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Friday, April 13, 2012

April 5th: Leverick Bay (Virgin Gorda) to Deadman's Bay (Peter Island)

From Screen Captures

Our original plans for making it all the way up to Leverick Bay was to do some of the dives in the northern part of the British Virgin Islands, and maybe stay another night in the North Sound at the Bitter End Yacht Club or anchor near Marina Cay. The north swell crushed all of those plans. Many of the sites on the north end of the BVI become impossible to dive in these conditions. We scrapped all the plans in favor of heading back south into protected waters so we could do more diving and have a good night's sleep.

From Escape Catamaran 2012

The morning started with Arturo and I getting the boat ready to get to the fuel dock. The mooring lines were once again a little tangled, but this time we recovered it without having to get into the water. The swells were no worse than the night before, and the docking went relatively smoothly, especially after a gentleman from a nearby boat picked up a line and pulled us in.

Once we filled up with water, the dockmaster looked impatiently at us while the folks who hadn't had a land shower took one. We left at 8:30am and motor'd out for another look at Necker Island before heading down south, jibing one way or another to plot a course south. Our plan was to look for a southern anchoring spot, but as we approached salt island, we saw that we had swells coming from the south as well, so that nix'd that plan also. As we emerged into sheltered waters, I noticed a sailboat that looked familiar. As we drew closer, to my excitement I realized that it was the Rya Jen, the same boat I first sailed these waters in. We hailed the Rya Jen over the VHF but nobody replied. I would later find out from a fellow traveler that the folks who chartered that boat were not very good about monitoring the VHF. It struck me then just how fast catamarans were compared to monohull boats. The Rya Jen looked like it was standing still in the water, compared to us.

Coming around Salt Island, however, we noticed that the Rhone site seemed to have plenty of mooring buoys open, and the water wasn't bad. We picked up a mooring and discovered that there was a stiff current flowing against us from the Rhone Reef direction. The entry into the water and the first 15 minutes of swimming against the current was tough. There was always a feeling of not knowing whether we were going to make it to the dive site before we ran out of air.

From Escape Catamaran 2012

Once on the Reef itself, however, the current all but went away, and we were able to explore freely. Shauna had an equalization problem and had to return early with Steve, but Arturo was game to keep going, and had no problem finding all the locations the dive guides had shown us previously, including a good view of a shark that was apparently sleeping the day away.

From Escape Catamaran 2012

Though it was cloudy, occasionally the sun would come through and we would get beautiful views of the Reef, taking our breath away.

From Escape Catamaran 2012

After the dive, we did not have a lot of time left, and decided to start looking for a place to anchor. I made the decision to head towards Peter Island, where there were multiple harbors on the north side of the island which ought to be well protected. On the way there, however, we had a pleasant surprise: 4 dolphins had decided to come play with us, swimming ahead of our hulls!

From Escape Catamaran 2012

As we approached Peter Island the dolphins fell away but we swept into Deadman's Bay, which looked gorgeous and as we approached seemed to have an empty hole in the middle where we could drop anchor and not swing into other boats.

From Escape Catamaran 2012

The cruising guide describe Deadman's Bay as being a tricky anchorage, occasionally difficult to set anchor because of the grass mixed in with the sand. It took me two tries and re-reading the user manual on the boat to figure out how to do it. It turned out that I had always ramped up the engine to about 3000rpm to set the anchor. Well, a catamaran has two engines, so revving them to 1500rpm is what would do the trick. Do any more, and the anchor might not hold. Third time was the charm, but not trusting ourselves, Arturo and I snorkeled to the anchor just to check it out, and reassured ourselves by checking some nearby boats as well, seeing that they actually didn't do as good a job as we did. We spotted many star fish around at the bottom, but the snorkeling actually wasn't that good.

From Escape Catamaran 2012

After waiting for the boat to settle and making sure that the anchor didn't drift, XiaoQin, Arturo and I swam ashore to look at the beautiful beach and walk along it. Being a privately owned island (though as with the entire BVI, the beaches are always public), the beach was nearly deserted, with most guests in their rooms or at dinner. There was a dinner table set up outside, but we never saw guests show up.

From Escape Catamaran 2012

On the swim back, XiaoQin demonstrated how much a difference the fins made: try as we might, neither Arturo nor I could keep up with her or even come close. When I asked XiaoQin about it afterwards, she said she wasn't even kicking hard or at maximum speed. We settled back to eat dinner and watch the sun set in the gorgeous area that we had found ourselves in.

From Escape Catamaran 2012

After the glorious sunset, we were treated to an even more impressive show: the moon rose and the lights in Tortola went on, granting us an absolutely glorious, ethereal night. I didn't plan the trip this way, but today was nearly a full moon, and tomorrow would be a full moon. Until you've sat on a sailboat you've anchor'd under a full moon and the stars, listening to the waves lap and feeling the boat move beneath you, it would be difficult to understand how romantic sailing really is. There are no sounds you didn't make yourself, and there's a sense of satisfaction that's difficult to share as the moonlight permeates the landscape around you, giving everything a beautiful, mysterious glow. It was dream-like in its lucidity. We stayed up as late as we could, enchanted by the experience. But we had early morning the next day, so turned in and slept like logs.



Martin √únsal said...

Hi Piaw, it looks like you had a great trip and I am filing away a bunch of ideas for next time I am in BVIs.

Two things that come to mind as suggestions:

1) When we moor a cat, we always take a single long dock line from one bow, run it thru the mooring pendant and back to the other bow. It never gets tangled, though I can see how it is not redundant and if the mooring looks sketchy I might run 2 seperate lines as it sounds like you did.

2) When there's a long swim to a dive site I bring a snorkel and do the surface swim on snorkel. Save air for the dive. But with BVI depths maybe it doesn't matter ! And if there's a swell running it's more comfortable underwater.

Piaw Na said...

We were asked by Horizon to always take a backup line. We always have a snorkel with our dive gear, but we rarely take a long swim on the surface, since we have a boat. :-)