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BVI - Sailing

BVI – British Virgin Island Sailing
trip with Carol and Leo

Wednesday May 12th, 2004 Left Buenos Aires for our British Virgin Island sailing trip on a 47.3 foot sailboat called “Refiki” http://sailtmm.com/index.cfm with our good friends Carol and Leo.  The driver called and said that they wanted to leave early because recently there have been many “picateros” or picketers that block the road to demonstrate about something.  We agreed to be picked up early, however, there were no “picateros” and we got to the airport 5 hours early.

Thursday May 13th , 2004 - We arrived ahead of Carol and Leo in Tortola – Beef island.  Ron and I had lunch in the hotel restaurant and waited for Carol and Leo to arrive.  Their flight was a little delayed but they arrived and we could officially start the vacation, and the drinking!

Friday May 14th, 2004 – We had a day free before the sailing trip started so we walked around town and did some shopping, Carol wanted to pick up some floaty toys to have on the boat.  We stopped by the marina to check on the boat.

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There is a really sweet woman, Rose, who cleans the boats and prepares them for sail.  She recognized Carol and Leo and we all gave her big hugs.  Rose said she was getting our boat ready for us and she would be sure to use the “Fantasmo” to make sure the boat smelled good.

We stopped to have some drinks in a nice outside restaurant and it started pouring rain like crazy, very common in the tropics.  We figured we could get wet, or stay dry and continue drinking rum and cokes!  Guess which decision we made??

Carol and Leo love sailing and rent a sailboat from this company almost every year, Leo wanted to try something different and do an overnight sail to an island called Anguilla that they have never been too.  They wanted to ask Keith’s advice on doing this overnight sail, Keith is the manager of TMM and said that they were having a party at the local yacht club and that we should meet him there.  We had a few drinks and munched lots of finger food at the yacht club.  Keith suggested that it is easy sailing in one direction to Anguilla, but coming back you get beat to hell for 13 hours straight, didn’t sound like much fun so we decided to put that idea on the back burner!  More drinking and old “sailing” stories were told.

Saturday May 15th, 2004 – We got to the boat and it was a really nice day, usually the marina is so hot and humid you’re drenched with sweat by the time you finally get out on the water.  This day was nice and breezy and although it was hot, it wasn’t the hellish sweat box that it usually is.

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Keith came out to say goodbye and give us some final pointers on getting out of the shallow marina.  He said he felt like a priest the night before with Leo making all these “confessions” of sailing mishaps with TMM boats. 

Keith suggested that Leo and I dingy out of the marina and check things out, he said it is very shallow in parts and if you’re not careful you can get stuck in the sand, embarrassing for all as you’re about to start a 2 week sail.  Leo and I went out and tried to scope things out as best we could, we returned and helped get everything stowed away. 

The big moment was upon us and we started away from the dock.  Like landing or taking off in an airplane, getting in and out of a marina is always the trickiest times, and it being the beginning of a trip, none of us had our sailor’s confidence yet.  We started navigating out of the marina and as I looked behind us I could see we churned up a bunch of sand but luckily did not get stuck. 

We did a quick and easy sail to Norman Island, getting a feel for the boat and our “sea toes” as Carol calls them.

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Once at Norman Island they have nice sea mooring balls you can tether too, someone shuttles out in the late afternoon and you pay them $20 for use of the mooring.  You can drop an anchor for free, but the advantage of the sea ball is you don’t have to worry about wind uprooting your anchor or a bad knot coming loose in the middle of the night, $20 is worth the sense of security it gives you on your first night on the water.  We did a swim off the boat to celebrate and later took the dingy over to “Willy T’s Grub and Grog” for drinks and dinner.

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Willy T’s is an old barge that they have converted to a restaurant and dancing / drinking bar.  It’s very informal and rowdy and some guy was peeing off the side of the dock as we dingy’d up, gotta love the Caribbean!  We asked about dinner and they said we should have called ahead to reserve some food, we must have looked pretty pathetic and hungry as they said they’d feed us with whatever extra food they had, turned out to be ribs and corn and man o man was it good.  Leo showed us some miner lights he got for us, they have an elastic strap to go around your head with a brilliant halogen light in them, the light either blinks slowly, rapidly, or stays on full strength.  Give a bunch of drunks some toys and we were all happy playing with our “head lights”.

Sunday May 16th, 2004 – We all thought we should start the day by doing ABSOLUTELY nothing for the ENTIRE day, gotta love the Caribbean!  Spent the day swimming off the back of the boat, dangling my feet in the ultra beautiful water, and reading.  Ron made sandwiches for lunch.  Part way through the day Leo brought out another toy, a kite that he purchased, great idea, but lousy kite design.

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The thing would not stay in the air, but Ron and Leo started making adjustments and trying to figure out how to modify it to keep it in the air.  About 2 hours later of test flights ending in crashes into the water, we were done with the experiment and decided the kite’s design was just too bad to have it actually fly for very long before it took a plunge into the sea.

