BVI Day 2: Launch

Wow we sure slept in. We clearly had a lot of sleep needing to be caught up on after that marathon of flights and ferries after work. Everyone is up by the time we’re out of bed and waiting on us. I’m unwilling to get going without some breakfast first so we pick a table and order some food.

My hope is that today we get to leave with the boat. Generally, how it works is the boat comes in during the morning, then they turn it around in time for everyone to get their things on board and get a briefing, but then its dark and you spend the night in the marina before leaving first thing. But being in a marina sucks. I want to be anchored or moored off an island, and with everything so close together, if we can leave by 4pm, we could happily be anchored well before dark somewhere.

To that end we split into two groups. Rob and I are headed to the marina to check in and get everything rolling as soon as we can, finish organizing the scuba gear. Everyone else has the shopping list and are headed to the Riteway supermarket to buy provisions. We brought quite a lot of food, but there is about as much still needed. We tried to bring just what would be incredibly expensive here on the island like Avocados and spices, or things we didn’t think we could even necessarily find like quinoa.

I also want to buy a simcard so we have some phone service and internet. It looks like the company CCT offers 4G over most of the islands which should be great, and my phone is unlocked specifically for this reason. We walk into Roadtown, which is not an unattractive town, and find the CCT store and I buy 4GB of data for $40 with another $10 for the simcard (which has $5 credit on it). And now I have internet and can message back to our group as needed. From here we take a taxi on to the Hodges Creek Marina.

We get to the office and pay for the security deposit, park fees and cruising permit, and get the lowdown. We’re told our boat, Einstein, has been cleaned inside and outside and is just waiting for a technical inspection. If we can get everyone onboard by 2pm we should be able to leave today! Hell yeah! She looks at us skeptically that we can get our provisioning done by then, but I tell her our other 5 are out provisioning as we speak. I tell them we’ll have everyone here by 1pm.

We check in as well with the scuba shop and order 2 additional BCs for Rob and Jana who left theirs behind to fit more food. Everything is lined up, and they’ll be bringing everything down.

We now have some time to kill until everyone arrives, so we head to the marina restaurant and bar and have a beer and wait the hour until they arrive and we get the message they’re on their way and will be there around 12. Sure enough they pull up not long after that with a car full of groceries and our bags. We have everything loaded into the boat before 1, and let the office know. They say they’ll have someone at 2 meet us at the boat for the briefing so we go and have some food at the restaurant.

Jenn also arranges for a kayak from the scuba shop for the week.

At 2 we’re waiting on island time, but excited. Rob and I poke around the boat to try to get an idea of where everything is, and any questions we have. Michael our tech shows up and gives us a very quick rundown. There is a lot to remember, and in retrospect I should have had a notepad out taking notes, but we get the main things squared away. And suddenly we’re off, pulling away from a very cramped dock with the help of one of their crew who jumps into his tender once we’re outside of the marina channel.

It’s going to be hard to follow some parts of this journal unless you sail, there are just too many esoteric terms. I’m not sure there isn’t a specific and unique word for every aspect about a boat and sailing. I’ll try to remember to add links to specific terms if I can. Even then I’m not entirely sure what words are common knowledge; will people know what a “mainsail” or “jib” are?

Rob’s at the wheel pointing us into the wind to ease the pressure off the sails as they go up, and I’m pulling on ropes. We have some trouble with the roached mainsail battens catching on the lazy jack ropes as it goes up. I’ve been told you can lower the lazy jacks when raising sail to get around this, and a more triangular sail without these battens, and a more experienced hand with this boat keeping the nose to wind would all make this easier. But as it is we ask Greg to go up on top of the cabin to help make the sail go between the lazy jacks. We have no problems though unfurling the jib. We’re told the other foresail is a asymmetric spinnaker, but I’m reticent to unfurl that thing at any point this trip for fear of damaging it, and besides we’re predicted to have winds in the 15-25 knot range all week, out of the range we’d use that light weight sail.

Not that we need it, our first sail we’re close hauled at 50 degrees from the wind, and even still we’re making over 7 knots in 16 knots of wind. To me that’s respectable. I believe most cruising monohulls can point to about 40 degrees to the wind, but we’re also going quickly for this amount of wind, so the loss of being further off course isn’t such a big deal. We’re able to get as close as 45 degrees from the wind, but the speed drops off quite a bit. Well except that we can’t quite lay our anchorage, so we drop sail and motor the last little bit.

We were recommended by Michael am anchorage just north west of Spanish Town on Virgin Gorda well protected from E and NE winds we’re experiencing. It’s quiet without many boats which is nice.

Now for the first bit I’m anxious about, laying anchor. I haven’t had any practice at this personally since I was little, though I’ve watched it be done several times since then. Our anchor is 3’ off the water, and we want to lay out between 5:1 and 7:1 scope, meaning if we’re in 7 feet of water, we need to lay out between (7+3)*5 and (7+3)*7 feet of chain, so roughly 50-70 feet of chain. Sadly, our windlass doesn’t have a chain counter, and the chain isn’t well marked so we’re mostly estimating here. It’s much easier to estimate once it’s out too and you can swim over the anchor. Thankfully we’re in shallow with a sandy bottom, and we get the anchor down, the bridle hooked to the chain which takes the force off of the windlass, and backed down on the anchor at high throttle with the engines to make sure it was set. To be sure I put on fins and mask and snorkeled the anchor. Oh darn! I’m really happy though with how it’s set and I take some time to just sit there enjoying the warm water and the setting sun. Most everyone joins me in the delightful water.

We all share a pleasant dinner outside in the cockpit with the sun setting. Today was a good day. Everything went to plan and here we are.



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