And our BVI Itin was…

We got back from the trip on Saturday and loved it. All a bit of a blur and a blend, and we detoured slightly from the plan. But, for what it’s worth, here’s the answer to the challenge we put to you: identify the “default itinerary” for our BVI trips.

Here’s that same DMA chart of the Virgins, with our default ITIN spots marked with my grandfather’s chess pawns (cuz, why not).

Same chart as in last post- this time, labeled with the spots. Go ahead; zoom it up! See some detail. In the meantime, here’s the list:

  1. Virgin Gorda: Spanish Town.
  2. Anegada. There’s just the one anchorage.
  3. Marina Cay. Again, the one spot.
  4. Jost Van Dyke: east end, between Jost and Little Jost.
  5. Norman Island: the Bight
  6. Cooper Island: just the one – Manchioneel Bay.

We deviated on this trip. Not by fucking up our compass, no. We just stayed two nights at Norman and skipped Cooper this time around. We adjust based on what the people who paid to play had to say. And, sometimes the weather. Here’s a synopsis of this trip!

Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda. We anchored there after a snorkel and lunch stop at Great Dog. Then, we dingied into the marina and called a taxi to the Baths. Always breathtaking; never disappointing (except when super crowded. Several in our group were first timers and blown away by it. We grilled aboard that night.

Two women enjoying the largest of the natural pools at the Baths of Virgin Gorda.
Ah, The Baths… this is the largest of the natural pools amongst the famous boulders randomly arranged aeons ago along the south shore of Virgin Gorda. It’s a delightful spot when it’s not crowded.
Not even done with the first day, and we have happy campers! Enjoying drinks at the bar atop the Baths National Park. That’s our Director up front with a Bush Slide (Bushwhacker with drizzels of choc syrup). Mmmmmm….

Anegada. Our personal favorite, where we often spend two nights. One did the trick on this trip as all were eager to see as much of the BVI as possible. We anchored, lunched, and went ashore to explore the north side beaches (mostly by bicycle; one sailor opted for a taxi). The bikers did a beach crawl. Dinner: Anegada Reef Hotel on the beach. Various dishes were accompanied by a nice NZ bottle of Sauv Blanc. Chess match: competitive game with Gregor, but Captain Card managed to find a way to win despite a kibitzing (but entertaining) audience.

Steering… nailing it… and loving it! Kalindi taking a turn at the helm en route to Anegada.
The stunning north side of Anegada. Shallow lagoon area behind the outer reef; plenty of little bommies to explore before that. Choose solitude or manageable shared areas where drinks and food (and some shade) are available. Excellent swimming and snorkeling; diving possible; care to kiteboard? They have that and SUP too!

Marina Cay. Got a mooring early; had to move when crowded by anchoring cats. No problem. Then, off to snorkel the Coral Gardens which didn’t disappoint beyond slightly silty water column. The fish didn’t seem to care. No one on board had been to the relatively new and, post-Irma, refurbished Scrub Island Resort. A friend on another charter supplied intel on the merits, so we hopped in the dinghy. No one on board had been to the relatively new and, post-Irma, refurbished Scrub Island Resort. A friend on another charter supplied intel on the merits, so we hopped in the dinghy. Nice spot; very expensive drinks that were disappointing to decent, but, hey – it’s a brand new fancy joint so we should have expected it. Dined aboard once more. Gregor whupped Captain Card’s ass at chess, straight up. So it goes. (nb: the fuel/water dock was supposed to be open, despite the rest of the island not offering anything anymore. The hurricanes totally trashed MC. However, it was closed all afternoon, and again in the morning. Two yachts had parked on the pier overnight after seemingly waiting all afternoon.)

Kalindi and Gregor plotting as we begin the sail back from Anegada to Marina Cay.

Transoms ūüôā Our home for the week moored at Marina Cay. We had just returned from snorkeling the Coral Gardens. Note the change in water color toward the shore of Great Camanoe in the background, and also the starboard of our twin rudders. This boat was BALANCED heeling over in a breeze! Very light helm. Just like our Beneteau 21 sloops back home.
The swim-up at Scrub Island. Worth a shot at least once to see how they’re pourin’ em on any given day. Nice spot!

Jost Van Dyke. We did a quick snack/snorkel stop at Monkey Point on Guana Island first; surf wasn’t up too much, but water clarity sucked. Nothing special in the fish life department, but it was fun to see them regardless and the cave had a school of likeminded fin fish on display as well.