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Just as we were giving up on the kit, this super athletic black guy came flying by on a windsurf board probably going 35 knots.  He looked like something out of a commercial with his handsome good looks, perfect washboard physique and dazzling white teeth, we asked him where he came from and he said a neighboring island about 6 kilometers away!  He asked for a bottle of water and we happily gave him one and sent him off on his way!  We grilled fish that evening for dinner, Leo using his miner’s light to see what he was doing.

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Monday May 17th, 2004 – Every sailing trip something has to go wrong and our “first” something was getting the rope that was tied to the sea mooring ball off the cleat on the front of the boat.  In our overzealous effort in tying onto the sea ball (so that it would not come undone), we had wound the rope too many times around the cleat and as the boat had been pulled by the wind, the rope had been wedged severely under itself on the cleat.  We tried pulling the rope to free it to no avail, then using a screwdriver to “pick” at the rope, we could not cut the rope because that would have been cutting the rope attached to the sea mooring ball which would have been REALLY bad sailor’s etiquette.  Leo finally thought about using one of the powered winches to pull the rope backwards and out from under the cleat.  This finally worked to the relief to everyone.  This set us back 1 hour.

We started sailing and then missed a turn and had to back track a bit to get around an island, ooops!  Another hour lost we weren’t expecting.  While tacking I got my first rope burn, starting to get a few sailor’s nicks and dings is part of the trip.  Did a slow lazy sail through “Channel of Frechman Cay” which Carol said they had never sailed through under sail, they have always had to motor through it because of how the channel blocks the wind, however, they were always approaching it from the other direction so maybe that made a difference.

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                                     Captain Ron!

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We reached Jost Van Dyke (Little Harbor) and BBQ’d hamburgers for lunch.  I buttered the bun bottoms as my father always had when grilling burgers, and put the bun bottoms and tops on top of the burgers while they cooked in order to steam the bun warm.  Leo had never seen that and thought it really made the buns taste good.  Carol broke out the floaty toys and we all went for a snorkel.  I snorkeled up to the beach and met Venetia, a beautiful and sweet black girl playing in the water, about 10 years old, her teeth were dazzling white, skin a deep chocolate, her hair tied in little pig tails with colorful plastic beads.  She asked my name and I told her, she said in a British accent, “PEEETAH, will you take me for a ride on your raft?”  “Oh my!” I thought, “This girl is going to break MANY hearts!”  I gave Venetia a ride on the raft, making “BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR” motor boat sounds in the water with my mouth as I swung the raft from side to side trying to make her slide off, she was laughing so sweetly and squealing as she almost got thrown off.  After awhile I told her I had to get back to my boat.

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That night we dingy’d in to have dinner on shore and it turns out that the owner’s of the restaurant were Venetia’s parents.  While we waited for dinner Venetia had us all laying down on the dock on our backs, looking up at the stars and planets.  During dinner Venetia brought over a square rock that had a hole through it, she said she was going to take our picture with the rock so we all posed while she did that.  I had a huge lobster for dinner.  We went back to the boat and played cards, Ron and I love to play cards and taught Carol and Leo our favorite card game.  Later at night we sat on the deck with brandys and watched the phosphorescence light up in the water as it churned by under the boat.

Tuesday May 18th, 2005 – I’m reading “Range of Light” by Valerie Miner, a friend of our friend Diego in Buenos Aires, and really enjoying it.  He gave me his copy that his friend gave him with her signature.  It’s set in the high Sierra’s of California and makes me remember the wonderful times I’ve had in California, that is until I remember all the driving that was involved whenever you wanted to get around in California.

We did an early motor over to Sandy Cay.  I must have missed the mission briefing with Carol and Leo setting the early schedule, I was sitting all blurry eyed with my coffee cup in my hands when orders started barking from every direction to pull in ropes, secure things, etc.  As we’re motoring Carol tells us the reason for the early morning schedule, Sandy Cay is an island where pics are often taken for travel magazines because it’s so beautiful, you have to get there early as there are not a lot of options for anchoring.  Carol made scrambled eggs for lunch, then spent some wonderful time on the picture perfect beach. 

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Started a little late for our next destination, “Monkey Point”, it was an up wind sail and we would need to tack several times, we raised the main sail for the first time, lots of pressure on the ropes.  We were using all our sails and only making 3 knots headway although it felt like 40, big rollers, some spray coming over the boat and up ahead was big nasty looking dark rain clouds, Leo thought we were still hours away which would make it late when we go to our destination.  It’s better to arrive at any destination before 4:00 pm so the light is good for dropping anchor.

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                                                                                                                                                         Whaddya  Think??
                                                                                                    You crazy, man!

