We left Nevis by 1030 on Tuesday and had a good sail past St Kitts, Statia and Saba, all islands we hope to visit in the future. There was quite a lot of swell though, on the beam and the winds were between 15 and 23 knots for the majority of our 168 miles to Tortola. On my 0000 – 0200 watch the wind kicked up to 30 knots with a rain shower thrown in and I had to raise Rob to help me reduce sail as we were tearing along!
Even with 2 reefs in the main and 2 in the genoa we were making over 7 knots and as we approached Salt Island Passage at the BVIs it was still dark, so we had to take in the genoa altogether to slow down to 5 kts and the sun had risen by the time we went between the islands. I was very uneasy approaching the islands in the dark and would have turned around rather than go in.
We sailed here in 2007 with our friends John and Freda and enjoyed the short hops and lovely bays. It was very easy sailing and a great holiday but now we are cruisers rather than holiday-makers the BVI are probably not the best place for us anymore. The first issue was clearance, which I undertook in the offices in Soper’s Hole. They were unable to clear the 3 of us in as Jack is either leaving on a flight or perhaps as crew on another boat as he wants to return to St Lucia but we have no tickets or date yet. In the end I had to say we would take him out of the BVI with us, which we may have to do.
We came here to meet some UK friends who leave on 2 Feb but another couple are arriving on 20 Feb to sail with us for 2 weeks. Unfortunately we are not allowed to stay here more than 30 days without seeking an extension at the HQ in Road Town and paying a boat temporary importation tax, which we don’t want to do. Instead we need to clear out and back in later on, via the USVI if the noonsite information is correct. So next week we will get a ferry to the American side, obtain a visa and return here to get the boat.
Another problem for cruisers is that most of the area has mooring buoys laid which is good for holiday-makers as they don’t have to worry about anchoring, dragging and swinging room but at 25 US$ a night, the costs soon add up. Water is charged at 25US$ for 100 gallons so it is still far cheaper for us to run the generator and make our own. Food and eating out is also much more expensive here than further down the chain as the area is full of charter boats with plenty of money to spend.
We were lucky to find a couple of empty moorings in Soper’s Hole as we arrived at about 1030 but noticed that it is rare that there are many free by mid morning as when one boat leaves, another quickly takes its place. As we work around the BVI we will try to update the cruising pages with the current situation on different islands.
This all said, the area is beautiful and we are looking forward to exploring it again and heading up to Anegada, the reef island north of Richard Branson’s Necker pad.
The decks got a good scrub this morning during a heavy rain shower. Rob and I both got into our swimwear and took a brush each to clean everything after the trip from Nevis had left a covering of salt. The boat isn’t looking too bad for all the miles she has done. We hired some scuba gear and Jack scrubbed the barnacles off the prop which has been in the water since May and was completely encrusted. We will haul the boat out in September/October when she will need another good cleaning off as the warmer water is having an impact.