Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Circumnavigating Tortola with Terrific Friends

Kim and Tim mid week smiles

Sunday Dec 8th -We took a mooring ball at Trellis Bay Saturday night so we could easily dinghy ashore and pick up Tim and Kim.  Trellis Bay is maybe 1/8 to 1/4 mile down the road from the airport. Easy walk.  No sooner had Tom untied the dinghy to go get them than the sky opened up and it poured rain.  Everyone arrived wet but smiling.....vacation officially started! 
It continued to rain off and on and the wind was blowing 20+ that night so we just stayed put in Trellis Bay.  FYI -De Loose Mongoose is under new management and Last Resort is closed but supposedly under new management and set to open in a few days.  We spent our time getting caught up on each other's lives.

The next day(Monday) we took the free ferry to Scrub Island so Tim and Kim could rent snorkel gear.  The regular ferry was out of service for maintenance so we rode over in someones very nice 40+ Tiara motor yacht.  Scrub Island resort was only just breaking ground when we were here in 2008.  It's now open and OMG -it's opulent.  We were like gypsies in the palace except there was no one there.  We saw plenty of staff but very few guests.  I guess it's still the slow season. Marina is super nice with wide and deep slips.  Unfortunately, BVI Diver's Scrub Island Dive shop was closed.  We jumped back on the ferry and headed back to Trellis Bay and s/v Honey Ryder.  We dropped the mooring ball and sailed to Great Harbor on Peter Island.  The wind was up and so was the swell/chop through Drake Channel so we had a zippy ride.  With another day and night of higher than normal winds, we opted to take the mooring ball route vs anchoring.  I went for a snorkel to check out the fish and test out my new camera.  First try results here.  Thank Ms Kim!!!  Love it!  Then we took the dinghy ashore and walked to Peter Island Marina and then on over to Deadman's Bay.  We had the chance to see aging baby boomer bareboaters trying reliving their college years with Flaming Dr Pepper shots but unfortunately fortunately the shot wouldn't light and no one was hurt.  We walked back to the dinghy and headed the other direction to Ocean's 7 Grill.  Diner was wonderful.  Tom and Tim tried and liked the ribs.  Kim had yummy chicken and I had mouth watering tuna.  We dinghied back to the boat in the dark using the new dinghy bow lights Tim bought for us.  They are awesome and make dinghying at night so much safer.  Thanks Tim!!

It was on the wet ride back that Tim declared the dinghy the cold, wet machine.  *It wasn't that cold - just shocking to get splashed/doused/soaked.  The sudden shock of a full wave hitting you might even make some guys squeal like a pre-teen girl! 

Cold, wet machine.  Video taken later in the week of our dinghy ride back from White Bay - against the wind.

Tuesday we sailed over to The Bight at Norman Island.  It wasn't nearly as crowded as when Tom and I were there a week or so ago.  We picked up a mooring ball on the Pirates Bight side.  Tim and I snorkeled.  Tom jumped into his folding kayak (and then promptly turn it over- dumping himself) for a paddle and Kim just chilled in the cockpit, keeping a watchful eye on us all the while.  FYI -The Pirates Bight restaurant burned down in Oct of this year.  However they have already started construction on a new, bigger one.  AND in the mean time, they put up a temporary Pirate's Bight that is pretty impressive in it's own right.  The staff was awesome and we enjoyed visiting with them as well as a colorful charter boat captain that brought a group ashore.
Sunset - The Bight Norman Island

Temporary Pirates Bight - Norman Island

Wednesday morning we decided to go for a hike. When we were here previously in 2008 we heard there was a good hike on Norman Island but we weren't really sure where the trail head was and didn't end up going.  2013 Fellow Salty Dawgs on s/v Kalunamoo - Bill and Maurine gave us the inside scoop/directions to the trail head.  They had hiked it the previous day and said it was a good one.  Our hike and what we found on the other side deserves it's own posting so see link. 
Our Norman Island Hike and Meet Norm.