Carol made an executive decision to turn back to “Jost Van Dyke” and try for “Monkey Point” tomorrow, leaving earlier so we had more time.  Turning the boat it’s incredible the difference, when you’re traveling with the wind it’s nice, quiet, pleasurable sailing easily at over 5 knots.  Carol said, “Why would we want to head into a rainstorm when it’s all nice and blue over at Jost?”  Arrived early at “Great Harbor” on “Jost Van Dyke” and had to drop a hook as there were no mooring balls.  Set the hook but Leo was unhappy because we were close to another boat.  Leo said he was a Libra and could never make up his mind.  We moved and reset the hook in a much better position, Leo still didn’t look satisfied, but didn’t say anything.  Ron took a nap while we read our books and relaxed.  Dingy’d in to “Foxy’s” www.foxysbar.com for “Sly Fox” and “Dread Fox” drinks, got some appetizers, then Carol asked if we felt lazy and we all agreed we felt pretty lazy so we just ordered dinner there.

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I got yellow eyed snapper which we thought was strange, it was a strong oily fish but I liked it.  When we got back to the dingy, someone had tied their rope over the top of ours which made it very difficult to get ours undone.  Leo suggested we cut the rope since it was kind of sailor’s etiquette that you don’t tie your rope over someone else’s, but then we figured that wouldn’t be very good sailor’s etiquette to cut their rope, even though we all got a good snicker over the idea.  Everyone seemed very tired or maybe it was just me.  Had Sambuca once we got back to the boat, laid on the deck and star gazed.

Wednesday May 19th, 2004 – Carol is a director at Synopsis and brought a satellite phone to check on business once in awhile.  Leo wanted to check his voice-mail and reset his message that said he would be gone until June 3rd.  He wondered if it would be better to have a boat lapping background noise near rear of the boat or go forward and have wind noise as the background to his message.  We all agreed a boat lapping background noise would be more appropriate.  Carol made breakfast smoothies of yogurt with cut up apple for breakfast.  Leo downloaded the pics to Carol’s laptop, a strange bit of technology in such a wonderful nature spot, the laptop and satellite phone seemed very out of place but also comforting to know they’re there if we need them.  Dingy’d into “Great Harbor” to do some shopping, not much shopping so we had a drink at “Corsairs” a place that used to be called “Pams.”  Leo and I ran back to the boat with some ice then had another drink at “Foxy’s.”  Returned to the boat for a BBQ lunch of beef kabobs, then a long dingy ride over to “White Bay Sandcastle.”  Carol was surprised it was so built up since they had first been there 6 or 7 years ago.  Had a “Painkiller” drink at the “Soggy Dollar Bar” relax@sandcastle-bvi.com  Did some snorkeling and another “Painkiller”.  Back to the boat to shower and back to “Corsairs” for a nice swordfish dinner.

Thursday May 20th, 2004 – We wanted to get an early start for “Marina Cay”, Carol was going to make sandwiches but all the bread had already gone moldy.  Leo and Ron made a run to get bread and dump some trash, of course coming back with some pastries.  We nibbled carrot bread for breakfast.  We motored out past “Sandy Cay”, where we had attempted a sail on Tuesday only to be discouraged by the unfavorable wind direction, high swells and rain clouds ahead.  This time the wind seemed to be very favorable heading into it at a 60 degree angle taking us just where we wanted to go.  I sailed the entire time enjoying it immensely.  Even though the seas were rolling, it didn’t feel like we were getting beat up, just a nice strong sail.  Carol kept me happy with gin and tonics.

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We avoided 2 rainstorms, the contrast of colors was amazing, somehow a sliver of sun found us lighting our sails like a spot light while dark skies were all around us.  We were all happy to miss the rain, I said we had luck times four on our side.  When we reached “Monkey Point” at “Guana Island” the sun still wasn’t out and Carol said the snorkeling wouldn’t be great so we decided to keep going to “Marina Cay”.  We moored off a ball and had some sandwiches that Carol had made with a bottle of wine.  For some reason we were all tired after the excellent sandwiches so we all took a short nap.  We then headed into the small island and put in a load of laundry and headed to the bar for margaritas.  There was only one working dryer so we decided to be lazy and stay at “Pusser’s” restaurant for dinner.  Turns out it was Carol and Leo’s 21st anniversary so we cheered to their good fortune.  We taught them the Argentine salute of “Vida, amor y dinero!”  “Life, love and money!”  I had a wonderful tuna steak with Jamaican spice, Ron and Leo had rack of lamb which turned out fantastic.  Carol ordered curry shrimp.  I had a Tortola coffee for dessert.  Ron had taken a shower on shore and on the dingy back it started to rain.  We were all anxious to get inside in the dark and rainy night, Carol made it onto the boat, but Ron slipped in his shoes (his excuse) and went backwards into the deep blue sea.  Of course there was initial panic and concern as I reached into the inky water to grab him before he disappeared into the cruel and horrible sea.  Luckily it’s the Caribbean and the air and water temperature is about the same at 87 degrees F.  Ron was more embarrassed then anything as I pulled in his backpack and eye glasses.  We got Ron pulled in and he was angry he was all salty after his nice clean shower.  Carol had found a ginger blossom onshore and had brought it back with us, it had a wonderfully unusual exotic scent which I can say I’ve never smelled before.  I wonder if anyone has made a perfume based on it?

