Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sailing Trip Day 3: Anegada

Day 3 of our trip was our first major day at sea. By this point I hadn't taken any Dramamine yet, but I knew sailing to Anegada we would be out of sight of land for a little bit, so it was time to pop that pill! We left for Anegada from Trellis Bay, which is where we picked up Pedro, our captain/adviser for the next two days. He helped us hoist the sails for the first time, and advised Kyle's dad on how to best navigate to Anegada. He was a cool dude and it sure was a pleasure to have him on board for the 3rd and 4th days of our trip! It took us about 3 hours to get to Anegada from Trellis Bay, and along the way we got to enjoy this beautiful scenery:      

On the way Kyle and Jenny occupied themselves with setting up the fishing lines, and once we got closer to the island we found that Jenny had caught some kind of jack fish. We weren't going to be able to eat it or use it for bait, so we gave the fish to Pedro who took it with him when he stayed the night with some friends on Anegada.

I didn't know this before our trip, but Anegada is the only coral island in the otherwise volcanic chain of islands that makes up the British Virgin Islands. It is super-flat compared to the mountainous terrain of the other islands. Basically it's the red-headed stepchild of the BVI. But a pretty one at that! (Excuse my crappy pictures, they don't do it justice).

Once we were anchored up for the day at Setting Point, Kyle, Jenny and Zach took Pedro to shore on the dinghy so he could spend the afternoon with his friends at Potter's by the Sea, one of the few restaurants on the island. They also tried to find a dive shop to get suggestions for a good dive site near the island, and made dinner reservations for us at Potter's. Most restaurants in the BVI require advance notice that you are coming, and sometimes they even need to know your order, so they can make sure they have enough ingredients for the night. Understandable, especially if you want fresh seafood!

After Kyle, Jenny and Zach got back to the boat with no luck finding a dive shop, we decided to take a taxi to the other side of the island and snorkel around in Loblolly Bay. We rode in another open-air taxi on the way there, but this time it was in the back of a very small pick-up truck, squished together with 8 or 9 people total. I didn't bring my camera with me on this little excursion, but I wish I did because Loblolly Bay was such a beautiful beach! A few hours later, when we got back to the dock at Setting Point, we found that Fred and Christina had successfully made it over to Anegada on the ferry (I don't want to even know what that ride was like!). After a quick catch-up chat on the dock, we got everyone back on the boat to clean up for our lobster dinner at Potter's. We had no idea that we were in for such a treat!
Now this is what I call a lobster dinner! They took the whole lobster and cut it in half, grilled it and served it with melted butter, salad, baked potato, and vegetables. Jenny and Zach, our resident marine biologists and experts on all things seafood, said that it was safe for us to eat anything inside the lobster, including the eye. While I did pass on the eye, I ate pretty much anything that had meat in it and it was truly the best lobster I ever had. Every lobster I eat from now on will be compared to this, and I'm guessing nothing will ever measure up. It was SO good! 

Here's our whole group (minus me taking the picture) together for the first time. Another thing I loved about Potter's is that we got to dine with our toes in the sand, as you can see at the bottom of this pic. It was all-around a great night, and it wasn't long before we were all passed out in bed from stuffed bellies and a full day in the sun. 

Up next, the first dive of the trip and Jost Van Dyke!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sailing Trip: Boat Tour

I didn't talk much about our sailboat in yesterday's post because I thought it deserved a post all on its own. So this was our home sweet home for 10 days! 

We chartered our boat through Conch Charters, and our boat was the Lagoon 410, a 40(ish) ft. catamaran. The name of our boat was Mama Cocha, which apparently is some kind of sexual innuendo, so needless to say everywhere we went we were guaranteed to get a chuckle or two from the locals. Here's a full shot of the boat from when we were in Jost Van Dyke:

A beauty, isn't she? So we'll start our tour with the exterior of the boat and then work our way in. I have to apologize in advance and say that my pictures of the boat are kinda random. As I put this post together I realized the "tour" will be kind of sporadic. Forgive me? I guess my mind took a little of a vacation too!

This is the view of the galley (kitchen) when you stand on the netting between the two hulls. We constantly kept the two windows in the middle and the one on the top-left open to let the breeze come through and cool everything down. Of course when a scattered shower would come through we had to hurry and close them before everything got soaked.

Occasionally when we moored up for the night we would tie a hammock in front of the galley, which was the perfect spot for reading or taking a late afternoon nap. 
This is the starboard (right) side of the boat.

Here's another view of the starboard side from further back (and in a different location - you can see the water is a little rougher). 

This is the top of the mast. 

On the back of the boat, we had fishing lines hooked up and ready.

This was one of two eating areas on the boat. Sorry about the mess, I decided to just leave things as is when I took pictures instead of tidying up. Just keeping it real!

You can see a little bit of the dinghy in the photo above on the right, which was the smaller boat we used to get to and from shore. Here, you can see Kyle, Lynn, Zach and Jenny taking the dinghy to a dive site. 

We also had a kayak as another means of getting to and from shore during the day, but we also used it for fishing and exploring around.

So let's see the inside of the boat! This is the seating area next to the galley, aka the kitchen.
Here you can see the sink, stove, oven and small kitchen appliances. 

This was our little fridge.

...and our little oven and two-burner stove.
When you walked in the sliding doors to the galley and looked to the right, you could see the stairs leading down to Jenny's cabin and Kyle's parents' cabin. 