On to Jost/Little Jost, which gave us a downwind sail in swells and a few jibes for good measure and balance. We moored at the back of the bay, close to the shallows and flats and also the dinghy dock at Foxy’s Taboo (yes, offshoot of the famous Foxy’s around the corner x 2 at Great Harbor). We usually anchor here, but there was a prime mooring spot so we took it.

My college fencing coach tried hard to get me to put my back hand on my hip when swinging sabre. He gave up. Here? It just works. Chie sailing us part of the way with wind and some swells to Jost Van Dyke by way of Guana Island.

After some lunch we dinghied in to shore and made dinner reservations before trekking to the Bubbly Pool, a must-see spot that’s a light walk/hike from the dinghy dock. BVI Tourism aptly calls it “the East End‚Äôs natural sea-formed Jacuzzi.” I agree! As usual, we had it to ourselves briefly upon arrival before the hordes arrived. Just the way the luck rolls for us here.

The Bubbly Pool, about to be replenished! Still frame from a clip we shot upon arrival. For the full effect, see our Instagram with a video last year (and possible another to come from this trip!).

A wave crashes into the “hot gate” leading to the Bubbly Pool, which is behind the fotog, and sends a geyser up at him.
Gregor and Chie heading back toward the dinghy dock and anchorage. Our yacht is the monohull to the right of two cats (3rd out from the point that’s roughly center pic).

Dinner was only for us. They’d let us know when we reserved that we were the only boat/table thus far, and to be sure to advise if we changed our plans. We negotiated a time of arrival, and we showed up. This is rare for this spot; it’s usually somewhere between happening and hopping. Easy night and early closing for them. But they took great care of us. Food was exceptional for BVI; we’ve eaten there before and enjoyed it, but everything was top notch including my baby backs, which were some of the best I’ve ever had.

Rough group selfie while riding the dink after drinks at Scrub Island. You get the picture… happy campers.
Kate and Chie having hammock antics and shenanigans before dinner at Foxy’s Taboo.

Norman Island. Before stormin Norman, we stopped at Sandy Cay right off Jost. We had it to ourselves briefly as usual being the first to arrive. We did a hot drop with the dinghy, and Sir Gregor volunteered to drop it off at the yacht and swim in. nb: it’s seldom calm enough to safely beach the dink here; don’t risk it. Swim or snorkel in from the day moorings. The attractions here are to beach comb and hike the path up through the woods to several elevated plateaus with stunning vistas. It’s way higher up than it looks from shore or afar. Pro tip: hit it early in the AM before heading to your next destination. The alternative, late afternoon, is often too late for securin’ your berthin.’ (This works at many popular BVI day stops before the crowds arrive.)

Sandy Cay, almost in its entirety, as seen from under our Bimini on the boat. Some beach at each end is cut off but this is the whole island. Flat, right? It’s higher than it looks. Check it…
Open water as far as the eye can see… right after that little Island to the left! View from most of the way up Sandy Cay.
Looking down at the moored yachts, and out toward the western Virgin Islands, from part way up Sandy Cay. Our yacht is one of the last two on the right.

We enjoyed Norman itself enough to stay two nights! That’s a first on our trips. Anegada and Virgin Gorda are other spots where we’ve lingered an extra day & night sometimes. We anchored at the Bight in a spot we can usually get away with that strikes a nice balance of serenity and equal opportunity to get to where we want to play here. We snorkeled, chilled, etc and then BBQ’d for din din.

Captain Caffeine, or just a true Coffee Achiever? Either way… totally works. En route to Norman Island, which was an upwind leg with plenty of tacking practice through Thatch Cut and then Sir Frances Drake Channel, and eventually right up to the entrance to the Bight. Boom.

The next day, we chose to do the moderate hike up the ridge for amazing vistas, and then day sail around Norman before grabbing a mooring at Benures Bay for the day. Yup; both Benures and Soldiers now have some moorings; this wasn’t the case when we were last here a year ago.

Sir Gregor at the helm as we circumnavigate Norman Island for a fun sail. We’re on the south side, looking south here, with some swells. This is a still frame from a video clip we’ll probably post on our Instagram (links to all social media are on all pages and posts).

We enjoyed the day here; Gregor did a second hike to another location. Then, back to our anchor spot and drinks and Danger Jenga ashore at Pirate’s Bight before a last supper aboard.

