The British Virgin Islands: Third Time's a Charm

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February 20th, 2017 at 2:45:47 PM permalink
Evenbob
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 109
Posts: 11391
Quote: Face

If we make the flotilla happen, you can get the quiet boat.=)


My bro in law had a boat that supposedly
slept 6. Yeah, if 4 of them were midgets
and the other 2 were Vietnamese children.
Some of the quarters on these boats are
the size of a San Quentin death row cell.
And has the same feel as well.
If you take a risk, you may lose. If you never take a risk, you will always lose.
February 20th, 2017 at 3:02:31 PM permalink
DRich
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 18
Posts: 749
It sounds like you flew into St. Thomas and ferried over to Tortola. Was this just a cheaper option than flying into Tortola or was it an immigration thing with St. Thomas being a U.S. territory? The last time I did it we had a layover in San Juan and caught a puddle jumper to Tortola.
February 20th, 2017 at 3:12:19 PM permalink
Fleastiff
Member since: Oct 27, 2012
Threads: 49
Posts: 4708
Quote: Evenbob
Never been a fan of cramped quarters.
Quarters expand whenyou add in the tropical sun, lobster, beer and amiable young females who abhor tan lines.

Besides, ain't you never heard the expression 'the more the merrier'? It applies when it comes to divying up the bill too! Four couples each paying 250 a day gets far more yacht than you and your dog would be willing to pay for.
February 20th, 2017 at 3:17:21 PM permalink
DRich
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 18
Posts: 749
Quote: Nareed


Alas, KLM hardly flies the 747, and no longer to St . Maarten.


Sadly, this will be my first trip to St. Maarten where no one is flying a 747. My wife and I always planned one day to sit at the beach bar right by the water and watch the 747's come in. Years ago Air France flew one in but the past few years there was only the KLM from Amsterdam coming in around 2pm.
February 21st, 2017 at 12:37:52 PM permalink
Face
Administrator
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 61
Posts: 3143
Day 2:

The trip started with a fair bit of irritation and more than a helping of trepidation. When the help showed up for the pre-trip familiarization, we turned them away in favor of breakfast. Big mistake. This found us waiting a few hours before they got back to us, and with us chomping at the bit to set off, you could feel the tension building. The familiarization run brought more stress as both heads of both motors found oil pooled on them, with one motor being waaaaay overfilled with oil. A minor inconvenience normally, but it just added a huge uncertainty to a place where uncertainty meant bad s#$%. Pumping out the excess took another half hour, and we still needed to fill the boat with all the rented toys (kayak, fishing gear, SCUBA gear), so by the time we finally set out, it wasn't the normal 1000 but more pushing 1400. Ugh. The second kick to the nuts were the North Swells.

The North Swells ain't nothing but weather, but I had never experienced anything but mild winds and clear skies here. Now, winds never dropped lower than 25knts and the waves were downright choppy. I had two pretty serious concerns - 1) I brought no warm clothes whatsoever, not even a long sleeve T, and 2) all that churning is gonna cloud the water, sending both snorkeling and fishing, the two biggest draws, right into the shitter. As we putted out into the channel, I saw that the water was still clear. Hoping that said trend would continue, I basically forgot about it and fell into the trip.



Our first stop, as always, was Norman Island, home of Pirate's Bight and the Willy T. I had just tossed the crew beers and ducked under for a system's check when The Fed was calling "All Hands On". Though we have always motored on over, the crazy winds were whipping straight down the channel. Interested to see how we would do without the sailing B-i-L, I started hauling sheet while explaining to the two greens what I was doing and why. Showing how the pulleys worked, how the winches worked, how to keep the ribs out of the battens, the lot. Took just minutes before I had the whole boat in the wind and making damn near 8knts, certainly a record in the channel and almost a record for our highest speed ever by sail. We were scootin' so good we flew by the Indians and were dropping sail into Norman before it seemed possible. Maybe these winds won't be so bad...

After rigging up the mooring lines and explaining them to Frank and Cody, we sat secured in Norman and the trip began. Most f#$%ed off into the water, as it was already well over 80* and had been for some hours. I went down below to continue my systems checks and encouraged the greens to get in and familiarize themselves with snorkeling, as that part of the trip was set to pop off immediately. My worry that any one of the 5 greens would struggle vanished before it even began to sprout; all were perfectly capable. So with no time at all, we decided to bang out our caves dive immediately and then get to our mission of finding a place to view the Superbowl.

