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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Day 10: January 2nd, 2008

I woke up at 5:00am due to rain on the roof. After running around closing hatches with Hector (who was sleeping on the deck due to the heat), I started making pancakes. Getting to wake the crew up early is much easier, I find, if there's a hot meal waiting for them. As the crew stirred, I went from pancakes to eggs, quickly snarfed up my breakfast, and went outside to start undoing the noise-dampening solution I had put up the night before.

Lea, Przemek, and Heather had never had spam before, so I quickly fried up some spam for lunch. As the crew made ready for our transit, I battened down the hatches and started up the engine for in preparation for dropping the mooring buoy. When everyone had given me the thumbs up, we shortened the dinghy painter line, turned Rya Jen around, and headed out of Pirate's Bight towards the Indians.

We raised the sails once we had the Indians behind us and immediately a squall came up and blew wind and rain at us. Since we were all acclimated to the otherwise warm weather, this caused everyone to break out their jackets and put it on. As the rain swept around us, however, we were treated to an outstanding light show --- crepuscular beams came through broken clouds, rainbows, double rainbows, and even a triple rainbow appeared no matter where we looked. We pointed the Rya Jen towards Road Town on Tortola, and soon enough the rain lifted and we were treated to our usual sunshine.

Lea took the helm and we came about towards Salt Island and Cooper Islands, but with the head wind it was slow going. To add tension to the matter while adjusting the sails to get us closer to the wind the port side traveler line broke. At the same time the boat got caught in irons due to an inopportune (and quite possibly accidental) coming about. I took the helm back. Sharp words were exchanged and recriminations spread. A dark cloud settled over the cockpit as we individually stewed about the situation. Przemek got repaired the traveler by tying a Triple Fisherman's Knot on the broken ends of the traveler line, which would at least hold the traveler in place and not let it flop all over the place. Having gotten the impromptu repair in place, the Rya Jen headed back on course, though not before we caught sight of a huge cruise liner coming towards Road Town.

We sailed past Salt Island, Cooper Island, Ginger Island, and headed towards Virgin Gorda. While most Yachtsmen headed towards the Bitter End Yacht Club, our desintation was the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, first, for proximity to The Baths, but also for access to Dive BVI, who was providing us with dive facilities the next day.

We arrived at the harbor around 2:30pm, where we were directed to dock D. Apparently, they didn't provide specific slip numbers at this harbor. Not an issue, as there was a double wide slip available. Unfortunately, the wind blew our nose into the adjacent slip, and it took a bit of maneuvering before we got Rya Jen straightened out and properly tied up. This was definitely a trip full of difficult situations.

Having gotten tied up, the first order of business was to register and then to check with Dive BVI. When we arrived at the dive shop, however, we discovered that due to some misunderstanding, the dive tomorrow was not to the Rhone. To say that we were chest fallen upon hearing this news would have been an understatement. The shop employee, Casey, however, saw our distress and started calling around to see what she could do for us. Seeing her earnestness put my mind to rest, which meant that I immediately remembered that I had to get a replacement traveler line. So I left the negotiation of the next day's dive to Przemek, and went out to the yacht repair facilities, where they sold me forty feet of line for $36. It was interesting to see their yardage counting machine, as well as the heated wire they used to cut and fuse nylon lines.

On my return Przemek said that we apparently had two choices --- we could take the Rya Jen the next day to Marina Cay, where the dive expedition would leave for the Rhone, or we could leave her here, and take the dive boat along with the dive staff, but that would force us to stay at Marina Cay the whole afternoon. I was told that Marina Cay was only 4 miles away, but the truth was that Rya Jen was not a fast boat, and that would require waking up early to execute. In the mean time, we also had two non-divers who would like to tour Virgin Gorda, which we would have to leave stranded here if we were to take Rya Jen. A quick discussion had us all agreeing that it would be a good idea for the divers to take the staff boat and stay on Marina Cay.

Having agreed to stay on Marina Cay the rest of the day tomorrow, we realized that the only way us divers would get to see The Baths would be to see it today. So we quickly ate a little bit of lunch, got dressed, and went out to hail a taxi to the Baths. The taxi fare was only $3 a person, but when we got there at 4:30, as had been the case all through our trip, the ticket agent's office for paying the National Park fee was closed, so we got into the baths, grabbed the last locker free, and got into our snorkel gear.

Snorkeling the Baths was wonderful, as the rock, reefs, and water was clear, and the wildlife was plentiful. Lisa and I took off on our own and saw a manta ray, a flat fish (my first), many urchins, and lots of little nooks and crannies that were very very pretty. By about 5:20 we had tired of snorkelling and emerged ashore to see Hector. Hector excitedly started telling me about this 10-minute hike to explore the caves, which was a 10 minute hike to Devil's Bay that was both an adventure and very pretty.

With that recommendation, Lisa and I had to go explore, and we hurriedly went on our way before the sunset. The caves lived up to their billing as we had to step up over wooden stairs, climbed boulders with rocks, and in general hunt through the trails. Every nook and canny was delightful, however, and we got to Devil's Bay just in time to see the sunset behind some rocks. We headed back to the start of the trail to look for the others, but only found Heather and Hector, with no sign of Przemek and Lea.

As the beach grew dark, I started getting worried and berated myself for not remembering to pack a flashlight along with our gear. But right around 6:15 as it started to get really dark, Lea and Przemek were spotted snorkelling back to the beach. All was well, and we hurried back up to the road in the dwindling light. Our cab driver was waiting for us, and happily took us back.

Przemek volunteered to make us a pasta dinner. I showed Lea where all the water ports were, and borrowed a free water line from one of our neighbors, and started filling our water tanks. Since the line was leaky, it took an inordinate amount of time, but I wanted Lea to know at least how to fill the tanks so she could do so tomorrow if she had time. I had a chance to chat with our British neighbor, who was sailing for two weeks on the same class of boat we had (and in fact, also owned a Beneteau '39 back home in sunny England). He had only four people on his boat, however, and said that it's about the right amount of room. Every one was involved in doing laundry, cooking dinner, taking a shower, or some other mundane task, so by the time dinner was ready, it was 8:30pm. Given the level of hunger we all had, Przemek's delicious dinner was quickly dispatched and then after some time sitting and chatting, Lea, Heather, and Przemek headed over to the bar while Lisa, Hector and I got some sleep. It had been an eventful day, and I was quite tired.

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