The next morning was both gloomy and beautiful as we motored back to the base and prepared to head home. We got lucky; as soon as the boat was docked and the engine off, it rained. But, as is usual, it was brief and we didn’t get soaked before we departed, and we wished we could have stayed just a little longer.

Looks like a heart, right! Well, those who came for the first time did fall in love. Those who returned, rekindled. Final ride: back to the base at dawn and sunrise, looking roughly east.

For more about these trips…

see our Sailing Vacation Course page, and visit our Instagram!

Italia 2.0

Our happy get-along gang posing for a pic at Portorosa!
The gang! Our HBIC (Head Bozo in Charge), Captain Card, on the right. We’re at the base in Portorosa, Sicilia, the afternoon before departure.

(all photos in this post, for better or for worse, with the exception of the above by a passerby at the base under supervision, by Captain Stephen Glenn Card.)

We recently got back from our second trip to Italy! We were all sad to see it end, but all had to get back to make mo money for the next trip…

Last time ? Islands off the Gulf of Naples, Pontine Islands, Amalfi Coast. Sweet trip; years ago.

This time?

Sicilia and outlying islands, with the Isole Eolie forming a sort of Y pattern off the northeast coast (with Lipari labeled).

The Isole Eolie off Sicily, which are a UNESCO World Heritage protected area. The waters were perhaps the clearest any of us had ever seen in our travels, and super saline to the point of us feeling like we just floated higher when swimming and snorkeling. The islands are a beautiful combo of rugged, volcanic majesty and plush, verdant beauty. Nice peeps, plates and ports of call.

Zoomed in somewhat on the Eolie for general perspective. Ginostra, top right, is a tiny village on Stromboli. There are seven main, inhabited islands in the group, which spans about 30-35 nautical miles diagonally in any direction.

We all arrived the afternoon in advance of departure at Portorosa to get settled and prepped. The “Sunsail” base here is operated jointly by Sail Italia, which operates some or all of Sunsail’s operations on a day to day basis in Italy, and Turistica Il (il) Gabbiano Yacht Charter. It was confusing at first, but the folks there were consistent and very nice to deal with.

We made sure there was a boat (check), got our boat briefing out of the way early, and waited on an area brief/skippers’ meeting. This got consolidated into too many boats in one briefing late in the day, but we all dealt with it and managed. Afterward, and again the next morning, there was time to ask more questions.

As we paid plenty for a near-new boat (less than 1 year old), there was almost nothing to address about its condition. One hinge for one vanity adjusted, and done! Only unresolved question was what to name the boat. Seriously. No name! So new, that… no name. So, off to the make believe land of GoT to come up with something. Plus, one that came up organically in convo with one of the Italian staff. That one? Solo Sicilia (Only in Italy). The one that stuck and was put down on paperwork in port after being used on the VHF?

“A Girl HAS No Name.”

Our director going in for the high five with the boat briefing tech, Natale, after cracking him up.
Our Director and Head Bozo in Charge, Captain Card, on left goin for the high 5 with Natale, our boat briefing tech. Card cracked him up on numerous occasions.

Wonderful dinner ashore at a restaurant in the complex, with excellent local wine. One of our crew is somewhere between an connoisseur and a sommelier, so we never had to worry about wine choices.

Screen shot of pics from HBIC Card’s phone. Left: on the tine of the fork is a small local shrimp from a pasta dish. On the plate? Prawns the size of lobsters. Worth zooming in on this! Then, middle and right, are our wine selections of the evening.

DAY ONE: Coffee, breakfast in stages, and get ready to RUMBLE!
The first two or three days were forecast to be pretty calm, so we anticipated light and variable winds in the mornings that ought to become light but sailable midday or in the afternoon. (Nailed that.) Then, mid-week, we’d get a “storm” in their words. It was imperative to have a parking spot in one of the few sheltered marinas in the islands, and wise to not plan long legs during that time frame. Our imperative? Get to Stromboli and knock that out, so to speak, before getting mid-chain and hedging / assessing next steps.

So, to jump start things, we planned to bypass the first island, Vulcano, and stop at Lipari instead as a first step toward Stromboli for night two. We reserved a berth at Lipari and a mooring at Stromboli toward that end. Lipari is the largest of the Eolie, and has a protected port and plenty of sights to see while parked there.

Sicily in the background; Siciliana steering (actually more D’Abruzzi, but who’s counting??). En route to Lipari.

