Thursday, 26 February 2015

Virgin Gorda in the BVI's and now the US Virgins

Virgin Gorda, So we anchored off Prickly Pear Island just a dinghy ride into Gun Creek to check in then into Bitter End.

Bitter End Yacht club

Don had a few drinks in the bar
Don after a few drinks in the bar modelling his new underwear
We had a few walks along the beach, some lovely spots
Showing Saba Rock 

Playing with the shadows
Some boys toys are just bigger
We stayed for a few days at anchor but when the swell made us rock and roll about we went onto a mooring ball for a couple of days just outside Bitter End Yacht club. Sir Richard Bransons Catamaran The Necker Belle is tied up in the marina. 
The Necker Belle

3rd February we departed Virgin Gorda for Peter Island with just enough wind to use the Parasailor, it was downwind great. Well all going well we thought, this is nice, we gybed a few times easily, all going great when the autopilot decided it was going to change direction and behave erratically then failed big time. So down the sail came and now the hard part find out what the heck was wrong now. Don yet again trying to diagnose the problems. More on that later. Just chilled out at Great harbour Peter Island still in the BVI’s. 

4th February on our way to Sopers Hole, its a deep bay with lots of mooring balls a marina a supermarket, Pussers bar / restaurant , a few shops, small spar and a new Italian restaurant. Oh almost forgot the ferry dock and customs and immigration. There is a small dinghy dock but with all the fast ferries and charter boats coming and going its safer to walk from the Pussers bar around the bay.

Leverick bay on Virgin Gorda

“Cruising” the name for boat maintenance in exotic locations!

Well Don’s fix for the chartplotter seemed to do the trick and is working fine now the autopilot is another matter I’m afraid its looking like a big job or replacement which we are told its not possible as that unit is no longer made so it would have to be returned to Raymarine, yeah back to the states, repaired or not then back to us I don’t think so.
The resort in Nanny Cay

Nanny Cay resort beach
A propeller tree which makes a change from fenders
A taxi ride to Nanny Cay a few miles on the coast road where we knew was a place for marine instruments unfortunately they are not listed as able to repair Raymarine units only sell you new units. However Don bought a few “bits and bobs” and picked a guys brain for information as we don’t have a “workshop manual” he decided he could “jury rig” a switch to make the autopilot work. More later on that one. 
We had lunch a walk through the marina out through a resort onto the beach had a couple of drinks then walked back to get a taxi we booked on the way in, unfortunately it didn’t arrive so we found another.  

While we were at the ferry dock I noticed a notice for the ferry trip to the Island of Jost Van Dyke just a 12 to 15 minute ferry ride away, well it would be much longer for us to sail and the wind has dropped so much it would’t be worth it so the following day we departed on the morning ferry. The trip reminded of our previous power boat when we could do 38 knots, it was a fast trip! When we arrived there were taxis touting for business and the general consensus was to go to White Bay where the Soggy Dollar Bar was, hmm its very touristy not really our kind of place, so we walked along the beach to see what we could find, it was just small shops selling the usual kind of “tat” and bars. We hadn’t gone very far when we noticed a dinghy which was just about to float away, its was a charter boats dinghy they are all marked with numbers and one of their logos on the bow. Don managed to soak his shorts and another guy came to help him drag it much higher up the beach and tie it so it couldn’t go astray again. No one came to say thanks or even acknowledge whet he had done, no doubt they were in the bar somewhere, so that was Dons good deed for the day.

We needed to check some things on the internet but the WiFi wasn’t working in the Soggy Dollar bar which was getting very rowdy with the folks mainly from the charter crowd from the dozens of catamarans which were anchored just off the beach, so we decided to leave. I noticed another place with WiFi on the road where we entered on the taxi. So a quick drink and managed to find a taxi we did a “deal” to give us an hours Island tour. The driver Gerald was such a nice guy he stopped where he could which had some great views into the channel and its all looks very different when you are way up in the hills, he showed us the different places we could anchor and gave us all sorts of information. 
As Gerald drove us about he stopped a couple of times and and spoke to a few folks saying that guy was my brother he explained that he comes from a huge family, 14 brothers and 9 sisters, from 5 different women, his father was 70 when he had is last child and the kids are trying to get him to stop now. There are just under 300 residents on the island and every one knows everyone I expect they know his dad too.

Some of the views of the channels are spectacular you certainly have a very different perspective form the hills.
We had considered crossing to Jost Van Dyke but with shallow water so many charter boats there decided it wasn’t a good idea. Its very “touristy” 
Back to the boat after another quick ferry ride and dinner in the Pussers bar.

