Sunday, 30 May 2010

Exploring the Virgin Islands

Our next stop was The Baths on Virgin Gorda where huge volcanic granite boulders, the size of houses, have created caves and pools along the shore. At sunset we basked on the rocks heated by the day's sunshine. It's a very special place and should not be missed despite the influx of tourists and charter boats during the day. it was an excess of charter boats that made us bypass Manchioneel Bay on Cooper Island and continue on to White Bay, Peter Island together with our friends on Argo Navis. It's a beautiful bay with wonderful snorkelling, we saw a nurse shark, barracuda, turtles, etc. There is a hot walk over the hill to the resort where we could have a cold beer and check our emails in comfort.
It was then on to Norman Island, visiting Benures Bay for peace and quiet (apart from very vocal birds including a brightly coloured parrot) and The Bight for a sunset walk up to the helicopter pad and a few too many drinks at the Willy T (a schooner moored in the bay and infamous for debauchery although we didn't see any crazy antics there).
We are now on Tortola, anchored in Cane Garden Bay for the music festival.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Close Encounters of the Unwanted Kind

We set off to another anchorage yesterday and, as we were going through some reef areas, I was positioned on the bow as look out. It was all going well and we thought we were in fairly clear water, free of dangers when became fixated on a couple of snorkellers in the water ahead, not wanting to run them over. Unfortunately I didn't see the small, lone, uncharted coral head until we were on top of it. Panicking, I didn't give Nic clear instructions and we managed to hit it. Groan, I feel like such a twit! We now have a scrape in our relatively new antifouling and the coral managed to dent and choke up the water intake for the port engine causing some exhaust problems that need repair. Poor Irony - thankfully she's steel and can take this abuse from her owners!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Workout walk on Virgin Gorda

On Sunday we set off for an afternoon walk to explore the island. Our dinghy is leaking and glueing it back together has to wait for the current high winds to die down and rain to go away, so we swam to the beach. After a quick rinse-off from a bottle of fresh water and a change into t-shirts and shorts, we headed up to the road behind the beach here. It was a long, hot, uphill walk but provided wonderful views across the island. We reached the entrance for the Virgin Gorda National Park and a track took us up to the peak at 1,370 feet and a lookout platform with spectacular views marred only by the rain clouds drifting past our heads. It was a lovely trail fringed by huge rocks enveloped in tropical vines and we saw brightly coloured hermit crabs (why so high up?), pretty stripy butterflies and at least 5 snakes slithering away. As we left the park, we continued on the road looking over North Sound and spotted some good anchorages to go to next. We passed some stunning houses with fabulously landscaped gardens - flowers seem to be in abundance everwhere. We finally arrived back in Pond Bay as the sun was setting, reflecting bright orange and gold in the wet sand, and swam back to Irony. 24 hours later we knew by our aching muscles that we had covered half of the island!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Up to the BVIs

Two weeks seemed to evaporate in St Martin and a lot of our dollars! It is such a good place to pick up spares etc and we also got a very good deal in Philipsburg on a new mini laptop and new phone. As a jumping off spot for boats heading either north or south for hurricane season, it was very busy socially. It was lovely to catch up with old friends. We even made it to the cinema (for the first time in well over a year) to see Avatar in 3D which was fantastic.

After a slow and rolly downwind overnight passage we are now in the British Virgin Islands. We had a painless check in at Spanish Town on Virgin Gorda and are now anchored in Pond Bay. Surprisingly there is only one other boat here and the beach is deserted – not at all what we expected from the BVIs.

Friday, 7 May 2010

Landmark Birthday

The 1st May ushered in Nic’s 50th Birthday! To ease the trauma of embarking on another decade, I booked us into the Hotel Marquis in Anse Marcel. It was a real luxury to have unlimited water for 24 hours. Nic was also spoiled with 2 hour-long massages. Now we are trying to take advantage of the big chandleries and services here in St Martin before we explore the British Virgin Islands.