. Our first squall hit in the early morning hours of the first day which set the mood for the next 24 hours. The seas were quite rough but the winds were good as we sailed South East towards I64. (aka 65 degrees west) The goal is to sail as far east as possible before hitting the easterly tradwinds creating a nice beam reach for most of the trip.
By the second day some of us were getting our sea legs while others were still losing what food
they had left In their bellies. Everyone is usually a bit green for the first two days of an offshore trip, it sure is nice to get a full meal in once you feel better.
On day 4 we decided to start turning more southerly as the XM weather showed NE winds at 15kts which if actually happened would be perfect. The winds were a bit late moving North and continued East for another 24 hours causing rough seas on the nose along with a large N swell creating confused seas causing the boat to pound, shake and rattle over every wave for over 24 hours. It is hard to sleep when you feel like the front of the boat is being torn off. We could have turned more Southerly but going south too soon only prolongs the pain as nobody wants to beat into the trades for 5 days.
On the morning of day 5 Josh and Austin witnessed a strange occurrence, Austin was on watch when the electronic autopilot
went on the fritz. The boat started veering in circles. He immediately went to Josh who was sleeping on deck
. Josh awoke and immediately looked about and saw a small erratic light off the port beam about 50ft away. As the boat came about again the light was on the starboard side then disappeared. At first I didn’t believe the story as the Garmin GPS
didn’t show any anomalies but later in the day I reviewed the ships Raymarine
and noticed two tight circles in the track corresponding exactly to their story. We are not sure what happened but it didn’t happen again. We did however see two strange bright flashes days later within feet of the stern and one in the cockpit
, we could never figure out what it was.
Day 6,7,8 were uneventful as the trades dissipated slowing our progress to about 4 knots and eventually disappeared all together. We were 400 nautical miles from the BVI and we had 55 gallons of diesel
left. We decided to motor at 5kts burning about ½ gallon per hour. With luck we would have some wind to help push us along. The wind didn’t show up until the morning of day 8 and brought us safely into Road town with 20 gallons of fuel to spare.
We had to clear customs
before the crew could leave the boat and of course we had to declare the boats arms or the sawed off pistal grip 12 guage with 25 rounds of 3inch 00buckshot. The check in at customs
took way too long especially after a long trip to the police headquarters to lock the gun up until we leave.
The only way to work n the BVI is to have a VISA which can take up to 10 months to acquire, fortunately we found an attorney of sorts to help in the matter promising a three month turnaround. We should be good as the BVI allows up to 7 charter
pickups without Visas.
That night, after a good meal of pizza we had a few drinks at the Village Cay Marina and happened to meet back up with the customs agent Brian who helped us earlier in the day. He and his friend Deon were extremely nice and we all exchanged stories and thoughts on the current
economic crises that has pleagued the past few weeks. We plan to take them for a day sail sometime soon after we finish exploring the islands.
Josh and Austin decided to head
off in the morning on their way to more adventures, Josh is contemplating a delivery
from Charleston and Austin already found work in St Thomas and possibly San Juan
PR. After they headed out, Joey and I went shopping
to refill our daily consumption
, filled the fuel tanks
at $6.00 per gallon and headed off to Peter Island.
Peter Island is a nice little spot just across the channel from Tortola, about a 30 minute sail. We anchored in Deadmans Bay next to the Peter Island Resort. The resort and Island are owned by the Amway Company and I believe a one night stay including meals
starts around $500. We scouted out the different bays by dingy looking for a place to stow our 17, 5 gallon jerry cans which helped us to the islands. We decided on Deadmans Island just a short ride from Deadmans Bay. I felt like we were doing something wrong or would be thought of as drug shippers as we put 3 cans each in black plastic garbage bags, loaded them all in the dingy and unloaded them on the island. Brian from Customs had mentioned that there are certain bays where people do drop off loads of cocain and other stuff which is picked up and sent north to America. We dumped them all behind some bushes and can pick them up later when we need them.
The next islands were Spanish town on Virgin Gorda, Salt
Island while we didn’t anchor
at the Baths yet we will later as the weather was pretty bad.
Last night we stayed at Trellis Bay on Beef Island, interested little place with a few shops and restaurants and all within a stones throw of the airport
. I guess its kind of the unofficial airport
waiting room. Internet
is easy to be had at most locations but is hard to keep it for very long from the boat.
Today (10-12-08) we sailed from Trellis Bay up to North Sound on Virgin Gorda, about 1.5 hours in 22knots of wind, all upwind of course. North Sound is a beautiful place with a few different high end resorts. The season hasn’t quite started yet so its still pretty dead. The grocery stores are not even open in some places until next week. There is a small passage
between the Bitter End and Necker Island where I saw some kiteboarders today, I guess that is one of the best places in the Islands. I still can’t figure out where they launch from. I brought along my kites and boards so hopefully I will get some time to play.
Fate has some very cool features but my favorite has to be the 3 underwater lights at the stern. At anchorages
we turn the lights on which penetrate 45 feet into the water
, creating a bright blue glow around the boat. Large Tarpon and other smaller fish
constantly swarm beneath in what seems a feeding frenzy. Makes me think twice about swimming at night with those lights on.
Yesterday we left the North Sound on Virgin Gorda and sailed downwind to Yost Vandyke, about 20 miles and 3 hours later we pulled in to an empty bay. We checked out with customs and sailed over to Caneel Bay for the night. The hotel
is extremely nice from what I could see from the bay, we had not yet checked in with customs in St John so we could not leave the boat. We turned on the underwater lights as soon as it was dark and jumped in the water
with all the fishes. I got spooked when I saw a 12 inch jellyfish swim by my head. After getting out of the water the generator
started acting up saying low oil
pressure. We shut everything down and went to bed
. In the morning we changed the oil
and she seems to be ok now.
After checking in with customs we headed by dingy down to Great Cruz Bay so Joey could get a cup of Starbucks Espresso (4shots on ice with low fat milk)… That really puts him in a good mood!
We have been looking for a good anchorage to settle in with a good internet
connection (free) and good cell service
which is compatible with our US services. We headed to Red Hook on St Thomas, anchored and went ashore for lunch. While ording we notice a lot of excitement over on the tv and after walking over the check it out noticed that a tropical storm would be hitting in the next 24hours. Now it looks like it will be a Cat 1 hurricane
. We quickly ate lunch, got back to the boat and headed for the fuel dock
. $350 later we were topped off and headed straight for Road Town on Tortola, to the sheltered anchorage of Village Cay Marina.
In all the excitement, I happened to smash my little toe on the genoa
sheet block and heard a popping noise
. Not sure if its broken but it sure as hell hurts.
We got to Tortola in under 2 hours where our protective moorage awaited us. Luckily the slip was available as the only other option was to wait out the storm at anchor
which would not be fun.
After getting fate tied up like she is caught in a spider web, we decided to lower the Genoa
(jib sail) but after 3 attempts she would not lower and seemed to be catching on the furling
track set screws which came undone. Off I went up the forestay with my allen wrench and tightened about 30 setscrews which were all lose or almost falling out. The Genoa came down without a hitch after that and we flaked it and put it away.
The storm should be here in the next 24 hours and I hope its not too bad. They report expect 60kt plus winds so most likey a cat 1. I feel pretty secure here and hope everything will be ok.