Ocean Log Home Log 5

08 December 2005
Arriving BVI


Lights of Virgin Gorda are in sight. But we're way too early. It's 2 hrs till dawn. While I have good charts and a good chart plotter, I don't like the idea of coming into an unknown area with land and reefs close by in the dark. Seas are still 8-10 feet and the wind is steady at 25 kts.

We're having trouble making Galena heave to. When we do set it up, she drifts down wind too fast for this situation. We'd be way to far west by dawn. So drop all sails and fire up the engine. The idea is to motor into the wind/waves till dawn, just trying to hold position. I tell myself “It's only 1 or 2 hrs till dawn.” From 0400 to 0600 we do just that.

Then it's sails up and we enter the BVI. Jane took the helm and I got a hour's rest. By 0900 we were rounding Collision point with Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor right ahead.

I fired up the engine, put it in gear, and… nothing! The lever went limp. The cable had broken. I pulled open the engine compartment and discovered the cable end, the one that screws into the lever mechanism had snapped off. We could shift gears, but only by holding the cable in one hand and pushing and pulling the inner cable by hand.

0900 hrs
Trip: 1443 nm / Total 1788 nm. Engine: 930 hrs

Finally into the marina we went. I was lucky enough to make it into the slip with no gear changes except one: to put it in reverse to come to a stop. Jane handled the lines perfectly and even in all this wind we came in like (the) pros (we were to become). The dock guy who helped us tie up asked "Where are you coming from in all this wind?" We said, "From North Carolina." He rolled his eyes and said we were crazy. Maybe but we were in the British Virgin Islands!

We then checked in to the marina, cleared in through customs and called our daughter, Michelle.

Checked in to the marina

$1/ft (40-ft minimum), $8/day electric, water: $0.10 / gal

Cleared Customs:

Walked over to the government building just north of the marina (1/8 mile)
Filled out a few forms
Presented our papers (ship documents and our passports)
Paid $10.60 (they really like for you to have correct change)

Cleared Immigration:

Moved to the next window to the right of customs, showed our papers/passports

Bought Phone Cards:

You can buy them from the music store in the “shopping center”
Call to US: $0.50 to connect, then $1.50/min

I had been reading about a $4 per person per day tax in all the cruising guides. It turns out to be only applied to charter boats. Sort of like a hotel tax in the states.

A delivery captain, Dave, stopped by. He had just delivered a 50' Hinkley. He asked “What is this thing?” I told him. He said “Yeah, I thought so. My girlfriend has one. But it's been on the hard for the past 8 years.”

Then he said a remarkable thing. He said his girlfriend was one of the two women onboard the Satori. The Satori is Ray Leonard's Westsail 32 that was caught in (and erroneously portrayed in the movie about) “The Perfect Storm.” After being on the Satori during that storm she had decided that the Westsail was the only boat for her. Dave also said the big Hinkley he just delivered sailed like a pig and that, "Westsails sail better, except to windward, of course”.

He was getting ready to catch a plane home and was cleaning out the refrigerator. He gave us all his leftover provisions; most of which we will not be able to eat before it goes bad. But we'll try. Jane went to the showers, I fell asleep. The wind continues to blow and the rain squalls roll by. But we're actually here and that is oh, so cool.

09-13 December 2005
Virgin Gorda, BVI

We spent a week opening lockers and airing things out. So much got wet and moldy or rusty. The transmission shift cable was fairly easy to fix. There's a machine shop in the boat yard named “The Workbench.” It's run by Chris Cook. He had a Yanmar shift cable in stock, albeit a shorter one than was on Galena it worked fine. Only $44 for the cable and a couple of hours work and we're back to being “mission capable”.

When I was taking out the old shift cable I dropped a bolt down an access hole that let it fall between the hull and the engine pan. The bolt was out of sight and out of reach. And of course this is a very special bolt: long-shouldered with metric thread. Dave the delivery captain stopped by and said he had one of those magnets-on-a-stick things that might reach. I thought that since the bolt was stainless steel the magnet may not be able to lift it. Dave chuckled at my ignorance. He said all stainless has a little bit of magnetic attraction and that he had lifted plenty of bolts out of tight spots with this little magnet.

