Ryan and I love the British Virgin Islands. We spent Ryan’s 30th birthday on a charter boat here and came back 2 years later to be married here at the Bitter End. So, after some hemming and hawing between the Bahamas and the Caribbean we decided (over a painkiller at Pussers in Annapolis) to do a rally down to the BVIs! Now, that goal has been realized and after about 9 days in the Atlantic Ocean we have arrived! Here is my log of our time at sea…
Passage: Chesapeake Bay (Virginia) to British Virgin Islands (Tortola)
Nov 2nd 6:45pm – Nov11th 1:45pm 8 days and 19 hours
Captain – Ryan, First Mate – Diana, Crew – Greg, Tony, Graham, Ship dog – Stanley
Day 1 (Nov 2nd) – Wait for us!!
The decision was made by the rally committee for the fleet to head out a day early at 3pm on Saturday Nov 2nd. The weather was right and I guess it’s true that time and tide wait for no man. Even when that “man” is our entire crew who were flying in at 6pm on Saturday! So, as the fleet rolled out we stayed behind to wait for our crew of Graham, Greg and Tony. Graham and Greg are friends from ski patrol and Tony is Greg’s Dad. They finally showed up around 6:15, got a quick orientation of the boat, and we were on our way. The official starting line was several miles up the Chesapeake so we crossed the start line at 8:10pm, 5 hours and 10 minutes behind the rest of the fleet. It was rough going right away with heavy winds and big seas but we were all excited as headed out!
Day 2 (Nov 3rd) – Sick…
The weather was rough as we headed out and everyone fell victim to sea sickness except the Captain and ship dog. Within our first 24 hours out we entered the gulf stream. The winds had just started blowing from the north so hadn’t had time yet to get too bad. It still was not a comfortable ride. This is one of those times when you need to remind yourself that uncomfortable does not equal dangerous! The rocking and rolling of the boat and the slapping of the waves and the cold winds made for some less than enthusiastic spirits, but we all pulled through our shifts and helped each other out and made it through.
Day 3 (Nov 4th) – Stanley goes potty!
One of the biggest worries we had going on this voyage was about our dog Stanley. On our previous overnight passages he would hold it from shore to shore (up to 36+ hours!). So, we weren’t sure how he would do for 10 days. We consulted the vet who told us that when he’s gotta go he’s gonna go no matter what so that gave us some comfort, but we still were somewhat concerned. So, when about 48 hours into our trip Stanley finally went we threw a little party! Stanley got lots of pets and praise and cheese. I think he liked the cheese best. 🙂 What finally got him to go is that Ryan started playing with him and got him riled up, so instead of just sitting there holding it he was moving around. And all that moving around made him realize that it was time. Phew! One worry off our shoulders.
Day 4 (Nov 5th) – Happy Birthday to me!
And what a great birthday present I received….I finally got my sea legs! No more queasiness! Hurrah!! The seas and winds were also finally calming down a bit. Ryan had planned to make me a cake on board for my birthday, but I decided I wasn’t quite up to that so we held off. Still it was a beautiful and relaxing day.
Day 5 (Nov 6th) – In the groove
Everything has settled down a bit at this point. The crew has settled in and everyone is feeling better. We spent the day relaxing and enjoying the view of the open ocean and the clouds in the sky. The weather is warming up too so we are now able to be on watch without so many layers. All in all things are looking up!
Day 6 (Nov 7th) – Spirits High
We are all having a great time. We caught 2 small fish today but they were so small we threw them back. Too bad because some fresh sushi would have been nice! We had great sailing all day in 15-18 kts of wind and are cruising along. Dinner was a success and we topped it off with cookies and pumpkin pie. We even had music on for the first time this trip! The crew really got into it and started singing along!
Day 7 (Nov 8th) – Doing it old school
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be out there on the open ocean only navigating by your compass and the stars? I’ve wondered, but never thought I’d get to find out! Around 1am when Graham and I were on watch we lost all our electronics and autopilot. We kept our cool, picked out a star that fit our course and sat tight while Ryan went to work diagnosing the problem. A few hours later Ryan had figured out the problem, but not a solution yet. Around that time Greg was coming up for watch and was able to help Ryan with going through the options. The problem was that the power source for our electronics had quit. After several hours Greg came up with the solution of wiring the electronics into the lights! And just like that we had our chart plotter and auto pilot back! Woohooo.
Day 8 (Nov 9th) – Stars all around us
Based on our experiences the night before Graham got very interested in the stars and broke out the book on celestial navigation. He kept our watches very interesting with studies of the stars, identifying the constellations and watching as the stars moved through the heavens. It was a wonderful way to pass our night watch and we all had a blast. At this point the weather is warm enough that we’re all in short sleeves at night and the seas are calm and the winds fair. What a great way to pass the time.
Day 9 (Nov 10th) – Cabin Fever
A 40ft boat is not that big. Especially when you’ve been on it for 9 days. We were starting to dream of those rum punches and white sandy beaches. We passed the day chatting and relaxing and ready to see the BVI!
Day 10 (Nov 11th) – Land Ho!!!
We made it! We made it! We crossed the rally finish line about 10am and then headed on in to Nanny Cay. We were all thrilled to make it and even flew our spinnaker for 20 minutes just because we could. We were met on the dock by Claudia who caught our lines and gave us a rum punch. We all got checked in through customs without hassle (including Stanley). Stanley got his first walk in 10 days and I have never seen his tail wag so fast or him smile so big! We are all excited for our first meal on land and spent the evening relaxing.
Now that we’re here it will be boat work for a few days and then hopefully some swimming and snorkeling!! 🙂