A new routine has been established–breakfast on deck, with cereal, bagels, fresh fruit and coffee.
We make a quick trip to the marina market to re-provision ice. It seems the fridge isn’t working so well and we buy a styrofoam cooler to keep food on ice.
Jenny and Rick plot our day’s course, a short sail past the Dog Islands (“the Dogs”), across Sir Francis Drake Channel and into Marina Cay.
Winds are the heaviest we’ve seen yet (20 knots) and we reef the sail to keep from heeling too far. (Translation: we decrease the sail area by taking the sail down about half-way, preventing the windward side of the boat from hiking up too far.) Not everyone in our party is excited for an opportunity to sit on the “high side.”
The scenery is absolutely gorgeous, as we pass by one island after another.
It’s a bit of a tricky maneuver to get in around Marina Cay–a small island surrounded by a reef and encircled by other, larger islands, but wow, the view that opens up as we swing around the cay from the North-East is stunning. The island is trimmed with palm trees and bright red roofs of the market, gas dock, Pussers restaurant and hotel on the east side.
We score a choice mooring near Mother Turtle Reef, with an unobstructed view of Tortola across the water, the prettiest we’ve seen so far.
The varying blues of the reef are gorgeous, the ever-changing blues of the channel contrasting with the jewel green of the reef and Beef
Island looming large and dramatic in the distance. This is exactly how I imagined the Virgin Islands to be.
Our welcoming party is a school of fish, repeatedly jumping out of the water.
Hot dogs on the grill for lunch followed by down time, napping, reading and relaxing.
Around three in the afternoon, we take our first venture out in the dinghy, over to the cay to explore and do some snorkeling. Rick and Mary take a walk around the island while Jenny, Karen, Anne, and I snorkel in the reef just below the seaside restaurant.
Nothing too spectacular to see until I spot an eagle ray! It’s huge with a big nose, a very long tail, and a large wingspan, gently flapping up and down. To see it so close is thrilling, amazing and scary all at once, awesome to watch him glide along with an easy stroke. He’s in surprisingly shallow water and has a small, thin blue fish following close by, near his back. When I recover from the shock, I gesture wildly to my friends, coming up above the water to point out the big, scary flying fish!
I’m a wimp–he’s so near, in such shallow water, and came up on me so suddenly that it’s a little too up-close-and-personal with underwater nature for me and it’s not long before I’m out of the water. 😕
Also saw many dark purple and red anemones in the rocks near the shore. Watch your step!
On the walk back to the dock, I log a new bird for my Life List, the Bananaquit. I’ve also seen the semipalmated plovers, brown booby, and magnificent frigatebird.
Back on the boat for a bit more relaxing on deck, hanging laundry, reading and taking photographs during the magic hour as the sun sets.
Cocktail hour and then back in the dinghy again, this time with the added challenge of driving among the moored boats in the dark.
Dinner at Pussers restaurant, the famous home of the pain killer. The food is excellent, most of us opting for the ribs served Caribbean-style with spicy BBQ and ginger sauce. Conch fritters, another local delicacy, to start.
Our waitress is friendly and a bit overworked; the food is slow to arrive–the kitchen seems to be operating on “island time”. Nearly three hours later, we’re back in the boat and the tired crew turns in.
Unfortunately, we don’t log much quality sleep time since the boat rocks and rolls through the night with waves slapping against the hull all night.