I went back to Galena and gave it a try. I folded myself into the tiny space beside the engine and gently pushed the magnet-on-a-stick-thing down into the hold that had recently eaten my special bolt. I moved it around just a bit and then heard a faint 'click.' I froze. Very carefully I pulled that magnet-on-a-stick-thing out of the hold and there was the bolt. Magnets are such magical things. I covered that particular access hole with duct tape and reassembled the shift linkage The gear shift lever worked very nicely.

I also filled Galena's fuel tanks by making three trips to the fuel dock with our on-deck fuel jugs. 42.1 gallons cost $155.55 at $3.66/gal. I still had to climb up the mast and fix a light and a bit of rigging that came undone on us. But I saved that for another day

A couple more days of cleaning up and refitting and we'll be ready to hit the beaches and bars and start to relax and enjoy.

Sunset on Virgin Gorda

Over the next few log entries we traversed the BVI as shown by this composite GPS track. It looks like we didn't have a plan; and we didn't

Route through BVI

Among the people we met at the marina were Jeff and Ami. They were chartering a boat from Footloose charters. They live in Manhattan, NY where Jeff is a theatrical carpenter and tours with Disney while Ami is a dancer and has done 13 Broadway shows.

As I reviewed my list of things to do I often find myself coming up with many reasons why I don't really have to do them; or at least not right now.

Like now (12 Dec): Jane's making dinner/lunch and I've had too much rum to do any serious tasks. There's always tomorrow.

On the 11th, we cleaned the lockers under the starboard settee. All the canned goods were stored there. They are almost all rusty. The paint on the inside of the hull there was bubbled up and the water that was trapped under the paint stunk. I scraped and wiped and flushed. Now, although it's just fiberglass (that we'll have to get some BilgeKote on soon) at least it smells ok. We washed the cans, pulled off the wet labels and marked the cans with magic marker.

As we sat in the marina we kept meeting new neighbors. It seemed that most people visiting this marina are chartering. They came here for a single day. In that day they visit the shops, get a night's rest, and then they're off to the next spot on their itinerary. We sit here and keep meeting new neighbors. Like today we met Don and Caroline from Washington state. In fact, they own land at the “Roy-Y” in Spanaway, which we know very well. We owned our first house in Spanaway. They have an Ericson 32 that is also 30-years old. But like most others they were here doing a bare-boat charter.

On the night of 11 December, a brand new Moorings 51.5 came into the marina. It was being delivered as a new addition to the fleet. The Frenchmen delivering it came by and offered us all the left-over food and water that they had on board. They had to clean out the lockers before they could deliver the boat to Moorings. We walked away with about 6 shopping bags of food; more than we had room for. We gave the excess to the dock boys.

One item was a 20 liter jug of what we thought they said was water. Later we learned it was fuel.

On the 12th of December I finally went up the mast and fixed the steaming light and the port spreader support cable. I also bought a replacement switch for the bilge pump: $40 for a $20 switch! Filling the water tanks took 56 gallons (40 in the main tanks, and that was for 3-weeks!) and the marina fee was $228.

13 - 18 December 2005
Vic: Bitter End Yacht Club, North Sound, Virgin Gorda, BVI
(N18 30.18' W064 21.76')
Trip 11nm/1798 nm total. Eng: 931 hrs.

We had a great sail here from the marina. We left about noon and when the trades kicked in we were hard on the wind all the way to the entrance to the North Sound. It took two tacks to make the entrance. The chop was only about one foot so the ride up here was nice. The wind was blowing about 10 kts ENE.

The water in the sound is about 60-feet deep overall. And over 10-ft deep right up to the shore in most places. Anywhere shallow enough to anchor, there are moorings. We finally anchored in 40-feet and by the time we let out 100-feet of rode we were within 60-feet of shore and in 12 feet of water. I just can't see picking up a mooring. The cost is $25/night and you can anchor for free! The holding seems good.

