Sunday, March 31, 2013

1710, March 31, Kelly Cove, Norman Island

The author of the cruising guide to the BVIs says he has stayed over in White Bay on Jost Van Dyke at least four different times, and has never had a good sleep due to the rolling. Well, if he'd been with us last night, it would have made five nights. For us though, despite the rolling and bouncing, and despite Stress Free Ivan's 70th birthday celebration, we managed to sleep pretty well after the almost sleepless night before. Nevertheless, the bouncing of the mooring ball against our hull woke us up around 6:00 this a.m., so we got up to see if the Easter Bunny had made it to the boat.

Sure enough, a few treats had materialized in the night. Katie and I weren't sure how he got here – we thought maybe he had strapped sea turtles to his feet, a la Jack Sparrow.

With the boys still asleep, and Katie eating the ears of her rabbit, Sara and I were keen to get moving, in the hopes of finding a quieter spot to spend tonight. We dropped the mooring ball and motored out into the open water between Jost Van Dyke and Tortola. In a couple of minutes, we were in moderate waves and 25 knots of wind. Given that we haven't sailed much for a few days, we raised the main with a reef in it, and let out the jib part way. We flew across the water to Tortola, hitting a new personal best speed in this boat of 8.5 knots. It was pretty wavy but not too bad, and it was probably only about half an hour before we gained the shelter of Tortola Island.

Once we rounded the corner, we could see a line of dark rain clouds beyond Tortola, so we thought we would duck into the old pirate's hideout of Soper's Hole to wait out the weather. The problem was, it was only 8:00 a.m. by that point, and no one had left Soper's yet, so there was really no room inside. We did a quick cruise through the boats there, then headed back out. By this time, the rain seemed to have blown through, but there were still pretty dark clouds south of Tortola. We decided to chance it, and headed out into Sir Francis Drake channel.

We raised our sails, again with reefs in both, and shot off upwind, with big waves building, right on our beam. The action got pretty wild, and soon everyone that was inside the cabin came up on deck to try and stave off motion sickness. As we moved along, the wind and waves continued to build, and we were seeing gusts up to 28 knots, and were pounding into bigger and bigger waves. With an unfamiliar boat, the kids up on deck, and my mobility limited by my sea urchin foot, I started to get nervous about our ability to safely sail in the weather. We decided to exercise discretion as the better part of valour.  We dropped the sails, fired up the engines, and made a beeline across the channel for Norman Island.

It stayed wild all the way across, but once we arrived in Kelly Cove, the high walls surrounding the cove protected us well from the wind, and we managed to pick up the only free mooring ball in the cove, right up next to shore. It was the flattest and calmest the boat had been in more than 48 hours.

A quick explore in the kayak proved that there was still a booming wind just around the corner in the Bight, and also that there were lots of fish right beneath our boat. So I threw on my snorkel gear, and cruised up and down the walls of the cove, seeing the best assortment of fish we have had the whole trip. It wasn't long before all the kids were in on the action, and we have all gone for at least two long snorkels today. The highlight was seeing a sea turtle up close, but there are lots of other great fish and corals right beneath us. In fact, there are a couple of temporary national parks dive moorings right at the mouth of the cove, and we have watched commercial boats come and go on them throughout the day, dropping off people to check out what is right underneath us.



So now, after a good snorkel, we are all back on the boat. It has been a cloudy and rainy afternoon, and we are taking advantage of that, and the calm conditions in the cove, to have some downtime. The kids are all watching Pirates of the Caribbean on the iPad, and Sara and I are relaxing with some books. Hopefully the sun will be out again tomorrow, as it is will be our last day on this boat.

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