Monday, January 21, 2008

Anchoring Antics/Leaving Jost Van Dyke

Jost Van Dyke is a very popular stop for the chartering crowd. It’s a nice big anchorage but fairly deep in the middle. There’s room for many boats but then more keep coming! It’s an amazing thing to watch. We had made a little run over to White Bay thinking about getting a mooring ball there but got aced out of the last ball. . . twice! Rats! Back to Jost where we on purpose anchored pretty far out against the eastern shore in about 4 meters (about 2.2 fathoms) of water. Then the fun starts. We just sat on our boat and watched the endless parade of 40+ foot Moorings catamarans come to try and anchor. Here’s the basic charterer’s anchoring drill.

1. Drive straight into the middle of the obviously crowded anchorage at at least 5 knots.

2. Have crew members hold there hands up in random positions to demonstrate to the helmsmen that there arms still work and have not been severed by the anchor chain. . . yet.

3. Assume the boats around you are anchored in Jello-O and will remain stationary for you.

4. Drop your hook and let out about 15 feet of chain (standard 1:1 ratio) to put you right between two other boats with about 10 feet to spare on either side.

5. After swinging near one or the other of the boats next to you and/or dragging to the one behind you, haul up your anchor and go back to step 2.

I’m not kidding we watched one cat do this at least 10 times. They arrived in plenty of daylight and in total darkness they were still at it. The whole time we were watching there was PLENTY of room out behind us. I think there is a clustering mentality that tells people that if you are not with the other boats you’re doing something wrong! Well, things were fine out by us. I say out by us but I’m talking maybe 200 yards (182 meters) farther from shore! What a hoot. I don’t mean to make fun and I’m not. I just think it is a funny phenomena.

The next day we got away early to head south around Tortola to Norman Island. Norman Island begins a chain of islands running to the north east. These islands along with the big island of Tortola to the north form the Sir Francis Drake Channel which is not a cable thing but it should be. In order from south-west to north east you have Norman, Peter, Salt, Cooper, and Ginger (NO! Maryanne!). These lead to Virgin Gorda the big island to the east of Tortola.

It was windy but we had a very nice reach to the south to enter the channel between Tortola and St John. Once around the corner the wind was right on the nose (of course) and howling! I think the narrows there funnel the wind. The nature of the sea was good news/bad news. Good news - looks like the heavy current here was with us. Bad news - that put the current against the wind and makes for steep chop. So, although this was only to be a run of about 12 miles we found ourselves out there beating hard to windward under reefed main and motor for about 5 hours. Nothing real violent just annoying howl of the wind and busy at the helm for the whole time.

We made the bight in Norman Island which is brimming with mooring balls. They’re not free but this harbor is very deep and anchoring would be a real challenge. We picked up our mooring ball and sat back and just waited for the man to come collect the money. Naps happened. Dinner happened. The man never came. We saw him go to several boats around us be he kept skipping over us. Cool! Knowing that if we stayed another day we’d have to pay we didn’t even launch the dingy but decided to just make a short hop the next day to mooring ball free bay. The wind howled all night.

Up at 0530 for the off shore report and to make the coffee. That’s as close as I come to a routine. We were ready to go in no time since we had hardly been there and got off before 0700. We were in no mood for a long beat today so just went around the corner of Norman to Benures Bay (or do you say Benares Bay?). There were only 3 boats in there! Yeah! We managed to anchor without waking anyone (I think) and what a beautiful spot. High rocky hills surrounding clear crazy blue water. I checked on the anchor and could see it clearly in about 10 meters of water (thats 1000 centimeters!).

We had more coffee and made breakfast during which the three boats left! See ya! Oh, how great it is to be the only boat in a beautiful anchorage like this. We launched the dingy and loaded up our snorking gear and set off. We’ve learned that you snork where the pelicans are diving. Boy, did that work here! Lots of fish and coral and beautiful water to snork in. We checked out two different spots along the shore and both were filled with fish. It’s not yet noon.

In the afternoon we were joined by two catamarans but they don’t seem to have the clustering gene like the boats from Jost had. Tomorrow, maybe we’ll stay. Maybe we’ll go somewhere. The winds are supposed to be heavy well into next week so short hops are for us and we’re in a good place to be doing that.

Time out for a picture of Mismo crawling up my 'Kool-aide'!

