This blog is only a week late. That’s not too bad, right!?
Our first week in the BVI’s was spent in Gorda Sound, mainly because that seemed like the easiest option for clearing in after a night sail. It was indeed a breeze, and, that done, we settled into our new anchorage nicely.
We chose to anchor off Prickly Pear island because it seemed well protected and had no mooring buoys, unlike further around the corner near the Bitter End yacht club. First thing we did was to go to the Bitter End in order to get a SIM card (sold to us by a friend of a friend of the lady working in the souvenir shop), find some Wifi and suss out the provisioning situation.
We found internet at one of the bars at the Bitter End, but were unpleasantly surprised at the price: $6 for a Carib, and no happy hour prices. Ouch. Quite a shock after $1 beers at Lagoonies (only $2 full price). The little market was also very limited and verrrry expensive ($7 for a packet of Doritos and $56 for a slab of Carib). So we were grateful for our full fridge and cupboards from St Martin.
Surrounded by Americans
The second night we were there we headed over to Saba Rock, a resort on a tiny island between Prickly Pear Island and the Bitter End. They had happy hour, which was a good enough reason to go, and it turned out their Wifi speed wasn’t too bad at all (in case anyone was wondering). Heather and Tony from Kwanza met us there, and we then bumped into Kia Ora, one of the Aussie boats we had briefly met in St Martin.
As we sat in the pleasant outdoor bar area on comfortable lounges overlooking the mooring field, we witnessed a rather bizarre event. The bar was, apart from our group, entirely populated by American charterers or holidaymakers. One group of guys who had clearly had a bit to drink, suddenly- for no particular reason that I could discern- started whooping. You know. “Whoo! Whoo! Whoo hoo!” I looked at Nick. He looked at me. We rolled our eyes and got back to our Caribs.
But then the whooping started to spread throughout the ENTIRE BAR. The next table joined in, then the next, and before we knew it I was started to feel that I was sitting in a football stand amongst some very avid supporters. THEN somebody- probably the drunk guys- started chanting “USA! USA! USA!” and once again, this cheer was taken up by every single person in the bar, from the overweight, sunburnt middle aged ladies to my left, to the shirtless young guys with baseball caps on to my right. Our group was an island of bemused- and somewhat horrified- silence amongst a bar full of cheering Americans.
“Are we really going to America this year?!” I asked Nick. He was speechless.
Interestingly, I recently read a blog on Totem’s website titled American Cruisers Through Foreign Eyes in which she brings up the point that many people around the world aren’t massive fans of Americans. I think if I’d had the presence of mind to whip out my camera and start filming, then upload the video to the comments section of that post, I could have provided her with a partial answer to why this might be. It was excruciatingly obnoxious. However, you only need to travel to Kuta or Phuket to see plenty of Australians behaving badly, and same goes for Brits in many European beach resorts. Some people just give their nation a bad reputation. After a month in the BVI’s I cannot wait to get up to the USA and that’s mainly thanks to the truly amazing people from the States that I’ve met here. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
After some pretty rainy days, the wind briefly swung around to the west- almost unheard of in this part of the world. I read on Facebook several instances of boats dragging and causing damage and I can’t say I’m surprised. Most (well known) anchorages in the Caribbean are exposed to the west and the gusts were strong. We didn’t drag, nor thankfully did any boats around us (although a friend nearby had a charter cat drag into their boat), but the anchorage was choppy and uncomfortable so we moved to Drakes Anchorage on the other side of the Sound. Much better, plus we had an unobstructed view of Necker Island and Mosquito Island- Branson’s other private island. Because apparently one isn’t enough?! Plus, they’re, like, half a mile away from each other. What’s the point of that?
Anyway, that is where we caught our poisonous fish. Anyone heard of ciguatera? Yeah, well, it’s nasty. It’s a toxin that exists only in reef fish. The real interesting part is that it only exists in certain fish, in certain areas. In other words, the big-eyed Jack (the fish we caught with nought but a little bit of ham on a hook- he must have been hungry) probably had ciguatera. However, travel to, I don’t know, St Thomas or Peurto Rico and that same species is totally safe to eat. Hypothetically. I don’t actually know what fish has ciguatera where, so please understand I only used that as an example. Point being, unless you have local knowledge, you don’t know which reef fish are safe to eat. Thankfully Google came through for us on this one, and saved us from some major unpleasantness.
Nick finally gets a bath
Finally we got impatient to move on. We decided to check out the Baths, a series of boulders on Virgin Gorda’s south-western shore that form a maze of caves and pools. We arrived at the mooring field about 11am, which was a tactical error on our part because it was completely rammed. After circling a few times, we determined that there weren’t any free buoys and, anchoring being forbidden, started to slink away. Happily, a charter boat chose that moment to leave, so we pounced on their buoy and picked it up with less-than-perfect technique. I’m not quite sure where we went wrong, but I ended up almost falling overboard and bruised my stomach on the pulpit. Oops. (After a month in the BVI’s, we’re a LOT better at picking up mooring balls now!)
However, the Baths were totally worth it. We didn’t exactly have it all to ourselves- go reaaaally early for that- but the caverns and little baths were very cool and we spent an enjoyable hour running around pretending to be intrepid explorers when, actually, we were simply following a well defined trail. But it was fun.
That night we headed to Peter Island, intending to anchor again. However, the bay was so deep right up to the shore that we couldn’t find a suitable spot. After two failed attempts (in the pouring rain no less) where we dropped anchor and then nearly swung into the rocky beach, we gave up and picked up a buoy.
The skies cleared, the sun came out and the water beneath the boat was crystal clear. An evening dip as the sun went down was the perfect end to the day.