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Monday, May 01, 2017

BVI 2017: Day 6 - Long Cay to Privateer Bay (Norman Island)

Sandy Spit is easily one of the smallest islands you'll find anywhere. According to Strava, it took Arturo and I less than 90 seconds to run around it. There's but a single palm tree on the island, and it is in fact the quintessential small-boat experience in the Caribbean. We got up at 6:00am, ate a leisurely breakfast of Mac & Cheese, and still got to Sandy Spit by 7:00am from Long Bay. We dropped the anchor, watched a bit to make sure it held, and then snorkeled in to check the anchor before swimming or taking the dinghy to the beach.

Once on the beach, we ran around the island a few times, Bowen and Boen played with sand, and we generally had fun. The water was still too churned up for good visibility, and we reluctantly agreed that Jost Van Dyke wasn't going to be fun diving on this trip. At 8:00am, we had had enough. Another boat had pulled up to Sandy Spit and we could tell that they were waiting for us to leave: as soon as our dinghy left the island, their dinghy headed exactly for the landing spot we had picked!

Looking at Arturo's dive guide, the best candidate was Angelfish Reef, on Norman Island. We hoisted the dinghy, and sailed towards Soper's Hole to pick up water and final provisions for our last two days. Once again I was struck at how idyllic the place looked: except for a few ferry boats and one tiny cruise ship (obviously a luxury cruise ship), we were surrounded by sails.
In Soper's Hole, we were extraordinarily efficient, sailing all the way to the mouth of the harbor before dropping sails and starting the engine, then simultaneously filling up with water and reprovisioning. Our dive tanks were still full. We then motor'd back across the narrow channel and then raised the sails again.

This time, we had to gybe several times, lining ourselves up with Nanny Cay before being able to make a beeline for Angelfish Reef. At Angelfish Reef, we found that the mooring buoy provided was yellow, meaning that it was supposedly only for commercial vessels. We took a chance and tied up to it anyway, and then proceeded to dive. Xiaoqin got to dive this one, while I would take Bowen snorkeling.
The snorkeling wasn't all that good, but while waiting for the divers to come back, I had time to notice that there were white mooring balls available closer to Norman Island. The divers came back just in time for us to vacate the mooring buoy to yield to a commercial diving vessel. We moved to a white mooring ball, but just as we were settling in we saw another boat vacate an even better mooring ball, right up against the caves! We immediately jumped on it: we were now such a smoothly working team that we had no compunctions whatsoever about redoing a mooring.

In the afternoon heat, we turned on the generator and the AC, but really, the far better solution was to get into snorkeling gear and go snorkeling. This time, with the surge gone, I could take Bowen all the way into the caves!

When Bowen was done with snorkeling, I took Xiaoqin out and we got to see a turtle feeding! It was a great experience. Everyone reported that the conditions were much better than our first day some 5 days ago, with clear water and no surge. There was no question that we would stay here for the night.

The sunset lived up to the standards we expected in the Caribbean. Golden, beautiful, and with a sea-breeze to cool us down. For a change, nobody was ill on the boat, and with a full moon in the night there was no more romantic place in the world.


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