The British Virgin Islands: Third Time's a Charm

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February 25th, 2017 at 10:29:11 AM permalink
Evenbob
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
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Quote: stinkingliberal
Fairly or unfairly, people all over the world see Americans and blame them for the Trump stupidity.


Oh, you mean now that Trump's in
office a foreigner can no longer
sneak across the border with little
chance of getting caught. They're
pissed Trump is cutting off the
gravy train link. Screw em.
If you take a risk, you may lose. If you never take a risk, you will always lose.
February 25th, 2017 at 10:37:40 AM permalink
RonC
Member since: Nov 7, 2012
Threads: 6
Posts: 452
Thanks again for the report (heck, I think I said thanks before...but I was thankful for the report before even if I didn't say it!). I have a friend who is a licenses captain and has done these trips several times and I'd kind of like to do a similar one, but his kids are just so much younger than ours that it isn't a good fit for vacations. We've tried and our vacation tastes aren't the same, so there is no sense straining a friendship over it!!

I am comfortable in power boats to about 30'; just not enough experience or training in much more than that. No sailing at all. I was thinking that the way to go might be to hire a captain for the trip and do it that way. We did a one day sail in the U. S. Virgin Islands and had a great time. The captain and mate provided excellent meals and drinks. i wouldn't mind helping with the sails and stuff; I just know enough to know what I don't know...
...While Mr. Wolf smoked opium and grinned at Mama Bear
February 25th, 2017 at 3:24:32 PM permalink
Fleastiff
Member since: Oct 27, 2012
Threads: 47
Posts: 3978
Many sailing courses are free or low cost.

You can learn a Junk Rig instead of a Bermuda Rig for ease of handling and safety.

You and your wife can CREW on sailboat. First time CREW pay about twenty dollars a day and often stand only day watches.

You can get a charter boat and tutorial combination.

You can also get a sailboat and GOURMET meal deal rather cheaply provisioned by the same companies that provision million dollar yachts.

You can get a 'group learning vessel" with a bunch of neophytes and even include some of your friends. Don't forget though: NO alcohol within four hours of going on watch. (Exceptions are usually made for the French who are allowed alcohol with all meals).

Or you can do what a senior member of Anonymous did: Sail from San Fran to Central America without life raft, life vest, dingy or motor. By the time he reached central America he could TEACH celestial navigation.
February 25th, 2017 at 3:29:05 PM permalink
Fleastiff
Member since: Oct 27, 2012
Threads: 47
Posts: 3978
Upthread there was brief mention of non-tourist oriented businesses in the islands. Not many of those. Long ago one Hippie Girl wound up in the islands and organized a womens coop to make island chocolate and sell it to tourists and others. The men forced her to hire a male manager....
February 26th, 2017 at 7:57:11 AM permalink
Face
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Quote: Fleastiff
Many sailing courses are free or low cost.

You can learn a Junk Rig instead of a Bermuda Rig for ease of handling and safety.

You and your wife can CREW on sailboat. First time CREW pay about twenty dollars a day and often stand only day watches.

You can get a charter boat and tutorial combination.

You can also get a sailboat and GOURMET meal deal rather cheaply provisioned by the same companies that provision million dollar yachts.

You can get a 'group learning vessel" with a bunch of neophytes and even include some of your friends. Don't forget though: NO alcohol within four hours of going on watch. (Exceptions are usually made for the French who are allowed alcohol with all meals).


On the way back to the airport we were paired with an older couple who was down there "training". I guess there are indeed charters that intend to train you how to sail, not just take you "on vacay". I was only half listening as I was engaged in convo with the driver, but I did hear it's in the neighborhood of $2k for a 7 day trip. Not terrible, I suppose, but... I'll do ya cheaper =)

Quote: RonC
I was thinking that the way to go might be to hire a captain for the trip and do it that way. We did a one day sail in the U. S. Virgin Islands and had a great time. The captain and mate provided excellent meals and drinks. i wouldn't mind helping with the sails and stuff; I just know enough to know what I don't know...


There's certainly no shortage of that. I think just about every charter down there offers the option of just sitting around while a crew of two does all the nav, cleaning, and cooking for you. While at the Soggy Dollar, I met a bloke from South Africa who was former medical, said he got tired of working with sick people so came down there to run a charter. All of them seem to have pretty wild life stories, and I've not yet met one I'd not enjoy hanging with for a couple days. Of course...

Quote: petroglyph
Permission to come aboard?