Our first night here was very quiet. We spent the evening sitting in the cockpit, Jane was reading and I was just sitting there enjoying the moment. A full moon, a gentle breeze, air temp about 80. It was almost perfect. Except that we were bothered a little by small, biting insects and a couple of mosquitoes. And there was absolutely no wind after midnight. We were pointed west when we dropped anchor. But by the morning of the 14th we had drifted around to point NNW. Everyone around us was pointing somewhere else.

On the day of the 14th our schedule called for inflating the dinghy so we can go in to shore. We had to buy a coffee mug for Captain Terry and a few souvenirs for ourselves. I was able to make that take up the whole day.

We headed in to the Bitter End Yacht Club. I bought Jane a sexy mesh dress and a T-shirt. I bought myself a couple of shirts, too. We dinghied around to Vixin Point and walked around the reef to the west of Saba Rock. Then we went to the bar at Saba Rock Resort. It was great. There was a great view of the sound. The bartender was friendly (Josie was her name). We plan on going back there a few more times while we're here.

On the night of 16 Dec there were rain squalls and wind from the NE. We'd like to go to Anagada but not with the seas up or the wind from any direction with an “N” in it.

The 4-masted cruise ship “Wind Spirit” hoisted anchor and left the Sound on the 17th. There were still 3 mega-yachts there: Silver Cloud, White Cloud, and Shalimar. When we got here there were about 70 boats in the area of Bitter End. Now there's only about 20. The bartender at Saba Rock said that Monday and Tuesday are the busy days since that's when most charters start. I guess they battle to windward on the first day (that would take them here) and then drift downwind the rest of the week.

All day on the 17th the winds been blowing from the East at about 15-20 kts. Lots of clouds and a few rain showers. As the sun goes down it actually feels cool outside. But it's still about 77. We're waiting for the seas and wind to subside before we head to Anagada. There's supposed to be great beaches there, ya know?

The wind was still North of East and the forecast is for more wind for the next couple days. We waited.

Wind and rain all night on the 17th. We watched CSI on DVD till late. The morning was sunny and breezy (E 10-15 kts).

19-20 December 2005
Anagada, BVI
(N18 43.4' W064 23.2')
Trip 25nm/ Total 1825nn. Eng: 932 hrs

Made it here in 2- hrs. It was a little tricky getting in the entrance. Only because the marks as shown on the chart were not what we saw on the water. And the coral was not where the map said, either. We made it in with no real problems, just a little concerned.

We sailed up here with a full main and a staysail. We should have reefed the main, but it was only a couple hours sail so I fought the weather helm and wished I had setup the Aries steering vane. Seas were 4-5 feet on the beam with wind East at 10-12 kts. We held at over 5.5 kts all the way here.

We anchored in 8-feet of water just behind (West of) the mooring field. The water was not very clear. We couldn't even see the bottom. In the Bahamas it would have been clear as a pool; but not here. When I dove on the anchor, I had to actually follow the chain down to find it. We walked to bars and the beaches at the main business area near the mooring field. Now it's 1730hrs and the sun is setting with lots of rain clouds forming all around us. The wind is gentle (<5kts) out of the ESE.


We watched a couple of DVD's on the night of the 19th of December. The following morning the winds were light out of the East and it's sunny and clear and 79. We dinghied to the Northwest corner of the island this morning. Jane walked the beach looking for shells while I lay around in the sun and sand and read.

We came back to Galena and changed clothes to go to “town.” Jane bought a little dress at Sue's Purple Turtle Boutique. We had a couple of drinks at Potter's by the Sea bar and restaurant. Then we came home and had a light dinner and watched a movie. No wind and clear skies.




21-22 December 2005
Trellis Bay, Tortola, BVI
(N18 26.7' W064 13.97')
Trip 20nm. Total 1845nn. Eng: 936 hrs

We left Anagada at 0900 hrs. We were down 65 AH on the batteries so I decided to motorsail all the way here. Just after we left a rain squall hit us hard for about 10 minutes. Then we had cool, cloudy, and choppy conditions for the rest of the trip.

