We have mostly recovered from our sleep deprivation on the long haul down to the islands and have been enjoying the chance to swim again in the clear blue water. After getting the boat back up to snuff and taking care of some chores in St Thomas, we have now moved on to the BVI’s for a few weeks before we continue further south.
On our arrival day, we settled into Christmas Cove and after enjoying a fresh pizza from Pizza Pi (the Pizza Boat) on their opening day we were in bed by 7pm. The next morning I rose with sun and after a beach run with Magnus and a cup of coffee I quickly got to work on converting Altera from ‘passage mode’ to ‘cruising mode’. All the items that are really only used on passage are now tucked deep down in the hard to access compartments on the boat while the snorkel gear and other frequently used items are now readily accessible.
This year on the trip down I had put our anchor in the anchor locker, firmly wedged in between our fenders. Our old CQR didnt’ fit in the locker, so this is a huge bonus with the new anchor, and I would certainly do this again after watching the bow punch into numerous waves on the trip down. With the anchor back in action, we are impressed with the performance having finally had the chance to see how it has set, but I am waiting to try it in a few of the anchorages where the old one was lacking before putting out my opinion on the blog.
With all the rain and spray we had, the interior was overdue for a good drying out so we pulled the carpet out to dry and mopped out the bilge, which thankfully has stayed mostly dry since. We have been waiting for a day on the dock to thoroughly rinse our foul weather gear so it too can be stowed as we hope not to need it much for then next little while.
Our Autopilot has been a bit of a mystery. I cleaned up the wiring and it is no longer blowing fuses and seems to be mostly operational. We had to recalibrate the electronic flux-gate compass as it was reading a reciprocal course, but it has only thrown an error code a couple times since. With internet access, we have found a few more tests to run to help identify if it is really the computer, or possibly just worn gears in the mechanical linear actuator. Raymarine claims there are no ‘user-servicable’ parts inside, but if the troubleshooting suggests that the actuator is the problem, you can bet that I will be peeking inside.
We cleared into the BVI at Soper’s Hole, and apart from our message to the Vet not making it, causing a few hour delay to clear in with Magnus, everything was straight forward. We later spent 2 nights at Norman Island to swim and hike. Of course no trip to Norman Island is complete without a trip to the Indians for snorkelling.
And of course, we visited Willy T’s for an evening. This time of year you get a mix of locals, charterers and charter crews that are taking in their last chance to relax before they are booked solid. We met two couples from Vancouver Island, a couple on their first sailing tour of the BVIs from Virginia and later got the scoop on what it is like to move to the BVIs and buy a business from a local tour operator.
Yesterday we departed Norman Island in the morning, stopped at George Dog at noon for a snorkel and lunch, and then carried on to Virgin Gorda, North Sound to meet up with the Salty Dawg Rally in time for the arrival dinner party.
Magnus watched carefully as we entered the North Sound with the look of excitement in his eyes as he recognized Prickly Pear Island where he has played a lot of frisbee and done a lot of swimming in the past.
We enjoyed a great West Indian style buffet for dinner with the rally where we shared a table with the crew on Perseverance and exchanged stories with the other ‘under 40’ crew to sail the offshore route to the islands.