21 April 2010

Fallen Jerusalem and Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor BVI Day 6/10

We got up early this morning to beat everyone to the Baths on Virgin Gorda. We were up at 6:20 and underway before 7am. With a southwesterly blowing, we were able to make the Baths within an hour. Unfortunately, all the moorings were taken!

We decided to head west to the next little island, Fallen Jerusalem, where one of the cru
ising guides listed a small cove with two moorings. We arrived to find one of the mooring balls had its line cut, and the other was suspicious - just a line with a small float and no ball. We tied off to the line.

The seas were light, and with wind out of the south there was not much pressure on the mooring, so we thought we'd be ok to leave the boat and go ashore, but we were worried about why the line had been cut from the other mooring. I tied a stern line and took it over to the mooring ball, which would keep us straight in line with the wind, and thereby reduce any extra stress on the primary mooring line while I ran to shore to take a few pictures.

When I reached the mooring ball I realized that the line out
of the top wasn't cut - it was backspliced so it was only about 8 inches long. No problem, I tied to it with a sheetbend. Of course, I make this sound very simple and seaman-like, but Noel was shooting video and that will tell the truth. Which is that the stern line didn't quite reach the mooring ball unless I could pull the boat's stern closer. And the only thing I had to pull with was the little outboard on the dinghy. And as it turns out, the dinghy doesn't tow things very well.

As I pulled, the dinghy would inevitably wind up spinning a circle at some point, which had the comic effect of nearly drawing and quartering me several times as I struggled to keep one hand on the mooring ball, one hand on the stern line, and the other hand controlling the outboard. Hopefully the video will tell the tale, I'm sure it was very amusing. But I conquered in the end, and managed to secure a stern line.

Then I went up front to take a look at the primary mooring line, and noticed a large knot of sorts under the water. I pulled it up and found an unintelligible mess of knots. Through the algae and other marine life growing on it it appeared that a knot had been tied between to lines with eye splices in them. Since I couldn't recognize the knot, I didn't trust it. So I ran another bow line to connect to the line below the knot with another sheetbend.

Back on the boat, we weren't completely confident of our mooring, obviously this was not the way to secure the boat. But the cove was beautiful, and so we decided to just stay briefly. To make sure the boat was safe, my wife stayed on board while I took the dinghy to the beach for a few quick pictures. The cruising guide Conch gave us listed this as a picturesque stop in settled conditions, I'll have to ask them if the moorings have been fixed on our next trip, because I'd like to spend a couple hours exploring here.

Beach landing a dinghy in the surf - especially on a deserted Caribbean isle - makes one feel an awful lot like a conquistador. The trick is to watch the coral and rocks carefully so you don't hit the prop on them, and time the surf so you can throttle the dinghy just in time to catch an inbound wave, then while you surf in, hurry and shut the outboard off and swing it up so the propeller doesn't hit the coral and so the impeller doesn't suck up any sand. Very exciting.

I tied her off to a large rock and started climbing up the rocks along the s
hore. I carried the camera in a Ziploc bag, and when I turned to look at the cove, I couldn't believe how beautiful it was. It was like a screen saver. I took several pictures, vowing to return on our next trip with some more lines that could be used to run lines to the rocks on shore to better secure the boat when anchored in this cove.

Getting the dinghy back into the water was much simpler, I could see the bottom more clearly and found a small channel, just wide enough for the dinghy. I pushed it to ride on an outbound wave, hopped aboard, put the outboard in the water and fired her up. The dinghy is a Tohatsu, same make as the outboard on our Catalina 25. Great little engines.

Our plan had been to visit the Baths in the morning, then head to Jost Van Dyke by evening. That was clearly not going to happen now. We either had to head for Jost and skip the Baths, or revise our plans. We had heard so much about the Baths, we decided we better not miss them. So we motored over to the Baths and waited about 20 minutes for a mooring to open up. None did.

We then headed up to Yacht Harbor and Spanishtown to do some laundry and decided we will get up at 5am tomorrow to be first at the Baths. That sounds early, but its light so early here it really doesn't seem like its early in the morning (it gets dark early too, so we are usually going to bed by 9.)

Yacht Harbor is not a very touristy destination. It feels too much like a serious marina. There are lots of services ashore, you can get anything you need. There's a large haulout and dry storage business here, which makes me wish I were buying a boat to keep here.

Winds are supposed to shift to easterly tomorrow, and then back to northeasterly by Friday. This is good news for a run to Jost Van Dyke. We should be running down the channel tomorrow and then beam reaching up to Jost in the afternoon.

It seems like we've been close hauled or most of our sailing on this trip. No complaints, the Beneteau really points well and high, but I'd like an excuse to let the sails out and not have to tend the trimming so closely. When I'm close hauled, I always feel like I have to stay as tight to the wind as I can, making 1-2 degree corrections as necessary to sail as high as I can reasonably keep good speed.

One note on the lazy jacks on this boat. The top of the jacks are run through holes in the spreaders about 12 inches out from the mast. This gives a little more room for the main to be raised without the battens catching in the lazy jacks. Nice setup.

Its very humid here. The first part of the trip the humidity was not this high, but some system has settled in, and I feel like showering 3 times a day. And short of plugging an IV in, there's just no possible way to drink enough water.

Speaking of water, we are adding 2-3 bags of ice each day. 2 for the fridge and one for the cooler. Ice making is definitely the business to invest in down here. Although, I am a little concerned that with all the ice the charter boats melt through down here, the Caribbean might actually end up being desalinated within a year or two.

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