Friday, May 12, 2006

Finally in the water and on our way down-island

10th May 2006 - 12th May 2006
Finally in the water and on our way

May 10, 2006 Wednesday

We did manage to get launched from haul out around mid-afternoon on Wednesday, May 10. (I am starting to use dates and days of the week because we are already losing track of those little details)

It was incredibly hot and humid that afternoon. Not a bit of breeze. They brought out the travel lift and told us to get off the boat. Boat was lifted so that the painter could prime and paint the bottom of the keel, which had been resting on large blocks of wood on the ground. The chocks were removed and the boat sat nicely in the slings while the painter finished his work. Bruce had already re-installed the serviced prop and tightened the line cutter. But we had not yet added the 8 liters of oil to the U-drive (this was drained when the prop was removed).

So, after the painter finished the bottom of the keel, the travel lift promptly moved the boat to the launch area and we were wet again; but we couldn’t start the engine and move the boat until we added the 8 liters of oil. Only took a few minutes and then we moved to the end of the working dock, where we spent the night in air-conditioned bliss while it rained all night.

Before the rain started, Judy made one final provisioning trip to the supermarket across the street; once again refusing to buy items on her shopping list because some of the prices were simply exorbitant. We will change our eating habits before we will pay some of those prices. We also found our way back to the harbor bar and shared a dinner of fish and chips and Heinekens while listening to a local band. Very pleasant evening.

But we never got any pictures of all the iguanas at the bar. This bar/restaurant was set right on the edge of the mangroves and there were iguanas all over the place. One day there were at least 20 of them scurrying about during lunch time. They ranged in length from 2-ft to 4-ft, some with colorful throat “hangings” and all with spiked heads and backs. Zachary and Elisabeth would have loved watching them – probably from standing on top of the table or bar, as they were a little scary looking when they would venture too closely to our legs.

May 11, 2006, Thursday

We left Benner Bay on the 9:00 a.m. high tide. Only ran aground once during our departure and felt the keel scraping bottom a few times. We like the people at the boat yard, but really don’t like their shallow entrance. It is a fairly long channel and extremely shallow. Not sure that we will go back there for another haul out for this reason. Bill had gone to the boat yard office and was able to get the item printed, signed and faxed back to work; so that task was done and meant that we wouldn’t have to stop at Cruz Bay and hike up to Connections for their services.

It was raining when we left, but we managed to get off the dock and handle the dock lines ourselves. Good thing since there was no one around in the rain to assist with line handling. By the time we reached open water, it was pouring heavily and impossible to see much past the bow of our boat. Thanks to the United States Army, Bill is excellent with the radar. So he stayed below and shouted up instructions to Judy at the helm. We didn’t let a little rain stop us from moving on after having spent 8 days up in the boat yard.

By the time we passed Johnson Reef on the north side of St. John, the rain had cleared and we made a sudden decision to head over to Jost Van Dyke and visit Foxy’s one last time before leaving BVI. (Yeah, yeah; we know we were being illegal by not clearing BVI Customs; but what the heck, we weren’t going to waste time doing that.)

Anchoring was easy in Great Harbor, for a change. Usually we have to attempt anchoring at least 3 times on that grassy bottom, but it set beautifully on the first try. We took the dinghy in to Foxy’s dock and ordered hamburgers and pale ale for lunch. A friend had asked us to buy him a new Foxy’s tee-shirt, and this would be our only chance to do that. (Hey Bob---we got you a shirt with a pocket. No choice in graphic design, as they only had one version with a pocket. Bill will mail it to you when he is in Houston for work next month. Postage from BVI is way too expensive.)

After listening to Foxy doing his usual “musical” comedy routine during our lunch break, we were off toward Virgin Gorda. We motored with the wind directly on our bow the entire way. Sea was totally flat with lots of tree branches and debris washed off Tortola from the morning heavy rains. But the afternoon was perfect for motoring eastward because it remained cloudy so we didn’t have the western sun beating on our backs all afternoon.

We anchored just north of Leverick Bay mooring ball field in Gorda Sound, and cooked our first dinner aboard since we arrived May 1st. The freezer on this boat works extremely well. In the future we will have to decide what we are cooking for dinner a little earlier in the day, because Bill was starving by the time Judy had defrosted the chicken in the microwave and finally got it cooked. On our old boat, the freezer did not work nearly so well. We could take out food for dinner and defrost it on deck in the breeze in ½ hour or so. The chicken quarters taken from our present freezer were still hard as rocks even an hour after removing them. Will take some getting used to, but very glad to know the freezer works so well.

May 12, 2006. Friday

Today was laundry day for Judy, while Bill took a taxi down to Spanish Town to get our reserve propane tank filled. We wanted to get this done before we head down island. Don’t want to leave without a reserve supply of cooking gas since it is used both for main stove and also for the grill that mounts on the life rail.

The washing machine works just fine, and diesel to run it is less expensive than using island laundry which typically costs $5 to $7.50 per wash load and the same per dry load. That is if you are doing it yourself. To have a laundry service wash and dry 3 towels in Sopers Hole last October cost us $15. So having the washing machine on the boat is a good thing. But we do not like the dryer at all. It leaves the clothes still moist. Bill thinks it is not vented properly. So he will add that to his never-ending list of future chores.

We now have laundry hanging on lines on the boat. Just like trailer trash with crap all over the place. I’m sure the people on the other boats near us think this looks trashy. But it will dry very quickly, so they can just deal with it.

We plan to leave for St. Martin tonight about 8:00-9:00. It is an overnight passage of about 90nm (that is nautical miles for all you non-sailors). A nautical mile is slightly longer than a statute mile like you have on land. This passage is normally done at night so that you can arrive during daylight hours. This enables you to see all the reefs around Anguilla as you approach St. Martin. Weather forecast is perfect with SSE winds of 8-12 kts and seas of only 2-3 feet. Hopefully we will be able to motor sail instead of having to motor the entire way with our nose directly into the wind. We hope to be able to nap a bit this afternoon since we will be awake all night; but Judy has finally started to read The Da Vinci Code, so nap might not happen since she doesn't want to put down that book.

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