I dunno how serious to take all these comments, but if any of y'all are serious, it's not exactly out of the realm of possibility. They way it looked at the end of this trip, all parties are in for next year and the sailing BiL/SiL, who were missing, likewise plan to go. That makes 5 couples already; I think that's what started the flotilla conversation and I know I'm already thinking of who I could possibly find for #'s 6, 7, and 8. I couldn't exactly make a promise, as I'm not making 6 figures while sitting on two full pensions like my cohorts, but if I can stay above water financially I'm more than confident that I could pilot my own vessel, and find it a bit interesting contemplating a WoVCon: Tropics =)

You've seen what they're like. If this seems your cup of tea, let me know! I'll add you to the planning list and we'll see what we see =)
Be bold and risk defeat, or be cautious and encourage it.
February 26th, 2017 at 8:45:06 AM permalink
DRich
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 18
Posts: 623
Quote: Face

I dunno how serious to take all these comments, but if any of y'all are serious, it's not exactly out of the realm of possibility. They way it looked at the end of this trip, all parties are in for next year and the sailing BiL/SiL, who were missing, likewise plan to go. That makes 5 couples already; I think that's what started the flotilla conversation and I know I'm already thinking of who I could possibly find for #'s 6, 7, and 8. I couldn't exactly make a promise, as I'm not making 6 figures while sitting on two full pensions like my cohorts, but if I can stay above water financially I'm more than confident that I could pilot my own vessel, and find it a bit interesting contemplating a WoVCon: Tropics =)

You've seen what they're like. If this seems your cup of tea, let me know! I'll add you to the planning list and we'll see what we see =)


When i did it we had six couples and two boats. We didn't have any sailing experience so we had a captain and a chef on each boat which worked out perfect because each boat had four cabins.
February 26th, 2017 at 9:10:19 AM permalink
Face
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Day 6:

All were up early with no adverse ailments from the hard night before. Breakfast convo still centered on the previous day and how everyone had oh so much fun from start to finish. I, too, was still pumped from all the happenings, but I did have a bit of a dark cloud hanging over me - telling Fed we had a problem. We never did untangle the line from the running gear, instead cutting it and tying it off to the rails. Now I had to break to him that first thing in the morning, he had a job to do.

I wasn't worried-worried, I just knew I was gonna catch hell. I did a bit, as any mistake must be highlighted and the offender torn down, but it was mostly muted as I caught him before morning coffee. He asked that I get the motor running to power breakfast, and I then did the most stupid thing I have ever done on a boat, period.

I dunno if it was morning grog or booze-brain, but when I fired the motor for kitchen power, I never pulled the throttle out to engage neutral. I just fired it and cranked. Perhaps even worse, I never caught my mistake. It wasn't until several seconds later when I looked back and saw another boat just off our swim deck that the thought started to come, and before it hit fully, Frank was at my side asking why we were oriented so oddly. Idiot me went into drive hard to starboard, and we were just spinning in a circle on our mooring line. How embarrassing >< The mooring field is made so no boat may strike another no matter what happens, so no problem there. But a problem, maybe a HUGE one, still remained - the motor I engaged was the one we were tangled in.

A bunch of nightmare scenarios flashed through my head as I reported the error to The Fed. I checked both lines and sure enough, both dangled loose. How bad of a disaster did I just make? If I was lucky, the line just wrapped up all on the shaft, requiring a bunch of sawing. If not, the line could've been jammed into the bearings and melted, possibly killing that motor for the rest of the whole trip. I sat in my chair fearing the worst as Fed geared up and went under.

He popped back up in a flash with his business face on, stating "Ain't nothing I can do with that." F#$%. "How bad?" I asked. He sort of pursed his lips and shook his head... then couldn't hold it in and just laughed. The prop cut the line and it just fell off, no action required! I let out a sigh of relief and went to my station, ready to loose and start the day.



The plan today was to mellow out. We had a big party the next day, so we were to head to Trellis Bay on Beef Island to restock on groceries and ice before popping over to White Bay on Guana Island for the night. Once again the winds were stiff and perfectly aligned, allowing us to raise sails immediately out of the harbor. Cody again got the rigs in the water and in no time we were scooting back towards civilization.

It was a mostly uneventful trip back, people going about their morning still trying to wake fully. We were perhaps halfway when one of the rods began peeling line. I hopped to it, setting the hook and feeling something on the other end. It felt big, but due to our speed I knew it was something relatively small. Still, I needed to sit and crank with both hands, eventually needing a seat cushion on my lap to deal with the abuse of bringing in the 100m+ we had out. It wasn't the biggest fish I've ever caught, but went in as a first nonetheless - My first tuna!



