Sadly we left Anguilla behind us and sailed off into the sunset but at least we had time for a wonderful lunch at Roy’s Bayside Grill with Bob and Lin and caught up with the news.
At first we had a fast, comfortable sail but as darkness fell the wind dropped and we resorted to motoring for a few hours. We saw several fish pot markers on our way out of Anguillan waters and these continued for over 10 miles off the coast. Rob and Steve kept watch with a torch but just as we thought we were out of danger, we hit one and several pieces of plastic bobbed up behind us. The big worry is that a tough bit of rope gets wrapped around the prop and is too strong for our rope cutter to slice through. Worse, the impact could pull the shaft out or break the engine mounts and water could flood in.
Fortunately, nothing sounded or felt amiss and we turned south instead to get into much deeper water, some 2 miles away, rather than carrying on towards the BVIs and the deeper water being 8 miles distant.
Later on during the night, the wind picked up enough for us to deploy the genoa and sail at 4.5 – 6.5 knots and turn the engine off for the crew to sleep. We sailed past Necker Island once again, showing Steve the plastic palm trees on the sandy spit on the reef south of Necker. In a brisk force 5 we made our way into North Sound on Virgin Gorda and anchored in Gun Creek where Customs is located.
To say the difference between the friendly officers in Anguilla and those in Gun Creek is extreme would be an understatement. After a long, tiring day and night I turned up to be greeted with not a word of welcome or even a good morning in response to mine. I said I had filled out an arrival submission on the online system and the reply was that the office was ‘new’ and they didn’t use it. Seeing as Rob used this office in February 2012 we aren’t quite sure what ‘new’ means or how long it will take them to implement it. The only words after that were ‘1 dollar’ for the long paper forms and ’47 dollars’ for the cruising permit. Not a please, thank you or goodbye and I was ashamed this was a ‘British’ island to be honest.
Anyway, back to the boat to move around the bay to Leverick Bay and we decided to splash out on a mooring buoy, as 100 gallons of water and a bag of ice are included in the 35 US dollar nightly charge. With the southerly wind, this side of North Sound was by far the most sheltered. We all slept for a while before heading ashore to check out the laundry, supermarket and marina. I bought 5 tokens for the launderette, for 3 cold water washes and 2 dryers for 15 dollars (around 10 pounds). There are 4 machines for each and they take 45 minutes a cycle. I just soaked our towels and sheets overnight in hot water first. The supermarket was expensive, as expected. This is charter boat heaven so the prices and service reflect the abundance of holidaymakers with lots of cash to splash.
We had a quick drink during Happy Hour but nearly missed it, as it was quite early, 1500 – 1700. The Oooh Aaarrgh Pirate Show is only Monday to Wednesday nights now, so we sadly didn’t get to see Steve trying to blow a conch! They have an all you can eat BBQ on Friday nights but it was 38 dollars each with drinks on top and we figured we could buy a lot of food for our own BBQs instead and enjoy a relaxing afternoon on the boat so opted for that.
Next we had a gentle sail west going north of Tortola and spent lunch hour on a buoy near Little Jost Van Dyke but with a south westerly wind howling into the bay we decided to move to Cane Garden Bay on Tortola. We had literally just picked up the mooring, got 1 of our 2 lines attached and were still running the engine, when we were approached with the greeting ‘come to collect 30 dollars for mooring’! This place just gets better and better. After a reasonable meal ashore we had little rest as a waterside bar had loud music going on throughout the night until 0515 Sunday morning. How the local residents put up with it I’ve no idea but we won’t be returning.
So off to Soper’s Hole next and a wander around the shops. Some nice clothes to resist but the tower of chips was one we all couldn’t. It was good to be back in this pretty little harbour and take a photo of Rob in the same position as in 2007 for old time’s sake. The supermarket is still well stocked, on 2 floors, with lots of fresh provisions. You can also take a little trolley straight to the dinghy dock nearby.
Then it was on to Norman Island, to one of our favourite bays, Benures. Just 3 boats the first evening and clear water right down through 30 feet to the sandy bottom. Bliss. In the morning I saw a huge barracuda next to the hull, lots of fish and we got the dinghy down to get to the headlands to snorkel in the sunshine. We checked the hull for any marks or damage after our collision with the fish pots but there weren’t any signs at all. Lucky. More boats arrived in the afternoon, one of which was a catamaran gently dragging her anchor across the bay but the owner was found on another boat, nonchalantly having a drink and not in much of a hurry to rescue her! It was a lovely relaxing day capped off by drinks on both ‘Beyzano’ and ‘Infinity B’ with Frank and Mandy, fellow OCC members who came over to say hello. That’s why we all fly the OCC flag after all.
For Steve’s last couple of days we visited Cooper Island and their beautiful beach resort. They have a coffee shop, rum bar and beach bar, with great service and a view to die for. The mooring buoys are 30 dollars a night but we didn’t begrudge paying it for the ambience of the resort. They have good WiFi in the Rum Bar and a nice menu, so we would happily visit Cooper Island again! We ran the newly fixed water maker there too, which is now incredibly quiet and efficient.
Tomorrow we plan to get up early and hope to find a buoy near The Baths, so Steve can visit them. Then it is on to Trellis Bay, right next to the airport for his last night. The 3 weeks has flown by and we had to pass by a few islands but have been lucky with the weather on the whole. It was ‘educational’ for Steve to endure the rolly nights in Nevis and St Kitts, as not all of our time is idyllic. Honest!