BVI Day 3: Baths

What a beautiful morning. I slept really poorly having bad dreams about dragging anchor. A few times in the night the wind changed direction and strength. We’re right where I put us last night though. I’m glad it’s the morning. It’s rather nice to be in the cockpit, the sun just coming up over the island with a cup of tea in hand. And it’s much better to be here at anchor than waking up in a noisy marina. I’m hoping as we go my confidence in the anchor will get better and I’ll have fewer sleepless nights.

Today is also Jenn and my two year anniversary. The cotton anniversary. We both had the same idea for our anniversary gift, giving each other really plush cotton bath robes. But sadly they had to be left at home, not fitting into our bags. Sitting out here watching the sun rise they’d be nice right now though. The Danes have this idea of “Hygge” or being cozy and enjoying the little pleasures. I think both Jenn and I subscribe to that in some way naturally.

Not everything is great with the boat however, we’ve been charging the batteries off of the engine, but the % of battery keeps going down. We do appear to have an amp draw shown on the display when we turn on different things, but we don’t get a positive amp input when we run the engines. It does seem like the solar panels are putting in a tiny bit of amps, so if we’re not doing anything we do see the batteries seem to charge off them. This is worrisome though since we will need energy. I used a few of my minutes to call the office and tell them of our situation. The first couple calls are too early in the morning, but eventually we get a pickup. They say they’ll send someone and we tell them we’ll be moored down at The Baths.

The anchor comes up easily enough and we’re off for a quick trip down the coast, too quick to bother with the sails, we’re not much more than a mile away from The Baths, an interesting and beautiful bit of scenery where smooth boulders tumble and stack at the sea in turquoise waters.

We picked up one of the day moorings from the National Parks. The moorings here have a main buoy and a line with a thimble eye spliced into the end and a pick up float. It was the first time I’d picked up a mooring myself, and when we’d moored when I was a kid off Catalina they were very different. I’d read how to do it, and one of the techniques is to use a longish dock line and go from one hull, through the eye to the other side, around a cleat, and then back to the first cleat. This was a bit awkward though, and the eye from the mooring line didn’t slide well along the rope, which over time I think would chafe some.

The first plan had been to swim to shore, but both beaches show red high current flags, and we’re a bit of a ways out. We’re going to drop the dingy and motor in closer and swim the rest of the way, or go north a tad and beach the dinghy there. As we lower the dinghy the little red pigtail lanyard for the outboard snags on something and then is gone overboard. Well crap, without that we can’t start the outboard, it’s basically the key.

I put on my mask and snorkel and we hang a line off the stern for the current. It’s just shallow enough, about 30 feet, I can freedive for it, but I can’t for the life of me spot it.  Greg says when he saw it go over it looked to not be going straight down but being carried off a ways by the current. So Rob and I suit up for a quick buddy dive looking for the thing. We go out a bit to a sandy patch behind the boat but don’t see it, and then start making passes back and forth before one of us finally spots it. There isn’t much to see diving wise, little new bits of soft coral trying to make a start of things on round rocks with a few fish. I’m expecting we’re still a long ways from the boat, but when I look up we’re right under Einstein. My dive computer says we’ve been down for a grand total of 7 minutes.

With the dinghy in the water we’re able to head off. Rob wants to stay with the boat and the phone in case they call back. We picked up a blue dinghy mooring and swam the rest of the way.

The Baths are at the far south of the island, and there are a few little coves and a trail making a loop around the south tip and then back. Some of the more famous and busy sections of The Baths are sections where the big boulders can be walked and climbed between. It all feels like something out of Disney Land.

On our little walk along the loop we ran into 4 girls on vacation from St. Kitts where I visited a few years back. They’re vet students there which is amazing because Jana and Rob own a vet clinic and Rob is a DVM. Sadly he’d stayed onboard. The girls tried to convince Jana that Rob should come teach at their school, that they’re looking for guest professors for short terms.

We wind our way down the trail and get back to the beach and into the section where the rocks form little pools which give The Baths their name. Some were easier to get to than others, with one section where the big boulders form a cave.

It’s busy though by the time we get to exploring the cave, and I realized I was supposed to bring the National Parks permit with me ashore, but forgot it on the boat, so I was anxious to get back.

