Thursday, February 9, 2012

Parrtyyy Harrtyyy Haaarrrgh!

Above: White Bay and our trusty Dinghy with Mike and Dan

So today is day seven.... I almost hate to
say it just cuz saying it is admitting our Caribbean Adventure is almost over :( Well i guess if i dont leave then i cant come back... so ill just try to enjoy it while it lasts... So anywho, we awoke this morn to find that Rich and i were assigned the joy of making breaky break, (breakfast). We took our duty quite seriously and Ill venture to say we made the most delicious eggs ever consumed above water! We scrambled them with saute'd mushrooms, onions, ham, and finished it with a some nice melted Parmesan on top. They were quite delightful i must say! After eating we made the ship ready for sea, closing hatches and the head through-hull fittings. Then at the order of admiral Mike, Russ and i hopped in the dinghy, and hand-pulled the chain of the stern anchor up, and on board. We went foot by foot, pulling the dinghy along by virtue of pulling up the chain until we arrived just above where the anchor lay, buried in the sand beneath about 7 feet of clear blue water. I next commenced pulling the anchor up and over the sponson of the dinghy, and heaving it on board. (and feeling quite manly in the process i might

After pulling up the bow anchor with the windlass, we motored out of White Bay and headed east toward the Thatch Island Cut, (the small passage of water tweenst Tortola and Great Thatch Island). And just after we hoisted sail guess what we saw?!?!?!? Dolphins!!!! a whole herd of em!!! lol i guess "school" would be more correct. This was quite a treat, as i have never seen bottle nose dolphins in the wild. We turned off the Navigation instruments (the depth sounder can irritate their sensitive hearing) and watched as they breached and played while swimming past us. Really cool :D

Capn Sharon handily guided us through the "Cut" and we steered a course south and east to the Caves of Norman Island. We had a nice wind and made it there around noon. Upon arriving we ate lunch and everyone set out to experience the caves. Mike said that the first cave was deep enough that we could paddle the dinghy into it really far. Sounded like an adventure so i was all for it! So Sharon, Susan, Rich and i piled in and paddled our way inside. It was really dark as you got farther in, and super exciting, like Indiana Jones!!! Check out the pic! After getting to where the cave dead ended (uhhhh kinda scary choice of words.... D: we turned it around ( quite the tight squeeze) and headed back out. We then met up with Mike and group snorkeled around the point. Mike then headed back to the boat, so Rich and i performed a sweet amphibious landing, in the last (3rd) cave. This last cave actually opened up and led from the water filled entry filled with schools of fishes, and ran right out onto the beach! Twas to good to pass up so Rich and i took off our fins and climed up through the cave and out onto the beach. You can see the opening back to the cave in the pic of me on the beach.

We then headed back to the boat and motored around the point into the bight on Norman Island. We set anchor near its eastern shore, and then Russ, Shannon and I set out to explore the island. After some gift shopping and hiking up to an awesome view point (my profile pic) we headed back aboard to clean up for dinner ashore.

Of all the dinners ashore, this was our most pleasent and memorable. We all really enjoyed our meals, i had the vegetarian Roti with mango chutney, many others got the local snapper, ummmm :P This restaurant had a quartet of local musicians performing and we all danced a bit to the good vibes. As we were just about to leave the lead singer called me up on stage and, me, not wanting to leave her hangin, went up to join her. She started to seranade "No One" by Alecia Keys so i commenced getting jiggy with it! I danced along with her lyrics and tried using the Jamaican roots to do my Caribbean forefathers proud lol...

Sue was kind enough to get it all on camera, check out the pics :) We all had a good laugh and by the end she gave me a big hug for being a good sport... You know me, there is no i in Da Gabesta.... at least i think there isnt...

