BVI Day 7: Norman

Early bird Jenn and I decided today we wanted to use the kayak and paddle our way out to the scenic little Sandy Spit, a nearly entirely sand island off Green Cay at the mouth of the harbor we’re in. We toss the kayak overboard and set out before breakfast. Because of the wind I described in my previous entry arching it’s way around the point, we’re paddling directly upwind, which isn’t easy. I’ve pulled something in my left hip flexor too, which is making it harder than I expect. The journey is worth it though, the island is completely deserted and quiet and we walk around it a couple of times. It’s not to say I don’t love the people we brought along with us on this trip, but it’s nice to have some quiet time alone just the two of us.

Back on Einstein pancakes with bananas and walnuts are the first order of business. Man life is hard…

Today we’re sailing from Little Jost van Dyke all the way around the bottom of Tortola to Norman Island. It’s going to be 13 miles in mostly East North East winds of about 22 knots, which will mean a beam reach down to the bottom of Tortola before we turn up and have a beat all the way to Norman. We’ve decided to not make a detour down to Little Harbor to refill our water. With the water maker working we tried to fill a gallon jug we had just finished, and it took only 7 minutes for a gallon of water, and the voltage didn’t noticeably drop from that 1 gallon. We’re going to run the water maker and see how we do, and refill on Tortola if we have to.

We watch an older couple on a Moorings catamaran who had moored behind us yesterday expertly (and from whom we watched for ideas on how to do it better), raise their mainsail while still moored, and with the sheets off dropped their ball, motored out of the mooring field and then unfurled their jib, set sail and were off in the most slick way possible.

It all seemed easy enough so we followed their lead with the dagger boards down and a fairly empty mooring field by now. The benefit is that with the mooring, the boat always points into the wind, and you don’t have to worry about keeping up some speed to keep the rudders working, or worry about running out of room while doing it. And with the wind curving around the point, the direction we’re facing on the mooring is towards the exit of the harbor. It’s nice to be able to leisurely raise the mainsail to the first reef point. Then we cast off the two mooring lines at the same time, cut a course out of the field under motor and once we have enough of an angle to round the point to leeward, we unfurl the jib and bear off easy as can be.

Beam reaching is a great point of sail for the boat and we’re cooking at 9-11 knots comfortably over ground. It takes us no time at all to cover the 4 miles to the bottom of Tortola, where there is a narrow pass between islands we have to take. It’s visually hard to pick out, so I keep trusting the map is correct enough that we’ll see it when we get closer and sure enough we do. Sadly there is a massive yacht right in the middle of the pass and we have to duck to leeward of it, which then puts us at an angle where we cannot get around the island of Little Thatch without tacking. We’re a bit overpowered for upwind as we are currently, so we furl in the jib to the first reef marking which helps, and will make it easier to tack as the jib needs to pass in front of the mast, and having the jib be shorter means there is less we have to let out and crank back in on the other side when we tack.

So in the narrow little channel we throw in 2 quick tacks. As we round the last of the Thatch Islands, the wind picks up to 28-29 knots in gusts and now we’re definitely overpowered. Our second tack has us headed down to St. John where we tack again north towards Tortola. Rob is at the helm and continually pointing us just a little too high so we lose power but I finally convince him its better to point the boat where it likes and make up the distance with faster speed. One more tack and we’re pointed at our anchorage as close as we can making a good 6-7 knots. As we get further from Tortola the wind acceleration of the island lessens and we’re down to 23-24 knots of wind, but with it, we also get headed and now we can’t point high enough to make our anchorage. We also pick up some pretty decent 6 foot, short period swell that is coming from the channel between Norman and Peter Islands. I think we have a bit of a current going with us and that current though is going against the wind which is part of why the swell is the way it is. The swell makes me a bit anxious with the sail we have up, I’m tempted to put in another reef in the jib, but Rob doesn’t agree. Everyone seems to be finding the swell exciting which is better than nauseating, with Greg and Tammy up on the trampoline getting sprayed and everyone hooping and hollering. As we get closer it doesn’t look like we’re going to be able to avoid Flanagan Island without tacking or kicking on the engines, but luckily we get lifted at the right time and can point high enough to comfortably pass Flanagan. We didn’t get lifted enough though to lay our anchorage so about half a mile out we’re forced to drop sail and motor the last little bit in. All of the tacks we put in added 2 miles to our journey, but it was a good day of sailing.