After our hike we dropped the mooring ball (high winds at night, guests onboard and vacation mode - yeah....we took a mooring ball!) and sailed to Great Harbor on Jost Van Dyke island.  We took a mooring ball.  (Yes, I know there is a pattern here but Great Harbor is notoriously horrible for holding and thus extremely difficult in terms of anchoring.  Even Beth Leonard says so!)  We jumped in the dinghy and zoomed around to White Bay.  We were going with the wind so it's wasn't that bad (wet) of a dinghy ride.  Besides, at this point we all still had our swimsuits on and were fully expecting to get wet on the ride over.  Tom and I walked along the beach while Tim and Kim found a spot in the shade at the famous Soggy Dollar Bar.  Sadly, no one had previously purchased a round of world famous Painkiller's for our group so we were left to purchase our own round.  You can do that - buy a drink (Painkiller) for a friend that will be visiting the Soggy Dollar Bar in the future.  Yes, you all have prepaid Painkiller's waiting for you there....NOT!  If we could we would but the cruising kitty won't stretch that far.  Anyway...They were good.  It's easy to understand why the Soggy Dollar is famous for them.  *I always thought Pusser's invented the Painkiller.  Turns out it was Soggy Dollar Bar and YES, they are the best painkillers to date!  The dinghy ride back did lived up to our high expectations in terms of getting wet but don't take my word for it.  Let's watch it again....because it's that funny!  Or maybe you just had to be there soaking wet with us to think it's funny! 

One of many funky places along White Bay on Jost Van Dyke

Soggy Dawgs at Soggy Dollar

Next stop - legendary Foxy's in Great Harbor.  We ate dinner here. Tom and Tim had ribs again.  Kim and I had fish.  Wouldn't you just know we were seated right under a KU flag.  Despite this, somehow I was still able to choke down my dinner.  Probably because Kim pointed out the K-State t-shirt hanging on the wall behind the bar.  Whew!  Foxy wasn't there but one of his relatives - possibly a son was and soon began working the crowd, causing mischief and later hosting karaoke island style. 

Foxy's Ribs

Thursday we motored (wind on the nose, again) to Sandy Cay for lunch and a swim. 
Sandy Cay

After some excitement during our swim (Kim almost drowned - oh yes she did! ) we motored over to Cane Garden Bay.  We have never been here before.  Very kewl place. 
Cane Garden Bay
There was a fellow Salty Dawg boat s/v Practique anchored in there.  Bennett and Susan gave the inside scoop on a good breakfast place for the next morning.  We motored ashore to pay our mooring ball fee - hey by now it was habit, restful and easy!  We decided we needed to stretch our legs so we walked down to Callwood Rum Distillery.  If you haven't already, check out our visit there.  Callwood Rum Distillery.   

I read that Cane Garden Bay has live music Thursday nights. We stopped by Myett's on the way back to the boat.  Brian ?somebody? was playing Eagles and Buffet covers as well as a few of his own songs. He wasn't too bad.  Kim and I talked to him during break.  Nice guy. 
Sunset - Going, going

Sunset - Gone

Chillin at Myett's

Friday morning we dinghied ashore to Sailor's Rest for Coconut French Toast that s/v Practique had told us about.  They were already there, waiting for their order.  Tim and Kim went for the recommended coconut French Toast while Tom ordered the original French toast.  I opted for a veggie omelet.  It was all delish!  Sailor's Rest is a very kewl little place. 
Sailor's Rest

Inside Sailor's Rest

Bellies full, we strolled the opposite direction as the day before stumbling onto a bakery.  The smell drew us in.  We left with a bag of goodies for later in the day that included two guavaberry tarts, one chocolate chip cookie, one oatmeal cookie and a small loaf of fresh made bread.
Stairs and driveway
Many colorful houses dot the hills of Cane Garden Bay

