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Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Virgin Islands 2014: Tortola to Norman Island

We got off the plane, spent a night in St. Thomas, and then took the ferry to Tortola to spend our first night on the Conch Charters catamaran, Sail Pending.

From Virgin Islands 2014
The Sail Pending was a 10 year old Leopard 43 that looked like it had been well used. Some of the hatches wouldn't seal properly, while everything felt just a bit loose. I'd always said that I'd take an old, well-maintained boat over a newer boat that'd been abused any day, but this was pushing it quite a bit.
Nevertheless, Sail Pending was half the price of all the other charters available at this time, so it was either this boat or we wouldn't have done the trip, given my difficulty in recruiting crew on short notice. Joining me this time around was Arturo and Amy, who were also present for the previous BVI trip.
From Virgin Islands 2014

As sail briefings go, Conch was very personal, but also very casual. In addition to going over ship systems, we were also given a chart briefing that was mostly unnecessary, but still a good refresher. Our dive equipment arrived just as the briefing was over and we were ready to sail. The engine tachometer on the starboard engine didn't work, despite the staff's attempts to fix the problem, but we promised not to over-drive the engine anyway, since we were in a sailboat!

The seas were high today, as were the winds. Rather than go out with reef'd sails, we were told that just opening up a reef'd jib and sailing downwind would get us to Norman Island on a broad reach rather quickly, and indeed we got there in a record 45 minutes! What was even better, my favorite anchorage, Kelly's Cove, had a mooring ball open and we quickly took it.
From Virgin Islands 2014

Then, it was the requisite visit to the caves, followed by a visit to shore where we did some light hiking. Sunset from Kelly's Cove was gorgeous as usual, and we got a dinner of Pasta as everyone was too tired to cook that evening. It was a rollicky night, but with the exhaustion from travel, we all got plenty of sleep.

From Virgin Islands 2014

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