The dive was good, though I felt it had lost some color. It just seemed the coral was more rock like and lacked the vibrancy I remembered in the past. The fish volume also seemed a little decreased, but there was still plenty to ogle and awe about. I set off with Lana to the big cave, expecting others to catch up eventually. She got there without issue, we saw a school of what must have been 200 Glassy Sweepers, and we sort of holed up in the cave waiting for the rest of the crew, waves washing us to and fro in the darkness. After several minutes with no other visitors, be began paddling back to the dinghy.

The rest of the crew went to the little cave, and unbeknownst to all of us, more than the mouth was accessible. A few made it all the way to the back where the was a small, rocky beach; I was told it was near 100' long. I was a bit put out that I missed it and have no idea how I missed it years previous, but I was by that time too cold to want to continue, and the first dive came to an end.





















With our late start and the active portion of the day in the bag, finding the Superbowl became the night's mission. We had decided that Pirate's Bight would be our best bet, so we'd dine there, catch the game, and spend after hours at the Willy T. We found the Bight did offer the game and made the first of the day's reservations, getting a table right by the screen. We then decided to Happy Hour there until dinner, so we requested menus and got comfy to get good and s#$%ty.

The prices smacked us sober. It seems that joint slipped from it's island vibe and was trying to be more high end. Much more. Relative to other places in the BVI it wasn't absurd, it was just big hike from what used to be sort of a back home dive bar. That and our waitress, for reasons we didn't immediately understand, seemed as if she'd rather us all have been killed in a terrible aviation disaster than have made it to her table. I mean obviously rude. Ignoring us, failing to arrive promptly, scowling, outright making faces of displeasure. And we hadn't even gotten tuned up yet! It was the first bit of rudeness I had ever experienced down there, and it was pretty obvious and intense. Another of the proprietors eventually came over and was cool, appearing as though she had to come over as the other would not even do that. So with the prices knocking us out on our feet, the rudeness prompted us to cancel the reserve and f#$% off to the Willy T early.





The Willy T, sadly, carried that same stink of change, and not for the better. It's seemed to have gone a lot more "local". Said locals would likely be referred to as "thugs" back home. Loud and garish boats, loud and garish clothing, loud and aggressive speech. The decor and slide show was all gone in favor of local band's SWAG that meant nothing to anyone there. Service was in the pocket of the locals, with visitors getting attention every fifth go around or so. It was "whatever" to me, up until I heard a tone of anger from a random local. Game over for me. I spent the rest of the night imbibing water and in full security mode. Bleh.

But it was still a scene. A couple of young girls showed up on their own, already at least 24 sheets to the wind. I mean critically f#$%ed up, and did all they could to make the sheet count higher. One of them eventually nested in our dinghy, which caused me to go bounce her out and snag our kill switch lanyard. About the time I got her "feet dry" again, a third girl drunkenly fell off the dinghy dock, but fell between the dock and the Willy T! Damn lucky the Bight is so protected, or the waves we had been experiencing could have seriously ruined her day, if not her life. I mean, it's almost impossible to fall in there; to do so means you're already partially squeezed. It'd take nothing to go from squeeze to crush, or crush to severed. What a f#$%arow that place is. But she was rescued without incident, exclaiming "I wanna f#$%!" before melting back into the bar crowd. In her place, standing in the puddle she had just made, suddenly there were fire dancers swinging incineration hither, thither and yon, seemingly without permission or even announcement. Willy T, man. It's just weird.

We decided on bar food to avoid the fare at the expensive Bight, and even that was a mess. One tender was a surly young Aussie, the other some dude blasted out on some drug or another. For a simple fried-good meal, it took about 60 min to sort of get what we ordered. Total faff. It was a very weird and not totally smooth night, but for the most part, we powered through it. The Fed sort of shuts down into defense mode, and I follow right along with him, but the newbies meant to have at it and have at it they did. By the time we had left, we had managed to catch a hell of a buzz, several free drinks for guys and gals, a bit of smoke, and even had the DJ find Juvenile's "Back That Ass Up" at the request of none other than The Fed himself. Heading back to the Bight for the game, every single person was doing well indeed.

The game was mostly a non event. 5 of them got a table nice and tight to watch it, while me, Lana, and Mrs Fed got a comfy table to sit and chat. I absorbed some radiant joy due to Brady's inefficiency, and took note of Gaga's halftime show, but paid no attention to most of the display. Perhaps midway through the 3rd, all had fell from the TV in favor of beach games, and we left the decided affair on TV in favor of our floating home.