Main street/drag of Cane Garden Bay

Looking towards NE Corner of Cane Garden Bay

The wind was on the nose - isn't it ALWAYS!  However we sailed NE out of Cane Garden Bay 4-5 miles offshore and then tacked back, slowly making our way towards Guana Island and specifically Monkey Point.  We reached here just in time to take a day mooring ball and have a late lunch.  Standard lunch fare of cold cuts was greatly enhanced with the items from our morning bakery stop.  I popped in the water to snorkel.  NO, I didn't wait 30 mins after eating.  That is an old tale to keep kids out of the pool and give the lifeguards a longer break!  Everyone else stay aboard.  I guess Kim didn't feel much like swimming after her near drowning the day before!  Weird but oh well!  Just teasing!  We can laugh about it now.  Apparently while I was snorkeling off Monkey point, a couple of dolphins came into the area looking for me.  A BIG, fancy charter cat came in soon after the dolphins arrived and one of the guests dove in to have his own "swim with the dolphins" experience.  I think you can all guess what happened.  The dolphins out swam him.  However he was persistent and a pretty darn good swimmer.  They did tease him a bit (or so it seemed) by circling back around behind him and then off to the side....sort of playing peek-a-boo with him.  However they didn't stay interested for long (probably because they learned I was back on the boat and not available to play) and soon moved on so he never really got his the whole "swim with the dolphins" experience.  We motored on to Marina Cay where guessed it.....took a mooring ball.  Good thing too as the wind piped back up overnight and a good squall came through.  It was a bit of a rolly anchorage since there isn't that much protection behind Marina Cay.  Tom and I have very fond memories of Marina Cay from our previous two visits.  While it was okay, it does seem like some of the magic is gone from Marina Cay.  We wondered around a bit, checking out Robb and Rodie White's house  - details of their story.  There have been a couple of patios added to their house as well as a bar - I think for group functions and the cistern is gone.  The main restaurant and bar are the same.  We met some interesting people that were off three boats charted for an ASA flotilla.  I had a wonderful discussion Captain Lucy who runs her own ASA Sailing School in Texas - South Coast Sailing.  Awesome sailing chick!  We stayed for dinner.  While the food was good (Tom and I had the Mahi fish special, Kim had ribs and Tim had jerk chicken) the service was terrible!  Very slow to the point of painful.  Note - 1.)  we are patient people when it comes to restaurant service  2.) understand island time  3.) the place was NOT busy at all....SO =terrible service.  *This is the ONLY place in all the BVI's we have gotten bad service.  The ONLY, which is pretty impressive. 

Saturday morning we goofed about until 11ish and then we motored the short distance across to Trellis Bay.  Tom took Tim, Kim and bags ashore.  They were substantially lighter having unloaded all the goodies they brought down for us....fuel filters, solar yard lights, swimsuits, collapsible salad spinner, etc....*We SO appreciate them schlepping all that and more down here!!  Thank you Tim and Kim!  **FYI - if you have friends or relatives bringing you items when they come to visit, be sure to have them save all the receipts and bring those along with them.  Be sure to declare the value as close as they can to accurate.  Customs down here KNOWS, seriously! - case in point....the customs official that cleared our friends knew darn well the price/value of a Racor fuel filter.  ***Racor fuel filters are expensive down here.  Stock up!  Bulk up!  Seriously.  We did but wish we had gotten more prior to leaving the USA - thus the duffel bag full (just kidding - Tim and Kim brought down 5). 
Anywho....Tom dinghied back for me and we all had lunch ashore.  We had promised Tim a Roti.  Luckily Trellis Bay has the Roti Shack.  Tim, Tom and I had chicken roti while Kim had a Jamaican meat patty.  The roti's were huge!  Not as good as our place in Roadtown but not bad. 
Tummies full, we hugged our dear friends goodbye and they walked toward the airport and we headed back to s/v Honey Ryder. 
We are now back in North Sound on a mooring ball at the Bitter End Yacht Club - hey free is free!  We will re-coop and re-group from our week vacation and then head for the USVI's. 
Note - You might be thinking... "A week's vacation?  What the heck?  You live on a boat, don't work and are currently exploring the BVI's!"  Yes to all the above.  However, while this life might seem like nothing but sunsets, beaches and umbrella drinks, it is NOT.  Far from it.  This life takes constant work and attention - specifically the boat.  ALL aspects.  We work diligently to keep s/v Honey Ryder in top shape so that we can safely enjoy our adventures as we explore.  However we try to find balance as well so that it's not all work and no play.  And while we didn't leave the boat, this has been our first vacation in a long time.
Special note - Good guests.  Tim and Kim were fabulous guests to have aboard s/v Honey Ryder.  Not everyone is a good guest on a cruising boat.  In fact fellow cruisers, internet, forums, magazine articles tell us more often than not, most people are NOT good guests.  Being a guest on a cruising sailboat is VERY, very different than visiting someone in their home.  More later on this. 

**To Kim and Tim - Thank you for coming down.  We had such a good time.  The inside jokes continue to entertain us -  Diet Coke Jesus and his intern, Baxtering, injured toes/feet (you need a toe?  I can get you a toe!  I can have a toe here by 3'o clock"), Manhattan's/Tom Collins/Old Fashion's/Crystal Lite, "I say Captain?  I say what?  I  say Captain?  I say what?"  -"And I wish I was James Bond.  Just for the day.  Kissing all the girls.  Blow the bad guys away."  You and Hanna are now friends and on and on........


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