The British Virgin Islands: Third Time's a Charm

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February 28th, 2017 at 12:13:57 PM permalink
Ayecarumba
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 79
Posts: 1232
A nice day.

Were the prices to tie up the boat at the different balls about the same as last time?
February 28th, 2017 at 1:13:53 PM permalink
Face
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Quote: Ayecarumba
A nice day.

Were the prices to tie up the boat at the different balls about the same as last time?


Yes. I must say, these are probably "the thing" which my mind keeps coming back to. One of those things that will nag at me, one of those "I MUST KNOW" things that I'll eventually make my way into finding out.

I thought the moors themselves were blocks sunk by barge or somesuch, but I looked and there's nothing apparent. How are they attached? Also, I know in the USVI you pay ~$15 and it goes to the Parks Dept. Down there, it is still $30 (painted on the ball, be pretty tough to change), but who does it go to? One bay, Little Harbor, asks you to pay at the dock. But even they, and every single other bay I've ever been to, will have a dude(s) in a dinghy(ies) going 'round and 'round selling ice, picking up garbage, and collecting your $30. Who does it go to? Who are these collectors working for? Not that I suspect hijinks, but I just find it a curio of sorts.

There were some possible changes re: pricing, but I must admit, I don't much (try to) remember that stuff. It's too much fun and I don't wanna know how much it all costs lol. I seem to recall the price for the ferry being "reasonable" my first go around, where "reasonable" is defined at ~$30. Now, mostly because of a new "tax", you add a few beers on the ferry ride and you could be pushing a $100 bill. Granted, that includes the fact that you have a round trip ticket, but I'd say $150 of my $700 total were eaten up on the ferry. Let's say, as a reasonable estimate, it was $200 "travel expenses" from the plane to the plane. That would include cab to and from airport, and the cab from Foxy's (upcoming) to Soggy Dollar and back. The daily mooring fees are included as part of the price you paid the ringleader (Mrs Fed). I know there was interest before so I'll break down the trip finances...

Flights are on you. I saw mine at $360 round trip, but I procrastinated and got 'em at like $440. Airport parking was $110. Can one of you next time remind me to get a hotel and take the shuttle? =p

Cab to ferry from plane was $10 ($20 round trip). The ferry was $30 ($60) and that dumb tax was $30 ($60). I remember the cab from Foxy's was a tenner for the round, so we got $600 - $700 in total travel for each person.

The boat is nearabouts $8,500, so roughly a grand a person.

We'll spend nearly $400 on mooring balls, ice, and garbage, ~$700 on toy rentals (less if you don't kayak or fish, much less if you don't SCUBA), and about $2,800 on sustenance. This includes all meats, breads, everything to make 3 gourmet meals a day, all the beer and booze you can drink, all the water, juices, and coffees needed to survive, every snack you want in limitless supply... it's a big bill, but there's no Spartan in the pantry.

Mix it all up and you get ~$12.2k, so $1.5k per person. Add your travel (~$700 for me) and you get $2,200 all-in. Not bad to have every need met and met well, in paradise =) And that does include everything. I mean, we do have the fresh water issue that is more "survival camping" style, but you want for nothing. Eat, drink, snack at any or all hours and it's already covered. About the only thing that $2k doesn't cover is on-land meals ($40 - $140 depending on your tastes / gluttony) and souvenirs.

$200 a day? Dude, it's twice the cost of a day at the Red Roof Inn! Of course you make it happen and you go =D
Be bold and risk defeat, or be cautious and encourage it.
February 28th, 2017 at 1:15:44 PM permalink
Evenbob
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 105
Posts: 10171
Wow, 7 days. I would have been gone by
day 3, that or I would have killed somebody
from sleep deprivation and hangovers.
If you take a risk, you may lose. If you never take a risk, you will always lose.
February 28th, 2017 at 1:24:04 PM permalink
Face
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Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 61
Posts: 3031
Quote: Evenbob
Wow, 7 days. I would have been gone by
day 3, that or I would have killed somebody
from sleep deprivation and hangovers.


7 of 10. 12 including travel.

