Saturday, March 30, 2013

1925, March 30, White Bay, Jost Van Dyke

Last night we had a great illustration of why going on a sailing vacation is not the same as going and hanging out in a resort for a week. Sometimes the stress associated with this kind of trip makes it feel a bit less like a vacation, but a bit more like an adventure. After I wrote yesterday`s post, the wind continued to pick up, and with it the waves started to build. The wind was directly out of the east, and the waves had a good half mile to build, so they were pretty big by the time they hit us. With the night getting dark, the wind was gusting hard, and we really started to swing on our anchor. I knew right away that I wouldn't be sleeping well, even if I tried. It may have been a bit of overkill, but the wind and waves were getting strong enough that we decided to post an anchor watch for the night. So, Sara went to bed about 8:30, and I sat up keeping an eye on nearby points of land to make sure we didn't drag anchor or have any other untoward occurrences. Fortunately, Sara can sleep through just about anything, so she fell asleep pretty quickly. I sat up in the salon listening to the boat get banged about, and reading. After a few hours, eventually I dozed off on the settee around the kitchen table, too, trusting the GPS anchor alert on my iPhone to wake me up if we drifted at all (it is a good little app – I recommend it for any boaters reading this).

Around 0315, Sara got up and we switched – I went down to the berth, and managed to get a few hours of sleep myself. This morning, we were both up by 6:30, and we had the boat moving by 6:45, looking for a quieter place to spend the day, and hopefully the night. We headed around the corner and cruised down the south side of Jost Van Dyke, passing Little Harbour, then Great Harbour. We pulled into White Bay, and although there were quite big rollers coming in here, we picked up a mooring ball to see what it would be like. We were just in front of the surf breaking over the reef, and occasionally a wave would hit us and rock us pretty hard, so we switched mooring balls, and ended up the perfect distance in front of the reef – close enough to watch the waves break right nearby, but not so close that they were affecting us much. It is still fairly rolly and active in here, but nowhere near what we had last night.

It wasn't long after we got here that the 3 or 4 foot waves breaking on the reef made me think I wished I had a surfboard with me (and that I knew how to use it). Then, it occurred to me that I might be able to catch some waves in the kayak. So I headed out, and sure enough, I was able to get some really good rides on the kayak. I have tried that kind of thing a bit before on the west coast of Canada, so I had a sense of how to steer the kayak and paddle hard to stay on the wave. It was really fun, and I only got dumped once. I touched the reef with my foot as I got back in the kayak, so knew it wasn't too deep, but there was no harm done.


After I paddled back to the boat, Sara and I went ashore to walk along the really pretty white sand beach. Not much here other than beach "restaurants" which are really just open air shacks selling food, drinks, and T-shirts. The famous Soggy Dollar Bar is one of the places along this stretch of beach. We checked out their menus, but they are really not geared towards kids. It is hard to justify spending $25.00 on a meal that you know a kid will not enjoy, and will probably only eat half of. One of the great pleasures of travelling by boat is that you have your own kitchen, and your own food with you wherever you go, and we all tend to prefer eating on the boat, making food in portions and styles that we are more used to.


Nevertheless, we were looking for an adventure for lunch, and we needed a few more groceries and some gas for the dinghy, so we headed back out to the boat, and piled everyone into the dinghy to head around the point back into Great Harbor. Great Harbor is the most developed bay on the island (despite its name, it is still not really that big – lots of mooring balls, and one dirt road, with a few more beach bars, and a single grocery store). It was a pretty damp dinghy ride, with strong winds still blowing from the east, right in the direction we wanted to go. We all got a bit wet, but the sun was out again, so it didn`t bother anyone too much.

The famous restaurant in Great Harbor is called Foxy's, and it has a reputation as a real party place. That's why we avoided mooring in Great Harbor, although the beach there looks nice.

We walked along the one beach front road, and checked out the grocery store. We then popped into a beach front bar and grill for lunch (called Corsair). The service was typical BVIs; slow and a bit surly, but the food was really quite good. The kids all had burgers, and Alexander said it was the best he had ever had. We took advantage of the free WiFi to Skype a call to Grandma and Grandpa back on Vancouver Island.



After lunch, we grabbed the dinghy gas tank, and set off in search of boat gas. Luckily, the one gas station on the island was open, and actually had gas and oil, so we managed to replenish our supply for the outboard. I am pretty sure we wouldn't have had enough to get back to the boat otherwise. Driving around with a dinghy full of a family of five really burns up the gas. While Alexander and I got the boat gas sorted out, Sara and the other kids went and got a few groceries. It looked like it was threatening to rain again, so we hopped in the dinghy, and hightailed it back to the boat, this time running with the waves, so staying drier.

Back at the boat, the wind was up, and so was the surf on the reef behind us, so I decided to take the kayak out again, and see if I could repeat my success of the morning with the surfing. The kids popped into the water for a quick swim to cool off.

It took me even less time to get the hang of it than it had in the morning, and I was getting some really great rides on the waves. After a while, a guy on a stand up paddle board joined me, and he started getting some great rides in, too. Then, a couple of teenagers came out in kayaks. I got a big ego boost when they asked me where I was from. They told me they were from the BVIs, and were surfers, but had never surfed in a kayak before. They were pretty impressed at what I was doing, and they started to try and follow me into the waves. Sure enough, my middle aged ego took the bait, and before long, I was hitting even bigger waves than I had before. It was tricky, though, with a bunch more people on the waves to try and avoid. Pretty soon I got caught broadside to a wave, and got dumped again. Just like in the morning, my foot hit the reef, but this time, I managed to step directly on one of the big spiny sea urchins they have here. These aren`t like the little urchins we have back home. They are about the size of a 5 pin bowling ball, and have spines that are about 4 or 5 inches long. As I learned to my dismay, they are sharp like needles, and will pierce the bottom of a foot easily. In the first picture below, that is me waiting for a wave just over Christopher`s shoulder. You can see how close to the boats the waves are breaking.


I jumped back into the kayak, in quite a bit of pain, and paddeled back to the boat as quickly as I could. Once on board, we grabbed the tweezers, and I managed to pull out five or six of the longer spines. It was unnerving to see how much spine came out each time I pulled, followed by a small gush of blood. The spines are quite brittle though, so lots of them had broken off at the skin, and try as I might, I couldn`t get them out. There are still about twenty or so in the bottom of my foot, looking like so many slivers from an old board. It is too sore to put any weight directly on the foot, but I managed to miss my heel, so I can hobble around that way. I have read about people stepping on sea urchins that have some kind of toxin in their spines, causing excruciating pain up their leg, so I am feeling pretty lucky that this doesn`t seem to be that kind of urchin. It just feels like a whole bunch of slivers in the bottom of my foot, but nothing else, and there doesn`t appear to have been any reaction so far.

Anyway, after that little adventure, I laid down to have a nap, which is probably what I should have been doing in the first place. The sounds of reggae from Ivan`s No Stress Bar floated out over the moorage. Apparently it is Ivan`s 70th birthday today. After napping for a bit, we had another good boat dinner, and we are just settling the kids down for the night. The waves are still moving the boat around a lot, but we are on a solid mooring ball, and are looking forward to a more secure night, with a much better sleep than yesterday. The band is just firing up again though. Hopefully Ivan won`t party too late. After all he is 70. Although apparently stress free – he may be able to sleep all day tomorrow.

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