Ok this is getting to be too big so the next blog asap with lots more photo's

Glenys and Don (Me Fix it)
Agua Therapy

Monday, 23 February 2015

16th January 2015 Departed Antigua for Barbuda

16th January 2015 Departed Antigua for Barbuda around 11:00 its just about 25 nm.
The sail started quite well with 14 to 16 knots but by 15:00 had dropped to a little over 8 k, oh well never mind we dropped anchor in CoCo Bay Barbuda by 16:45.
We came here before and knew there were some reefs and coral heads to negotiate, this is another very low lying island which you can’t see much of until you are on top of it.

The beach is miles long with reefs coming out from it so we snorkelled on it but the visibility wasn’t too good and we hardly saw much at all in fact we saw more from the boat. 
Don scrubbed the hull and fish came all around him to eat the shrimp he scrubbed off. 
There were lots of turtles around which popped up to say hello.
We just stayed 4 days and noticed the same yachts that either have followed us from Grenada or us them, one of the other yachts are mutual friends of others we know from Ruffian Ian and Fiona came aboard for drinks.

20th January Next Stop St Barts great a downwind sail, so we thought, up went Big Red, down it came, up went the cruising chute, down it came so we had a 77 nm trip with the engine on the weather forecast wrong again.
This place we like and so we dropped into Pte Colombeir another one of our favourite anchorages and were lucky to pick up one of the free mooring balls. The following day we dinghied through the cut to check in with customs and take a look around. This time no big yacht race going on but some of the huge boys were out in strength together with the owners parading about showing off the posh frocks and jewellery.

23rd January off we go again to Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of the island. A short 18 nm sail with Big red up, its such a nice sail when we fly it. By 12:15 we anchored outside the bridge so Don went in by dinghy to check in then when the bridge opened.

Inside the lagoon we found Mark on Balvenie, we have know Mark and Amanda for roughly 3 years since Cartagena in Spain. We met up a few times for drinks, Amanda is back in New Zealand with family at the moment.

Here are the chandlers which Don paid a few visits to and we managed to do some shopping to fill up our supplies.
We found a great Greek restaurant named Barnacles, the food is lovely and has friendly owners and staff.

This place has a few marinas with a selection of very expensive motor yachts, the late Steve Jobs yacht is there, we wonder who owns it now and just how many millions that one cost.

Not exactly pretty but I expect inside is
We feel extremely small sometimes compared to these big boys 
He was following us out
Crowds waving us out
27th January We departed through the bridge then anchored outside the bay for our next stop to the Virgin Isles.
28th January 01:00 departure for a 81nm downwind trip.
Up went big red again in the dark but with only between 7 to 11 knots of wind and just 25 nm done we motored for the remainder of the journey.
More technical problems the chartplotter decided to switch itself off then on and off again. 

On the way in through the cut we passed by Necker Island which does look very nice but we didn’t see anyone of interest of famous. The island is surrounded by lots of reefs one of which has 3 plastic palm trees on it.

So we anchored off Prickly Pear Island just a dinghy ride into Gun Creek to check in then Bitter End.

All Necker Island, ok we won't be staying there at 62,000 per night.

Ok this page is too big more later about Virgin Gorda on the next blog, its a very nice place.

Glenys and Don
Agua Therapy

Monday, 16 February 2015

Antigua for Christmas and New YEar

13 th December next stop Antigua
A nice early start 6 o’clock in the morning we don’t want to go into anywhere in the dark.
With the main and headsail reefed, the swell and wind on the beam meant we were well heeled for the 45 nm trip.

We had been into Antigua before but not in English Harbour, you can't see the entrance until you are almost in and we negotiated behind a reef amongst other anchored yachts in Freemans Bay. By 12:30 the anchor was dropped in 1.4 metres and just off a beach on one side and the reef a little way away.

The resort on the beach
You can see the reef in this one, we snorkelled on it

The super yachts are in here
The resort
On the beach is part of a resort which doesn’t look very busy just a few folks enjoying paddle boards and there’s a bar but we only noticed it open a few times, theres a small dinghy dock too.