Greg and Tammy were ahead of us, enjoying the swimming area where we had left the dinghy tied up, so we rejoined them, and I tried to help everyone back into the dinghy with mixed results. It’s not easy, especially without fins!

On the boat Rob had received a call from the service guys, but the message was a bit broken about them having someone from Virgin Gorda come look. I see I have a text with a phone number I’m to call for a Polo. I think it’s actually supposed to be Paulo? He asks us about our plans, and I tell him we’re heading up to the North Sound for the night, and he says he’ll meet us there around 4-5. That gives us enough time to stop at the dive spot I’d picked out before sailing up and around to the north end of Virgin Gorda to meet him.

The dive spot I have in mind is called The Aquarium. The mooring though doesn’t look to be a general use mooring however, so Rob decides we’ll anchor.  The current was also a bit troublingly brisk. Jenn jumped in and was immediately put off by the current and got back out. Rob and Jana went to the front of the boat with me and also didn’t like the current. They were seeming to look for me to tell them to toughen up, but I told them Scuba is one of the things that you should never do if you don’t feel comfortable. Things have to be easy so that if something goes wrong you can focus on that thing. But they talked themselves into dropping down the anchor and just seeing how it is down there. I’m fine either way. At the bottom I take a heading I believe towards the dive site buoy and mark it on my compass. Everyone seems happy enough with the current, but it’s still a drag (get it?!), so we burn through a lot of air and time just getting to our marker. I really wish we’d just picked up the mooring. When Rob is down to 1500 psi, I tell everyone we’re headed back. The last thing I want is to have trouble finding our mooring line and be low on air. We barely get a look around before we’re back at Einstein. It’s a bust.

From here we picked up our anchor and sailed north. It’s a beat the entire way upwind on starboard, and we have to pass to the west of the Seal Dog Islands as we get headed more and more before tacking over towards the entrance of the Gorda Sound and our anchorage off Prickly Pear Island. It’s a good sail though, and there is a similar sized monohull going upwind with us. They’re not particularly good sailors with a lot of luffing going on and poorly trimmed sails. I’m surprised they’re going as fast as they are considering how much wind they’re spilling constantly. We eventually leave them behind. We also played around with putting both daggerboards down, it does seem to decrease leeway some but increases drag and adds a bit of weatherhelm that also adds more drag. We averaged 7.5 knots in 17 knots of wind, which was pretty fantastic.

Dropping anchor off Prickly Pear Island, I’m not happy with our spot, we’re in fairly shallow, and there are a few rocks that shouldn’t be a problem, but I don’t want any risk, so I have us pick up anchor and move a bit further and re-set the anchor, though this also puts us closer to other boats.

Our technician shows up in his little skiff with a box full of tools and starts testing the system ruling different pieces out starting with the engines which are putting out electricity. And then both of our batteries which also are fine. He then records a voltage on the batteries, runs the engines for a bit and records a new number and the voltage is going up. We rule out the solar panels by covering them with towels and do it all again and the voltage is still going up so he’s quite sure it’s just the monitor. I’m not particularly happy with the “I think it’s the gauge” so I call our own tech guy, and he concurs and tells us there is someone else on Anegada Island if we have trouble, so I guess we’re in a wait and see mode as our batteries show a healthy 13.3V but only 17% battery life. Which one is correct we’ll just have to find out apparently.

We’ve read there is a fun beach restaurant on this island and load all 7 of us up into the little dinghy and head to shore slowly. We have a bright red Outremer 45 right in front of us, so it should be easy to find our way back after dark with flashlights. I positively drool over that boat.

This anchorage is just chalked full of turtles, we nearly run one over pulling in, and again driving to shore, and I swear every few minutes we’re shouting “turtle!”

On shore though the restaurant is closed up good, so we’re going to have to just come back and eat our provisions. Shrimp salad for dinner, oh darn! Walking back to the dinghy Rob spots an odd trail of a smooth line with little dots on either side in the sand and asks what it is and when I say Hermit Crabs he’s incredulous until we find that the beach is in fact COVERED in them! Hermit crabs of all sizes raking the sand in not very regular lines like a drunken monk raking a sand garden.

Tammy and Greg are cooking tonight, and they also whip us up Rum Pears off Prickly Pear Island for the Pair having their 2nd anniversary! What a great day!

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