Thursday, April 27, 2017

BVIs 21st to 27th April 2017

Are we in Britain or the US??
We had a totally amazing sail from St Martin to the British Virgin Islands - our longest day sail to date at nearly 80 miles. We left at 5.15am which was a bit rude but after a cup of coffee we gently motor sailed for the first section to get out of the lee of the island before switching off the engine at 8am for a lovely downwind roll in about 15 knots of wind all the way - the sea was only about 1 metre making the conditions perfect. We even had a fish but no luck. During the trip our log clocked 7,000 miles - pretty cool!

Lovely conditions on our way to the BVIs

Glimpse of land

Virgin Gorda - East end
 As we approached Necker Island, Supertramp called us on the VHF. They were heading our way and were in the Necker Island channel coming back up from Tortola - yay! After we anchored at Prickly Pear Island they joined us for a drink before we crashed out for the night.

Necker Island
 Next morning we moved over the 'sound' to Gun Creek to check in - very easy and cheap for a private yacht. Then we moved up to Bitter End to join the tramps. As we anchored we spotted an Aussie Flag and a boat name I recognised - Crystal Blues; who have a great blog I have been following svcrystalblues A G'day mate from Neil and of course drinks were arranged that night.

Bitter End 

Drinks at Saba Rock
 We went to witness fish feeding at the Island Resort of Saba Rock - not that interesting but great company and our first 'Pain Killer' cocktails..... Then we went off for a Pizza at the Bitter End Yacht Club and were studying the flags when we spotted out club flag - donated by friends Mike and Nicky of ZenAgain....
FSC Crusing Section - ZenAgain

Yacht Savannah our neighbour at anchor BitterEnd

Bitter End Yacht Club
 We spent a few wonderful days, snorkelling on the outer reef, walking, paddle boarding and doing a few boat jobs. We felt this would be our fav spot in the BVIs - being out of the swell that had been a constant in the lower islands was a treat and the water was so clear we were in heaven....
Saba Rock from Guys Trail

Gorda Sound from Guys Trail

Guys Trail
We shared a proper Aussie BBQ on Crystal Blues and as it was Anzac Day I had my first go at making Anzac biscuits for the others to share - a success!
Anzac Day Biscuits 
 It was only 7 miles to the spot where we would pick up my parents so the day before we had a gentle sail out of North Sound and went to check out the diving at 'The Dogs' - we had a good snorkel but didn't feel compelled to dig out the gear so carried on to Marina Cay for our first taste of the real BVIs - i.e. nothing British other than flags and phone boxes..... charter boats and American's galore but lots of fun and anchorages squeezed full of mooring balls.
The Dogs

Arriving at Marina Cay

Happy Arrrr Bar - expensive but good Pain Killers

Stunning Sunset at Marina Cay
Pussers Marina Cay

Marina Cay

Next day we moved a whole mile to Trellis Bay and took a mooring off Bellamy Cay - given our sunname is Bellamy we had to visit the resort on the island for a cocktail.... years ago our friends Chris and Bev sent us a postcard from here so it had long been on our list of destinations...

At Bellamy Cay
That night my Mum and Dad arrived for a two week sail in the BVIs with us.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Easter 2017 - St Barth, Anguilla & Sint Maarten

The weather for James' Easter break was great for the first few days and then pretty heavy rain and swell was forecast - keen to get some diving in we headed back to Ile Fourche the first morning. 

Boys off for a dive
There was a bit more swell than we would have liked on the trip there making it a bit of a rolly motor into the wind, once inside the bay it wasn't as calm as when we were last there but the water clarity was amazing and they boys had an brilliant first dive, with heaps of lobsters, turtles and a nurse shark. When they got back to the boat the biggest fish were however just hanging out under Askari - a school of about 6 huge tarpon just sitting there. We spent a lovely lazy afternoon in the bay and BBQ'd that night.

Ile Fourche

Next morning we went to clear into St Barth at Gustavia - we anchored virtually in the same spot we went to last time, even though the bay was packed with racing yachts taking part in the Voile de St Barth. It was quite a sight when we came into the harbour.

St Barths - my fav street

St Barths - so French but with palm trees

Gustavia - busy dinghy dock

Gustavia pano

Birthday dinner at Orega

Having cleared in we explored around town and had some breakfast before heading back to Askari for another dive and then back ashore for a special 18th birthday celebration dinner at Orega; a fantastic French-Japenese fusion restaurant. We concluded that if you are going to eat out in St Barth why not do it properly and Orega was certainly a show of amazing food, flamboyant guests, glamorous staff - Andrew's wasabi martini, the sushi plates and my seabass were out of this world. It was a memorable and fun night; highly recommended for a special occasion.

Sailing by Sint Maarten

Motoring to Anguilla

Glass Off

Good Friday and it was a complete glass off - James slept in and we motored back past St Martin to Anguilla. This was the first time since we were in the Algarve that we have had a proper glass off - not a breath of wind. I have had Anguilla on my list of must visit islands for years - I think ever since we bought the Jimmy Buffet live in Anguilla album. I imagined it to be just like Barbuda, i.e. long stretches of white sand beach and blue water, so when we approached this low lying island to meet shear rocks, which looked like sandstone dropping into the crystal water it was a bit of a surprise, however there are also long long stretches of sand too. We dropped anchor in Road Bay and went to clear in.

