Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chapter V...The Moorings

Our experience with Windsong encouraged us to push our limits and try a bareboat charter. We decided to head to the BVI and The Moorings. We chose a 36 ft. Monohull. I added a four tank Pelican rack as one of my other obsessions is scuba diving and Kat had recently gotten certified to dive with me. We did our provisioning at the Ample Hamper on line and scheduled to fly into St Thomas where we would take the ferry to Tortola. I spent hours studying the charts and laying out our trip. We were concerned that our lack of actual big water experience would be a problem and we would be required to hire a captain so I told Kat to let me do the talking. We arrived to find that our boat had been taken out of service and we had been upgraded to a 403. The questions and briefing amounted to don't touch any of the valves, don't hit anything and if you have a problem, call this number. Well ok then!

We headed out for Norman Island and the Willie T before they figured out that they had just handed a virtually new 40 ft sailboat to a guy who had never run anything bigger than a 27 by himself. I wasn't concerned. I figured that everything worked the same, just on a bigger scale. Besides, we really only had to get it back to the dock once without hitting anything. The rest of the time we could hang on a mooring ball. How hard could it be? Poor Kat just assumed I knew what I was doing. We passed our first mooring test after a little trial and error and Kat got her T shirt from the Willie T. You didn't hear it from me but I am pretty sure she paid for it.

We got up early the next morning and picked up a mooring ball just off the end of the island so we could try a little scuba diving. The swim platform made getting on and off convenient. We did a one tank dive around the pinnacles but had some difficulty getting used to working together. It is common for new divers to want to follow but this makes for more work for the lead diver. Trying to keep track of a newbie darting around like a baitfish behind you is stressful. We have,since, become a good dive team. After a leasurely lunch and sail, we headed for Cooper island for the evening.

We got up early and headed for the baths. We wanted to be sure to be able to get a mooring ball. We were so proud of ourselves as we were the first ones there. We headed into the beach and I dropped Kat off to swim in while I took the dinghy back out to the dinghy mooring. I was having a little difficulty maneuvering in the surf but didn't think much of it until I got to shore and we realized that there was a red flag on the beach warning of dangerous conditions. Well, that would explain the lack of visitors! We had a great time exploring by ourselves and, although I had to bail out the swamped dinghy and row it back, we escaped unharmed.

We headed over to The Last Resort in Trellis Bay and followed the instructions given to restart the dinghy motor(we called the number). In a short period of time, the fine people from The Moorings showed up with another motor and switched us out. He didn't ask and I didn't offer an explanation. We spent a nice evening eating good food at The Last Resort and generally hanging out on the boat.

Our next stop was Leverick bay. But first, We stopped by the dogs for some shore diving and snorkeling. There wasn't a lot of activity down below. We saw a few coral heads with a few fish and watched a couple conch scurrying around on the sand bottom. Well, at least we could see where they had scurried. We didn't have enough bottom time to witness an actual conch scurry.

After checking out the Bitter End Resort and Leverick Bay for the evening, we decided to get up early again and sail back down to Jost Van Dyke. I told Kat that, in order to get there, we would have to go around the back side of Tortola which would mean a little more of an exposed route.
She figured out later that we could have cut through the islands. Oh well, for me, this was a highlight. We were surfing down 15 foot waves and absolutely flying. That is flying in terms of 10 knots max. we stopped at Great Harbour and set our anchor. We went to shore and ordered lunch by the dock at Foxy's. As we were waiting, I looked out at the harbor and realized the wind had changed and our boat had picked up it's anchor and was leaving without us. I made a mad dash to the dinghy and was able to get to the boat and reset the anchor before any harm was done. The harbor looked like a Chinese fire drill as we weren't the only victims of the wind and rock bottom. I retrieved Kat from the dock as she had changed our order to go and we ate lunch in the cockpit. We decided this wasn't a good place to overnight and headed up to Little Harbour.

Little Harbour is home to, in my humble opinion, the best restaurant in the BVI. Sidney's Peace and Love bar is a family run restaurant with an honor bar. You tell them how many are coming and they tell you when dinner will be served. You fix what you want at the bar and leave a note. They brought us out a lobster that completely covered the plate, then brought the other half of the lobster on another. It was awesome! We liked Sidney's so much we went for a day sail down to to the Soggy Dollar and headed back to Little Harbour for a second night.

We sailed back over to Sopher's hole for our last evening out.

While we were leaving the dinghy dock, after visiting the tourist traps, we were approached by a gentleman wearing a very very nice suit and a pair of European looking beauties. Apparently, his captain wasn't answering his cell and he needed a ride back to his boat. Turned out that he was from Turkey and he had his boat sailed over to the BVI so he could spend a week on it. At the end of the week, he flies back to Turkey and his crew which, by the way was made up of the captain, a young dark haired mate and a couple bakini clad gals, sailed the boat back. I want their job!

We were hoping for a dinner invite but all we got was a thank you.

We arrived back at the Moorings Saturday morning and landed at the dock without incident. The dinghy train guy stopped by and picked up our dinghy and the checkout amounted to "Did you break anything? "And "Did you run aground?". Fortunately, they didn't ask if we had almost lost our boat while we were eating lunch. I'd have had a hard time with that one. "And as quickly as it had begun, our adventure was over."

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