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Feb Winter Vacation 2001
Cruising  BVI
We chartered a 37foot Juneau Sun Odyssey from Horizon Yacht Charters in Nanny Cay Tortola. The crew consisted of Maddy & Ernie, and Frank & Robyn.  A cab was waiting for us when we landed at the Beef Island International Airport in Tortola.  Things at the airport had changed Quite a bit since the last time we were there.  In 1973 our plane had to Circle while the ground crew (a boy on a bike) chased the goats off the Runway. 
We arrived early at Horizon and were told that due to mechanical
Difficulties we would be getting on board later than expected.   During
The orientation talk we were informed that all charter boats were
Prohibited from navigating after 5:30 PM.  We were finally ready to
leave at 3:30. We had planned to sail to the Bight in Norman Island.  We
were leaving Nanny Cay and ready to finally set sail.  Frank & I were
familiar with the EZ Furl main.  We started to unfurl it when we noticed
it was furled upon its self and torn at the clew.   What to do?
We Knew that we had to return to Horizon.  As we were resigning ourselves
to the fact that we would be spending our first night in a crowded, hot,
and bug ridden marina Ernie was on the radio informing the charter
company of our problem.  As we pulled into the slip, we had so recently
left, to our amazement we were met by a sail repair person.  As we were
tying up,  he was climbing the mast and unfurling the imprisoned sail.
It was fixed by sewing a patch on the torn area while it was still on the
mast.  It was now 4:30 and we still had time to escape to Norman Island!
We quickly took our leave again, thanking the repair crew as we pulled
out of our slip. We raced the sun to our first nights destination.  We
had a broad reach all the way with 20 kts abaft the beam. We were doing
6.5.  through the most beautiful aquamarine water you can imagine.  The
long day and the mishaps were all  erased and replaced with a feeling
only sailors can know. A fair  wind and a good ship with a compatible
crew.  We arrived at
Norman Island all to quickly.  We anchored off  the beach in 28 ft of
water. The rode was all chain and we handled it with caution.   We ate at
Billie Bones, a beach restaurant. Dinner and entertainment was very good.
We dinghied back to our boat and we were amazed at the brightness and
number of the stars. We all went to sleep after a great first day, tired
and happy.   
Day 2
We were beginning our first full day on the boat.  The galley crew put breakfast together.   It consisted of, bagels, cereal, and coffee. The propane stove was a wonderful improvement over our alcohol at home.  The sun finally came out after a night of tropical showers, which kept us opening and closing the hatches and ports all night long. Straightening up was a snap.  Ernie and Frank were getting ready to up anchor and depart.  The course was set for Spanish Town.  Ernie reminded us that, " if you have no destination you are never off course".  We got the anchor and chain up with no difficulty or injury to the deck crew.  We raised the sails and were off to Spanish Town.  All sails full and by. We were doing 6-7 kts.   And having a fabulous time.  We made the trip with only one tack. This was supposed to be the tough day of beating and tacking until exhaustion took over.  We got a slip at Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor.  We were assigned to a slip on "C" dock.  Ernie asked a yachtsman, on his boat, where "C" dock was.  The clear reply was, "between "B" & "D".  You really need a wise-ass remark when entering a strange marina for the first time.
We had planned to taxi to the Baths. The line of buses taking people to the Baths from the large cruise ship, which was anchored in the harbor, changed our minds.  We decided to take a walk instead.  We had to meet the North Sound Ferry to get some more towels and blankets from our home base.   We saw cows, bulls, roosters, and other livestock wandering all over the road.  They seemed to be going to the ferry dock along with us. We finally put our feet in the aquamarine water at a small beach along side the dock. Ernie volunteered   to return time after time to the dock, as the promised blankets did not arrive on the first ferry.  The crew assembled for a sundowner and fabulous showers on shore.  Dinner that night was at an abandoned copper mine. The restaurant was called the Mineshaft.  The house drink was the "CAVE IN".  We ate under a sky laden with magnificent stars. There was no moon so the starlight was not diminished.   We returned to the boat a satisfied and sleepy crew.
DAY #3
Awoke to a beautiful sunny day. Made bacon & eggs for breakfast. Topped of the water tanks. Water was 10 cents per Gal.  Slip was $40 for the night. Cheap compared to what we pay at home.  We met many live-a-boards.  , mostly people from the upper mid West. They were friendly and most anxious to give advice to the new kids on the block. Most paid $400 per month, including water and electric. The marina would haul you out while you were away and relaunch your boat on a phone call from you.
