Tuesday, May 27, 2014

British Virgin Islands

The bubbly pools at Jost Van Dyke were pretty tame
when we were there.
The British Virgin Islands are not as British as I expected. No one speaks with an English accent for one thing. They use U.S. dollars. There were two pictures of Barack Obama hanging in the Customs office but no pictures of the Queen.

The beautiful views and almost perfect weather are a nice backdrop to the show offered by the bareboat charter boats. There are a lot more charter boats here than we have seen before (certainly more than The Bahamas) and most of them are just fine. But the sheer number of charter boats means that there are some less experienced captains in the mix.  And a few outright yahoos.

In the crowded anchorage at Jost Van Dyke, we saw one power catamaran backing through the entire anchorage at 5 knots. Then there was the anchor spot quarrelling match, done rather one-sidedly over a mast-mounted PA system. After seeing these and some of the other shenanigans, we felt like we should stay with the boat to protect it. But restlessness prevailed and we loaded into the dink and headed with Halcyon around the corner to White Bay.

After a bit of walking around White bay and seeing even more well lubricated charterers on vacation, our friends on Del Max joined us.  They told us that the same power cat that was tooling around in reverse had dragged anchor and was floating loose around the anchorage without anyone aboard. Oren from Del Max and another cruiser jumped aboard, turned on the engines, and got the boat re-anchored.

On our way back to our boat, we stopped by a charter cat that had anchored very close to us, as well as to a nearby mooring. Matt gently explained to the captain that the shifting winds would put him very close to the mooring ball and possibly our boat. It also turned out that the boat hadn't put out the recommended 5-to-1 ratio of chain to depth in the 40-foot depth. The captain thanked Matt and we went back to our boat. It was a very friendly and civil conversation.

Then the charter catamaran promptly...did nothing. The winds moved a bit and the charter boat crept closer and closer.  The sun started going down and the charter cat put on navigation lights instead of a mooring light. They continued to swing closer. At one point we heard someone hail them on the VHF and they didn't answer, so Matt yelled over to let them know. This was easy to do since they were only 20 feet off our stern. They scrambled around for a bit, apparently looking for the radio or perhaps trying to figure out how to make the radio work. Finally, after the sun dipped below the horizon, they decided they were too close and began to pick up anchor--a process that was anything but smooth.  Four guys simply staring into the anchor locker does not apparently make the anchor raise itself.  Since all this was going on right next to us, Matt discreetly tried to get a fender out of the forward compartment in case it was needed.  Luckily it wasn't required, but we were late to dinner on Del Max because we needed to wait until after they had left to make sure nothing crazy happened.

Sandy Spit (with Halcyon in the foreground) in a rare unoccupied
moment. It's a tiny island that gets a ton of visitors.
After leaving Jost Van Dyke, we have been in places with more room to breathe. We headed over to Sandy Cay and Sandy Spit for some snorkeling and beach time. Brit got some kite surfing in. With more adults around to help watch the kids, Matt, Brit, and Oren were able to go on a dive. It was only so-so and Darya and I decided not to go.

Trellis Bay. Stuff that gets lit on fire during the full moon parties.
White Bay is a secluded anchorage with fewer boats. We snorkeled and played on the beach. Brit did some surfing in nearby Josiah Bay. It was pretty but we could hear our anchor chain dragging along the rocks on the bottom. It's strange how much the sound resonates through the boat. We snorkeled at Monkey Point, visited the baths at Virgin Gorda (it's an amazing place that lives up to the hype-- unfortunately all our pictures got accidently wiped out), and spent some time at Peter and Norman Islands. After checking out at Virgin Gorda, we will leave for St. Martin during a window of hopefully light winds.

1 comment:

  1. I just stumbled upon your blog and enjoyed this entry...made me chuckle when you described the inexperienced setting their anchor. Great blog...carry on.


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