Having spent the last few weeks in the French islands, which have automated their clearing in process, coming back to a British protectorate and all the paperwork and stamping was a bit of a chore; I don't think James had ever seen carbon paper in use like this..... However, the Immigration, Port, Customs and Fisheries people were so friendly and told us all about the best places to go, we decided to buy a parks pass for two days and explore. Just as we were leaving somehow we got into a conversation about fish, and before we knew it they were on the phone to a guy selling fish out of his car and providing bags for us to get our fish back to the boat..... all part of the checking in service???

This one was too big for us!

Party Anguilla Good Friday 

Beer for the boys at Anguilla Party

Many of the beach bars were closed, it being Good Friday so we walked down the beach and found a jump up / birthday party / beach BBQ with the loudest music being played from two huge speakers strapped to the top of the smallest car. We went and enjoyed a beer before heading back to Askari for some serious and not so serious paddle boarding - the boys certainly need to work on their technique!!

I think my tiki was getting abused!

James paddlin

The next morning we had to go back to town to collect our clearance for the following day, as we didn't plan to come back to Road Bay. That ended up being a bit of a drama as no customs officials were there so we had to go to the main Port, where a team of about 5 people were working on Easter Saturday - no wonder they were not very happy to provide a clearance for a yacht, the rest of the island was at an Easter festival..... Clearance obtained, written in ye olde English possibly by Captain Cook?? We headed off to the islands.....

To whom it doth concern I particularly like that the boat is to be navigated by 3 'men'
Prickly Pear
Only my footsteps on Prickly Pear island

Prickly Pear
First stop Prickly Pear island where we went snorkelling and had a fantastic lobster lunch at Johnno's - served by the man himself! The beach a prickly pear is just perfect, unfortunately the reef was very broken and we were a bit disappointed in the snorkeling. Next stop, closer to the mainland the tiny Sandy Island - again amazing clear water but not much to see, so we grabbed a beer before heading back to the mainland.

Andrew and Johnno
Prickly Pear
Sandy Island

Sandy Island
Sandy Island, Anguilla - Askari in the distance
The permit for the national park in Anguilla does not allow you to anchor or stay on the moorings overnight but you can go to the anchorages on the mainland. Having had a good night at Road Bay we opted to pop back there - all was going well until I dropped the anchor right on a mast that I didn't see until we pulled back. Luckily we had used a trip line, so Andrew was able to pull up the mast with our windlass, tie off the line and then drop the anchor tilting it back. I then swam down and just had to wiggle it a little before we got free - phew!! We then managed to find a spot in nice clear sand and even saw an Eagle Ray cruise right alongside the boat, showing off so we could all see. A quick sundowner ashore and an amazing sunset - sooo good that I took some pictures but while checking them out on my phone missed the Green Flash - I can't believe it, everyone had said Anguilla is a good spot for it but stupidly I didn't look; Andrew and others in the bar were all so pleased with themselves!
The sunset but I missed the Green Flash :-(
John's Road Bay

Cocktails in Anguilla
The weather was really cloudy the next morning, but we really wanted to check out Little Bay so we cruised around the coast and took a mooring in this stunning spot, just under the cliffs, surrounded by caves and just one small beach you could only get to from the sea. A couple of the super yachts anchored in the next bay had set up lunch settings on the beach. The boys snorkelled and I had a lovely paddle board around the bay - really lovely until the rain started and wowser did it rain, then the thunder and lightening came oh gosh..... we put the radar on and monitored the huge storm cell that was just sitting right over Anguilla.

Little Bay, Anguilla - such a shame the weather wasn't better

Little Bay, Anguilla
Yalla also making a run for it - just a bit faster than us!!

We had to dig out rain jackets

We got a bit of a reprieve for a few minutes so we dropped the mooring and decided to leave for St Martin. The rain and wind came back even stronger, we couldn't see a thing so we decided we should pull into Road Bay again and wait it out. Half an hour later it looked like it had moved off so we headed out again, the rain did come back but this time we were prepared with rain jackets etc. We motor sailed as fast as we could back to Sint Maarten to try and make the 3pm bridge - we got into the bay at 2.55pm and to the bridge just as it closed, we called them on the radio but they wouldn't keep it open - boo hoo! We waited and took the 5pm bridge getting back into the French Lagoon just in time for sundowners and burgers at Lagoonies.

The weather was just awful again on easter Monday, we went to Marigot to clear in and have a wander around but nothing was open it was really dreary so it was a relaxing a reading day back on the boat before heading out to the Soggy Dollar bar for sundowners and dinner at Little Jerusalem - what a cheap night with $1 beers and $30 dinner for 3 including wine!! It nearly ended being an eventful night though as when we left the dinghy dock it was really windy so Andrew decided we need to be super speedy, all going well until we didn't see the mooring line on a huge super yacht tied to a ball that was underwater due to the howling gale...... Andrew went flying, but luckily no damage was done and we whizzed back to Askari - James and I spent the rest of the evening laughing hysterically at Andrew who looked like something out of a road runner cartoon (it was of course my fault as I had the torch!!).

Tuesday cleared up and we did a long beach walk to Karakters, however the swell was huge and the beach was no where near as nice as it should be covered in weed, ah well a nice lunch and relax before whizzing James back to the Pink Iguana Bar / dinghy dock for the airport......
Big Surf in Simpson Bay

Karakters awash
We then cleaned, provisioned, topped up with fuel, left the lagoon and tomorrow we head to the BVIs......

Leaving Sint Maarten with the big boys