As predicted, the wind was light and variable as we left port, and for most of the way to Lipari. We motored the whole way. Some boats tried to sail but were standing up straight and stubbornly sailing for the sake of sailing … slowly. Very slowly. We wanted to get in the vicinity of Lipari and then maybe do a pleasure sail once there rather than a delayed delivery. That worked. The wind came up enough to be meaningful and, with Stromboli smoking in the background, we did a fun shakedown sail for awhile before radioing in to the marina for final instructions.

Pano shot off the boat. CLICK this one for full size/res! The dark gray arc above the water? That’s the smoke from Stromboli, stretching at least 25, maybe 30 miles toward Sicily! Where it starts on the left is a cloud over the island, which is a constantly active volcano.

Lipari’s chief parking spot is Porto Pignataro. It’s well protected from most directions, but it’s a bit tight inside and can require confident maneuvering in close quarters. The wind had picked up a bit, but it was off the dock so easy to back up and Med moor in our assigned spot – especially as the marina had a man on on hand to pass us the laid line (mooring line that makes using an anchor unnecessary).

Approaching Isole Lipari, the largest of the Eolie. Dinghies are generally stowed on deck unless it’s a relatively short passage and also calm. The engine is mounted on the stern pushpit on the yacht and only put aboard the dinghy when about to be used. (In areas with larger, heavier dinghies, such as BVI, the whole rig is just towed behind except on cats with davits to hoist it up.)
Pic of chart from base briefing: Lipari, with our intel officer, Gianni, pointing to our port on Lipari: Porto Pignataro.

We wanted to explore ASAP, so after plugging into shore power and adjusting stern lines, off we went with yacht paperwork and passport to check in at the marina office before wandering into town. Once on foot we happened upon a friendly, professional looking driver with a Mercedes taxi-van, Danielle, who proposed a tour of the Island for a set fee after we asked for a ride into town. Sounded like a fair deal and a great way to explore efficiently, and we took it. Highly recommend this: it’s a large island and there are great vistas available if you roam around this way. Plus, Danielle was free flowing with factoids and perspective about the island and the area. We stopped several times, including an opportunity to just walk around the main pedestrian thoroughfare for a spell before moving on. This part was slightly rushed, but still worth it. Personally, I roamed up in between buildings and got a tour not unlike Old Town, Dubrovnik’s walled city. A few scenic stops later, we’d gone around the Island.

Porto Pignataro as seen from the road en route to town, shortly after we arrived that afternoon. In the background on right is the island of Vulcano.
Looking u[ a typical intersection of the pedestrian/moped area of town. At the top? The archaeological museum that’s an old fort!
Entrance ot the museum, which we later walked at night after dinner.
The gang with the testa di barca (head of the boat) taking the shot. Our awesome tour guide, Danielle, is sandwiched in the front row.
Cacti e faraglioni di Lipari.
The islands of Panarea, near right, and Stromboli, far left, matching the colors of the clouds at dusk as seen from well up on Lipari.

Dinners? To be done dockside… or more likely, a little further away. So, we took Danielle’s suggestion and went to a place up on a hill just outside town called Filipino’s. It looked like an expensive tourist trap, but it wasn’t. Everything was reasonable; fresh fish by the gram was a bit pricey but not outrageous, and it was fresh and well prepared.

Stefania pointing as she discussed fish options with the waiter.
Town church as seen from a viewing/firing port in the wall of the old fort.

DAY TWO: TO STROMBOLI

With a stop along the way to snorkel, of course! We hit the smaller islands off Panarea on the way. There’s a spot where gas is escaping from the seabed to the surface, and it’s super kewl to snorkel through the streams of bubbles. We found the suggested anchoring spot (very fussy and small area; highly weather dependent to do). Then, we found the bubble area, which is not visible easily from the surface if at all.

mountain looming behind cruising cat for scale
A cruising cat gives scale to the mountain rising from the sea here. Typical scene in the Isole Eolie.
Another typical scene: beauty in the eyes of the beholder, in this case the fotog who liked both the foreground and background here.

That, plus some bites, and we were off to Stromboli. We chose to motor to the snorkel spot to save time as, again, there was little wind. But we sailed all the way to Stromboli from there. How majestic and beautiful.

Celebration under sail. Good wine; good times.
Approaching Stromboli; several of us were mesmerized for prolonged periods.

