After provisioning and getting our outboard fuel (79 GB pence a litre) and water (1.4 GB pence a litre) in Jolly Harbour, we only had an hour at anchor before we headed off into the sunset.
The lee berth was set up for one of us to sleep during the night and we had a meal ready for just before dark. We optimistically hoisted the sails, keeping a reef in the main in case of squalls during the night but it soon became apparent that there wasn’t enough wind to counteract even the slight amount of swell and the sails and boom started flapping and banging until we gave in and motored instead.
So, through the night we just motored along, rolling gently in the swell until dawn. The stars were numerous and bright but the new moon didn’t rise until gone 0300 so it was quite dark. Rob did the 1000 through to 0200 watch and I took over for the rest of the time, seeing the sunrise after 0600. Not much shipping, just a couple of cruise ships, one of which came within a mile of us near St Kitts.
We then had a decision to make. Did we carry on motoring for another 24 hours to our original destination, St Croix or should we divert to Ile Fourchue, just north of St Barts, which was only 3 hours away? We opted for the latter, so headed north and arrived to find 3 moorings free at 1145. Good timing.
The bay is very protected and the water is beautifully clear but it is a popular lunch stop for charter boats heading between St Martin and St Barts, so does get busy. It can also be rolly when the wind dies and we did suffer that for a few hours, facing out of the bay. The final issue is the mooring ball banging on the hull in the lulls, fixed by lassoing it with a third rope and dragging it up out of the water.
The 9 moorings are well maintained with big pick up hoops, so very easy to hook. If all are taken you can anchor west of them, in sand. People dinghy to the beach, light fires and have BBQs or just take a walk on the deserted island. The scenery within the crater like bay is nice and there are a couple of good snorkelling spots to swim over to and lots of turtles popping up to breathe. You can also see the sun go down and look out for the ‘green flash’ whilst you enjoy your sundowners. We rested, had a walk, a BBQ on the boat and swam, all very pleasant. As usual, we recognized several of the boats in the bay.
The island is privately owned and completely wild with glorious views of the surrounding islands, Saba to the west, St Barts to the south and St Martin and Anguilla to the north. We didn’t find it difficult to get up to the top of Ile Fourchue and it didn’t take long. At the top of the island our phones got a signal, so I sent a text to my son, Owen, to ask him to check the weather for us and it seemed that Tuesday and Wednesday were still forecast to be slightly windier, a better prospect for actually sailing to the USVI’s rather than burning up diesel.
As we were still on our yellow flag and not cleared into any island, we thought it best to move on and then decided it would be nice to visit Anguilla again as we didn’t spend long enough there last year and had promised we would return. It is also possible we won’t get here in April when we do the Antigua to BVI route again, with Steve, as we might choose the Montserrat to Saba chain of islands instead. So, here we are, on Plan C, anchored in Road Bay and cleared in with the friendly customs officials in their beach front office and looking forward to seeing a bit more of this proud island, still very keen on their British links. The customs form is very simple and there is no charge for clearing in for private vessels less than 20 tons, if you are only visiting Road Bay. The charges are quite high if you want to sail to the off-lying islands in the marine park, or to some of the other bays and most of these are day anchorages only, on park moorings if available. There is a 5 US$ clearing out fee per person though.
We can also check the weather again on the Internet or listen in to Denis’s SSB broadcast at 0745. Thursday and Friday look like the best days for us to continue on to the SVIs but via the BVIs and USVIs due to the easterly wind angle. As preparation we left the bay this morning to hoist the cruising chute, a sail we haven’t used since December 2011! It actually went up very easily and with a big plastic ‘sock’ to douse it down again, we wondered why we don’t use it more often. In light winds we were doing almost 5 knots. It has a little red and blue smudged onto the white fabric, presumably because it wasn’t totally dry when it was last packed away but it still works.
During the past few days, thousands of yellow butterflies have been fluttering across the sea wherever we have been sailing. Some landed on the boat for a rest, others continued across the open ocean and some ended up floating in it. I thought they were dead but Rob saw one fly back up into the air, sent upwards on our wake and giving it the impetus to get airborne again. We did wonder why they are all making this hazardous journey, heading east, when thousands of miles of Atlantic Ocean is all they have in front of them.
Meanwhile, we have just a few non-local boats as neighbours in Road Bay and know 4 of the 9 here, including Chris Doyle, whose Cruising Guides we use! It is shallow with a 2-metre patch to avoid but we still anchored quite close in, with 1.4 metres under us and it is calm and peaceful. A small cruise ship has visited each day, ferrying passengers in to the dinghy dock, some going to play golf, others taking a day trip on a small, wooden yacht called ‘Tradition’ and others staying around the many beach restaurants. Tomorrow we intend walking the few miles to the capital ‘The Valley’ as we didn’t get there last time, getting our dive bottles filled and scraping off the 6 barnacles we have on the hull. If the weather is still good, we plan to leave around 2300 on Thursday evening so we get most of our 16 hours sailing during daylight hours for flying the chute. Hopefully we will be in Virgin Gorda in the BVIs by mid-afternoon on Friday.