BVI Day 4: Virgin

Today we’re off to Anegada north of Virgin Gorda. It’s a very different sort of island than the rest of the BVI, it’s a low lying coral reef, while the rest of the islands are steep verdant green islands. This is one of our longest sails of the trip at 15 miles and we’re expecting 20+ knots of close reach sailing.

I didn’t sleep especially well last night again because of the anchor; I wish there were fewer boats here so we could have just let out more scope.

We’re told that we should try to arrive by mid-day to keep an eye out for reefs. I know not to trust the map’s markers for rocks, and Anegada is known for having claimed over 600 wrecks (though most by the reef to the far east that extends a long way out from the island. Either way we want to get going right after breakfast.

We pull up anchor and motor outside of the sound to raise our sails. We’re switching roles today. I’m helming and Rob is raising and trimming sails. Rob will be the first to admit he has a touch of the OCD, and the lines definitely fall under that category. I’m pointing us up into the wind for a while as he pulls out each rope, unwinds it, and flakes it and arranges them on the deck to try to reduce the chance of them getting tangled. The cockpit isn’t a very large space. I’m running out of sea room as we get closer and closer to the reef off Necker Island. I’d been using the engines in forward to keep us moving and pointing into the wind, but now I have to use them in forward and reverse to keep us hove too in position still pointed into the wind, which is a bit tougher.

The girls though aren’t stressed and are taking turns with the binoculars looking at Necker Island which is privately owned by Virgin Chairman Richard Branson who recently hosted ex-President Obama a little over a week ago on this very island. It’s dominated by a rocky coast and pagoda like structures in among greenery ringed by a reef.

Sadly for them the sails go out and I bear away towards Anegada.

We do in fact have 20-22 knots of wind just off the nose about 70 degrees apparent that has us doing 9.5 knots almost the entire way. Once we’re out from behind Necker Island’s protection, the swell is probably 2 meters in a very short period and it’s hard to steer in a way that isn’t awkward and uncomfortable but I get the hang of it more and more as we’re coming in.

There is a long line of boats all headed to Anegada, though we’re the furthest to weather and are sailing a pleasant angle to the wind with plenty of sail up and we tick one off after another. It’s nice though to be able to visually see where to sail the boat since for most of the sail the island is invisibly low. I aim to just slot into line.

A squall is in front of us, and we have all sail up in 20 knots of wind, if the squall has a lot more that’s trouble, so I happily decide we’re going to drop sail now even though we’re over a mile out from the channel entrance. We weren’t fast raising sail, so I don’t expect to be quick dropping either and don’t want trouble. As it turns out the squall passes without incident.

On our way in I’m anxious because unlike other channels I’ve seen this one is missing some marks. The entrance has red and green buoys but then the next ones in a line are red, red, green, red, so I take this as connect the dots, just stay to the left of the reds and the right of the one green. It’s shallow too, down to 1.8m in parts which is plenty for our 0.6m draft, but would be trouble for even shoal draft monohulls. Rob is busily organizing ropes so I’m left to navigate on my own, but I have an app on my phone so I don’t even need the chart plotter, and the whole experience really gives me confidence I can handle this.

We switch roles to pick up a mooring. With the wind and no land to protect from it, I’ll sleep better with a mooring, and Rob feels the same. Plus with the area safe to anchor being very small with no room to drag if it happened, this is the best option. The mooring field is SUPER tight though, and we have to feed our way between boats. The wind wants to push Einstein around, and its making it hard for Rob to hear my commands, we’re struggling. I had thought we were still doing the 1 line method, but Rob had switched around the lines to the shorter ones for the 2-line method, so we had some confusion on top of it all. I got more frustrated than I should have, largely from the stress of being so close to every other boat. I also hate not looking like we know what we’re doing, but honestly this is our second full day with this boat and together, it’s going to take some getting used to. Luckily the local guy who collects mooring fees happens to be making his runs and we just hand him our lines and he hands them back threaded through the eye with some help from rob to keep the boat somewhat close.

Everyone was pretty sun soaked and tired and the 7 of us collectively go down for a nap.

After that Jenn, Pam, Greg and I head to shore to have a look around. We’d read that lobsters are for sale for cheap, and there is a bakery around. We find a dinghy dock and come ashore. Immediately we run into Stephany who we’ve read sells the lobsters and she seems to sell about everything else in this part of the island also owning a shop and the local car rental.

We take a walk around and down the road just a little bit trying to figure out how to get to the flamingo pond, but give up after a bit and head back into “town” if you can call it that. We pick up some coke and 4 lobsters from Stephany. They’re still alive and kicking, kept in a lobster pot off the end of a dock. They aren’t happy, but can’t blame ‘em.

We drop the lobsters with the boat and then head back out to “Pam’s Bakery” which we’re told is the last pier down the way. They don’t have much left, just some banana bread, a loaf of French bread and 1 apple turnover. We ask what they have in the morning and they say “everything” but can’t tell us what they have. We ask if they have croissants, and they say no. So I’m not sure what everything is either. We buy them out, but somehow we don’t end up with the French bread. The pier is in super shallow water and I almost have to pull up the outboard so I’m not sure I want to go back for the bread.

Killing the lobsters comes to me. They spikey and actually can bite. They’re still alive and moving about so it’s hard to get to it, and I use my sailing gloves. You have to twist off their tails, and I just throw their upper parts back in the water for the local fishes and sea turtles of which again there are many. This is definitely not my favorite part, but I get them all done. How I like to cook lobster is to remove a section of the top part of the tail shell and baste it in a butter/garlic/lemon sauce, but we don’t have kitchen shears, and we’re having trouble getting through the shells. Rob volunteers his veterinary help and gets to work on them with a breadknife and a leatherman! We’re also having steaks tonight, so we set up the bbq and everyone is taking some portion of tonights dinner it seems between it all.

I got way too much sun on the way up, so I spend most of the evening hiding from it. Jenn chasing me around with aloe and noxema to treat the sunburns.

Dinner is amazing, it’s hard to believe we’re this far from most everything off a barely populated island connected with a not too frequent supply runs. The beef is from a small family farm in California and the lobster the island we’re enjoying the sunset from.

For desert Jenn whips up something she saw on pintrest, these banana smores boats. She cuts the bananas down the center line with the skins still on and slides in some chocolate, mini marshmallows, and graham cracker, wraps the whole thing in foil, and puts it on the bbq to melt. Delicious.

What a day.


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