The winds were swirling around the island so picking an advantageous direction was proving difficult. We tacked one more time toward Brewers Bay where we were originally planning to stop. Seeing all the activity, the boats, planes and people we began discussing why we were going into St. Thomas anyway. We had heard that Vagabond and Pepper had found a nice anchorage at Christmas Cove on St. James island just east of St. Thomas. It was still early and after considerable discussion between us all (Kaylee had some definite opinions on the matter) we decided to make the trek to avoid St. Thomas. Kaylee was especially vocal about being in Brewers in an hour versus Christmas cove in three. She finally consented and we cozied as close to the island as we could to get some protection from the high winds and pounded through 4 foot seas across the lea of St. Thomas. As we began to question our logic we rounded the point, the winds calmed and we could see Christmas Cove a few miles ahead. We were greeted by Dan from Vagabond sitting on a mooring ball waiting to help us tie-up. After a quick discussion and recommendation Danielle jumped in the dinghy with Dan and hoped over to Pi, the floating pizza boat who was about to close and ordered a great, but expensive pizza! Who knew, and what a great pizza that was. Maybe the day long sail added a special something to the taste.
Our goal was Normans Cay a few miles south and back across the Narrows. The water is deep here and anchoring strategies so much different. Most anchorages now have mooring balls which have had a significant benefit to the health of the coral and grass beds. In years past sailboats dropped anchor anywhere and did considerable damage to the area. In some ways it is frustrating as what was free in the past now costs $30/night. The upside is the noticeable improvement of the coral and many fewer trenches through the sea grasses.
As we approached Normans we looked through the binoculars at the anchorage which was now very crowded. We realized we were late but had thought that it would not be a problem this late in the season. We veered back to St. John to a quiet but rolly and gusty anchorage for the night.
We arrived in North Sound a day early to “rest” before Fred and Kay arrived. These off days give us a chance to just do normal stuff, like clean the boat, laundry, get a few hours of school in for Kaylee, etc. before we move on for travel or play. Leverick Bay is just the right kind of place to do just that. Fred and Kay showed up in the afternoon and we appropriately met them at the Leverick Bar Jumbies.
The Baths is the most visited spot in the BVI’s and an easy day sail for us so off we trouped for a beautiful 2 hour sail. We lunched, snorkeled in and had a great time exploring the “caves” and swimming in the baths. Our trip home, also a nice beam reach with gusts to above 20 to keep us on our toes was fast and we were able to sail in through the narrow channel of North Sound and softly over to Saba Rock for Pain Killers and snacks. We watched the staff feed the 6’ tarpon and met Elvis, the 4’ moray eel that they have in a tank with an anchor from the ill fated Rhone. Kaylee went back to the condo with Fred and Kay on the Saba Ferry while Danielle and I put up the headsail for a leisurely downhill sail the 2 miles across the sound to our anchor spot as dusk became darkness. Sometimes it really feels good to be in a place long enough to know the area well enough that you can do things in the dark.
Rada is a tiny Indian lady and we stopped because of the smell of curry. We unfortunately missed her curry at lunch as it was all sold out so we began to formulating plans for another visit where we could get her Roti, a curried chicken and vegetables in a homemade pea tortilla. We initiated discussions with her and quickly went from having Roti delivered to the marina to having her daughter’s boyfriend pick us all up in a pickup truck. Plans were quickly made and the Joneses, Conrads, Ungers and Howells (Abbey Singer), 14 in all, piled into the truck for the trip up the steep hill to Rada’s. Then meal was fantastic and as a special treat she had made us plates of banana fritters and ice cream for dessert.
After dropping the Conrads off at Soper’s Hole to catch the ferry back to St. Thomas we were able to run on the north side of Tortola, visiting Jost Van Dyke and ducking into Cane Garden Bay. We had never been to Cane Garden before and were delightfully surprised at the congenial beach community where we found great conversation, the cheapest happy hour prices and some soccer on the beach with Kaylee. We would have stayed longer but the next day was Kaylee’s birthday and Vagabond, Pepper and Exit Stage Left were preparing a party for her (see Happy Birthday post).
We met Abby Singer (Andrew, Summer, Paige and Sky) in Leverick Bay. An interesting family that decided to leave and sell their business, buy a sailboat and then learn to sail as they worked their way to Greneda. Pretty heady stuff! Sky and Kaylee are two peas in a pod, kindred spirits, their constant conversation is energetic and exhausting but they communicate better than any two I have ever seen after knowing each other for a few days. As we all waited for weather to make the sail to St. Martin (about 75 miles straight line) they were inseparable over the few days we spent together and we really enjoyed the enthusiasm of the whole family and were happy to add them to our ad hoc flotilla.
We were all working out our various strategies for the crossing to St. Martin, about 6 boats in all. All with a different approach which is the way you should approach sailing out here. You need to be comfortable with your sail plan and it is great to know that there our others out there, in the same general area, heading in the same general direction. It is amazing how nice it is to hear a friendly voice on the radio during an overnight crossing.
Vagabond, Pepper, Aqua Vida, Abby Singer, Take Two (a family of seven on a cat) and Exit Stage Left would be leaving soon in their own way and on their own time after a great time in the Virgins. On to the Leewards!