Stromboli is a constantly active volcano with two small toe-holds of civilization. There’s a mooring field with some room to free anchor off the northeast shore, where the larger village is (and were the ferries zoom in and out creating wakes except during the night).

More scenery under sail.

One must plan carefully and visit here only when the weather is favorable as it’s exposed from three cardinal directions. Totally worth it: stunning to see up close and personal.

At the southeast end of the island; wind picking up and shifting; cruising monohull for perspective.

Our resident Italiana spoke to the locals and scoped out a sweet spot for dinner, which took some exploring to find. It was worth it. Trattoria ai Gechi. (Think GEICO gecko with his mouth shut while folks eat.)

Doesn’t get any fresher than this: local fisherman frozen after tossing his pot. What’s gonna be in it? Whatever’s the fresh fish on the menu at the local restaurants in the village, and on the villager’s dining tables. Taken while we were moored at Stromboli.

That’s a wrap for this installment; we’ll do another one or two to share the rest of this trip with you! Ce vediamo, eh?

Back to the BVI!

“Lay it on me, Card- how is it down there?¬† Really.

Well, it’s like this…


We all know that there’s an elephant in the chat room.¬† It’s been hard to get a good sense of what it’s like down there post Irma and Maria.¬† ¬†So, we up and went, on the assumption that despite boat and building damage, the islands would still be there.

Our report?  Not half bad!  Better than that.  We recommend it.

Of course, that depends on what you’re looking for in a tropical sailing trip.¬† If you want an endless variety of bars, restaurants, and gift shops, go elsewhere.¬† If you want beautiful islands, healthy reefs, and an abundance of fish to gape at while snorkeling, a representative sample of shoreside fun, and some well deserved tranquility, then head on down or join us on one of our trips.

The hand that steers the boat is… well, the hand that steers the boat. Balance it correctly, and only one hand is needed! 20-25 knots in Sir Francis Drake Channel with double reefed main and partial reef in genoa-jib.

Islands: what’s good and what isn’t

Most islands in the British Virgin Islands were impacted by the hurricane.  Some did quite well and it was not an issue for tuning up for the tourist season.  Others had extensive shoreside damage and the facilities (restaurants/marinas) were basically wiped out.  These areas are under reconstruction, and will be restored, but some have a way to go.

A-Z, to the extent we could ever bother to spell while down there…


Anegada

We didn’t go this time around due to a short trip and rough weather for more than half of it.¬† However, we’ve heard all along that Anegada fared well in the storm and was good to go.¬† Once we were down there for our skippers meeting at Moorings/Sunsail, this was confirmed.¬† The Anegada Reef Hotel and many other restaurants on Anegada await you.


Beef Island/Trellis Bay

Pretty beat up.¬† Many boats still littered around the anchorage and shore, and as it’s connected to the mainland, it remains a busy and crowded anchorage.¬† There’s a market to get supplies which might be adding to the crowding.¬† This was from observation, briefing, and first hand reports from people who just went there.


Cane Garden Bay, Tortola

Didn’t go, but it has a restaurant open on the beach (supposedly a good one).¬† The satellite branch of Bobby’s Marketplace is not open yet.¬† As this anchorage is uncomfortable in any north ground swell unless you get a good mooring, either skip it or arrive very early with a Plan B in mind.¬† Having said that, they’re recommending it subject to the swell, and based on past experience, we agree.¬† It’s gorgeous.


Cooper Island

Restaurant not open yet.¬† Can sort of get ashore to walk on the beach a little; if you do, honor the signs for private property when you get close.¬† There are plenty of moorings here, but get there early.¬† ¬†This is the only anchorage in the area where anchoring is legally prohibited.¬† You will be chased out if you try it, so if you’re getting there past early afternoon, have a plan B.

Cooper Time! People beachcombing, seeing what’s SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard), snorkeling from the dinghy moorings off the large rock upcropping near top center, or just chllaxin aboard their charter yachts. Cooper is also a great place to just do nothing.

Snorkeling from the dinghy mooring at Cistern was above average for the location with plenty of fish.¬† (A certain secret spot where a VERY large barracuda liked to hang was all but destroyed so didn’t go looking for trouble.¬† To this day, dear friends/clients argue with each other and me as to whether this was actually a shark.¬† It wasn’t.)


