Diary of the BVI 2005 sailing vacation

(for a link to the pictures, click here)

May 23

Joy and I arrived at the airport on Beef Island after a LONG day from Los Angeles, through Miami and San Juan, to the BVI. Got in about 11 PM and took a taxi to the beautiful hilltop house of Frank and Patti Doty on Tortola. We spent a couple of days with them while they showed us the island. We had a lot of good rum drinks and a fantastic dinner at The Dove restaurant in Road Town.


Frank and Patti Doty

May 26

Air Temperature: Mid-70s, Water temperature: high-70s.

We picked up our boat, the Golden O, a Jenneau 40 from TMM charters. Went through a boat checkout with Sam and then a checkout cruise with Mark from the slip out to the outer buoy in the Road Town harbor and back. Finally pulled away from the dock at 1:30 in the afternoon. Light winds gave us 3-3 ½ knots from Road Town to Norman Island. In the lee of Peter Island we lost the wind and motored around the headlands until we could raise sails again.

We moored at The Bight at Norman Island and paid our $25 mooring fee. We had a drink or two at the Willy T's and then dinghyed over to Pirates Restaurant on the beach for dinner. As we were leaving in the dinghy I ran the dinghy slightly into a small rock outcropping in the dark. I had to step onto the rocks and push us off again.

May 27

Weather: Ditto

Moored too near the restaurants last night, the music was loud until 1 AM. Joy "slept" outside until we had rain squalls around 2. They kept off and on until 6 AM.

After struggling to figure out the propane stove, (she didn't realize the control knob on the left was for the oven and not the stove burner), Joy made coffee which we both really appreciated. We had good coffee every morning during the trip.

Motored around to The Caves and snorkeled a little. Sailed up the channel to Salt Island. Joy went below to make sandwiches and started feeling queezy, so we anchored in the north bay on Salt Island until she felt better.

Motored over to Cooper Island and anchored. Snorkeled for awhile. Showered on board, then fixed rum drinks. Had dinner at the Cooper Island Beach Club. Met Dwight and Suzanne from Dana Point and talked with them for awhile. We later found out that anchoring is not recommended there due to the currents, you should tie up to a mooring ball.

Sleeping in the V-berth is uncomfortable because you just lie there and sweat. Sleeping on deck is fine until it starts raining. So we're both moving back and forth during the night. We drifted a little during the night, but not bad. From about 2 AM Frank was up every half hour checking how we were doing.

May 28

Weather: Ditto

Left Cooper Island around 7:30 AM. Sailed on a reach to Beef Island, made good time covering 4 nautical miles in 40 minutes. Sailed up the north side of Tortola (dealing with an unexpected gybe at one point) and anchored in Cane Garden Bay by 11:15. The annual music festival was on so we had calypso and reggae music going. Joy fixed dinner on the boat despite having gotten sunburned. Frank headed to shore to see if he could contact Frank and Patti Doty to come down and have drinks on the boat, but no luck (they were getting ready for a trip to France in a couple of days). He compensated by having a couple of Painkillers and stocking up on supplies at the grocery store. Supplies included fresh half-and-half for the coffee, thank goodness!

The entertainment tonight was watching the big catamarans come in late and try to find a mooring ball or someplace to anchor. The harbor got pretty crowded while we were there. One, the Ana Luna, dropped a hook only 25 feet from us despite my protests. There were times we were swinging so close together we could have thrown a dock line to the other boat.

May 29

Weather: Ditto. White, puffy clouds, lots of sun, and turquoise colored water.

The music lasted until 5:30 AM. Frank got up at 6:30 and read on deck for awhile. Joy got up later and fixed some much-appreciated coffee and bagels. We saw a turtle swimming close by.

Sailed to Green Cay on Jost van Dyke about 10:15. There were 15 knot winds coming across our beam. It took 45 minutes to make the short crossing. Anchored (and re-anchored when we saw we were drifting) and went snorkeling around the islet. Saw some manta rays. Walked around the island and swam back to the boat.

Motored from Green Cay to Great Harbor on Jost. Got a good anchor, but Joy thought it was too rough. Three failed attempts to anchor ended in moving back to roughly the same area. Very frustrating for both of us.


May 30, Memorial Day

Weather: Partial clouds, otherwise ditto.

Left Jost van Dyke about 10:30. Sailed south around the bottom end of Tortola on a broad reach using only the mainsail. Had to tack several times among the islands to get between St. John's and Tortola.

As we rounded Tortola and headed up to Virgin Gorda the wind picked up strongly. 18-20 knot winds gusting. The Golden O is a bitch to handle in these conditions. She has a mind of her own and takes 30 seconds to respond to the helm, and then whips around and ignores any attempt to straighten the rudder and hold a steady course.

After two hours of fighting the boat I told Joy to furl the jib. By now she's gotten really good at identifying the different lines and how to furl, unfurl, tack, and gybe. Once the jib was furled we slowed down but the boat behaved much better. Joy took over the helm and sailed for the next few hours.

We had planned on heading up to Salt Island and snorkeling but the winds just wouldn't let us. We decided to hole up at Little Harbor on Peter Island. This turned out to be a nice, quiet, and uncrowded anchorage. We moored and took the dinghy over to the Prospect Reef Beach Club to pay our mooring fee but they were closed. Permanently it looked like. We did some good snorkeling and Joy cooked a really good dinner on the boat. It started raining about 7:30 so I closed all the hatches and we moved indoors.




May 31

Weather: Ditto

Got up early, 6:30. Went snorkeling and Joy actually put the mask on and used the snorkel for the first time. When we left the mooring, I carefully avoided running over the mooring line and in the process managed to wrap the dinghy line around the propeller. I immediately put the transmission into neutral, dove down and freed the line.

We had the same rough wind conditions as yesterday so instead of sailing we motored up to The Baths on Virgin Gorda. This is an area of huge boulders that lean against each other and form paths and caverns both above and below the water. Fantastic snorkeling. Joy kept her mask on the whole time.

Sailed from The Baths up to the northern bay area of Vigrin Gorda. Because it's a tricky entrance, we motored into the harbor between Mosquito Island and Prickly Pear Island. Moored near the Biras Creek Resort. Cleaned ourselves up and had a fantastic dinner there based on Frank Doty's recommendation.


June 1

Weather: Ditto

We took the dinghy over to the Bitter End Yacht Club and bought some supplies. Although it has "yacht club" in the title, it's actually a very expensive ($1,000 per night) resort. We left the mooring about 10:30 and had a nice sail down to a rocky outcropping called The Indians to do some snorkeling. We found a yellow mooring ball, but generally yellow means it's for commercial boats or divers. So we sat there while we waited for another mooring ball to become free. When Frank tried to start the engine it refused to start - no starter click, no engine noises, nothing. So he called TMM Charter on his cell phone and they sent out a mechanic who found a bad connection on the starter solenoid. He showed Frank how to hot-wire the engine in case the problem came up again. By this time it was too late to snorkel so we went back to Peter Island's Little Harbor and spent the night there. Did a little snorkeling and Joy cooked dinner on the boat again.


June 2

Weather: Ditto

Left the harbor around 9:30 and motored across channel to Road Town. Contacted TMM and they told us to pull into the fueling dock and fill up. But the fueling dock had been out of diesel for a couple of days so we pulled into the dock at TMM, cleaned up the interior and packed up. Took at taxi to Maria's By The Sea hotel and immediately took hot showers and a nap.