And you can't get hungover if you never stop drinking ;)
Be bold and risk defeat, or be cautious and encourage it.
February 28th, 2017 at 1:42:03 PM permalink
Evenbob
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 105
Posts: 10171
10 days? You're a better man than me.
The older I get the less patient I am.
Close proximity to other people drives
me batshit if it's over an hour. I think
I've always been that way, but never
realized it. I would have made a great
lighthouse keeper.
If you take a risk, you may lose. If you never take a risk, you will always lose.
February 28th, 2017 at 3:57:11 PM permalink
odiousgambit
Member since: Oct 28, 2012
Threads: 70
Posts: 1484
Quote: Face
"The best sunset you will see" and, well, I can't say anyone disagreed with me =)


yeah, great pic there

a sunset with a million geese in the air, far off in the distance, on the Chesapeake, can be unforgettable too
Mustard:You like Kipling, Miss Scarlet? Sure, I'll eat anything [from movie]
February 28th, 2017 at 4:09:56 PM permalink
Face
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Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 61
Posts: 3031
Day 8.

I didn't so much as "wake" as I was thrown from bed. Or at least that's what my sleep addled brain was telling me. The boat was rocking in a manner I had never experienced, and when I heard a loud crashing sound, I jumped from bed. Mrs Fed was also on her way up, I told her "I'm on it", and she retired back to slumber. With all the commotion, all it turned out to be was one aerosol spray can of sunscreen. I put it away, glanced around for the barge that must have happened by, saw nothing, and went back to bed. Sleep was for naught, though, as the rather large rocking never really stopped.

I came back above deck to waves that I not only have never seen there, but have barely ever seen before. One time, when I was maybe 10, we got hit by a real bad blower out on Erie. I remember waves so high and troughs so deep you couldn't see land, and this was hilly WNY in a 24' cabin cruiser. One even came over the stern and into the boat, it was a really scary day. Anyways, those had been the biggest I've seen, and these trumped them. I stared in wonder all through my morning smoke and the next one, not believing what I was seeing. There was no wind. The surface remained smooth; it just happened to have these huge waves plowing through them. It was a very weird thing. I kept watching them all through breakfast and as we left, sort of wishing I had one of the smaller kayaks to give some surfing a try. I began to wonder if it was a "thing", and sure enough, there were a handful of dudes already out, despite the clock reading but 0700.



I was excited for the day, as with two days left, we still had all of the mess at Foxy's, the Soggy Dollar, the Bubbling Baths, Sandy Cay, all of that still to go. Still flying with no plan, we went right to Sandy Cay while there were still balls open. I was not looking forward to the swim, as I feared being killed in the high surf. But as I was still faffing around procrastinating, Fed was already "feet dry" and everyone else was either storming the shores or more than halfway in.





The landing went just fine. I personally was able to kick off my gear as soon as I touched beach and basically rode a wave in upright, sparing my waist band from the blood inducing sand. Fed and Mrs had bugged out by then, so I led the party into the island and, for the first time, went all the way around it. I typically stopped at the Ent (pictured in other threads), but made the whole lap. I don't suggest doing this barefoot as we did. The whole top half is shattered rock and not pleasing to walk upon. It was neat, though, seeing the sea side of the island. Lots of pretty views, and lots of cacti. Always surprised to see them, and in great quantity, in such a tropical environment.







Day off to a great start, Fed surprised me by banging straight over to Diamond Cay for a hike to the Bubbling Baths. This would put us late on a ball, but all were feeling good and vibing from the Cay, so over we went. We found all the balls taken with some already hooked up, so we decided to do the same. This was a bit more of an effort, as with the quiet sand bottom, we kept dragging the hook. We repositioned a few times, and on the last "one more try" finally sunk 'er good. We were a bit close to a mono so I motored over, hailing the captain and asking if we were on his hook. He flashed a big smile and advised he was 20m to port of us, and went on to say how surprised he was that someone bothered to ask, and describe an event earlier in the week when he had to motor close and then dive and free by hand due to someone handcuffing him. We exchanged pleasantries and having got the all clear, headed inland.