Friday May 21st, 2004 – We woke to more cloudy skies.  We haven’t had a lot of sunshine so far and we were looking forward to some better weather.  We took our time having coffee, carrot bread and pineapple.  The pineapple had froze in the bottom of the fridge but still had a nice acidity taste to contrast the mildly sweet carrot bread.  We then headed to the dock to refill our water tanks, our boat holds 220 gallons of fresh water in 4 separate tanks and we were using our 3rd tank.  “Marina Cay” has a nice big dock where you can refill with fresh water at 10 cents a gallon.  We tied on the fenders and slowly motored over to the dock.  It’s always a little nerve racking when things get close, especially things that don’t move or give, like a concrete pier.  Leo drove while Ron and I manned the ropes.  Leo made an excellent approach but I had problems getting my rope tied off, a nice sailor on the pier helped me (someone who knew what they were doing) and easily lassoed the rope around a cleat (as gracefully as if he was competing in a show) and we got the boat quickly secured.  It always seems so frantic doing this, but sometimes you just have to slow down and take the time to do it right instead of rushing and fumbling.  We filled our water tanks and Carol ran to the “Pusser’s” gift store, high quality stuff but very expensive.  We then motored over to “Trellis Bay” on “Beef Island.”  We dingy’d ashore to check out the stores and had a drink at the “de Loose Mongoose.”  We all had “Stormy Nights” with rum and ginger beer.  This is a place Carol and Leo first visited about 12 years ago and luckily it hasn’t changed much.

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We checked the dinner menu and it looked good so we made 7:30 pm reservations.  Bought some groceries, we spotted both banana and coconut rums and couldn’t make up our minds which one to buy, so we bought them both.  We returned to the boat with some postcards for me and started the BBQ for lunch.  The BBQ is a little saucer arrangement that bolts on to the back of the boat and hangs off the back, I was grilling thin pork chops and was worried the wind would Frisbee one or all of them off the grill as I flipped them.  Carol made some potatoes with Island spice and we drank Reisling wine, WOW!  We relaxed and read the afternoon away.  At 7:15 pm or so we dingy’d back to “de Loose Mongoose.”  It was already dark so Carol held a flashlight and I put on my blinking headband that Leo had bought us.  We sat down in the small restaurant that had picnic tables put end to end, it was almost filled with about 35 people, a nice screened in porch area with wonderful breezes, the weather has been great.  I remember the last time we were here it could be excruciatingly hot and humid but this trip it’s been really nice.

We were feeling tired from our dinner but Carol asked if we wanted to go see the donkey at “The Last Resort”, a little spit of an island in the middle of the bay on “Bellamy Cay.”  We took a vote and headed off for more drinks.  As we approached the bar the singer was singing a song he shouldn’t have, it sounded terrible, we proceeded in anyways.  The singer was actually a lot of fun and very talented on his guitar (voice range not so talented).  He was doing jokes between songs and little “Name that Tune” contests.  Leo guessed “Tommy” by the “Who” but wouldn’t say anything so Carol “BUZZ”ed in and won a shot of tequila.

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In the back of the bar is a hole in the wall where a donkey puts her head through and you can feed her a carrot.  Carol and I were calling the donkey and no one showed, then Leo stuck his head through the whole and did some shouting and the donkey appeared, we were able to feed her a few carrots before she got bored by all the drunk tourists and left.

Saturday May 22nd, 2004 – The weather report said we’re going to have some rain for a few days but we woke to fairly nice skies.  I started to write in this journal and got the Virgin Island Cruising Guide out to check on spellings of Islands, etc.  The advertisement for “The Last Resort” said “Fabulous Food - Great Music - Nice Ass”, it also said “Voted best bar on Bellamy Cay” which should be an easy record to hold as it’s the ONLY bar on Bellamy Cay.  The clouds moved in and by 9 am we were below decks with a gentle rain falling, looks like we might spend another day here.  After all, no one had a  camera to take a picture of the donkey so we might have to go back tonight.

Had a leisure day on the boat as it rained off and on all day.  Went to “Last Resort” for dinner, had some cute pussy cats looking for handouts (Carol and Leo love cats as much as we do) so we were slipping them some bites of fish.  The singer came out and did the same routine as the previous night but there were a few new songs.  Got to take some pics with the donkey.

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Sunday May 23rd, 2004 – Weather looked the same but we motored for the “Bath’s” on “Virgin Gorda” anyways.  This is a beautiful setting with fantastic snorkeling, unfortunately it was still very cloudy, but we snorkeled anyways.  We had a nice lunch of Carol’s sandwiches and Reisling wine and then went snorkeling again.

