07 January 2013

Saba Rock, British Virgin Islands Sailing Day 4/10

After several hours at the Baths, we hoisted sail and sailed up past the Dogs, around Moskito Island, and into North Sound.  The forecast called for increasingly heavy weather and storms for the next few days, so we wanted to be in a sheltered anchorage with lots to do while we waited out the storm.  North Sound is home to Bitter End Yacht Club, Saba Rock, Biras Creek Resort, Leverick Bay, not to mention great snorkeling where you can actually see pirate canons overgrown by the dangerous reefs past Saba Rock.

The storm was to come from the East Southeast, so we picked up a mooring right up against the hill above Bitter End Yacht Club.  The hill would protect us from the 30+ knot winds over the next few days.

That night we went to my favorite restaurant location in the world.  Saba Rock.  I love being able to step off the sailboat onto the dinghy, then motor through the sleeping yachts past the beaches of Bitter End and out to the tiny island that is Saba Rock.  The edge of the restaurant is a dinghy dock, where you step from the dinghy to the dock and then sit at your table just 5 feet away.  Dinner, you hope, will take all night.  Floodlights beneath the water illuminate the great circle of life that surrounds you.  Giant fish swim warily around one another at dock's edge, contemplating eating their friends.  High overhead, anchor lights dance against the starry night sky.

I was disappointed in a few changes Saba Rock had made to the menu though.  Prices were up (around $40 per person) and the menu lacked the creativity and differentiation of the past.  So unless they make changes, consider just ordering dessert and enjoy dinner at anchor.

But for the experience, there is no finer restaurant location in the world.

During the night, the storm rolled in, unleashing her fury.  Even in the lee of the island, boats strained at their moorings and wind whipped everything off the shore and boats that wasn't securely lashed down.  I awoke in the morning and went out on deck to check things, only to find the dinghy, hanging on her davits, completely filled with rainwater.  Stepping out from under the bimini, I was completely soaked through in a matter of seconds.  It wasn't wet like taking a shower - but wet like taking a bath.  It felt great.

In the morning, the kids slowly awakened, and sat under the bimini to enjoy the show as water poured down all around us for hours on end without stopping.  And then the kids asked, "Can we go jump off the boat and snorkel as long as we're stuck here?"  I love my kids, they have an unquenchable (or undrownable) lust for adventure.  Is it safe to swim in the rain?  Why not...

So we stripped down to swimsuits and spent several hours diving off the catamaran's bows, swimming back to the stern steps and climbing aboard just to walk up front and do it again.  They seemed to most enjoy swimming between the hulls, where they could look through the portlights into the catamaran as they enjoyed the overhead shelter from the rain - while swimming in water.  It doesn't seem to be such a novelty now, but it sure was fun then!

The kids decided this would be a great time to do a little laundry too.  They took some of their clothes and clothes-pinned them to the lifelines.  The youngest was particularly concerned that her favorite swimsuit would blow away, so she used 20 clothespins to secure it.

In the afternoon, we went snorkeling along the beach of Bitter End Yacht Club, where we found scores and scores of conch shells and starfish.  The easterly storm created a bit of a current along the north end of the island, which we found to be quite advantageous to snorkeling.  We would walk eastward along the beach for several hundred yards before donning masks & snorkels and heading into the ocean.  Then we'd just let the slow current carry us effortlessly along as we dove to explore all the starfish, conch, and other sea life.  In about 20 minutes the current would bring us to the swim dock where we would exit and hike back again for another go.

Later in the afternoon we decided to take the dinghy a mile out into Eustatia Sound to the edge of the reef.  Centuries ago, a ship had run into trouble here and hastily dumped ballast overboard, including a couple of canons that are now permanent residents of the reef.  We snorkeled around for 10 minutes exploring the reef until we found the canons, and then dove to be able to say that we had touched pirate canons on the ocean floor.  Much to my kids' embarrassment, their Dad even kissed one of the canons.  Which wasn't on my bucket list before I did it, but is now.


In the evening the rain let up a little, so we decided to try the hiking trails between Bitter End Yacht Club and Biras Creek Resort.  This is a beautiful walk, covered with vegetation, great lizards, and views of the anchorage that peek unexpectedly through the trees.

I thoroughly enjoy North Sound in the typical blue sky Caribbean sun, but also found it to be an enjoyable place to hole up while waiting out the tropical depression that dumped rain on us for a few days.

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