Off to the Bitter End and Saba Rock.  It was a 2-hour close reach.  Picked up a mooring ($20) at Bitter End. We dinghied around to check out each place for dinner prices and menus.  Went for a swim and enjoyed a leisurely afternoon on the boat.  Had happy hour aboard and took some pictures.   Ernie worked out a launch schedule that would get us to Saba Rock  without using the dinghy.  This involved taking a launch to the Bitter End and then a second launch to Saba rock.  It rained on and off all evening. We were happy that we didn't have to bail or get into a swamped dinghy. While at Saba dock we saw 6-foot sharks and a variety of other fish circling the dock waiting for the restaurant scraps. 

We awoke to strong Easterlies and no Sun.  Had a hearty breakfast and off to Marina Key.  We were now on the down wind portion of our cruise.  Moving well under Genoa only.  Sailed quickly and picked up a mooring at the Pussers Dock.    The store was well stocked and overpriced.  We walked to the top of the Cay and explored the house that was featured in the movie "Two on the Isle", We were trying to understand how people could spent a week on this little island let alone two years.   We went to the bar to escape the noonday Sun.  We had a very leisurely lunch.  We are finally starting to unwind from our big city pace.   There is no snow or cold wind to remind us of home. Frank & Ernie took a dinghy ride over to Trellis Bay. They landed at Bellamy Cay. A restaurant there was called The Last Resort.  Ernie tried to befriend a donkey named Vanilla, who was not interested in making new acquaintances.  They left while Ernie still had all his fingers. Dinnertime found Frank & Ernie trying to start a fire in the stern Barbeque.  The wind kept blowing out the fire.  The same wind blew half the dinner off the grill.   The fish around our boat got three hot dogs and four hamburgers. Fortunately we had a big lunch. We played word games and had coffee. We had rainsqualls at night.

We awoke to a gray sky. Coffee and rolls for Breakfast and off to the dock for water fuel and ice.  We also paid $2.50 per bag to get rid of the garbage. After a few days it was well worth it.  We left on our way to Jost Van Dyke.  The wind was almost dead astern at about 20 kts.  We kept a weather eye behind us.  There were many black clouds and patches of heavy rain.  The seas were not broken by land and Robyn got a little seasick. We rolled the mainsail as a precaution against strong squalls. We proceeded on Genny alone. We average 7kts. An interesting sail. The gas tank in the Dink fell over and we could smell the fumes. Ernie decided to take a flying leap into the dinghy to right the situation.  He pulled a muscle in his thigh. 
We were all happy to get to Jost Van Dyke, as we all had fond memories of this island on past cruises.  We picked up a mooring in Little Harbor.  We dinked ashore, to Sidney's Peace & Love and were greeted by one of Sidney's many daughters.  She tied up our dink and attached herself to us.  We kept asking for Rena (a name given to us by Horizon). She said her name was Strawberry.  We soon found ourselves in an Island Boutique.  We bought lots of stuff(I don't know why)  Rena found us and wanted to know why we didn't wait for her to buy lots of stuff. (I didn't know why).   Apparently every daughter had her own boutique. We ordered 4 medium lobsters for dinner. $30 each.  Rena drove us to Great Harbor.  We walked through town. Ernie met Albert Chinnery. I took their picture together. Albert is the retired Customs & Immigration Officer at Jost Van Dyke.
Ernie did not ask why the letters he had given him, to mail 30 years before, had never arrived. We were next off to Foxy's and a few of the local drinks called Painkillers.   We met Foxy, who had a cold and could not sing. It did not stop him from talking.
The town had changed a great deal from the first time we were there.  It had been raining on and off all day. We taxied back to Sidney's, went aboard and took a quick nap so we would be prepared to do battle with our lobster dinners. It poured on the way to dinner. It poured during dinner. It poured after dinner. We took a vote and decided the lobster was very good. We bailed out the dink, returned to the boat and settled in for the night.  About 11 PM the wind began to howl. It was a strange wind that went from 10to 40 knots.  The men took turns on anchor watch. The wind blew into the harbor from the entrance so we were on a lee shore.  In the dark of the night the lee shore seemed a lot closer than it did during the day.  The anchor was chaffing the mooring pendant as we sailed back and forth on our mooring. Ernie & Frank wrapped the pendant and also the anchor with duct tape.  About 3AM the winds moderated to 25-30kts. The men gave up the anchor watch and went to bed.