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                                                                                                               Leo is always smiling!

While we were snorkeling a huge squall came up and it started pouring.  I have never been snorkeling during a tropical downpour, the sound was amazing of the rain splashing down, felt like cold rocks hitting my back, the rain was much colder then the ocean.  I lifted my head above water to clear my mask and slightly panicked because I couldn’t see any of the moored boats 100 yards away, it was coming down so hard it was like a white-out, you could not tell which direction was which.  I continued to snorkel, looking at the surface of the water from below, it looked dazzling, like a million diamonds jumping around.  We swam back to the boat and it was still raining hard, Ron and I showered off the back of the boat, taking advantage of the downpour as our free fresh water shower.

We then sailed to “Leverick Bay” leverickbay.com on the other side of “Virgin Gorda.”  A great and easy sail.  We moored to a ball and Ron announced that he wanted a “Painkiller” so we dingy’d ashore.  We had a drink at a newly built beach bar built on newly shipped in sand.  There used to be a “Pusser’s” restaurant here but it had changed hands and was now a more expensive place.

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We sat on the beach and Carol and Leo were talking on whether to stay here or motor somewhere else or dingy to a different place or ….. I told them they were thinking WAY too much and just relax and enjoy their Painkillers.  They both thought this was sage advice so they relaxed into their chairs.  We threw a load of clothes into the dryer as we headed for dinner.  There was a beautiful wood bar in the restaurant with 4 carved ship’s bowsprit ladies on each corner.  They seated us at a perfect table and Carol said this is “their” table as they seem to always get this table in the past, wonderful views.  We ordered conch fritters, chicken satay appetizers, shrimp in pasta and Dijon chicken, then a lobster bisque, creamed broccoli and a dinner salad, we kind of just shared it all.  Leo’s watch went off announcing that the clothes were done and offered to go get them and fold them.  I told Leo that maybe Ron should do it as he is very anal about how his T-shirts are folded, Leo said he learned how to fold clothes from his college roommate and assured Ron he was very good at folding, Ron said there would be an inspection later on the boat.  We finished dinner and dingy’d back to the boat.  Leo kept telling Ron not to shake the bags with the clothes in it because it might mess up his folds.  Upon entering the boat Ron inspected the folds.  First to come out was a dish towel, Ron noticed the corners were not perfectly together, Leo retorted that it was the T-shirts he was concentrating on, wanting to get back to his dinner.  Ron pulled out a T-shirt and grunted non-committedly.  There was a break in the rain clouds so we took our brandys and Sambuca up on deck to do some star gazing, lots of laughter ensued.

Monday May 24th, 2004 – Woke up to cloudy skies, at least it wasn’t raining.  At “Leverick Bay” dock they offer free water and ice so although we had just filled the boat the other day with fresh water we decided to top off the tanks and restock the water cooler.  We put the fenders out and Leo approached the dock, unfortunately the wind was at a strange angle and made the docking a little more challenging then the day before.  A man from another boat came over to help us and we were able to get tied up properly.  Carol went to buy some groceries while Leo and Ron got the ice and I filled up the tanks.  We wanted to sail to “Anegada” which is about 12-14 miles away, a good sail, depending on the speed of your boat and direction of the winds of course.  We do have a GPS on board, but you can’t see “Anegada” from “Virgin Gorda” even with clear skies, plus there are reefs surrounding “Anegada” with over 300 reported ship wrecks.  With all the rain and storms we’ve been having Leo wanted to get some advice on weather conditions before sailing.  There is also a very narrow channel to enter a small bay for anchoring and mooring.  So, although relatively well marked, it’s better to have good visibility when approaching the island.  Leo called “TMM”, the company we rented the boat from, for a weather update.  The were very vague, I guess they don’t want to be liable if they said it was fine and then something happened to the boat.  Leo then went to help Carol with the groceries and asked a local about weather conditions, the local said it will only get better, maybe a standard phrase in the Caribbean but good enough for us to proceed.  We cast off and headed towards “Anegada” on a 5 degree heading.  The winds were coming from behind us at 15-20 knots, perfect sailing.  We let out the jib, (for non-sailors, this is the sail at the very front of the boat) and the boat took off at 7 knots, this is pretty fast so we thought there was no reason to raise the main sail.  There were 9 – 11 boats all headed to “Anegada” at the time we left and without even trying we pulled way out ahead of them in no time.  Leo said he’s not competitive, he just likes to always win.  The sail was fast and easy so we let “Auwtow” drive the boat (Carol made up her name)  as we put on the autopilot.  Carol made drinks as we listened to Joshua Bell play classical violin and sailed easily with the wind and rolling swells.

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Carol keeping us happy making drinks!