Pretty colors on this one; I have never seen a tuna up close. Calls of "Sushi, Sushi!" meant this one was filleted and stuffed in the cooler post haste. I tossed the remains into the corpse bucket, assuming it would have a use later, and we carried the rest of the way to Trellis in uneventful leisure.

Once restocked with the basics, we motored for the first time all vacay the short 5mi stint to White Bay in Guana. No plans whatsoever this day, all were free to do whatever they wanted. I bombed off the bimini, escaping the 90* heat while inviting Snack Shack on a dive to a secluded beach. She was geared with camera in tow for the 20min swim in. Loads of life in this little bay, which resulted in a short swim due to wishes of fishing.









Back on the boat and Snack Shack was first with a line in, hooking up immediately and pretty much non stop from there. Loads of yellow jacks one after another and soon our corpse bucket, which never held more than two fish all trip, was full of more than ten. Fed, Frank, and Laurie had gone well around the island in search of dive spots, returning to say they think we'd find good fishing there. Not needing any more of a push, Frank and Laurie hopped out as me, Snack Shack and Cody hopped in, motoring around to the lee side of the island to try our luck where the waves bashed the cliffs.

We unfortunately had no pics, which was a shame because it was a really neat place. The huge yet mellow waves smashed all over the rocks, creating weird swells and voids. The water would often drain leaving the surface just in front of us some five feet lower than the surface of the surrounding sea. It seemed to defy physics. In other places the water filled huge cracks at the foot of the cliffs, forcing the air out in booming rumble reminiscent of a thunderstorm or train passing by. Shack dangled squid, jigging it around the boat while I tossed some lake plugs Fed said would never work and Cody flipped salt water flies in and around the rocky edges. I hooked up several times, my best being a large coral hind complete with a thousand teeth.



Our somewhat long expedition took us right to dinner, me being the only one who hooked up. We had another red meat feast while one of the jacks sat rigged on the big poles, content to just chat over light booze and marvel at the ships anchored just out of the bay. One such ship caught our crews' attention as we noticed a few being ferried to and from the island by guys in proper dress attire. They got out the binocs and identified the boat, then got enough Google to find the particulars. Room for 10 people, a crew of EIGHTEEN, some 8 state rooms, onboard powerboat and jet skis, crane for deploying / removing toys, the lot. All for the low, low price of HALF A MILLION DOLLARS A WEEK. Unimaginable opulence; for that price you could've bought our rig straight away with probably six figures left over. Never fails to blow my mind peeking into the 1%.

That pretty much ended our chill night. No tarpon revealed themselves this night, but we did hook into an even bigger yellow shark than the one at Anegada. 3 for 3 we went, again just setting out a sliced up small fish and letting it soak. But not wanting to relive the tangle ordeal, I gave it a bunch of slack to get it around the dinghy and to the side it was going, and the slack allowed the hook to slide out. It swam right on the surface passed the swim deck, revealing it was upwards of five feet long, before slinking back into the shadows, never to been seen again. It was a bit of a put out, but based on what we had and what was still to come, no spirits were dampened. We all went to bed after that, ready to rest for what was likely gonna be a shit show the following night.

Be bold and risk defeat, or be cautious and encourage it.
February 26th, 2017 at 1:52:32 PM permalink
Face
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Day 7.

We were again up early, intent on diving the point of Guana, which only had 5 or so balls present. We set out before 0900 finding just one boat there. I was still finishing breakfast, and upon seeing some fish nearby, began tossing crumbs of my bagel into the water. This brought in the sergeant majors by the tens, turning the back of the boat into a roiling mass of color and flash.



Today looked to be a good day, as it was now time to celebrate The Fed's birthday, and we were doing so at Trellis because, finally, we were going to be present for the full moon party. We ended our dive quite early for the quick jaunt around the point, but still found the bay already packed full. There were but three balls remaining, all in a line near the shore, but we passed a departing monohull on the way in who yelled "THEY'RE RESERVED AND KICKING EVERYONE OFF!" We've never heard of such a thing, but didn't test the claim. Instead, we swung back to the mouth of the bay, and Fed called to throw the hook.