When you looked to the left, you could see the stairs leading to Fred and Christina's cabin and mine and Kyle's. 

This is what the stairs looked like, very narrow and...you guessed it...slippery when wet.

To the right of the stairs, you could see our tiny room. 

Turning back around, you could see Fred and Christina's room.
As you can kinda see, our bed was shaped like a triangle, wide at your feet and then narrow where you put your pillow. It truly was a unique sleeping situation. And let me tell y'all, that first night on the boat was terrible. I just laid there awake for what seemed like 5 hours, I was so freaked out about the rocking motion of the boat and being in that enclosed space. And then it started to rain so we had to close our hatch, which made it extremely hot in there. On top of that we couldn't figure out how to get our fan to work and we had our door closed, so it was like we were baking ourselves in an oven. Terrible. I don't know if I really got any sleep that night, but thankfully we were able to get our fan to work and left all our hatches and doors open the rest of the trip, which allowed for more breezy and restful nights.

And this was our itty bitty bathroom. The rule with the toilets is that you can't flush anything unless you ate it. I'll let you think about what that means. Luxurious, huh? ;)

When we first got on the boat, I asked Kyle where the showers were. Little did I know that the entire bathroom is the shower. What you do is pick the sink faucet up and use it as a shower head, just standing there in front of the sink. When there is too much water on the floor, you just push a button and it drains out of the room. It took some getting used to, but it got the job done!
So that's our boat, I hope you enjoyed the slightly sporadic tour! Up next is our first day at sea, sailing to the island of Anegada. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Sailing Trip Day 2: Road Town + Trellis Bay

On Day 2 of our Sailing Trip, we got up and ate breakfast at Sebastian's Seaside Grill, loaded up our bags on another open air taxi, and took the scenic route across the island over to Road Town, where our sailboat would be waiting for us. We decided to wear our trip shirts that Jenny and Zach designed for us on this day, so yep, we were that family. Matching vacation shirts FTW!

I can't remember exactly what bay our driver said this was, but Kyle and I think it's Cane Garden Bay (one of my favorite anchorages of the trip - you'll hear more about it later).

Another bay off of Tortola.

Our first glimpse of Road Town, the capital of the British Virgin Islands. As you can see I took this photo from pretty high up, so to get down there we had to go down some very steep hills. Thankfully we made it in one piece!

Once we got into Road Town, we stopped at the market to load up on groceries. We ate breakfast and lunch on the boat every day, and cooked dinner on the boat a couple of times too, so we had to make sure we got everything we needed. We split the list up and everyone was running around getting what was on their portion of the list. With our matching t-shirts it made me feel like I was on one of those game shows, you know the ones where you had to run around the store and try to stuff everything you possibly can into your cart within 5 minutes? I can't remember the name of it but that's what I kept thinking of. After that our taxi driver took us over to Conch Charters, where we were finally able to see our boat!

Once we unloaded our luggage and groceries off the taxi, we had to wait a little bit for the Conch Charters staff to finish cleaning off the deck of our boat and for Kyle's dad to settle the checking-in logistics. In the meantime we grabbed these carts and loaded up our stuff so it would be easier to drag around.

After we were allowed on the boat, it took us a while to haul everything on it and unpack the groceries and our bags. One of the Conch Charters staff also had to show Kyle's dad and Zach around the boat, talking about how to work the various control panels and giving pointers on things like how to flush the toilets and when to turn the engine on so you can cool down the fridge, etc. Believe it or not, we eventually were ready to hit the water, so this Conch Charters staff member helped us navigate out of the marina. 

Once we were out far enough, his buddy came to pick him up on a dinghy and we were on our own! 

Since we were on a catamaran, there was netting between the two hulls on the bow that you could sit on. Perfect place for tanning during the day and stargazing at night! 

We're on a boat!

Kyle got to take the wheel for a few minutes on our way over to Beef Island. 

We moored up at Trellis Bay, Beef Island, for our first night on the boat. To hook up to a mooring buoy, you have to tie two deck lines (ropes) to the mooring buoy and then tie the line to a cleat on the boat.  Sounds simple but you have to work quickly in order for it to hold correctly. Here's our mooring buoy team at work for the first time:

Bow chicka wow wow! Look at that hottie in the hat! ;)

We saw this lady drive by on a dinghy with her two dogs, and it immediately made me miss Doc (we boarded him at my dad's clinic while we were gone). I can't imagine having two dogs to walk all the time while you are on a sailing trip!

Trellis Bay is where we were supposed to pick up Fred and Christina, the 7th and 8th members of our motley crew, so Kyle's dad sent Kyle and me on the dinghy to the three bars/restaurants on shore to look for them. They were nowhere in sight, so we came back to the boat empty handed except for a few potatoes for dinner that night. Kyle's mom was able to get in touch with Fred and found out their flight was delayed, causing them to miss the ferry over to Beef Island. So plan B - pick them up the next day in Anegada! For our first meal on the boat, we had steak with salad, grilled garlic bread and sauteed potatoes and onions. Yummy!

The grill was attached to the side of the boat and hung off the edge to make it less of a fire hazard. Thankfully Kyle's dad is a grill-master and none of the steaks fell in the water!

At the end of the day, Jenny couldn't have put it better when she said "Now I feel like I'm on vacation!". Up next: boat tour and we sail to Anegada, the only coral island in the BVI. 

P.S. I'm listing all the sailing trip posts with their links on the new Our Travels page up top. Be sure to check it out, I linked to some of the other places we've traveled as well!


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