14 March, 2017
Boy, de time she do pass quick-like. After a couple of days experiencing 25+ kn winds, we could finally feel comfortable leaving the Girl. It was also a pleasure to be able to take a ride in the dinghy without getting soaked to the skin. We ran in to the Bitter End Yacht Club, and had lunch at the Pub. The best thing that I can say about lunch was that the WiFi was fantastic-the best we have experienced since leaving the States. Got lots of pictures up. The food and the service? They should have paid us. We hiked the trail which loops from the north to south side of the resort, climbing up to around 200’, and affording a beautiful view of Gorda Sound, and Oil Nut Bay, off to the east. We were a bit disappointed to see that the trail which cut across the old Biras Creek Resort property to the new Oil Nut development was posted “Private-No Trespassing”. We had been excited to see the progress of the development, as we had chartered here several years ago when the sum total of the Oil Nut Property was a 12’x12’ sales office. From a distance, it appeared that several homes were now completed, and dredges were hard at work in the marina. On the way down the trail to the south side of the BEYC, we had a birds-eye view of the new marina tucked back into Biras Creek. It appears to be catering to megayachts, but we were pleased to see that several mooring balls were still tucked up into the creek, and that our favorite little restaurant here, “The Fat Virgin”, was still in biz.
It was time to get moving west, so on the morning of the 9th, when the wind had subsided to 20-25 kn, we were anchor up by 08h30. The seas were kind (2’-4’). In the passage between Virgin Gorda and Tortola, the hydraulic system alarmed with a high temperature warning. #$%@@! We shut everything down, and I went below to investigate. Yep, infrared pyrometer confirmed high oil temperature. Pull the top off the sea strainer-no crap in the strainer, water flow good. Easy, it must be the impeller. Took the cap off the raw water pump, and behold!, the impeller was fine. Hmmm…. Started the boat back up, within a minute or so, the temp was dropping. Only thing that I could come up with was that we had sucked up a piece of trash (plastic bag, etc.) which blocked the water intake on the hull. When we stopped, it must have floated free while we were rocking and rolling in the waves. By 11h45 we were on a mooring ball in Great Harbour, on Peter Island. Peter is a privately-owned island (Amway), but with the exception of the dozen gated palaces situated around the Cay, visitors are welcome. We spent 2 days there. The first evening we had sips at the restaurant patio, located at the exclusive resort here. After checking out the dinner menu, we discovered just how proud they are of their food, and decided that we’d rather eat on the boat for a week, and still have some change in our pockets as opposed to enjoying the resorts’ hospitality. The following morning, we took a hot, hilly walk out to the far end of the island, where a pair of wind turbines provide 2/3 of the islands’ energy needs. They are supplemented by solar panels located on several of the residences, and a diesel generator located right on site. The island is completely self-sufficient, making all of their water and electricity, and prides itself in being very “Green”. Just to the east of the turbines, on the north side of the island, lies White Bay. We didn’t hike down to the beach, as we were “all hilled out”, but from our vantage point up on the ridge, it looked like a nice, secluded anchorage with a beautiful white sand beach (note to self). On the way home, we stopped at the resort’s beach bar/restaurant, and splurged for lunch. Actually, the prices were quite reasonable compared to the dinner menu.
Next stop, Norman Island, still part of the British Virgin’s. We remembered the Bight as being a very popular anchorage for the charter folks, with a floating schooner/bar, “The Willie T” anchored in the middle, and the Pirates Bight, a funky little beach shack bar on shore. Several years before, while chartering, Suz and I had explored Benure Bay, a few coves west of the Bight, and thought that it’d be a cool spot to hang. Apparently a few other folks did too. When we arrived, there were several other boats already anchored there. Nonetheless, we picked out a likely spot and dropped the hook. One of these days we’re going to master this anchoring in traffic thing. On the third try, we finally had the Girl laying in a spot where we wouldn’t be too close to other boats if the wind shifted. We spent the afternoon snorkeling off the point on the east end of the anchorage. Dinghying home, we passed by the sailing catamaran “Mauna Kai”, meeting Rick and Bobbi. Sips and conversation followed, and by nightfall we had a dive trip planned around the west point of the bay for 09h30 the following morning. They were quite a contrast with us, the lifetime planners and plodders, as far as choosing cruising life. Two years ago, they chartered a boat with a captain. Bobbi said “This is what I want to do”. They retired, Rick went to Martinique to buy a boat, they sold all their stuff, moved aboard, took a sailing lesson, and here they are. Really? The morning’s dive turned out to be a very pleasant surprise (after Suzanne’s new dive computer fell off the stern into 20’ of water over a solid coral bottom). By the time that I got my gear on, the boat had been swinging in an arc around it’s mooring, and I had no idea where to look. Bobbi and Rick had been looking, but to no avail. When I got into the water, it was pretty clear that this was going to be a losing proposition. The bottom was a three-dimensional maze of nooks and crannies of rocks and corals. After saying “Uncle,” I headed back to the ladder. The sun came out, and I looked over the reef, admiring the scene in the glittering light. There, 20’ away from me, doing a headstand atop a formation of pillar coral, was that 8” long computer. Two inches laterally in any direction would have put it in a slot between the many pillars, never to be found. We shot some great video of a ray, and saw plenty of lobsters on this dive which ranged from depths of 25’-62’ along the reef’s edge.
We brought the Girl back to the harbor, and Mauna Kai took off for Jost Van Dyke. The day was young, so we hiked over the top of the island to get a look at The Bight. Whoa! Our funky little beach shack with all the boat cards and graffiti plastering the ceiling was gone. In its place was a huge open-air restaurant, with gift shop and scuba store attached. The harbor was filled with charter boats and mini-megayachts. The smell of suntan lotion permeated the air, the Rolex’s and designer label clothes were in perfusion amongst the 100’s of entitled type A’s in attendance. (Not judging here, just trying to paint a mental picture for you). After finishing our $17 dollars’ worth of Cokes, we beat a hasty retreat, somewhat saddened that another funky little spot had succumbed to “progress.” Back over the top of the island, and back at our bay, never lacking for company, Nancy and Todd, aboard “Wild Daisy” invited us over for sips that evening. Nancy had seen our hailing port, and being from Michigan as well, came over with the invite. We had waaayy too much fun with this interesting couple, he an internist who all of a sudden said “to heck with it” about 2 decades ago, and never came back to the office, and she, the owner of a tool and die shop, who just retired. Sounds like it worked out well for them. He’s been sailing for 25 years, while she (who professes not to be a sailor), has been able to do what she loves. She was a fountain of wit: “I’m getting a tee shirt made that has a picture of a sailboat on it that says “I’d rather be working” and “I love going to windward on a 747” are a few of my favorites.”
In the morning, we took Alizann out to “The Indians,” a popular snorkeling spot just outside The Bight. We really thought that 08h00 would be early enough to snag a mooring ball, but they were already taken. We circled back toward The Bight, and took a ball in Kelly Cove, just short of The Bight, then took “White Star” out to the Indians. It was just “okay.” With so much tourist traffic, it’s very hard on the coral, and most of it was dead. There was some good fish life there, though, especially for novice snorkelers, with some interesting rock formations.
After our snorkel, we were out of Kelly Cove, and on our way to Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke, where we’ll pick up.