I burned a bit on the hike, ready to sit in those bubbles and just mellow out, figuring the activity would stave off the haze. On the way, I finally uncovered the mystery of the "poison trees", as they had been labeled by what I assume is the UK's version of the DEC. They were machioneel trees, their sap, which can drip on you during rain, producing blisters, and their fruit deadly if consumed. Sort of leading my own nature hike with Snack Shack, Frank, and Laurie, I pointed this way and that telling them everything I knew. On the way, we passed some Brits in conversation and heard the phrase "...was killed..." as they got close. We queried and they shared their story which was that someone was down here a month ago taking pictures "up on the rocks". Thinking that's where we always go, he continued saying one of the huge waves came in and snatched him off, sending him crashing onto the rocks below. He was pretty hurt but moving, and another wave dislodged a rock which fell upon and killed him. Thinking of the crazy luck, I began debating where I would be able to access the rocks safely.

One look and I didn't even try.

The waves that had woke me were still present, and though I wasn't believed on the walk in when I said I saw them smashing OVER the high cliff faces, one glance rinsed all doubt. The waves obliterated the landing we had in previous years stood. You've seen the pics of us "On the edge of the world", that place I left a video message to come find me, even way up there was bombarded by metric tons of exploding waves. The pool was quite full, and the first surge I saw resulted in a number of exclamations as folks were washed clear out of the pool and to the foot of the beach. I dumped my gear and prepped for entry, and in that moment knew that any progress further than the pool meant certain and immediate death.



Does anyone else ever do that? I'm always finding places or events where in one case, you are 100% fine, and not only fine, but safe, secure, and happy. But right there, literally one large stride away from where you are, and you will meet a horrifying and terrifying untimely demise. It's Death, and you lounge literally inches from its lap, often with not a care in the world. Does that not strike anyone but me?

Anyway...

While the pool was a bit crowded, the crowd dispersed rather quickly. No longer was it a calming pool, but more a feat of strength, a game, of sorts, to endure the surge and maintain your feet / not be cast out / not smash other people and rocks. Here, my fear of having no skills actually trumped my desire to test physical limits. I never went deeper than waist high, never leaving my feet. I squatted a little area on the edge of the pool, essentially playing defense in front of the lone, submerged, large rock in the pool. And even then, I had to take some 5 strides in, well into the pool, just to give me the runway needed to resist the length and intensity of each surge.







This was not the calming, soothing pool of bubbles I had promised! I was a bit worried as the safety officer, knowing how even simple bumps and bangs can damper spirits on the hard surfaced ship. And the possibility for real injury, those rocks are quite large under those surges, is there and not entirely unlikely. But this party, this party was game for the lot of it. I went in as far as I was comfortable, and every single person surpassed me. Becky even was sitting/floating, and just let the waves wash her, pinball style, amid the group. Even Frank was at the head, testing Fed to see who could go further and hang on (neither could lol). It was a physical, somewhat extreme activity, and it charged every single member up.

All day, and most of the day before, I had either been pestering Fed or dropping hints to him that I wanted Little Harbor. It was apparent that Foxy's / Soggy Dollar was gonna be the blowout finale, and I still wanted my shot at a fish. Plus, I knew it'd be a mellow night, a good prep for the s#$% show to come. So as we headed back, the question posed, and the answer was affirm. Little Harbor would be our night.

There's nothing there. One lone road that rounds the mountain, maybe a handful of houses set on one side, and perhaps a commercial zone of 5 shops selling food, clothes, and booze. It was right around the corner from the pool, so on day 8 for just the second time all trip, we motored around the corner. We found plenty of balls so took the one deepest and furthest from everything. And here most everyone pulled out and set about fishing.