And a few more

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sandy Spit n' White Bay

So this morning we awoke and got off to a slow start. So slow that the ruby dawn went on without us. I suspect they feel we sail a bit faster than them, so they wanted a lil bit of a head start... ;) After pulling anchor Russ, today's el capitan guided the prosecutor through the buoys marking the entry/exit to Anegada and we made for Sandy Spit just next to Jost Van Dyke. We sailed on a broad reach, one of the nice smooth and relaxing points of sail. Russ dealt with the Seas handily. Since today was such a long sail, we split duties up into two for the day and Shannon took the wheel from about midday on.. She's had a bit of sea-sickness lately but once she took the helm, it cleared up and she was in complete control. We headed to sandy spit, that beautiful little island with intense turquoise water and white choral sand beach. Not to mention all of those teeny tiny little perfect shells that I like so much. Ruby dawn was already there, so we beached our dinghy and joined their crew in exploring the island. After completely walking around it (about a 2 minute walk) we donned fins masks and snorkels and explored the reef and it's sea life. We then un-beached (is that a word?!!?!) the dinghy and headed back to the our ship, pulled up the anchor and motored west toward white bay. A small rain squall was at our back and by motoring we were hoping to outrun it. Unfortunately a speed boat we are NOT, and we got caught in the rain. At first it was a lil bit of a shock to the system, but then i realized that it was still 80ish degrees and I needed a fresh water shower anyway to rinse off the salt. After that I embraced it and got out from the cover of the bimmeny along with Rich and some of the rest of our crew. It was refreshing, like a summer rain, and all who were doused also enjoyed it...I think.. lol After the squall passed and visibility increased we headed into the eastern side of White Bay and dropped both bow and stern anchors. This was something new for me and I learned a lot. We actually manually put the anchor and hundreds of pounds of chain into the dinghy and motored it out about 70-80 feet from our stern and dropped it over board. We then hitched it to our port stern cleat. Afterward, Mike, Dan and I dove down to check the anchors making sure they were set. They had both dug in beautifully and were nicely set. We also saw that we only had about 1-2 feet of clearance under the keel of our boat! This meant our depth sounder was totally off, as it currently read 5ft!!! Things could have been very bad... White bay was beautiful! Palm trees lining a gorgeous white beach with clear blue shimmering waters. At the west end is the world famous Soggy Dollar Bar. Home of the original "pain killer" a delicious concoction famous in the BVI made with coconut milk and fruit juice and rum! We beached the dinghy, meeting all from the ruby dawn to enjoy the sunset on the beach with icy cool beverages in hand. After sunset we headed back to the boat and enjoyed dinner. Tonight's menu? Steak, baked potatoes, peas and red wine. With a small celestial lesson laying out on the bow to follow dinner. Life is good. All thanks to the Creator. - Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Open Waters tweenst Anegada and Jost Van Dyke

I Tarzan - You Anegada

So today is day five and it turns out that the "ruby dawns" wifi connection is a little more difficult to use than I had hoped for, so sorry about the slow updates. Well anywho, we awoke this morning and ate breakfast, then dinghy'd in to shore to the world renouned 'Bitter End' yacht club. While the others looked around at the shops I tried to find a wifi signal. After we finished up onshore we made our way back to the ship, raised sails and headed out of the sound with mosquito rock at our back and open waters ahead. Twas an amazing day for a sail. We had about 20-22 knots of wind with 6-7 foot swells! Amy was our captain and she was up for the challenge. The waves were taking us on our starboard side. Each swell would try to force the bow of the boat to come up into the wind and off of our chosen course. It requires quick concise action to be able to keep us on a steady heading, reacting to every will that the sea was trying to impose on us. Fortunately for us, Amy was more than up for the challenge! Mike gave us all a quick description of the needed adjustments and Amy got the hang of it in smart fashion. We then all took turns on the helm, giving others a chance to experience the true willings of the Caribbean. I was fortunate enough to have had prior experience with these conditions, so I was longingly looking forward to my opportunity. We sailed on a beam reach point of sail with great speed. We hit 9.5 knots/hr at one point (our current speed record for this trip)!! Just as we did two years ago, we kept a keen eye out for Anegada, as it is a true danger with its extensive coral reef system. We found the red and green buoys that formed the gateway to our anchorage. Amy threaded the needle as she expertly navigated the entrance. We then turned bow into the wind and dropped anchor. We made such good time that we had the whole afternoon to relax, tan, swim, snorkel or just whatever. Having personally resolved that I would not need a vacation after my vacation, I grabbed my beach towel, iPhone n buds, laid on deck and commenced bronzing to Jack Johnson's greatest hits.. It was nice, real chill :) Mike invited the crew of the Ruby dawn over for Tarzan rope and appetizers before dinner ashore. They arrived about 430. Mike and I brought the spare main halyard from the port to starboard side, then I tied figure eight and bowline knots in the end of the line. Mike then demonstrated and we all followed with our best interpretations the famous "ayyyayAyayayayayahhaaa!!" Most of our crew gave it a try. Sean and Kevin made good showings for ruby dawn, but try as we might we couldnt get Whitney and Mary Beth to give it a swing. Maybe next time... We enjoyed company and apps as the sun set slowly on the western horizon, dipping gradually into the ocean.