We made the trip in about 1:40 hours and then searched for the channel markers, it’s always a little unsettling because you see the reef looming ahead while searching for the safety of the channel markers.  As we got closer we finally saw the markers and headed in.  The guide book was saying it’s very shallow and our boat needs 10 feet of water to be on the safe side, the book says our actual draft is 5.5 feet but with swells that can vary a lot.  We slowly motored into the harbor and I thought I felt us scrape bottom a few times.  Ron kept a running commentary on our depth, 6.5, 6.0, 5.8, 5.7, etc. We were able to get a mooring ball at 6.3 feet. As we tied off I saw a line of boats that were following us in.  We were enjoying a drink when we saw a 40’ foot boat get fully stuck trying to get a mooring ball.  We were thinking of dingy’ing over when several other dingys went over to help.  We felt they had plenty of advice on how to break free so we sat back with our drinks to watch the show.  Carol and Leo told us of a few “stories” on how they got stuck and how they freed themselves.  The group now trying to free the boat tied a rope to the top of the main sail and using a dingy tried to pull the boat over on it’s side to pull the keel out of the sand.  At one point there were 8 dingys buzzing around the boat.

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Trying to pull the boat sideways to get the keel out of the sand.

After 1.5 hours of trying different things they were able to get the boat free.  We watched another guy in a boat our size get repeatedly stuck, then he tried to drop an anchor directly upwind of us.  We could tell he wasn’t very experienced (that’s being polite) and we were worried he’d drift into us.  Luckily he pulled up his anchor and went further out.

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Leo called “Lowell’s” at the “Anegada Reef Hotel” www.anegadareef.com to reserve us 4 lobster dinners for that evening.  “Lowell’s” has been around for many years and has a nightly BBQ including huge fresh local lobster.  Unfortunately, Lowell blew himself up last year when he used a cutting torch on a 55 gallon drum trying to convert it into a BBQ.  This really saddened Carol and Leo as they knew Lowell as a really sweet and fun guy.  We relaxed the rest of the day and Leo put up a hammock.

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This guy motored over and asked if we had any Crazy Glue to fix his lip as he had split it open.  Luckily Leo had some Crazy Glue and the guy looked happy as he dingy’d away to fix his lip.  We headed over to Lowell’s for a “rum smoothie” or two before dinner.

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                                                                                                                   Lobsters, BIG LOBSTERS!!!

Carol and I hit the gift shop and I got a great “Anegada” tank top.  We sat down for dinner and had a fantastic lobster feast.  Went back to the boat but it was too cloudy for star gazing so we played some more hands of 500 cards.

Tuesday May 25th, 2004 – Woke up the smell of pancakes, Ron had been at work.  The weather was definitely improving.  We dingy’d over to Lowell’s to rent a car, last time we were here we rented an old rusty van where you could see the ground through the floorboards.  This time we actually got a real car with air conditioning.  We drove along the coral dirt road at about 35 MPH, seeing cows and donkeys along the way.  It was about 1:00 pm when we got to my favorite beach in the world, “Cow Wreck” www.cowwreck.com  One of the most amazing beaches.  Last time we were here it was perfect and this time was the same.

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We started with “CowKiller” drinks and ordered lunch.  Carol went for a quick snorkel while we waited for lunch.  Ron and I had fish sandwiches and ordered “Wreck Punch” which I liked better then the “CowKiller”.  We then went snorkeling and saw my first puffer fish.  Next Ron asked what was in “The Hulk” and the bartender said “It’s all booze, and green!  NAAAASTY MAN!!!” as he made a face of disgust.  I told him we’d take two!  It was some kind of bright blue liqueur, then with Hennesey cognac added it turned green, “NAAAASTY MAN!!!”  Don’t try this at home kids!

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Next we drove over to “Flash of Beauty” bar and more amazing snorkeling.  Last for the day was “Big Bamboo” at Loblolly Bay, it was kind of late afternoon so we just had a drink, returned to the boat and BBQ’d some chicken for dinner.

