Wednesday, March 24, 2010

11 Days, No Riding

I cannot remember the last time that I went 11 days without getting on a bicycle. It was probably after I crashed in Florida and separated my shoulder, but even then I doubt that it was 11 days. Even after they had to sew the shoulder back into place, it was probably less than 11 days before I was back riding (albeit slowly and carefully).

Oddly enough, however, I didn't miss the bike this past 11 days. A week in paradise will do that to you.

We flew out at 6 AM Sunday. It felt like 5 AM, since we had just "sprung forward" about three hours ago.

Lynn and Vida Greer were with RandoGirl and me. We used lots of coffee this day.

After two relatively painless flights, a slightly more painful ferry ride, and an expensive taxi ride, we arrived at Nanny Cay Marina nine hours later. We quickly checked in and had lunch.

Unfortunately, by the time we finished going over the boat, stowing everything, getting ice, and signing a lot of papers, it was almost dark. We stayed at the marina on Scallywag (our home for the week) with a light dinner, and turned in very early.

The Nanny Cay Marina showers are about the nicest marina showers that I've ever used. Since the winds were very light that morning, we all partook of these fabled marina showers, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast on board, and finally motored out into Sir Francis Drake Channel.

The channel runs down the middle of the British Virgin Islands, so is a great place for sailing. All navigation is line-of-sight, which means that you pick the island you want to go to, and head towards it. And, yes, the water is really that blue.

Since it was so calm, we just went across the channel to Norman Island on this day. We snorkeled around the bay, and motored over and snorkeled some caves there. Then we got cleaned up and motored over to the beach, where we spent the afternoon hanging out, drinking, and generally goofing off.

See? We're smiling, and there are no empty painkiller cups on the table.

For dinner that night we went over to the Willy T's, which is usually a wild spot. The dinner was decent, the drinks were strong, and the floor show was meretricious. We were all still pretty tired from a busy day, and turned in early again.

We were all up early to head for The Baths today, but it was still after 9 AM by the time we got there and all of the moorings were taken. Rather than join the boats already trolling around waiting for an opening, we headed east below the bottom of Virgin Gorda and sailed up on the outside.

The winds were still pretty light, so it was slow going. Vida decided that she could swim faster than we were sailing, and jumped in with a cushion. She soon discovered that the boat was moving faster than she had thought, so I had to go get her with our dinghy (which we had named "Scooter" by this time). This gave us a chance to get some "action" shots of Scallywag under sail.

Once everyone was back aboard, Lynn and Vida went up on the foredeck. This gave them the proper vantage point to see a small pod of whales that swam past us.

Okay, so this is not exactly the best whale picture you've ever seen. That small white spot on the horizon is where one came up. Honest, they were broaching and splashing and all of that stuff that whales do -- I'm just not a good enough photographer to get their picture.

Eventually, we got bored, dropped the sails, and fired up the engine. It seemed as if the wind came up just as we got to the top of Virgin Gorda, but that's always the way wind seems to be.

Although it was just after 3 PM, there were not many moorings left in the North Sound. We picked one up off Prickly Pear Island, enjoyed a short swim, got cleaned up, and went over to the Bitter End Yacht Club for dinner.

We started the day exploring Saba Rock and the Bitter End, and then decided to explore it in greater detail. We booked a couple of rooms at Bitter End, then motored over to the fuel dock.

The water tanks on Scallywag were somewhat undersized for the four of us, so we topped off our water tanks while we packed for the night. Then Lynn and Vida went ashore and RandoGirl and I picked up another mooring. We had to hang around and let the motor run for another hour to charge the batteries before we finally took Scooter to shore.

Lynn and Vida had already gone off exploring the inner island, so we just hung out in the very neat room that we had.

It felt pretty good to stand somewhere that wasn't moving, and to use a real toilet.

Dinner that night was not as good as the room, but Bitter End made up for it by taking it off our bill and giving us a couple of bottles of champagne.

Breakfast the next morning was much better.

RandoGirl went back to finish her book in the hammock, and Lynn, Vida, and I climbed some of the trails around the island.

That's Prickly Pear Island behind Lynn.

That's Saba Rock next to me.

We climbed way up there, which gave us a long view across the entire harbor.

The winds were still light, so we decided to check out Levereck Bay, which is just on the south side of the harbor. When we got there, it looked so nice that we decided to just hang around there for the night.

After a short swim and some lunch, we went ashore and caught a taxi to The Baths. You may recall that we had tried to moor off there on Tuesday, but the area was full of yachts with the same plan. As it turned out, taking a taxi there was better.

Here's the view from the top of the island, looking back towards Bitter End.

We sailed past this Tuesday on the way up, but it looks even cooler from here.

Norwell (on the left) was our cab driver. He had lived on the island all of his life, and knew everything.

We got to The Baths about 4:30 PM, which is when the signs say they close. There were only a couple of boats left on the moorings, so we got to explore in relative peace.

At the baths, the waves come rolling in over these huge rocks. It makes for some interesting climbing, and some neat warm pools.

You could easily spend a full day swimming and crawling around here, which probably explains why the boats grab the moorings and never leave!

Unfortunately, we had a taxi to catch, so we went to the bar at the top of The Baths and watched the sun set.

The drive back was not quite as scenic, but dinner that night was superb.

We slept a little later on very full stomachs this day, then motored over to the fuel dock to get more water and ice. We then headed out to the top of the channel, where the winds were blowing nicely.

After a few hours of raucous sailing, we started down towards Cooper Island. The heavy seas and heeling boat apparently stirred up the fuel tank, however, so that when we fired up the engine it kept trying to stall. We called the charter company, shortened sail a bit, and started towards Nanny Cay. When we tried the engine again as we approached Road Town, it seemed better, and so we fell off and put in as planned at Cooper Island.

After a couple of hours of sailing and waiting for the repairman to look at the engine, we drank a bottle of our Bitter End champagne before going ashore for another excellent dinner.

The winds were pretty light again this morning, so we swam and played on the beach for a while. Then, since our time was growing short, we dropped the mooring again and headed across the channel one last time.

Our engine troubles persisted, however, as it tried to stall again. Fortunately, the light wind was off the port quarter, so we unfurled the jib and ghosted across on an easy rolling sea. Just off the marina, Henry from the charter company came out to take us in. The engine behaved fine for him, of course.

Soon, we were packed, cleared, and in a taxi. We got to the ferry in Road Town just in time, and were on St. Thomas by mid-afternoon. We found a hotel (actually, the same one that RandoGirl, the RandoDaughter, and I had stayed at two years before when doing this same trip) and all enjoyed another night in an air-conditioned bed, complete with floors that don't move and toilets that flush.

We also, of course, had one last big dinner.

We were on a 2:45 PM flight, so we had a quiet morning to eat breakfast and wander around a bit. Little did we know that we actually weren't leaving on a 2:45 PM flight, or we would have been even more leisurely. But, our flight eventually left .. just not early enough to catch our connecting flight out of Charlotte, NC ... and we got home. Of course, by then it was Monday.

It snowed in parts of Nashville on Monday, anyway, so I probably would not have ridden my bike. But Tuesday night I was finally able get back on my bike.

Which is what this blog is all about, right?

1 comment:

  1. Fun trip, but one comment:
    Scooter's a bad dog!