It was sort of a neat experience, though I suppose everything is neat when done for the first time. Not much to it as it's all motorized, using an electric winch to lay and retrieve chain. We sort of hunched out a good spot, close but not in the way, and hooked her solid on our first try. Snubbers attached, Fed went full throttle in reverse and the plotter never showed us moving. Good enough for .gov work, so we sat around people-watching, laughing at the scores of folks who raced in for the honey pot balls, only to be shooed away by a lone man in a dinghy. You'd think they'd hang a board on those balls; that poor man was run ragged.

There wasn't too much activity this day. No fishing was done, and no one seemed all that eager for a swim, likely because of the fairly high volume of traffic flying in and out. Trellis sits right on the end of the Beef Island runway, so close in fact that there's a good patch buoyed off that you can't enter due to departing flights needing to clear the masts. Being a bit of an aviation fan, I spent a good deal of time just watching them come and go, dreaming of the day I'll find myself behind the yoke of one of the puddle jumpier examples I saw. I suppose the highlight was watching a Lear come and go, because holy s#$%, those things got some kick. I glimpsed it coming around a mountain, and almost like a flash it was around it and already over the airport. It wasn't there for a minute before it was once again rounding the mountains, engines just a'singin'. I've only ever saw something like that at my best friend's house, watching F-16's do their thing just off Camp Lejune.



When not on the boat, we spent the day sort of lounging and watching the party prep. The ladies all f#$%ed off to go shopping, while most of the men sat sipping early afternoon brews. By late afternoon, chants of "red bull / vodka" began to spring from the boat, which Mrs Fed tamped down immediately. I guess she wasn't ready for a full bore s#$% show =) After dinner and a bit of pre-drinking, we hit the shore ready to live it up.



Somewhere along the way, Fed mentioned something about getting beads in his beard. I'm still not sure why, as while he's down for his share of japes, something like this is just not his style. I guess you'd have to know him, but it'd be akin to EvenBob sporting a set of dreads, just as far out of character as a man could be. As it happened, when we finally found a table in which to nest, there indeed was a lady set up right behind us offering a hair braiding service. I half joked "Vanzey! You're all set, she's right there!". He turned to look, set his beer down, and went straight to her. All this time, I thought he was joking...







With that display, the night kicked off. There are several metal sculptures present, like the one pictured above that Frank's standing in front of. All of these were filled with cardboard, palm leaves, pretty much any non-toxic garbage, doused with kerosene, and set alight. The entire beach glows with their fire, often with propane tanks set within 10' of them. Many of the men noticed and commented, prompting me to remind them there's no OSHA down there. And after I mentioned propane's 230 expansion rate, and then an explanation of that, coupled with all the previous mentions of what this fish was or that bird does, I got tagged as "the encyclopedia" and any questions about anything were directed my way from there on out.

We partied into the night, feeling good but not getting too crazy. We again found a quiet spot, a rooftop dining area that we had all to ourselves. And just about the time the simmering crew was hearing the horns, Snack Shack and I were right under them, loading up the trays...



In my defense, I did try to talk her out of it. But talking was for naught. Wide eyes and hesitation upon seeing all the whiskey on the tray lasted less than the aftertaste, and now everyone was feeling it. We mingled back into the crowds amidst fire dancers and infernos, dancing, mingle, and searching for more booze. It was the fires themselves that eventually ended our night, as the stiff winds off the seas blew the smoke dead into the crowd. There were plenty of areas in which to be safe, but that meant those areas were most congested. I saw one old dude, def over 60yrs, sporting a curly, silver mohawk. Soon after, a kid younger than me happened by sporting his own with clippers in hand, trying to convince anyone and everyone to step up to be sheared. I half wished I had kept my 'fro at that point, but just enjoyed the show until the crew began to head out.

We sang acapella the whole way back, The Fed insisting on soloing Billy Joel's "Piano Man". Upon hitting the boat, Becky snatched it from the interweb and we had a full crew, impromptu performance for all of our neighbors. It was then, at that late hour and that extreme condition, that Frank broke out the Grand Marnier. Many took a shot, and many almost puked. I took a decent mouthful and felt it was what a Robitussin and turpentine cocktail would taste of. Frank clued us all in, saying it was more of a sipping drink meant to be held and sloshed in the mouth. I couldn't imagine anything so horrible, but decided to believe him. And, ya know, when taken in that manner it was absolutely delicious. I could not imagine holding a hard liquor in one's mouth unless it was for sterilization reasons, but this was absolutely pleasant to do so. So I sat sipping Frank's booze with him while the others continued to pound beers and tropical concoctions, and sing acapella karaoke to anyone within hearing distance.