We awoke to a blue sky with a golden sun shinning, for a change.  There were still some high gusts but all is different in the morning light.  The lee shore was not as close as we thought.  Ernie was on deck watching the pelicans fish. We had a leisurely breakfast and set off for Soper's Hole.  Our beam reach brought us to our destination so early in the day that we decided to continue sailing.  We sailed into the Bight on Norman Island. Now we could see it in the daytime. We dinghied over to the Willie T.  The Willie T is an iron schooner anchored close to shore in the southwest corner of the Bight.  It is named after William Thornton, a native son, who designed the Capital Building in Washington DC.  The boat has been turned into a restaurant.   We made dinner reservations.  We went ashore to take a walk along a trail recommended by the guidebook. It was so hot when the trade winds were being blocked by the mountains that we quickly returned to the boat.  The beach was like an oven. We swam and drank rum punch. The water was a beautiful blue color. The temperature was just right for a refreshing dip without the chills. We had potato chips called Dirty Chips, which were the best I ever tasted. I hope we can find them at home.  A small boat named Deliverance came by. It was selling all kinds of delicious things. It reminded me of Aldo's of Block Island. We bought ice cream and pastry for breakfast.
Dinner on the Willie T was good. As it got later many boats began tying up. The after dinner entertainment was unique.  If, after drinking enough painkillers, you climbed to the top deck of the Willie T, removed all your clothes and jumped off into the water you got a free Tee shirt.  Now we all know to what lengths a woman will go to get a free Tee shirt.  There were many women jumpers. They all got shirts saying, " I came, I drank, I jumped. Some how no one encouraged the men to jump or gave them a shirt even if they did jump. It must have been the Norman Island double standard.  When we tired of the Willie T (saw all the present jumpers in their alltogether) we returned to the boat. We decided that most people looked better with clothes on. The sky was clear and full of stars.  Frank was on deck when he called down that there was a meteor shower. He saw shooting stars in the Western Sky. We spent a delightful night sleeping.  It was cool enough to use a blanket.
We had our usual rain showers in the morning.  Ate the muffins we bought the day before. Departed for Soper's Hole.  On the trip over we spotted a large sea turtle.   We arrived so quickly that we tacked back toward Norman Island. We were not ready to end our last full day of sailing. The boat would have to be returned tomorrow.  We picked up a mooring at Pusser's Landing, Soper's Hole.  It looked familiar to us even though Frank & I had never been there before.  We soon realized it was the picture on the cover of the Cruising Guide.  It was a make-believe world of Disneyland like buildings. Prefabricated and shipped to the Island. There was air conditioning, ice cream, and The New York Times.  That night at dinner there were no nude jumpers. It rained all night. No one complained. We realized that this was our last night on board.  Maddy and I started packing and getting ready for the disembarkation tomorrow. The fellows stayed out of the way.
We made pancakes for breakfast. Everyone agreed they were very good.  It is a real treat cooking on propane stove. It is much hotter than the alcohol stove we have at home.   When we were on course for Nanny Cay the wind was right on the nose. We decided to motor the short distance to return the boat.  Having hear all kinds of stories about charter company check-in we were greatly relieved at how smoothly it went.
We took a cab to Fort Burt. Frank and I had been there in 1973 and were looking forward to a return visit. The thing we remembered most was the distinctive gold dome. When we arrived the dome was painted red. No one was around who could remember it being gold.   We had lunch at a pub that Irv Shapiro recommended. It was called The Pub. The food was very good. We walked into Roadtown. It is the capital of the British Virgin Island. It began to rain so we ducked into a flea market and bought presents for the people back home.  That night I fell on some uneven stairs and fractured my left first toe. I was lucky it was our last day of vacation.
All in all, the trip was a great success. The boat was clean and well outfitted. The charter company was responsive to our requests. The wind was always blowing. The people were charming. It rained mostly at night. We got to see and do most of the things on our "must do" list. If anyone is wondering, no neither Maddy our I got a free Tee shirt at Willie T's.