The seas were 4-5 feet with ESE wind at 5-10 kts.

Just as we passed the Dogs, the wind increased to over 15 kts and clocked to SSE. The chop was up to 5-6 feet and confused as I rounded Scrub Island and headed SW to Trellis Bay. The seas went down to 3-feet but the wind stayed at about 15 kts.

As we turned to windward to drop sails I counted over 30 boats in the little bay and wall-to-wall mooring balls.

We motored through the densely-packed boats with the wind forcing us to keep a lot of way on for steerage. And the other two boats in front of us, also looking for a mooring, didn't help matters any. Finally we found a spot on the south end of the bay, just south and east of the shoal running south from Bellamy Island where there was a break in the moorings and the water was still about 8-feet deep. But the bottom was very soft sand. The holding wasn't too good, but good enough. A Danforth anchor would have been better than our plow.

After watching others come and go it was clear that the only place to anchor was on the West side of that shoal in the center of the bay. But that just about requires that you enter on the West side of the island. Local knowledge would really help here.

On the morning of 22 December Jane made a terrific breakfast of pancakes and spam. Don't laugh! We have found that spam isn't so bad if you serve it with something that counteracts the salt. Syrup seems to do just that.
Today is when I went to get some water from the 20-liter jug the French delivery captain gave us (the water in the tank wasn't tasting good). As I poured it into a one-gallon water jug, I discovered that it was diesel fuel. That was a surprise. How do you say “Diesel” in French? On the jug it says: “PTX 2000 – Combustible Desaromatise pour appareils mobiles de chauffage.”[Since then I learned that that translates to: “Fuel Des-aromatize for mobile apparatuses of heating.” Probably not the right thing for our engine, but it worked fine.]

Jane's new fishnet dress

I checked the oil in the outboard and it needed a splash. While I was at it I also checked the oil in the Yanmar (Galena's main diesel engine). The Yanmar 3GM30 rarely needs oil. And it didn't.

While Jane was cleaning up and getting dressed I put the motor on the dink and bailed out the rainwater. We're going ashore to check this place out.

When we get to Road Town tomorrow I'll try to get us into a marina so Jane can have a shower. She deserves a little pampering.

23 December 2005
Village Cay Marina, Road Town, Tortola, BVI
(N18 25.4' W064 37.1')
Trip: 11nm. Total: 1860nn. Eng: 938 hrs

As we came into the channel I was looking for pair of red and green marker buoys. But I saw later that the Queen Mary 2 was anchored across the channel and the buoys were right behind her, out of site.

This marina only charges $1.25 per foot. But showers are an additional $2 for a metered 5-minute shower. And electricity and water are separately metered. The showers are pretty bad. They are in a public area of the adjacent bar so everyone comes in and out and there's no door. And the men's is always a mess.

Jane and I walked down town and were a bit amazed by the number of people and cars on the narrow streets. There were 3 cruise ships in port. We had a drink in Pusser's Outpost and walked though some shops. It's all very expensive stuff.

We plan on staying here for about 3 days. Then over to Jost Van Dyke and Foxy's for the New Years Eve bash.

The Queen Mary 2 anchored across the entrance to Road Town Harbor


24 December 2005
Village Cay Marina, Road Town, Tortola, BVI

Did some walking today. Jane went grocery shopping and I went looking for charts of Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. I have some black-and-white charts but they are over 10-years old.

Galena at Village Cay Marina nestled Among the big boys

Then we walked to the botanical gardens. A very nice place even for a non-garden guy like me. Jane really enjoyed it. At the marina we had dinner and met Jan, a guy here looking at setting up a trust company. I learned a lot about trust companies.

25 December 2005
Village Cay Marina, Road Town, Tortola, BVI

“Christmas in the Caribbean”

Jane and I had a great Christmas morning. (Captain Ron: Thanks for the gift of that great picture. We both love it.)

While we were eating dinner on deck, a young lady walked up and said, “Did this boat used to be called ‘Vinegaroon'?” We were shocked. It seems that she, Nada, was the girlfriend of the son of Bob Clayton, the guy we bought Galena from. She recognized it and came by to say hi. She referred to Bob as “the grumpy Bob” since his son is also named Bob.