That mostly ended the night. I retired to shower, hearing enough snippets of the goings on to realize Cody at one point lost his pants. I popped up for a little after that wearing just a towel, but repeated attempts to relieve me of it eventually sent me back down below. And with that, Fed's birthday came to a close, and all reluctantly went to bed facing the last leg of the trip.
Be bold and risk defeat, or be cautious and encourage it.
February 28th, 2017 at 12:02:33 PM permalink
Face
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Day 7.

There was a fair bit of grog this morning. I was OK, and Cody never seemed to have issues the whole trip. Frank was a bit green and Fed had a face of visible displeasure anytime the Grand Marnier was mentioned, but all were well enough to set off pretty much immediately. So set off we did.

After releasing the hook, which went about as smooth as could be, we headed back out into the open ocean heading sort of towards Jost Van Dyke. We weren't entirely sure where we were headed, and The Fed made an out of character magnanimous decision to not beat up the booze weary crew by tacking and jibing all over the place. We pretty much made one long sail dead at Puerto Rice before finally jibing just before the coast of Jost, skipping Jost to head back to Tortola. We trolled the whole way, hooking into something that broke the hook. 3/0's at least, as I said, and this thing broke it. I can't even imagine what could've done it. Plans weren't made and neither of us had a real idea of what to do for this day, so we decided to pull up into Cane Garden Bay for a visit, which ended up being our home for the night.

Cane Garden is one of my least favorites, if only because it's very touristy which means it doesn't offer what I'm after. But, it must be one of the prettier stops on the itinerary. The rising mountains make a sort of concave bowl around the area, shielding the bay and keeping it vodka clear. This really sets off the color of the water, the touristy vibe means everything is trim and proper, and it does have what is IMO the best sunsets you'll ever see on Earth. But first, we had work to do.







We had to dock, as we'd damn near run the dinghy dry and still had too far to go. As good as the first docking went, this was as fine tuned as a Swiss watch. No help on this mostly desolate dock, but we men slid her in as smooth as could be and got her shored tight with no apprehension whatsoever. And after 100+gal of fresh water, 5gal of purple gas, and a few bags of cold cubes, we were left with bill of but $40. Not bad at all =)

This deep into the trip and I wouldn't say folks were running on fumes, but it was the time for, and sort of place to, take leave. Frank and Laurie departed for a bit of a kayak cruise, and the rest were sort of milling in various states of leisure, so I took Snack Shack over to the reef to try a bit of light fishing. It was mostly uneventful as I spent most of the time keeping us close to but off the very shallow reef, but she did pick up a handful of water dwellers. All parrotfish, surprisingly, as I've never seen them eat anything but the coral reef. Those reef teeth basically cut right through my bitty #8 trout hooks I brought from home, but she managed to get all of them in. We sat and bobbed for about an hour before heading back in case the crew was ready to leave. They weren't, exactly, but we did figure we should at least go in so the newbies got to see everything.

On land we didn't do much. The ladies went shopping as The Fed and I simply hopped from shady spot to shady spot. We eventually found a bar with $15 buckets, so grabbed a sixer to share until everyone had their fill. He got two in before stating he just couldn't recover, and not feeling all that party-ish, I likewise stopped my count there. When we hit the store, I pulled Snack Shack out back just to show her the "beach to Basra" nature of these Potemkin villages. I think "shocked" would be putting it mildly. There really is no clue of what lies just beyond the storefronts.

That, really, was about all the day entailed. I had made mention that we were gonna finish strong, with a lot of activity and twice the amount of booze, and everyone seemed keen to be ready for it. I must say that I really enjoyed this group, as everyone's natural groove seemed to match or at least was very compatible with every single other person. And, well, it was Sunday again. Might as well have a rest =)

I gave a shout around dinner to be ready, as the sunset was close and there's but a few second window to get the really good shot. I promised "The best sunset you will see" and, well, I can't say anyone disagreed with me =)

Be bold and risk defeat, or be cautious and encourage it.
February 28th, 2017 at 12:06:37 PM permalink
Face
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Quote: DRich

When i did it we had six couples and two boats. We didn't have any sailing experience so we had a captain and a chef on each boat which worked out perfect because each boat had four cabins.


Well, I can't promise that you'd do nothing but lounge and drink, but I can at least promise I won't make you bleed. Assuming my finances and the couple's numbers work out, this is a serious offer.

Just sayin ;)
Be bold and risk defeat, or be cautious and encourage it.
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