Back in the BVI’s!

After Christmas we began our trek eastward again, with the first stop to be the BVI’s (again). Despite the temporary repairs we effected on the cutless bearing in Vieques, we knew we needed to get to a marina to have the boat hauled and have a new bearing installed. Nanny Cay marina on Tortola seemed as good a place as any to have this work done.

So on Boxing Day, we motorsailed the 40 odd miles from Culebra, past St Thomas, around St. John, and back to a dock at Nanny Cay. Along the way, we hooked a medium sized (say 36”) barracuda, but as we got him close to the boat, he lost his tail and a good chunk of his ‘stern’ to a rather aggressive (and rude) shark. So when I pulled the ‘cuda alongside to unhook him, he insisted on repeatedly flapping his stump against the side of the boat and leaving a trail of blood along Bojangles’ topsides. I thought it made us look tough though, so I haven’t yet cleaned it.

At Nanny Cay, we were reunited with our friends on Discovery and had a nice night visiting with them; however we then learned that the boat lift at Nanny Cay was on Christmas vacation until January 5, so the following day, we left the marina in hopes of finding some favourable weather to sail to St. Martin – where there are lots of options for getting this kind of boat work done.

Before leaving the BVI’s though, we spent a few more days exploring Peter Island and Jost van Dyke. Yes, we’d been to all these places previously, but they are all very nice and have multiple anchorages worth visiting.

On the 30th, we hooked up by radio with the Springs on Safari Tu who thought that that would be a good day to head to St. Martin on an overnight 80 mile passage. We decided to join them and sailed over to Gorda Sound to rendezvous for a 5:00pm departure. Shortly after heading out though, it became clear that the there was not enough north in the 25 knot ENE wind to fetch St. Martin under sail. At the same time, it started pouring rain and we were also getting soaked regularly by 8 foot waves coming over the bow. Discretion being the better part of valour, we radioed Safari Tu to let them know we were turning tail and heading back to Virgin Gorda. By 7:30, we were safely anchored back at Gorda Sound and had a good night’s sleep. Safari Tu, on the other hand, kept on sailing and made St. Martin around 10:00 the following morning after a very long and uncomfortable sail.

“Stranded” in Gorda Sound, we enjoyed a quiet New Year’s Eve (in bed by 10:00) but then had a great New Year’s Day by taking in the Friday night party at Leverick Bay Resort – an all you can eat buffet, live entertainment, dancing, and the mocko jumbies show. And of course this was all on the beach on a warm night under a full moon. Overall, a pretty good night.

The next day we had better conditions for heading to St. Martin, so we left in the evening and pulled an overnight passage to St. Martin under clear skies, calm seas, and an almost full moon. What a great night! Also on this run, Mitchell began helping out on watch. When I went off watch, Kathleen and Mitchell took over, with Mitchell doing most of the hand steering (because the auto pilot was having a bad hair day – don’t ask me why). This was a good milestone for Mitchell and hopefully we’ll see more of this on future passages.

Around 0530 on January 3, we pulled into Simpson Bay on St. Martin’s Dutch side and dropped anchor so we could catch a couple hours sleep before the 0930 bridge opening which would allow us to get into the Simpson Lagoon – which would serve as our base for getting our cutless bearing and also for exploring St. Martin.

Overall, the various virgins (British, Spanish, American) were great, but now we are moving onto a new chapter in our trip as St. Martin is the first of the Leeward Islands that we are visiting – and we were looking forward to it.

Cheers,
Colin

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