10 January 2013

Sandy Cay, BVI Bareboat Charter Day 7/10

Very light wind forecast for today.  1-6 knots.  This means adventure is to be found on land today, not under sail.  Perfect conditions for exploring Sandy Cay.

Early this morning, before breakfast, we headed over to Sandy Cay.  Despite our early departure, we barely picked up one of the last moorings.  We ate breakfast aboard while I finished worrying about our distance to the boats on neighboring mooring balls. With no wind, the boats were free to drift in any direction they wanted, so I put out fenders as a precaution.  I didn't dare leave the boat until the wind picked up.  With a little wind running, all the boats will swing in the same direction with no chance of collision.

While we waited for wind, the kids dove for sand dollars in about 15 feet of water, and managed to find the biggest starfish I've ever seen. It was bright orange, and had to be over a foot in diameter.  We had to have the "Starfish would make poor pets back at home" speech.

Later in the morning, we went ashore and explored Sandy Cay.  With so much wildlife scampering, fluttering, and slithering about, a walk through Sandy Cay's lush interior is half spooky and half edenic.   The little kids stayed close as we walked through the tree-covered tunnels on the interior of the island.  I can only imagine what the first Europeans thought as they explored these islands in such a pristine state.

The kids had a great time chasing hermit crabs, lizards, and exploring the tunnels through the island.  On the far side of the island, the island rises above black cliffs that overlook the sea, where you catch a glimpse of Tortola's north side, and all the way out to Anegada.

After our exploration, we returned the sandy beaches to play and snorkel along the shore.  The kids gathered several coconuts, which the older boys found to be excellent tropical footballs.

Hours later, swam back out to the boat for lunch, and then sailed over to Manchioneel Bay, by Foxy's Taboo where we hiked over to Bubbly Pool.  Normally, Bubbly Pool lives up to its name and is quite a bubbly pool.  But in the calm after the storm of the last several days, the swells were down, and bubbly pool wasn't very bubbly.  Unflagged, the kids played for half an hour there - the younger kids playing in the pool and the older kids hiking through the rocks.  Finally,  a somewhat bigger set of waves came in and turned the water to its churning, broiling, namesake.

Walking back to the boat, we decided to wade across the shallow isthmus that separates Little Jost Van Dyke from its bigger brother. The water was waist deep, and about half way across I was bitten by a sand flea on my ankle, so we spent less time wading and more time hurrying back to shore. 

My oldest son was more interested in the breaking surf further out, and went for a few body surfing runs.  With a shallow, coral-strewn floor beneath, he had to be careful not to be ground into the bottom.

Back at the boat, the younger kids returned to jumping off the bow and swimming to the back of the boat, a feat they repeated so many times I believe they may have permanently altered the ocean currents that year.

The older boys and I went in to snorkel along the shore. We found sand dollars, sea urchin shells, and several beautiful conch shells. The conch shells were smaller, but perfectly formed and very pretty. They appeared to be uninhabited, so we each loaded two into the baggy cargo pockets on our swimming suits for more careful examination back on the boat. As we set the conch shells on the catamaran's stern swim platform, we were all surprised as legs extended from each conch shell and they scrambled over the side back into the water.  Apparently we weren't the only ones interested in the shells.

It was a beautiful quiet night in the cove.  We sat and watched the towering clouds above Tortola while we grilled shishkabobs under an unfolding blanket of millions of stars.

At bedtime, we discovered that a few of the crew had been a little sunburned in places. We'll see how things look in the morning and decide how that affects the schedule. If they need a day of recovery, we'll spend a longer time sailing and less time in the water during the direct sun times of the day.

The saloon in the Privilege 435 catamaran is perfect for our family of 8.  The only challenge is that the people sitting in the back of the round table are committed to stay there for the whole meal, or card game.  But we're already together as a family in the BVI, so where would a person want to go?!

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