BVI Day 6: Bubbles

I’ve been pretty consistent about waking up each morning around sunrise. Today is no different, though I’m not woken by the light, but by the wind and the clatter of halyards bouncing off masts. The wind is HOWLING pretty good above me. And when the wind blows it often causes mainsail halyards to vibrate like a very slow guitar string against the mast making a clack clack clack clack sound. There is also a point where the narrow points in the rigging start to make a little bit of a whistling noise, we’re not quite there yet. In the cockpit Rob and Greg are having their coffees and they have the wind gauges on, and they between 28 and 32 knots pretty consistently as one squall blows through after another, most dropping rain.

I’m a bit anxious about today’s sail, that’s a good amount of wind. We were only expecting in the low 20s. Rob is anxious to get going, but the sun is still pretty low on the horizon which doesn’t make it easy to pick out clumps of coral. Rob though is determined, and when we get a break in the squalls its hard for me to find an argument as to why we shouldn’t leave. I ask to have Jana stand on the bow with her polarized sunglasses and keep and eye out. Another boat is leaving when we do, so that simplifies things a little bit in that Rob can just follow them. Luckily we’re also at high tide in an hour, not that it changes much, and our draft is incredibly shallow with the boards up, so there really isn’t THAT much to worry about.

And I did worry for nothing, we had an easy motor out through the channel and set sail with a full jib out and the third reef in the main. We didn’t want to put up that much sail because we can see more squalls coming. But an hour later and the squalls are all passing below us in a line and we’re still sitting at 16 knots of wind with too little sail up. We’re still going 5-6 knots, but I’d like to see what this boat can do downwind. It’s hard though with such variable winds to convince us to turn up in the wind and shake another reef or two out of the main. The wind does eventually pick up to 22 knots about where we predicted, which brings us closer to 7 knots over ground. It’s kind of fun, we can’t point as close as we’d like to down wind, and we don’t want to jibe back and forth, so we’re soaking as deep down wind as we can go with both dagger boards up  so the leeway we’re making has us going close to the direction we want to go. I feel like a cruiser today, doing it conservative not necessarily fast, and even with our slow pace we pull into the anchorage by noon.

The anchorage I’ve picked out isn’t as sheltered as I expected exactly. We have winds from the east north east today and tonight, and we’re behind a point with any further east being protected by Tortola to the east, though with a couple miles of fetch. We’re between Little Jost van Dyke and the main island of Jost van Dyke next to a spot called Diamond Cay (again pronounced “key”). But I think because mostly just the north component of the east north east is being blocked by the land, the east component is still coming around the point a bit bringing with it a little bit of swell curving around the point. It’s not bad, but there is just a little bit of roll. So again we pick up a mooring ball.

We’re still not very pro at this picking up a moorning though. I told Jana to make sure the mooring lines which were under the safety lines were passed back under them, but with all the other commotion I don’t think she heard me, and I didn’t look back over. So we have the starboard line through the eye, and I get the port side through the eye and am about to cleat it off when I notice that the safety lines are in the middle of my loop. With the strong winds still pushing on us, I tried to thread it all back through but then the pull is too great and I have to let go of the line. So we’re moored with 1 line through the eye. I sort out the port line and have Rob motor back up and hook the mooring again. The the wind is pushing us again and its not long before I need Rob to go forward some more, but it gets lost in the wind. I try to unhook the boat hook, but I’ve somehow got the hook stuck between strands of the mooring line and I can’t get it loose. I hold on as long as I can but then the handle on the boat hook goes pop and comes off in my hands. We motor back up to the mooring with the boat hook still stuck in the line, pulling it back in by the side we have cleated off on starboard, and just when we’re about to grab the hook it comes loose and floats right to the bottom…

Greg being a problem solver he is jumps in and threads the line through the eye and tosses it back up for Rob to cleat off. Meanwhile Jana puts together dive gear for me and Rob so we can go fetch that boat hook. I go through my checklist, the ABCDE (air, bc, computer, dive gear, and enter) for diving, and hop in with Rob.

The visibility is poor, and I can’t really make out the bottom even though I know its only some 30 ft down, and probably don’t make out shapes until we’re less than 10, though the boat hook does stand out. Rob goes down for the hook and when he does the bottom of is tank goes right up, the strap has slipped up to the top of the tank and it’s now loose. We’re still shallow but I try to loosen the strap, slide it down and tighten, but I can’t get the strap to budge. So instead we surface and I help him keep the tank in position while we swim back to the boat. Onboard I can see the problem, whomever at the dive shop setup the BCD strap didn’t do it right. It’s not able to get completely tight or looser because it’s basically bound up at whatever length it was. Usually how it works is the strap is pulled tight by the diver by hand, and then when the latch is closed it acts like a lever and pulls the strap even tighter so its not able to move at all, with the tail of the strap then holding the latch down via velcro. However Rob’s wasn’t able to be pulled any tighter, and the latch wasn’t then doing anything. Mine was correct other than the strap going through the last hole of the latch so it could velco on top of the latch instead of below it. The problem with mine wasn’t nearly so severe, it just allowed for something hitting the top of my tank to in a rare chance be able to lose the tank strap, but Rob’s was bound to fail. Wow scary! I didn’t realize this was something that a dive shop might mess up and I needed to check!

One of the reasons we’re in this beautiful anchorage is to see the Bubble Pool, a geologic formation somewhere around here that is a pool of water that waves from the north crash into. Also we’re running very very low on water, and I’m hoping we can pull up to the “Marina” in this anchorage to fill up on water.

We put ashore in the dinghy and pay for our mooring and ask about filling up on water. It turns out the marina doesn’t have water to fill up with, so we’re going to either have to figure out the water maker or put in at Little Harbor south on the island to figure it out.

From here we head down the trail to the Bubble Pool. Some trees here called Manchineel trees have signs describing them as poisonous and not to stand under them in a rain! I didn’t know that was a thing to be concerned about. Along the way we pass a group headed back from the Bubble Pool and they say its not that awesome and filled with people. And at first glace when we arrive it isn’t super impressive, but every so often a good wave comes and you get a nice splash of water. The water is really pleasant to sit in anyway. Jenn gets knocked down with one wave though and ends up with a bunch of scratches.

On our way back to the boat we stop for a drink at one of the two little shops. And some ice, again we’re out. There is nothing like rum punch in the Caribbean.

Back at the boat I fuss with the water maker but can’t get it to seem to do anything. I think it’s time to call the service guys again and ask. Having this phone is turning out to be really useful. I can’t get through and leave a message to call back. Meanwhile the girls go off for a swim. I’m a bit worried when I have to go pick them up that I’ll miss the call, but Greg is around to man the line. When we see them waving, I jump in the dinghy and speed over. It’s amazing how everything seems to come back so easily after so many years. Controlling a dinghy feels like second nature again.

I didn’t miss the call in the end, but an hour or so later he calls and we run through everything, I think the problem is that we didn’t have the valves set correctly under the stove. Only that doesn’t seem to be it. I call him back but apparently I’ve run out of minutes so someone has to text him and ask him to call me back. Luckily how it works in the BVI is it doesn’t cost you credit to receive calls. It turns out the problem is the pressure was turned down too much on the water maker. I remember this bit of the briefing once I hear it and I’m kicking myself for not taking notes. So now we have the water maker going. At first it doesn’t seem to be making much of an impact so I’m still thinking we might want to go to Little Harbor, but it’s not nearly so urgent as it was. Still no showers for everyone tonight.

Tonight while the sun sets Rob, Jana, Jenn, Pam and I play “Take” a card game we learned to play with the Schneiders, all enjoying some rum drinks.

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