I flipped my big plug to shore, following Fed's casts with his cuda tube. Frank was pitching, Cody was setting out lines, Snack Shack jigging for bait. Oh! When we moored, I spotted a large spotted ray hanging in the sand beside our ball. I called everyone to see, and clear as day in 20'-30', it sat pretty as could be on the bottom. As we swung to take the ball, 2 more were found. Pretty things, they are. So yeah, having saw those, I called to Cody that I hoped we didn't hook one. Hell to be taking that off, I imagine. Oh! And at Anegada, right after mooring, Cody did just that, hooking a ray but hooking it on my microlight setup LOL. We played with it for awhile but eventually had to tighten the drag as we were heading in, and simply ran into the breaking point.

Anyway...

Fed eventually called that he wanted to troll from the dinghy, so Cody piloted while he and I cast our selections to shore. We eventually settled on trolling the edges all the way around, and we had almost completed the first go around when I hooked up. Something small, something thin, and I had hooked one of those sand divers, the fish I marveled at years back that blended into the bottom. It had a skillion teeth and an unmistakable head that mirrored almost exactly a horned toad.



That being the only action, we headed back in. Mrs Fed wanted to shop, so I took her and Snack Shack in. They shopped while I smoked and observed the fish, seeing huge schools of baitfish being picked about by needlefish or some sort of very thin bugger. Dinner started shortly after our return, so I began setting up for the evening's fish.

The sushi never came to be, so I got the tuna fillets and filleted them further into bait. Same as I did before, just a 10" slab of bloody flesh, each set with two hooks, hopefully representing a school. Let soak. And.... just wait. Cody set out the last ballyhoo on the trolling rig, and we just sat and waited. Cody's a talker, and talked a lot about his time in the Navy on a submarine. Lots of really cool stories I wish I could remember well enough to share. I got a couple "I can't talk about that"s, almost all when inquiring about technical limitations and performance, but was very open about all other things on board. Everything from how they resupply, to sending dudes out the torpedo tubes, to the various systems (and levels) of punishment when at sea. And we waited. Then we got on guns, and found we shared pretty much identical beliefs. And by the end, he may have just changed my mind on my upcoming purchase. And we waited.

It was about this time I realize I was being laughed at. I was standing there with arms to chest, hands clasped at mouth as if in prayer. Snack Shack and Mrs Fed both wondering if I'm praying for a fish, and all I could do is confirm. The whole time, I had been standing there just as I was, repeating "Please, tarpon. Please, tarpon." over and over again. The tips began to, and then continued to, bob and jiggle, as the bait fish below picked and prodded at the exposed meat. They eventually loosed enough to require a bait change, which I did. Set it right back down, and continued to wait.

Evening had come, and then it had gone, and then it was night. The tarpon were there; much exclamation brought all to the port side earlier, and sure enough, a great shimmering blue hunk of huge sat just below us, swimming back and forth right next to my offering. Animation on the boat for naught, nothing ever came of it. Cody advised to remove ourselves from the ledge so that we weren't seen, and we left and hadn't returned. We had dinner. It went dark. And that was that. I stayed in it, hoping for yet another shark, but I was almost convinced it was a settled affair. Of course we were gonna catch a shark. And of course it would be cool. But I wanted that tarpon.

ReeeeEEEEEENT!

I snap to, running to the rod. Not even there yet, a great silo of silver rockets 30' off the stern. Fish on! IT'S A TARPON!

I don't miss a beat, clearing the rod holder smooth and reeling slack for a good set. I set into her and she gives another huge rocket. "Snack Shack!", and I hand off the pole.

All hands are on deck now. Her on the deck with a handful of dynamite, Cody sort of hovering over her, assisting her on the rod with the huge runs, Frank sort of holding her from behind, keeping her in the boat when the sucker took off. I was running at that point, getting the other line in and snagging the gaff. This was a tarpon, we MUST get it in!



The effort proved true, and after much display, we had it wrangled close to the boat. Even still, it was a difficult affair. I've fished a lot. While I don't do the salt water, I've still landed some pretty big fish, and often. All of the sportfish from my area, I've caught them all. But this thing is like no other thing I have ever met. I've held a 40lb salmon that flipped and flopped with all its might. It's a tough thing, a bit hard to control. A tarpon thrash adjusts the rotation of the Earth, no joke. To wrap line around your hand and having it run will take the line to the bone with a probability of 1, they are fearsome strong. So even though we had got it to the boat, I was time and time again unable to get a gaff on it. I had it perhaps 3 or 4 times, a few times getting it halfway into the boat, and every time it thrashed loose, once almost ripping the gaff out of my hands and once nearly sending me off the deck. I finally called for The Fed, not wanting to lose the fish. He manged to get a good grip then called me back, allowing me finally to hoist its mass fully out of the water.