The night wound up well. A few cracked some night time beers, but returning pretty much ended the night. The Fed and I found ourselves back up at around 0300 the next morning to piss, and sat in mutual silence seeing/hearing a three man dinghy hop from boat to boat, each time exclaiming "F#$%, this ain't ours, either! Where hell's our boat?" I just tipped him a nod and said "11", referencing my earlier count of "boats from our boat" that most of the party mocked. "As if we'd get lost!" they said.

Yeah. As if that could ever happen ;)
Be bold and risk defeat, or be cautious and encourage it.
February 21st, 2017 at 2:24:24 PM permalink
Face
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Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 61
Posts: 3143
Day 3.

I woke the latest, stirred from sleep by a lot of cursing and harsh tones. My grog was not deep enough to prevent a few words making their way to me, and though every part of me said "No way", I came to realize that bastard Brady had somehow yet again snatched victory from the jaws of defeat and did not end up in an ICU as I had wished. It was by far the worst way I have ever woke up there.

The rest of the crew wasn't much better. Laurie was revved up as the win netted her $300 in a pool back home, but the rest were A) supremely pissed off at yet another Pats win, and 2) pretty damn hung over. I gave my requisite "can't get a day back" speech while administering water to all, and half assed began eating breakfast. It wasn't until then, some 3 days after leaving home, that I first thought of fishing. While I'd usually have a line wet immediately upon first mooring, here we were about to leave for the second day and I hadn't even thought of fishing. And upon thinking of it, I found no desire to begin. Concerned, I gobbled the last of my morning meal and loosed the lines, heading for our next stop at Cooper Island.

Because of the wind, we went on an anti clockwise route this time around, and this day's travel found us barreling dead into 25-30knt steady winds. This required a fair bit of tacking and jibing, but it was a welcome task. Amazing how fast you can go dead into the wind. We easily found our 8knts+ of the previous day, and now came some boat action.

Frank and Cody were up to the task. With little more than one simple explanation, I described how the boat would be turned dead into the wind, and that small window when the sails went slack was where all the action had to happen. I explained one jib line needs to be set free while the other was ripped in to prevent tangles and smacking the bow riding guests around, and upon the call, they just did it, smooth as could be. We made our first tack without losing even a knot, entire job completed in about 20 seconds. It was going so well and we were moving so quickly (a good 30% faster than we could by motor at full tilt), that we spent 2+ hours jibing and tacking our way back up the channel into the wind. We made it to Cooper spoiled for choice on mooring balls, and took one at the end of the field, where I had caught the 'cuda last time we were there.







I started to get a little twang of fishing fever, but it still wasn't really kicking in. The rest of the crew likewise was a bit muted. It certainly wasn't displeasure, I think it was just an adjustment to the sun and booze that had somewhat kicked everyone's ass. A few casts to the same weed bed brought some inquisitive fellows, and that was enough to kickstart my vibe. I started casting my big plugs while The Fed brought out his 'cuda tube. A 'cuda tube is such a ridiculous lure; it ain't nothing but two big hooks connected with about 18" of 100lb wire leader, which is concealed inside some bright yellow surgical tubing. That's it. Tube and hooks. Well, damn if that thing doesn't produce the most out of the lot. He hooked up 2 or three times that day, pretty much once every time he tried. None made the boat, but the effectiveness of such a ridiculous thing never ceases to amaze me. I tried several different times to nail one of the monsters hanging just beside our boat, but had no hook ups myself.



This was to be the first SCUBA attempt. The Fed had his gear and years of rescue diver experience, Laurie was also savvy, but it was to be Frank's first time. Unfortunately, his VC, a valve that assists with buoyancy, was jamming and causing his vest to fill uncontrollably. Not wanting a newb to rocket from the bottom, they canceled his outing and went out as a twosome. The rest of us milled about, Frank drinking his beer, me and Cody tossing plugs in search of big game, and the rest of the ladies doing I don't know what. Lana and I eventually set off alone in the dinghy for a bait collection fishing trip, but even in this elementary task, I got just about skunked. After an hour bobbing in the current, we had pulled home just 1 squirrelfish. I chucked the poison bastard in the dinghy, and after snagging The Fed and Laurie, we returned to Outta Space.

That mostly ended the night. We hit shore for drinks, each getting just one before the skies opened. We booked back to the boat just in time for the rain to stop, and with being "home" and no one willing to pile another hangover on top of this day's, all went to bed. It was Sunday, after all =)

Be bold and risk defeat, or be cautious and encourage it.
February 21st, 2017 at 2:46:02 PM permalink
Ayecarumba
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 83
Posts: 1365
Great photos Face! That is the deepest blue water I have ever seen.