Our guests then went back to the ruby dawn to freshen up and get ready for dinner ashore. As i was stowing some stuff before we left for dinner, Mike paid me a very kind compliment. I'm not sure if it was the rum pain killers talkin or what?!?!? (just kiddin). I wouldn't spoil the compliment with too much detail, but he said i was a great young man with a purpose, and had so many other kind words i was about ready to I dont generally have a huge amount of respect for many people (outside of the common courtesies and dignities deserved by all) , but i do have alot of respect for Mike. So the compliment really meant alot coming from him. I wanted to put it in the blog, not to brag, but just so i wouldn't forget it . We had joint reservations for 7ish. The restaurant was right on the beach. Between the calming sounds of the waves of the ocean, and the beautiful lights, it has a great ambience. Before dinner we all talked and made some drinks in the bar of the restaurant, (this place let's you mix your own. Sweetness!!!!)

Our table was very long, seating 16 people in all. We enjoyed entertaining conversation, including Sue's infamous story about her encounter with Mr. Mexico, which has somehow oddly found a way into the inner recesses of my memory, I know I'll never forget it..even if I ;) And Whitney made special request to make it into the blog so here you go Whit, your famous now! lol

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Open Seas from Virgin Gorda Sound to Anegada

Sailing Action

Captain Dan masterfully navigates the channel!

YouTube Video

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Francis Drake Channel

Monday, January 16, 2012

Anchors A-uh-waita-minute?!?

So today is day four and I am definitely getting tired of this main salon sleeping thing. I mean it's not all bad, my beds pretty huge, but some of our crew like to wake up very early to make coffee, and it's starting to infringe on my beauty sleep!!!! ;) So after a not so bright and cheery morning start, we talked about onboard systems (electrical, engine etc) and made way to The Baths of Virgin Gorda. We made great time, our winds were strong, about 15 knots, and we sailed east, tacking a couple times as we approached the baths. (see sailing videos) Once we were greeting close to The Baths I saw that intense turquoise blue color of the water in the distance and I knew we were close. It really is amazing. So we pull into the harbor and start looking for a mooring ball to tie up to (the ruby dawn had already gotten one). There are none left, so we decide to drop anchor. But just when we're about to cast anchor, the windlass quits working! Crap! What to do. Well between Mike, Rich Sharon and myself, we took it apart just enough to free the passage of the anchor chain, then we formed a human chain and dropped it down manually. Crisis averted! Crew of the Prosecutor-1 anchor windlass-0 Ha!! We the swan ashore and after climbing through those huge amazing granite boulders and baths, did a little snorkeling in the clear blue waters, then hopped in the dinghy for a ride back to the boat. Once aboard we had a delicious chef salad waiting for us that Debbie so graciously prepared. I love eating super healthy when I'm down here, just fruits veggies and salads and stuff, natural, and not too heavy. It fits the warm climate amazingly... Since we had a good deal of ground to cover and not alot of time to do it in, we made haste to set sail for Virgin Gorda sound. We want to reach our destination in daylight so as to avoid the reefs that form a narrow channel of entrance into the sound. Haste we desired, and it was haste indeed that was made! The winds kicked up again, and we shook out the reef in the main sail that we had carried this morning. Making full use of both our sails we made great time, cruising along at up to 9 knots of speed, our bow crashing through the waves. I lay on the deck as we cruised along, soaking up the warm sun rays and making shapes out of the big fluffy white clouds in the sky. I think how today I'm finally hitting my stride. I mean during every boat trip i enjoy, it takes me a couple days to really get my body in tuned with the motion of the boat, the mighty hull as it storms through the seas. It's easy to be a Lil queasy the first few days, but this time I'm feeling great pretty early, so I'm very glad for that. Once there's no sea-sickness, theres nothing to dampen the beauty of the sights and experiences surrounding you. We pick up a mooring buoy after arriving in the sound and enjoy BBQ chicken, rice, veggies and cheesecake with blueberry topping! Boat-alicious! After dinner we lay out on deck, gazing at the stars and feeling the wind cool us down after a long day of sailing in the heat of the sun. Tonight the stars are the brightest they've shined thus far. I love the peace of it all.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Virgin Gorda