Still, I simply couldn't secure it. Even with a perfect gaff, its first struggle sent it back into the water. By this time we had a full audience, the surrounding boats cheering since about the second big jump. I got it close and not seeing the hooks, called to Cody to ready the pliers. Once he did, I grabbed the line to swing her close and when she got to me, I snatched her by the lower jaw. Rock freaking hard, like holding the bare rib of a large mammal, and about as big around at the lip as a RedBull can. Secured, Cody cut the leader and I slid my other hand into its gills.

I tried, folks, I really did. I got it almost out of the water before my shoulder gave up. I just couldn't lift it any higher. I arched my back intent to land her for real when it thrashed again. Even if I could've held on, I would've bounced off the deck and been in, no way was I controlling that fish. Cody was running hi-def video on his Hero4, so perhaps some better pics can be culled soon. But though blurry, that is clearly one hell of a fish!

Alas, since I handed it off immediately, I reckon I must sign up yet again to cut that particular notch in me belt ;)

Geeked on the event, we snap set out new bait at the same depth. Didn't take long to light up again, Cody this time taking one for himself. There was a bit of an unknown due to no rocketing and odd behavior, but getting it close made the ID easy - it was a horse eye jack, last caught on the last day of our last trip.



Shortly thereafter he hooked and landed another of equal size, and then it lit up again, this time Laurie getting a crack. She had a decent fight and followed direction well. And it was at this point I learned she had never caught a fish before. Ever. Like, ever-ever. I had never heard of such a thing, but was quite pleased to be there for an awakening. It just does something to you that you can't resist, as evidenced by the face of she who landed =)



And that concluded the night. No more fish came, leaving us with a total of 3 decent horse eye jacks and one hell of a tarpon hook and landing. Cody and I stayed up, railing against Class III laws, probably close to 0000hrs, before eventually giving up on the affair and heading to bed. And head to bed we did. The final real day was coming up fast.
Be bold and risk defeat, or be cautious and encourage it.
March 8th, 2017 at 1:37:53 PM permalink
Ayecarumba
Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 79
Posts: 1232
Now that's a fish! I'm glad to hear the tuna didn't go to waste. That one pound you cut for bait retails for $35 in the market.

Looking forward to the next installment.
March 8th, 2017 at 2:29:59 PM permalink
Face
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Threads: 61
Posts: 3031
Quote: Ayecarumba
Now that's a fish! I'm glad to hear the tuna didn't go to waste. That one pound you cut for bait retails for $35 in the market.


Lol, and I thought I was the only one who thought that way =) Especially fishing the tribs of Ontario, I just count the money rotting on the shores. With parasites ravaging, salmon is up to like $50/lb and I step on or over hundreds of them every time I go.

Some Ruskies just got nabbed this winter (why is it always the Ruskies?) with 69 of the sumbitches. I dunno what's funnier; them trying to bring those rotten zombies to shop, or trying to get 69 salmon out of the most heavily fished spot in the state in an uncovered pick em up.

Quote: Aye
Looking forward to the next installment.


Ugh. I had it just about done, but Photoshop has gone wayyy downhill. I paused, unwilling to deal with its repeated freezes, and the big wind storm we're having popped the power. All gone =(

I'll get back to it soon enough.
Be bold and risk defeat, or be cautious and encourage it.
March 8th, 2017 at 2:35:53 PM permalink
Face
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Member since: Oct 24, 2012
Threads: 61
Posts: 3031
LOL! I guess it auto saved and auto opened; it was sitting right behind the tab I was using. Looks like most of it was saved, so it'll be up all the more sooner =)
Be bold and risk defeat, or be cautious and encourage it.
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