Jost Van Dyke

Here’s your nightlife.¬† Most places on the island are up and running, including Foxy’s in Great Harbor, Sydney’s and Harris’ in Little Harbor, and the Soggy Dollar Bare in White Bay.¬† One can dock up to refill water tanks in Great Harbor.¬† Foxy’s Taboo at Diamond Cay (near Little Jost) is not open yet.

There are some moorings in each harbor, although traditionally, one expects to anchor at Jost due to the volume.


Marina Cay

Open this one up!¬†It’s a Pano – must see it full sized and scroll in both directions.¬† Click once for a new window and again to really expand it.¬† We had the anchorage at Marina Cay to ourselves at around noon. Very tranquil.¬†¬†

Gone.  The island is still there, of course, and anything concrete and steel remains.  The fuel and water dock, English phone booth, restaurants and bars are gone.  The island is off limits and (fairly) strictly enforced.  That makes it nice and quiet!  Get there early, get a mooring directly in the lee of the island (protected from the prevailing wind), and enjoy a nice quiet night.

Snorkeling at the Coral Gardens was amazing.¬† It’s always good, but we enjoyed something different this time.¬† Schools of parrot fish were behaving a lot like predator gamefish, snapping at floating weeds at and just below the surface!¬† We’ve never seen them more than a few foot off the bottom, cruising around or nibbling at coral.¬† Their were several varieties in attendance, but the ones schooling were fairly colorless with gray/black highlights.¬† There were rainbows and other color varieties around as well.


Norman Island

The Bight, or Pirates Bight, is a large anchorage that always has room for more boats, and a little more now that the Willy T (William T Thornton, a large sailing vessel semi-permanently moored in the Bight), is semi-permanently wrecked ashore. Sad.  Benefit?  That was a LOUD boat, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.  So, much quieter now until if/when they replace it.

Rain squalls have their rewards! Double rainbow looking west toward St. John from the Bight at Norman Island.

The restaurant is supposed to be open but we didn’t go ashore to investigate.¬† Snorkeling along the walls at the Caves, around the corner from the anchorage, was average to slightly above for this spot (which is excellent if you do it right).


North Sound (Gorda Sound), Virgin Gorda

Mostly gone.¬† This area’s facilities were mostly wiped out.¬† One can anchor or moor in many places, of course, and enjoy the tranquility and the reefs for snorkeling.

The one facility open in the Sound is Leverick Bay, and the Pussers (eh) restaurant is open.¬† I don’t remember if water was available at Leverick to top off tanks, but one can check before planning on it.


Peter Island

Looking roughly south from the east headland of Great Harbor. The boats in the background are in the back of the bay where there’s a bit of a pebbly beach. They were getting more wind/gusts (expand the pic to see the whitecaps), so we opted for shiftier winds with less velocity and lighter gusts, plus snorkeling off the boat.

No facilities open yet ashore.¬† Who needs it… Peter Island had an expensive and snotty facility which, if memory serves, required a jacket of gentlemen for dinner.¬† So NOT going down there for that.¬† The allure of Peter, as we see it, is that the harbors have nothing.¬† Just protected anchorages and scenic tranquility.¬† We anchored along the east wall of Great Harbor and loved it.¬† Good snorkel trip along the rip rap on the bottom (which had been there forever).¬† Not a coral spot, but lots of fish as they love this kind of structure.¬† Not bad for jumping off the back of the boat!

At anchor, pointing roughly south west at other yachts in Great Harbor. The black bow of one mega private sailing yacht is on far right.


Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda

Marina is open.¬† This is very enclosed with slips.¬† There are also a few moorings outside, and an area where one can anchor and dinghy in if it’s not rough.¬† No dockside market, and might not have any restaurant facilities running yet, but there are several in town within walking distance, which lets one see how the locals live.¬† ¬†Also, one can get a taxi from here to go to the Baths.¬† If it’s a little lumpy in the harbors due to weather conditions, and people need a break, this is your spot.¬† Flat calm, plus you can step off and walk around on solid ground.


Our trip revealed what we’d hoped it would:¬† a resilient populace living in a natural environment, both of whom roll with the proverbial punches of Poseidon, Neptune, etc.¬† If you want to see and explore the British Virgin Islands closer to the way they were before the charter industry really built up, now’s the time!¬† Expect to provision your boat more and dine ashore less.¬† If that’s the price to pay to play here, I’m more than happy to go back ASAP.

Apres-snorkel sunbathing (briefly of course). Cooper Island, BVI.

Lighting up a Light House

A client of ours is originally from Canada, and two buddies and he did 103 and 104 with us one season before doing their first bareboat charter in the BVI.