Wednesday May 26th, 2004 – Leo and Ron dingy’d over to “Pam’s” to pick up some breakfast rolls.  Unfortunately, Pam returned to the USA last August so they weren’t able to pick up anything for breakfast.  Ron had fond memories of Pam’s Cinnebuns from our previous sailing adventure a few years back.  Another slow and totally relaxing day.  We read on the boat for awhile then headed ashore, we had rented the car for 2 days.  Since “Pam’s” was closed Ron had Cinnebuns on the brain so we went in search of something to have with our coffee the next morning.  Carol and Leo remembered this ancient woman who ran a grocery store and we set off to “The Settlement” which is what they call their little town.  There is a hospital, library, pool bar and a few small stores.  Two were closed but 2 were open, they were very small but Carol didn’t spot the old woman so she asked the owners, he said she was in the back sleeping.  Carol was relieved the old woman was still around, some things should remain the same.  We then drove back to “Flash of Beauty” for some spectacular snorkeling.  The reef was so beautiful with purple coral, I saw a sea turtle and swam with him/her for 20 minutes.  He/she didn’t seem bothered by me and I was able to get very close as he/she slowly swam around.  I was in need of a “PainKiller” by then and we headed into shore.  I got to a point where I couldn’t continue without scraping myself on some coral as it came very close to the surface of the water, Ron said “Follow me”, big mistake, as usual, to trust Ron.  I had to pull myself over some coral but luckily it was fairly smooth and I didn’t get stuck with any nasty sharp coral.  We swam to the beach and Carol and Leo were sitting in the surf with a rum and coke, I asked Ron to get me a “PainKiller.”  We laughed and talked standing in the surf and Carol went for a walk.  Since our drinks were empty we headed back to the bar.  Monica was working the bar area, a very nice person.  Some people walked by on the way to snorkel and Monica shouted and waved at them, “Hello??, at least say hello!”  Monica makes the best “PainKillers” I’ve tasted.  Carol returned with some pretty shells she found, Ron loves shells and wanted to go get some but luckily for me it was getting late and we had to return the car.  We have boxes of shells Ron has collected so the last thing we needed was more.  That night we went to “Neptune’s Treasure” for a final lobster dinner on “Anagada.”  With all the rain we’ve had we haven’t seem many sunsets but tonight’s was very nice.

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                                                                                                                  Carol loves to feed the seagulls

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Thursday May 27th, 2004 – The cinnibuns Ron bought were pretty “NAAAASTY MAN!!!”  We set sail back to “Virgin Gorda.”  The winds weren’t too favorable and they were calm so it was a slow leisurely sail.  What took us 1:40 hours to get there in one direction took 3:40 in the other, we anticipated this so we left early and arrived in “Saba Rock” about 1:30 pm, we dingy’d over to the “Saba Rock Restaurant” and Ron and I ordered “Mai-Tais” and blue cheese bacon cheeseburgers.  Carol had fish tacos and Leo had pork jerk tacos.  Our 2nd drink was a “PainKiller”, but not nearly as good as Monica’s at “Flash of Beauty.”  The wind was minimal so Leo set up some air scoops, kind of little sails to direct fresh air down into the cabins.  Carol and I paddled around the boat to cool off as Leo and Ron took naps.  We were getting near the end of the trip so we were trying to use up all the food.  That night Carol made spaghetti using 2 beef hamburger patties we had left over and some mushrooms to add to the bottled spaghetti sauce.  Very nice dinner followed by more card games of 500.

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Friday May 28th, 2004 – Our last full day on the boat, WHHAAAAAAA!!!!!  We wanted to get another early start for “Cooper Island” www.cooper-island.com  We had a nice 2.5 hour sail to “Manchioneel Bay.”  Ron and I made brunch when we got there using eggs, canned mushrooms and canned green beans.  Ron found a can of peas, but I drew the line at that, peas in eggs just doesn’t seem right.  We had bacon and sausage, bacon is something we can’t find in Argentina, the bacon they have there is very different, so the bacon was a treat.  We also had Mimosa’s with champagne and orange juice.  Leo wanted to change our mooring after breakfast as there was very little breeze where we were, he said, “The other mooring ball is always greener!”  We went to the end of the mooring balls, to “Cistern Point”, a very nice snorkel spot, Carol loves the water and was overboard quickly.  Ron took a nap so I decided to join Carol in snorkeling.  Very nice snorkel spot!  I saw several fish I’ve never seen before.  To get to the snorkel spot I had to swim through an area that had a lot of thick sea grass below me.  I’m currently reading “Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire – Year 4.”

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I’m at a point where he’s swimming through a lake with seaweed on the bottom and there are “Grindylows” a small horned water demon, which grabs his ankles and pull him into the grass to eat him.  I was keeping and eye out for “Grindylows.”  Once back on the boat Ron had awakened and wanted to go snorkeling, I had just returned from snorkeling and wanted a rum and coke.  Leo suggested taking the dingy to see the “Wreck of Rhone” and snorkel there.  This is a wreak from 1896 that is very impressive according to the guide book so I didn’t want to miss this so I joined them, foregoing my rum and coke.  The wreck was very cool, in about 30 feet of water, but the water is so clear you can see right to the bottom.  There were 4 scuba divers on the bottom going around the wreck and their bubbles were rising to the surface in billions of little air pearls.  I swam over to get closer to the curtain of diamonds coming up to the surface, soon my whole body was in the rising bubbles, feeling them all over my body, I stretched out my hands through the bubbles that looked like jewels of mercury.  I also noticed large cup cake sized bubbles rising, I would put my hand out and they would burst upon hitting my hand, with the light streaming down it was amazing.  The wreck was fun but the reef and variety of fish were not so good, so on the way back I dropped Leo and Ron off near the reef by our boat so they would explore and swim back to the boat.  I warned them to watch for “Grindylows” on the way back. On return to the boat I finally got my rum and coke.