We decided to take a trip ashore to check in and have a bite to eat in Nelsons dockyard, its a nice place with some super yachts inside the marina they make us look very small. The taxi’s bring in folks from the cruise ships to have a quick look around it can be busy at times.
We then went to the other side of the bay where Don wanted to buy some hose pipe, yes more bits always something to fix, anyway we came out popped into the dinghy went a short way and the outboard engine decided to fail yet again, Don rowed us back to the boat. So Don looked inside the engine cover and yet again scratched his head and decided maybe we should replace the engine, more expense!
Anyway we had met up with a lovely American couple on a catamaran had also had problems with their engine and as we don’t have a telephone now Ty our friend spoke to the guy who had fixed his engine, the guy said he would be on the dinghy dock later.
Don rowed to the dinghy dock to meet the guy to fix the engine we hoped. Anyway this time the problem was a faulty spark plug, the insulator was making intermittent contact so a couple of hours he returned with a spark plug which seemed to solve our problem, not to expensive after all 25 $ for the call out great a working engine again so we thought.

2 different nights sunsets
We had Ty and Judith onboard A.T. for drinks and nibbles, Judith was flying back to the US for xmas and she offered to return after xmas with some new parts for our propeller, great. 

So many cruisers mentioned Shirley Heights where they have steels bands playing and a barbecue so we decided to go, no taxi for us we heard about a "trek" up the hill about a mile so they said. Well we did it but its much more than a mile the way we took, at one point the track went two ways we obviously took the wrong one.  What a climb, but it was rewarding when we reached a clearing where there were hundreds of butterflies.

 The view from the top is over the anchorage and way out beyond.

Hope you can read the description
So we departed English Harbour and made our way to Jolly Harbour which has a marina, great supermarket and busses that run frequently to St John the capital.
We picked up a mooring ball a way out of the marina its not so expensive and much more private there, it has WiFi all be it not very fast or reliable.
We had some pretty good walks along the beach from there.

The casino in Jolly which never came to fruition 
Found this guy hanging around

This is a glass bottomed boat also hovers, we watched it go out on its maiden voyage

Beach wares

More wares for sale

Seems weird seeing a christmas tree here
Don had been suffering with toothache for a couple of weeks, he has a crown which was fitted in South Africa a few years ago and on Christmas day he had been drinking frozen daiquiri’s so we think the ice made the pain much worse, the conclusion was he needed a dentist urgently. As we have antibiotics on board he started the course, he had been warned by the dentist that he may get an infection under the crown someday.
Where do we find a dentist on Christmas day? we don’t so on Boxing day we dinghies into the marina and went into the office and they let us use their telephone to ring the dentists in St John, one of them answered on an emergency number and said that the dentist would come out to the surgery in St John specially. We thought hmm boxing day not many busses so we took a taxi into St John and found the surgery, well eventually the dentist turned up and x-rayed his tooth and agreed he had an abscess below the tooth and said the crown would have to be removed, root canal work done then filled and re fitted, in the meantime advised to take antibiotics together with a much stronger dose of painkillers, come back on Monday she said I can do it in one day, hmm.
So on Monday a bus into St John we go and when we reached the stairs noticed a stream of water cascading down the stairs and people franticly doing their best to mop and sponge the floors, so they didn’t have any electric after the flood. So off we went to find another dentist. To cut this saga short we found another excellent dentist who did the work but not all at once as the other dentist had said she thought the crown would have broken so we had to visit almost every other day for almost 3 weeks until she was sure the infection was gone and all the root canals were clean. 
So Christmas was pretty quiet for us as was New Years Eve, we didn’t book anywhere ashore for a meal in case Don couldn’t eat and when we did try they were full. Out came the duck I had been saving for a special occasion with some fresh vegetables.
We hired a car for 3 days and drove around the whole island in a day its a small island, we had read about Devils bridge which is on the Atlantic side of Antigua and we heard it was very dramatic so we spent a little time there.

Didn't fancy going through this cut at all 

Had a smashing lunch at an Italian restaurant on the North coast the surroundings were nice it was in a resort which looked very nice.


In the New Year we met up with some old friends Jill and Tony from Nychea they had just arrived from home, their yacht had been on the hard tied down for the hurricane season. We all went for dinner in a local restaurant and the restaurant collected us all from the marina and took us back.  

We drove into Falmouth where we met up with Rhain and Rob from Beyzano they were sitting in the bar having coffee and told us about their xmas they had a great time with lots of other cruisers.
Ty and Judith were anchored in Falmouth we met up there and gave us the propeller parts. The car proved to be a good idea letting us take a good look all around the island. 

Sorry this blog is a bit mixed up, I'm trying to finish before the computer battery packs up.

We are currently in St Thomas in the US Virgin Isles.

Glenys and Don
Agua Therapy