Home British Virgin Islands What’s it REALLY like to live on a boat?

What’s it REALLY like to live on a boat?

written by Terysa April 7, 2017

This week Nick and I decided to do something a bit different for our weekly YouTube video. We thought it might be interesting (emphasis on might) to do a ‘Day in the life’ type of thing to give a good idea of what it’s really like to live on a boat.

Of course, every day is different so we picked what we thought was a pretty typical day. The plan was to do a short sail- well, motor-sail- from our lovely anchorage in Jost Van Dyke across the channel to Cane Garden Bay on Tortola, pick up a buoy, go ashore for a spot of exploring before settling down for the evening.

However, the day ended up pretty action-packed- by our lazy standards, anyway!

We raised anchor nice and early to give us time to get ourselves sorted. As we pottered around, packing things up and getting ready to leave, our friend Paulo dinghied over and gently reminded us that we’d promised him our old SUP. Remember when ours kind of exploded in Antigua? Then we got a replacement in St Martin from the lovely people at Red Paddle Co? Well, we still had the old one which Nick had sort of patched up, but having no room for it on our boat we decided to give it to a loving home. Paulo was happy to provide.

Anyway, this deal had been done the previous evening over a beer at the B-Line bar and we had totally forgotten about it. Good thing Paulo reminded us, and he was even good enough to bake us some Colombian hotcake things as a thankyou.


En route to Cane Garden Bay

We had been warned not to enter Cane Garden Bay if there was any swell breaking on the reef. Well, there was a little swell, but it looked minimal and the bay itself looked calm so we went for it. Seeing nowhere to anchor amongst all the mooring balls, we surrendered to the inevitable and picked on up for the night, resigning ourselves to the $30.

From the boat the beach looked absolutely rammed. With some trepidation, we jumped in the dinghy and went ashore with the idea that we’d have a relaxing walk along the beach followed by lunch. However, after fighting our way past the throngs of holidaymakers as we strolled along the sand, we decided to forgo that plan and just eat onboard. Actually, we decided to leave the bay altogether, because we really didn’t want to waste $30 on a buoy in a location we were less that enthusiastic about.


However, we were running a little low on diesel and, given there was a fuel station in the bay, we decided on a quick pit stop to fill up. Lines and fenders were put out and we manoeuvred alongside the pontoon. We tied up with the help of the gentleman who works there and stepped onto the dock.

Suddenly, to our horror, the boat started swaying back and forth, snatching at the lines and causing some extremely disconcerting noises. The mooring lines screeched as the boat rolled from side to side like a pendulum. The fenders were completely flattened between the hull and the pontoon and the toerail crunched against the dock with every motion. We grabbed hold of the stanchions- or anything else we could easily reach- and tried to push the boat away from the dock, with very limited success. Nick yelled a reminder at me not to put my feet or legs anywhere near the boat: a relatively common practice while trying to fend off as it’s often easier to push away with a foot rather than a hand. In this case, a limb would have been totally crushed if it slipped between the hull and the pontoon. It was intense.

After a minute or so, the boat steadied slightly. We looked at each other. The attendant was wide eyed, waiting for instruction. We- perhaps foolishly- decided to go ahead with the fuelling. We assumed that the swell that had caused this incident had passed; after all, the anchorage had been perfectly flat, and so perhaps this one set was just an unlucky anomaly.

It wasn’t. Several times over the 5 minutes it took to refuel swell worked its way around the reef and right into the fuel dock. We didn’t bother with a full tank, or with refuelling the jerry cans. We just got the bare minimum and then bailed.

Or at least we tried to. I had cleated the mid-line off in my usual fashion: 3 turns followed by a final locking turn. It never occurred to me to do anything different on this day, but what happened was that the locking turn, well, locked. The line was pulled so tightly from the motion of the boat that, despite several turns ‘under’ the locking turn, the line was almost impossible to undo. I desperately scrapped at it with my nails as the boat bucked and rolled behind me, the screeching from the lines filling the air. Finally, just as I was considering taking a knife to the line, it came loose. We wasted no time in getting the hell outta there.

Laundry day!

That evening was spent, paradoxically, in one of the calmest, most secluded and peaceful bays in the BVI’s. Brewers Bay is only a couple of miles from Cane Garden Bay but a world away in every other sense. With an unmarked reef dividing the bay in two, and several underwater cables running across the seabed, this bay is off limits for many charter boats and, with nothing in the way of facilities, isn’t frequented by liveaboards either. We had two other boats for company that night, but there was ample room for everyone. After a dip in the crystal clear water Nick and I settled down to our first evening together just the two of us for some time. Needless to say, after the stress of that day, it involved a couple of rum and tings (with the ‘fish rum’- we had run out of the nice stuff but we were desperate) followed by dinner and The Walking Dead.

And that, my friends is a (kinda, sorta, not really) normal day in the life of Ruby Rose!

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Mike Reid April 8, 2017 at 3:43 pm

That must have been a really scary moment when you went to refuel!!! I think I probably would have been shaking as well.

BTW, what did you do with your old dingy?

Terysa April 9, 2017 at 12:18 pm

It’s currently deflated and rolled up on the coachroof as a spare 😊


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