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The sun started setting and it looked like we were going to have a great sunset.  Carol wanted Leo to get a picture of the boat so we dingy’d out to get a nice pic.  The sun was setting a beautiful golden glow on everything.

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We took a shower and headed for “Cooper Island Bar and Restaurant” for dinner.

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We started with a “Cooper Dream” cocktail as the sun got lower and lower.  I ordered Mahi Mahi, Ron and Leo ordered the special pork chops, Carol had chicken Roti, a kind of chicken curry wrapped in a tortilla.  Ron couldn’t resist an apple crisp for dessert, Leo got the carrot cake.

Back on the boat we made cocktails, being our last night I made some weird concoction with remaining booze using Southern Comfort, Rum and Baily’s Irish Cream, I dubbed it a “Beneteau Beauty”, Beneteau being the manufacturer of our boat.  All the bars seemed to have wild names for their drinks.  Our final night on the boat and we went on top to do some final star gazing.

Saturday May 29th, 2004 – We got up early to pack up our things.  Carol said it’s much better to do it before you get into the harbor dock as it’s usually very hot with no breeze in the protected marina.  Ron made coffee and we all started packing up our things.  Leo had replaced one of the deck speakers because it was scratching and popping, he had brought speakers with him from California.  He had used one of the rubber place mats as a cover, and then put plastic wrap around it to make it water proof.  Luckily Carol reminded Leo to put the old speaker back.

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We had a leisurely 1.5 hour sail back to “RoadTown”, the winds were only 8-9 knots so our speed was only 2-3 knots, but we had left plenty of time and it was a direct shot from “Cooper Island.”  At the dock a TMM employee offered to put the boat in the slip and we readily agreed.  We checked in the boat and were quickly dripping in sweat as we unloaded the boat as fast as we could.  Carol went into the air conditioned office and I took a quick shower in the outside facilities.  We rented a car and drove to our hotel after having a Rueban sandwich at “Pusser’s”, one of Carol and Leo’s traditions after turning in the boat.  Leo found our hotel, “Heritage Villas” at www.heritagevillasbvi.com and it turned out to be great, up on “Windy Hill” with spectacular views.

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There was a musical festival going on this weekend, one of the reasons we were staying a few extra days.  Tonight was Jimmy Cliff who later hooked up with Bob Marley.  Cliff recorded “You can get it if you really want” and “Many rivers to cross” from his movie “The Harder They Come.”  All the locals were very excited about this but we were kind of tired from our long day.  We headed for the pool and had a few “Dark and Stormy” drinks, then a wonderful BBQ dinner.

Sunday May 30th, 2004 – Had a wonderful sleep in a bed that wasn’t rolling around.  Sat on the little porch with an amazing view and sipped coffee and wrote in this journal.  They were having an all wooden boat regatta on the neighboring island and Carol and Leo were watching with the binoculars.  We drove into “Cayman Garden” to see the music festival.  They were just setting up when we got there at 12:30 pm.  We had lunch at “Rhythms”, Ron had fish and chips and the rest of us had fish burgers.

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Today was Jazz music, with different performers every hour.

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We took a beach walk as the music played in the background.  We stopped at a bar on the way back and I had a “Sunburn”, Ron had “Sex in the Jungle”, and Carol and Leo had “Myrett’s Delights.”  When the waitress walked up with the drinks she said, “Sex??”  I was about to respond in the affirmative when Ron said, “Here!”  We stopped at a market to buy a few things, Monday the cook has the day off at our hotel so it’s either buy something or drive into town.  The hotel is situated high on “Windy Hill” and there are several super tight and treacherous switch backs to get to it that I would rather avoid at night if possible.  We drove back to the hotel and enjoyed the pool and later showed Carol how to play dominos.  A quick shower and dinner poolside with Keith from TMM and his wife, we had invited them to have dinner with us and we told them about our sailing time and also our life in Argentina.  I had crab-cakes which were excellent (I’m a real crab-cake snob), Carol had sea scallops, Ron had rack of lamb and Leo had a steak encrusted with coffee, everything was fantastic.

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Monday May 31st, 2004 – A designated relax day.  We decided on Sunday that today we would do nothing and nothing is what we did, except we were in paradise doing nothing.  Laid by the pool, read and had a wonderful day.

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We know how to relax!

For lunch we put a table on our common patio and setup salami, roast beef, onions, cucumbers, crackers and soft cream cheese, did I mention Chardonnay and Rose wines??  There was someone serving drinks but after 6 pm we were on our own, the bar is on the honor system and you just make your own drinks and write down what you use.  Hope someone did that!

Tuesday June 1st, 2004 – Carol and Leo had an earlier flight then us, so we said our goodbyes the night before.  Ron and I got up and headed back into “Roadtown” to return the car and get to the airport.  Fantastic trip!

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This boat was floating in a marina and it looked like it was floating in air the water was so clear.