As for the locals, are the firearm ownership laws very strict there? If there were an altercation, would you expect them to be strapped?
February 21st, 2017 at 3:11:58 PM permalink
Face
Administrator
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 61
Posts: 3143
Quote: Evenbob
My bro in law had a boat that supposedly
slept 6. Yeah, if 4 of them were midgets
and the other 2 were Vietnamese children.
Some of the quarters on these boats are
the size of a San Quentin death row cell.
And has the same feel as well.


Pretty close, except "the feel"...



This is one of the aft bunks, a good bit smaller than the fore bunks. But this is pretty much it. Where the photog is standing is basically room for 1. Behind is one door leading above deck to the kitchen/dining and another door which leads to the head. There is room for nothing, really, but it's much how I wish my room was at home. A small cabinet for clothes, room for a 6' bed, and that's it. Some boats feature just 2 heads, requiring the starboard and port sides to share with each other in favor of larger rooms. Me, I dunno why you'd want something bigger.

Quote: DRich
It sounds like you flew into St. Thomas and ferried over to Tortola. Was this just a cheaper option than flying into Tortola or was it an immigration thing with St. Thomas being a U.S. territory? The last time I did it we had a layover in San Juan and caught a puddle jumper to Tortola.


We do. I assume it's cheaper, I think that's why we originally started going that route. This time, as the planner for my side, I just did what I already knew.

Mayhem did the puddle jumper thing last time, leaving from the airport on Beef Island (Tortola) and jumping to San Juan before heading stateside. After hearing of his ordeal, it's not a route I'd plan on doing ever in life ;)

Quote: Ayecarumba
Great photos Face! That is the deepest blue water I have ever seen.

As for the locals, are the firearm ownership laws very strict there? If there were an altercation, would you expect them to be strapped?


The water is incredible. I struggle to think of a time when it looked like "simple water". It's either that deep, navy blue or all sorts of shades of lighter aquamarines and turquoises. Perhaps Anegada, as the vast amount of sand occasionally dulls the shallow harbors. But most things, at least from the boat, vary between "stunning" and "so pretty it hurts to look at" =)

No guns down there, tis the UK, after all. I've no idea the avenues for carrying on the vessel, and with all the BS back home and getting them out of the state, I'd probably not be willing to try even if it were as liberal as Wyoming. I figure we got a couple hundred pounds of flammable booze for Molotovs, and more filet knives that you could shake a stick at. Not to mention a combat vet at the helm and a postal employee coming fresh off the holiday season. If someone wanted to start some s#$%, we'd take an entire island ;)

But no, I didn't and don't really ever have that thing go off to put me in defense mode. The Willy T, sure, because it's very Wild, Wild, West there. And I suppose I don't feel comfy when one or more of the girls go out "as the girls" in ones and twos. But I got horrifically drunk in one of these nights coming up and wandered inland by me onesies in the dead of night, and I just had one shady lookin' cat ask me if I had any money. I laughed and told him I spent it all on water and he just shambled away.

It's very extremely depressed inland. I suppose it's like any other hotspot down there; Potemkin villages as far as the eye can see. You go in the beachside of a store and it's paradise. Walk out the back door, just 30' from stunning beauty and it looks a bombed out war zone. Piled garbage, dilapidated housing, defunct vehicles, mangy dogs chained to trees... it's very night and day.
Be bold and risk defeat, or be cautious and encourage it.
February 21st, 2017 at 4:13:39 PM permalink
Ayecarumba
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 83
Posts: 1365
It makes me wonder where all the tourist money spent on overpriced drinks and food is going. Are there a few "owners" getting rich, while the vast majority of the population has to pick through the garbage? Is there a middle class?

Did you bring your GoPro?
February 21st, 2017 at 4:30:03 PM permalink
Evenbob
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 109
Posts: 11391
Quote:
Said locals would likely be referred to as "thugs" back home. Loud and garish boats, loud and garish clothing, loud and aggressive speech.. I spent the rest of the night imbibing water and in full security mode. Bleh...A couple of young girls showed up on their own, already at least 24 sheets to the wind. ..I woke the latest, stirred from sleep by a lot of cursing and harsh tones...


I would have been in a hotel already.
If you take a risk, you may lose. If you never take a risk, you will always lose.
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