I’ve picked an anchorage called Kelly Cove that is along the north side of The Bight, which is the name of this big bay we’re staying in. We’re near the entrance and well protected from East and North winds. The water is nice and calm here too, and its one of the dive sites listed in our book. There are only moorings, and since we plan to dive this afternoon and tomorrow we pick one up.

Again we follow the lead of that couple we saw in Little Jost, and move the port mooring line over to the starboard side, this way Rob can still see me for directions since I’ll be on the same side as him, and I can thread both mooring lines through the eye at the same time, handing the port one over to Greg to cross back in front back to port while I tie us off the starboard side. Without much wind pushing on us it’s easy to line up. I’m able to thread the lines and we get ourselves tied off easily. The one thing that hung us up a little was the port side line was on top of the forestay and not under the , so we had to ease it off and nudge it over the end of the bowsprit, but that’s an easy thing to resolve for next time.

At the end of the cove there is massive super yacht parked with a stern line holding it in place. We all throw out our wildest guesses at who it belongs to. It’s 3 stories tall with a tender that is probably at least 25 feet long. Crew in white shirts and khakis busy themselves cleaning everything. It turns out it belongs to some guy who owns a number of Ford dealerships.

First order of business? Get in the water. We gear up for our dive while the others jump in with snorkels. Our dive plan is simple, drop in on the mooring line, and head towards Water Point to our left, then turn around and come back, and head the other way until we’re bored, cold or low on air. All of this will be shallow and easy, and there is no current.

The reef here is pretty enough, though pretty rocky, and busy with fish. I think we’re at the point before we are though and have us turn around. I kind of want to make it all the way down to the super yacht to see what it looks like underwater. We don’t really make it though because the everyone is getting kind of cold. We’re about 40 minutes into our dive so not surprising and we head back. I brought a carabiner with me to bang on my tank to get people’s attention if I need it, and it comes in handy when I spot a sea turtle. I’m able to get Jenn’s attention on the surface and it takes a few seconds then I see her get super animated and grab Pam and start pointing at our little visitor. I also get Jana and Rob’s attention down diving with me and get a little celebration motion in return. The turtle isn’t too impressed with people though, and heads off with Jenn following it from the surface. We head back to the boat and along the way Jenn chases the turtle right back towards us and we get another look. Back on board we hear that Tammy and Greg saw an octopus being harassed by a school of fish too! Wow I wish I’d seen that. I’ll have to be happy with my sea turtle.

We’ve been running the water maker and so far so good, we’re seeing quite a good bump in our tank’s fill, enough that people can rinse off if they’re super quick about it. Tonight we’re going to Willy T’s a floating restaurant on an old ship anchored deep inside The Bight. We’re moored almost around the corner, so its a long motor in the little dinghy, and several boats make jokes about us being over capacity. You’d think if a charter company was going to be renting out a boat that slept 8, they’d have a dinghy that fit 8, but then again the hulls are only so far apart, I’m not sure we could fit a larger dinghy between them on the davits.

Willy T’s we were recommended over and over again, and it really is a happening place packed full of people, some jumping off the bow of the boat where the bar is. We’re not really party people so we stick with the dining area. The food is really pretty good considering its on a boat off a deserted island. Though their way of paying up at the bar for the food was a bit of a mess, especially since it took forever to get to the bar and then pay. It reminds me of this place in Idyllwild we stopped going to called Ideology for this very reason. Still it was hard to miss the whole experience, and my ribs and rum punch were both great.

Heading back to the boat our super yacht neighbor was lit from stem to stern and made for an easy to pick out landmark. Still the crew were working away on the thing.

Today was a good day.

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