26 December 2005 - 02 January 2006
Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke, BVI
(N18 26.4' W064 45.0')
Trip: 13.4 nm. Total: 1873 nm Eng: 939 hrs

We drank too much last night and had a rough start today. We left the marina at 1030 and arrived here at 1400. It was a nice downwind sail. Everyone I talked to about wanting to be at Foxy's for New Year's Eve said “Good luck.” It seems that that's the hottest venue around and the harbor fills up with boats. A couple of years ago there were 300 boats in this little place. So I decided to get here early and check things out. Well, we're 5 days early. And there are only 6 boats here.

We anchored easily and well and right between two other Westsail 32's. “s/v Jealanun” is owned by Brian McKee. He runs his own company (MEI) in Arlington, Virginia. He had lived on his boat for 13 years. Now he keeps it in Salinas, PR and uses his other boat (a trawler) when playing on the Chesapeake Bay.

Half Moon” is owned by ‘Z' and Becky. They are a great couple. He single-hands it down here from the States and then she flies down. Z has been on this island so often that he's like family to a lot of the people here. He really loves this place and it shows in the way he interacts with the people and in how they treat him. Over diner he told us about how he had built his own house out of stone. Becky started bugging him about the staircase he hasn't yet completed. I'd love to see the place some day. Half Moon is a beautifully maintained Westsail.

By nightfall there were 21 boats here.

27 December 2005
Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke, BVI

We dinghied over to White Bay and walked the beach. We had ice cream and watched the other tourists play in the sun. We went to Foxy's for a couple of beers but came home at 2100hrs and called it a night.

28 December 2005
Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke, BVI

Scott and Rose (s/v Aerobleu, Hans Christian forty-something) stopped by. She's from Ohio, too. We would see them again later at The Bite, Normans Island.

Jane finds a conveniently placed pole to hold at Foxy's

30 December 2005
Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke, BVI

Spent time with John and Wanda (s/v Silver Streak) They are from New Hampshire. They are here for the party and then will go over to St Thomas to look for work. John could tell a tale or two and Wanda was a very nice girl. They came over for drinks and stayed till 0400.

John and Wanda of s/v Silver Streak

Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke.
Hundreds of boats here for the party

Jane and I at Foxy's on New Years Eve 05-06

01 January 2006
Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke, BVI

It was a great New Year's Eve party on the beach. (Or as they call it here: Old Year Night.)

We had a nice conversation with Z and Becky at Ali Baba's. Z and Baba go way back. They are the same age as us and have been married for 27 years. Z showed us a small, stuffed cat that he was given to keep him company when soloing the Westsail around. He even gave it a tattoo to match his and Becky's. Z named the stuffed cat Murphy. That way whenever anything goes wrong he can blame Murphy. When the weather gets bad Murphy gets put into a zip-lock bag. Z calls it his foul weather gear. As we do, Z and Becky plan on spending the next winter at home. Also, he's the second guy I've met who has had two Westsails.

02 January 2006
Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke, BVI

We went to Foxy's and found Foxy himself performing (pictured at right). It was a great afternoon. Foxy stopped by the table afterwards and chatted with us giving us what is surely a standard sequence of jokes and small talk. But it really made the trip complete. We went to Ali Baba's and had a great (albeit expensive at $70) dinner. Jane had the lime-garlic shrimp and I had the ribs. Wonderful food.

03 January 2006
Road Harbor, Tortola, BVI

We came back to Tortola to get our visa's extended. They only give you a 30-day visa when you clear in. So you have to request an extension and pay $10 per person to stay any longer. [Later we would find that one also needs to extend the customs paperwork, at a cost of $200.]

Tacking into about 15 knot trade winds is not fun. We motorsailed and it still took forever to go 14 miles. We had to anchor-out next to the cruise ships since the marinas were full. Out here there is 20-feet of water and it's very, very rough.

Captain Bill in his favorite place, Foxy's

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