We stayed. This is a really pretty anchorage with great snorking. We have nothing but time so we decide to stay another day. I used part of this day to paint another hunk of the white in the cockpit. It’s looking good! A lot of this is technique. Not too much paint and you have to really flow it out with a foam brush. I’m using West Marine Topsider paint. It’s got a high gloss and dries very hard. I also need to paint the non-skid areas and am open to suggestions as to how to do this. Same kind of paint? Add sand? How to prepare this bumpy surface for painting?

Yesterday a big old Irwin came in. Probably about 50 feet. Obviously a charter with a man and wife owner and 4 customers. They anchored pretty far from us and that’s nice. Then, later in the day they moved their anchor to be right by us. Why? The problem here in this bay is that we don’t really feel the east wind. The winds are swirly and so is the water. The result is that boats here tend to just bob around on their anchor. We end up about on top of our anchor no matter how we set it. OK. But now we have two boats doing the random bob right next to each other and sure enough we started moving together. Worse yet, the captain took the customers for a ride to somewhere in their dingy leaving only the wife behind. Usually in this kind of situation my position is, "Hey, you moved on top of me so YOU do something". Now she is alone on a 50’ monster. Now we are about 10 feet apart and our engine is on. She asks me if I want her to haul in 50’ of chain. There’s a lot of things I want her to do right now and this is actually on this list so I say, “Go ahead”. Well, that was useless because like me she is sitting on top of her anchor. Never mind. . . we’ll move. I’m hot as it is a pretty big deal for us to haul anchor as the windlass barely works (remember the 7 magnets?) and I have to haul chain mostly by hand which I begin to do. As I’m grunting and straining she comes over in her dingy and ties on to us and starts babbling about how they used to cruise and would we want a bottle of wine and blah, blah, blah. I turned from my labors and said, "HEY!, We’re a little busy right now”! She took the hint, left the wine and beat it. We had to drop and haul anchor twice to get it to set again FAR from the Irwin. My next boat will have torpedo launchers and I’ll be stalking 'Sandcastle'!

It rained off and on the rest of the day and then it poured with lightning all night. We did sneak in on more snorking trip and it was spectacular. We think the shoreline of this entire bay, probably a mile or more, is all great snorking. We saw the usual suspects of fish and lots of our favorites - Ranbow Parrot fish. They are amazingly colorful.

Maybe we won’t get away tomorrow! Holy CRAP! I’m almost out of books too!

After an long night of rain and lightning we awoke to Enee slowly drifting to shore. That ain't right. Although we had more or less resigned ourselves to another day to avoid a really crappy sail this bobbing about is getting really old. We haul (actually I do the hauling) anchor and plan to just go about 3 miles to Peter Island and anchor there. Sue had a peach cobbler working in the oven and on the way the fire went out. Our SECOND propane tank is dry! A quick mental inventory tells us that without propane we can eat olives, crackers, peanuts, raw potatoes, and canned peas (we refuse to eat the cat. . . so far). So, Sue got on the radio and found a marina in Tortola that could provide propane. We head there. This too is only a few miles but whoop what a nice driving rain and wind. We dock at the Village Cay Marina in Road Town. Very nice. This little stop not only allows us to fix the propane problem but to get a few things at the grocery store. It was actually hard for us to remember the last time we hit a marina. Back in Ponce PR we did a couple of awful days. One thing interesting about marinas is all the pretty boats. We may have the smallest boat here!

Tomorrow off to Cooper Island!


deborah said...

Forget the torpedo launchers. I have some nice sharp 2x4's that worked real well on EH dock

Brian said...

What's going on down there? In the last picture you look like you're shivering. Deborah and I should get real jobs.

Anonymous said...

You said "fathoms" first time in the blog....very cool.

You seem to be going metric...arghh!!!

Marker Dave

Jennybug said...

I have to agree with Marker Dave - Speak english :-)

I have a question - Is there a fee for dropping anchor? Or can you drop anchor anywhere in the Virgin Islands? When available are the mooring balls expensive?

Mismo is growing like a weed!!!! What are you feeding her?? Fresh fish maybe?


laura said...

We were just bemoaning the fact that exactly one year ago this week we were in the BVI. Jost Van Dyke was one of our stops. We also HAD to go to the Bitter End Yacht at the urging of one of the wives on board. No one wants to travel with an unhappy wife! Here in PA today our temp is 7 degrees, exactly what is was here last year when we were down there gloating in the sunshine!