Sailing the British Virgin Islands (Again) ~ Day 3

Monday, 12 April 2010

Great Harbour, Peter Island to Marina Cay

Marina Cay 

Phone Home from Marina Cay

Up early. Lots of bobbing and bouncing during the night. The wind doesn’t seem to have abated much.

The skies are more sun than clouds. Tall, white puffy clouds float along from east to west. The island goats are out for an early breakfast as are the ever-present pelicans. We enjoy a breakfast of bananas, bagels, oatmeal, and coffee as the sun lifts in the sky, warming  the wind. Sunlight illuminates the turquoise blue of the water around the island. We clean the kitchen, stow gear, and check the radio for the weather report.

Conditions for the next two days call for a small craft advisory with winds 12-15 knots and seas seven feet high; not ideal for the amount of sailing (meaning the distance) that we want to accomplish for the day.

About 8:30 a.m., we drop our mooring and head into the Drake Channel for what will prove to be a wild ride to Marina Cay. Conditions call for us to change our plans—a sail all the way to the North Sound of Virgin Gorda would take too long and be far too bouncy for some of us with weaker stomachs. As it is, the sail to Marina Cay (about half our original intended distance) takes four hours of sailing as close to the wind as we can, tacking our way back and forth and back and forth and back and forth.

We raise only the jib and that’s plenty of sail for us. Wind gusts top out at 22-24 knots (around 28 mph) and the waves are seven-feet at times. Most boats we see under sail are doing the same and many aren’t sailing at all, opting to motor their way along. Lots of up and down over breaking waves and everyone is covered in sea spray. An occasional slap in the face with a wave brings laughter and applause from the crew. Jen is soaked sitting in her favorite perch up on the bow, getting the most out of the ride.

Four hours later (my mind-over-stomach limit) we enter calmer waters as we round Beef Island and come into Marina Cay to the mooring field next alongside Mother Turtle Reef. We’ve returned to one of my favorite spots in the BVIs. Once again, we’ve got a fantastic view of Beef Island across the water, the face of the island constantly changing as sunlight and clouds play over the green mountain and the variations in blue of the reef. The calming sound of waves breaking over the reef provides a soothing background soundtrack.

View of Beef Island from Our Mooring at Marina Cay

After a recovery lunch snacking on cheese, salami and veggies, everyone crashes for a nap or relaxes on deck to enjoy the view or read. The wind finally calms a bit and we stop the rocking and swaying for the first time in many hours.

Around 4:30, cocktails are served and Captain Rick begins preparations for dinner. After a good 20 minutes, we finally manage to light the coals. It takes three of us, two to block the strong winds with a towel.

Marina Cay

Our dinner of grilled chicken, rice and corn on the cob is delicious and the hungry crew devours it in no time. It’s amazing how being out doors and in the elements all day can bring on a hearty appetite. We break out another bottle of wine, chatting as the setting sun illuminates the tall cumulous clouds and small puff balls in the west turning them vivid shades of pink, orange and purple. By 7:30, it’s pitch black out and the sky once again is filled with stars. The crew turns in by nine.


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