Day 10 (May 13) – St Martin

We left St Martin today, heading for the BVIs.  The weather is still bad for heading up to Bermuda. Apparently there is a pretty big storm up north with winds strong enough to cause us problems.  Works for me, I get to see more new places.

We were able to have sails up most of the day which was a nice change. Still not the main but better than motoring the whole way. It was a fairly eventful trip with many boats being sighted along the way and a few coast guard alerts.  Luckily though, it was smooth sailing with just a bit of rain.

Nothing much happened until 1am when we reached Virgin Gorda and had to change course. This involved taking down the pole that was bracing the Genoa. Lots of fun when half asleep and in the pitch dark. 🙂

Day 11 (May 14) – Virgin Gorda, BVIs

P5140139The BVIs are lovely. Once we were checked in at virgin gorda we headed to the caves at devil’s beach. Apparently this beach was named one of the top 10 in the world. Photos from Devils Beach Photos from the rest of the BVIs

We anchored out and then swam into the main beach from the dingy. From there it was a 20 minute walk through huge boulders and the Baths to get to devil’s beach. It was beautiful and the white sand and turquoise waters are just what you think of when you picture Caribbean islands.

In the afternoon we motored to Tortola and anchored out in a lovely little harbor.  Everyone else went ashore but I am tired and craving alone time so I am onboard listening to a group of people sing gospel on shore.  I plan to go ashore for a bit in the morning to look around.

Day 12 (May 15) – Norman Island, BVIs

Explored Road Town a bit this morning. Cute, but sleepy little town. This is a cruise port though, so I suspect that when ships are in things pick up significantly.

The marina across from us is full of charter boats – particularly catamarans.  Apparently island hopping in the BVI/VIs is very popular.  There is good snorkeling/diving, and all of the islands are close together so you can just sail a couple hours each day to get somewhere new. I can definitely see how that would be fun to do with a group of friends. Since we are going to be here a few days, we are going to do some of that island hopping to check out some local bars.

It took us about 2 hours to sail to our next stop at Norman Island. It was great to be under sail the whole time! We are anchored in a little bay with about 20 other boats, probably 90% of which are charters. There is a bar/restaurant on the beach, but we are here to visit Willy T’s bar. It is an old sailing ship which is permanently anchored and has been turned into a double decker bar and restaurant.

The bar had a pretty good crowd considering it is off-season a bit. There were 3 large groups, a couple small groups, and us. Everyone I spoke to was from the USA – though one group was new yorkers who had relocated to Puerto Rico – which got west side story stuck in my head. 🙂

Judging from the pics playing on the TV of past visitors, I would say we were pretty tame as I saw neither boobs nor body shots. 🙂  it was a fun night, and my first real night ‘out’ on this trip. Generally I am asleep by 9 pm. 🙂

Day 12 (May 16) – at sea

As Nic, being pregnant, was the only one not hung over in the morning, we got a rather late start. The plan was initially to spend a few more days island hopping, but we found out we were supposed to have good winds north so we decided to make a break for Bermuda.

After refueling, we all ran errands. My responsibility was to restock our fresh food supply which was easier said than done. This supermarket was horrible. Their freezer didn’t work so everything was defrosted and out of date. I couldn’t find any meat I felt comfortable buying. Ditto for the non-refrigerated dairy section. The fruit was somewhat better, but I am very glad that this was not our final resupply or we would have been hurting.

For me, it wasn’t a big deal, but Steve, with his ‘meat every day’ requirement threw an absolute fit about not having anything to eat – even with a whole boat full of food. His dietary requirements are a pain in my ass.

After his panicked purchase of a bunch of very expensive and completely inappropriate food, we headed out at around 5 pm.

I saw my first biolumescence in the wake tonight and my first shooting star of the trip.  Both were pretty damn cool!

Day 13 (May 17) – at sea

At sunset tonight, after a very uneventful day of sailing, we experienced engine failure. It isn’t clear what happened, as the engine worked fine the day before, but when we started it to recharge the batteries today it went ape shit. At one point it was smoking so Nic and I were standing by with fire extinguishers.

Luckily we have solar to power the instruments but we will be in trouble if we hit cloudy weather, or worse, a squall.  We are continuing north to Bermuda under weak winds and we are on energy rations, so I won’t be won’t be writing much until we arrive.

Our arrival should be interesting as we have no way to control our entry into what is apparently a very narrow harbor.  We are in touch with the local coast guard so we shall see what happens.

Day 14 (May 18) – at sea

After a day of just managing 2-3 knots/hour by manually chasing very weak winds, things started to pick up around sunset. The increased winds are a double-edged sward as they’ll increase our speed, but the reason for the increase could cause problems.

