20 January 2011

BVI Bareboat Charter Day 2/10

The 44' boat we'd originally reserved was dismasted during a delivery prior to our arrival, so the charter company gave us a free upgrade to a 50' Beneteau Cyclades.  With 4 cabins, the 2 couples will have plenty of space!

In the morning we receive visits from ICE BVI, who is providing our internet connection on board for the week.  ICE offers a mobile  wireless hub that runs on 12v or 110v.  We are able to connect laptops and smartphones easily each night to check in with home.  Although the speed is not fast enough for any serious multitasking, the crew could easily check email and share pictures with the landlubbers we left on the mainland.

I continue to be impressed with Conch Charters.  During checkout, I observed a dock hand removing the shore power cable.  When he pulled it out of the dockside power tower, one of the plug's prongs was bent.  He left and returned a few minutes later with a mechanic, who changed out the plug.  Conch staff pays attention to the details and keeps their boats in good working order.

As a repeat customer, the checkout process was very quick.  We spent about 20 minutes with Emma going over the boat's systems.  At that point, Bobby's Market showed up with our provisions.  It took about 10 minutes to load them into the boat and get the fridges (2 on this boat) loaded with ice.  

Bobby's offers a convenient ordering process we were able to complete at home.  We used a few forms from their website to order the supplies we wanted (conveniently pre-arranged meals), and then the food is delivered to the boat prior to checkout.   We're on vacation to sail, not grocery shop, so this works perfectly for us.

While Randall and Michelle finished stowing the provisions, my wife and I went in to the office to sign papers and to discuss an upcoming charter with all of our kids this summer.  We reviewed the chart with Irene in the office to ask about a few anchorages we wanted to visit and learn if there are any missing buoys or other things we need to be aware of out on the water.

Finally!  Time to sail.

Our first sail of the trip is a downwind run to the Indians, a rocky outcropping and popular snorkeling stop, and then on to the Bight on Norman Island where we'll spend the night.

On the way we go over many terms and sailing how-to's.  A few hours later we pass the Indians, and lucky for us, there are some open moorings.  

The Beneteau Cyclades is a tall boat.  This means lots of head room inside, but lots of freeboard outside.  Motoring into the wind and up to a mooring was a tricky endeavor.  The higher boat, and being 50 feet back from the bow means that the helmsman cannot see the mooring during the last 15 feet of approach.

Randall's hand was inadvertently caught in one of the bowlines and was scraped up a bit during his first mooring.  Intrepid man that he is, however, he is ready to go snorkeling after a few minutes recovery.  He wondered how his hand would feel in the salt water, and I assured him that the salt water wouldn't hurt it while snorkeling.  The hurt would come when he goes to rinse off in a fresh water shower after the snorkeling.  I don't understand why that is, but cuts and scrapes aren't bothered by salt water.  It's the fresh water afterwards that causes the stinging.

We spent a brief time snorkeling around the Indians before heading back to the dinghy.  One challenge in snorkeling from a dinghy is the process of getting everyone back into the dinghy from the water.  The hearty are able to pull themselves up and into the raft as long as they haven't spend all their energy snorkeling.  But this time I devised a simple solution.  Before leaving the boat, I tied a 3 foot long loop in the painter and hung it over the side of the dinghy.  To climb aboard, each of us took our fins off in the water and threw them into the boat, and then put a foot into the loop, using it as a step to stand up next to the dinghy .  I would patent this idea, however in a token of good will to the world, I'm giving this idea away.  Free.

We motored over into the Bight and took a mooring a few hundred yards from the Pirates Bight.  Once moored, we relaxed on board and watched the sun set.  As the evening came on, we boarded the dinghy to head in to shore for dinner.  It was a beautiful evening as we settled in at a table looking over the anchorage.  This is going to be a great week.

Dinner service is slow in the islands. Most tiny island restaurants are understaffed and even if they weren't, dinner service is slow in the islands.  We usually find a table and wait 10 minutes before seeing someone.  Then another 20 until you can order.  Then it may take 45 minutes before dinner arrives.  But relax, you're on vacation and the view is spectacular.

While waiting for dinner, Randall and I walked over to a small gift shop to look around.  Lots of great pirate souvenirs here.  Robert Louis Stevenson would be proud of the legends he helped perpetuate about this tiny island.  Then I took my camera out to shoot some of the night scenery around the anchorage.

Tomorrow, we're off to Soper's Hole.

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