As the sun set, it perfectly highlighted the storm off to port.  Massive clouds causing heavy rains were not an exciting sight. More worrying were the 3-4 clearly defined funnel clouds dropping from the storm.  Rain is one thing, tornadoes are another. Without an engine to help steer us into the wind and waves, things could get dicey.

11:30 pm: things hit the fan with the wind at about 9:30 pm.  It got gusty and rough. At this point, the sails are in tight as winds like this could easily damage the mast/boom and then we would be really screwed. I am currently wedged sideways in my cabin as we are on a strong heel and, I admit, kinda freaking out.  I adjusted my life jacket for the first time and have it ready to go just in case.  Going to try to get some sleep and hope things calm before my watch.

Day 15 (May 19) – at sea

Our fridge died today which means all our food that we stockpiled for the crossing is bad and will need to be replaced. Lots of money down the drain.  This is the result of the boat being on such a sharp heel for such a long period. Apparently the fridge doesn’t like it any more than I do.

Shitty weather again tonight. High winds and rough seas = stressful watch and no sleep.  We are all getting snarky so we’ve broken out a tin of mixed chocolates.

Day 16 (May 20) – at sea

Kind of at the end of my rope. I haven’t slept or sat really comfortably in a few days now and my back is killing me. Being on a strong heel means you can’t ever just relax, you always have to brace yourself and you get flung about – a lot. I am coming to dread the atlantic crossing and it is tempting to jump ship in Bermuda. If we end up getting stuck there for weeks waiting on repairs I might have no choice.

One thing I have learned on this trip: I am a day sailor, not a passage maker. I have zero desire to do a multi-day passage again.

To just pile on more shit, one of the lines supporting the boom snapped tonight.  Apparently we don’t need it to sail but we do need it to take down the main so we will have to figure out how to repair it before we arrive.  Theoretically, we should arrive at around dawn in two days.

Day 17 (May 21) – at sea

It is amazing what a difference a good night sleep and calmer sailing can make. Steve let me sleep through my midnight watch so I got a solid 8 hours of sleep. I also changed position so I wasn’t braced the whole time so I could relax a bit. I no longer feel homicidal.  Not sure if he let me sleep through because he knew seas would be rough and he’d have to stay up anyway or because he knew I was on the edge but no matter what the reason, I was thankful (and everyone else probably was too as I was getting a bit bitchy).

While the seas were rough at the start of the night, with high winds, in the early morning they came around on our side from the nose which means we can still get good speed without being on a strong heel and we are hitting the waves at an angle instead of head-on so we are rolling over them vs bashing into them and bouncing all over the place.

This no electric thing is getting old. I am running out of printed reading material. They’re kind of freaked out that it took less than 72 hours for me to finish all three 50 Shades of Grey books. They understand more why I have my tablet.  Will hope for a sunny day tomorrow so I can recharge a bit. I drained my laptop battery today topping up my tablet and mp3 player.

Pulling out my sleeping bag ’cause it is getting cold, and to bed at 9 pm in prep for a 3 am shift. It’s getting colder. Have to wear pants, shoes and a couple top layers on watch now. Glad I brought as much as I did.

Day 18 (May 22) – at sea

Quiet day with very little wind.  We cranked up the tunes and tried to take in some sun before our arrival in Bermuda tomorrow. Much of the day was spent trying to figure out how we were going to manage getting into a narrow harbor with no power and how to manage the sails with a broken top lift. Should be interesting.

The highlight of the day was showering. It was our first shower day of the trip so, no matter how much I dislike sea showers and showering underway, it felt good to be clean. Can’t wait to do laundry!

Day 19 (May 23) – Bermuda

Woken at 12:30 am to help manage the sails. We lost almost all wind and what was there was coming in the stern. It took about 90 minutes to get it all arranged from removing the preventer, switching out the spinnaker halyard for the top lift then hoisting the Genoa brace but we got it set. Highly challenging to do when half asleep, in the middle of the night, and with no engine to steer appropriately, but we got it now. We have a friend in convoy to help with a tow in case we lose all wind but right now we are making a slow, but steady, 3.5 knots which should get us in around lunch time.

Went under tow at around 3 am as the winds died completely. A friend on another boat that Steve and Nic know from Scotland was keeping close to help. They towed us for about 10 hours, all the way into the harbor. At that point we rafted up because Bermuda customs require that you bring your boat to dock. Navigating the anchorage with two boats tied together was interesting and most of the people on the boats in the area came above to watch.

Finally we were able to anchor and we popped our bottle of champagne with Chris and Steve (from our tow boat) to celebrate a safe arrival, after which I headed to shore to explore for a couple hours.

St. George is a cute town, but I look forward to moving to Hamilton which seems to have more going on.  That should happen Monday.