Adam’s uncle got involved with a latent lighthouse in Ontario, Canada. He’s on the local preservation committee, and had been trying to get it lit back up. Apparently, it was a somewhat uphill battle as there were concerns about the light shining on shoreside homes at night and being intrusive. ¬†The major’s office was involved and favored the light being back on, so that helped.
Here’s an excerpt from the original Notice to Mariners in 1917 that announced the construction of this light!..
For its return, the compromise was to aim the light across the bay at another peninsula rather than sweep across the shore or just aim 360 all around.  Our mission: confirm the exact bearing, and show/explain why we came up with the magic number.
(Truth be told, Adam was more than capable of doing this himself, having successfully taken and passed 103, 104 and 105 with us and then applied it in the BVI. But this had to come from us as the outside experts.)
Anywho, Adam enlisted us to be the alleged experts to plot the angle of the light and show how we’d done it.

Dividers (nautical drafting compass) set exactly on the two points; protractor triangle was laid carefully against them to be on the correct bearing. Then, triangle was carefully moved to a meridian of longitude to read the bearing in true degrees. This was converted to magnetic so bearings could be taken from either point in real time to confirm.
1. Get the right chart.  Adam took care of this: NOAA #14832, Upper Niagara River, ending in Lake Erie.

2. ID the light in question: “Light House,” on Point Abino. ¬†No characteristics shown as it’s idle.

3. ID the exact spot the new light is supposed to be aimed at: SW corner of the peninsula across the bay at the other end of Crystal Beach.
4. Measure the bearing painstakingly several times with at least two methods and get a consistent answer: 61 degrees magnetic.

There you have it. ¬†And thar she glows…

The light house at Point Abino, Ontario, with its beacon aimed back across the bay.

“A school has no name…”

…or is it no location? ¬†Or too many, so a school is confused about where it is?

Do two (or three) wrongs make a right (location)?

Wonder what percentage of you get the GoT reference of this post’s title. (If you don’t get GoT, let us know and we’ll bring you up to speed.)

Hint…

GoT final scene
Wings over water – on sailboats and soaring dragons. Final scene of season six finale, Game of Thrones.

WTF am I talking about? ¬†Sailing schools who are geographically challenged and are either so confused they don’t know where they are – or want you to be so you sign up for their school at one of their dubious digs.

Example: a school is named after a geographic location. ¬†An island. ¬†They had to move from that island to a neighboring state. ¬†They still reference teaching at that original island in their blurb on the ASA School’s page. But a girl¬†has¬†to cross a river to get to them. ¬†(oops; there’s another GOT reference…)

Another example: a school has three locations, none far from the others (and all in our state).¬† One moved across the bay it’s located in. ¬†Map page still shows it where it isn’t. ¬†At least it’s the right bay. ¬† One is entirely new. ¬†It’s listed on the ASA page as being in a particular Bay, where they say the sailing is Great. ¬†But a school is not in this bay. ¬†It is in another, far away, and the sailing is not in this tiny bay. ¬†A school sails in an inlet on¬†an ocean. (And a school cannot hide from that ocean’s swells.)

What do we care? ¬†We like good old fashioned, straight up honest advertising. ¬†Plus, we’re very proud of our location. ¬†It’s extremely accessible from so many places, both by public transit and car. ¬†The area is insanely good for teaching sailing and just enjoying a day sail or a cruise.

Some schools have multiple locations. ¬†Some locations have multiple schools. ¬†Tiny little City Island, barely a mile and a half long, has historically been home to two sailing schools – sometimes just one, and for a time, three. ¬†Plus, it has two college sailing teams. ¬†Both those universities have campuses on Manhattan. ¬†But, they sail out of City Island. ¬†Finally – we have three yacht clubs on the Island and the vast majority of their members’ toys are sailboats.

We have had opportunities to add a satellite location at the “bay on the ocean,” on the Hudson, etc. ¬†We have always declined. ¬†Not worth having a location slightly more convenient to Manhattanites, or to spread ourselves around hoping to capture another demographic, just to take clients’¬†money and give them a piss-poor education and experience that, if they even learn properly from, they’ll soon outgrow.

A school has an ethic.

Bareboat 104: Cruise to Oyster Bay

We did the first weekend of a Bareboat Cruising course (ASA 104) on the 11th and 12th.¬† Marc and Sheri, prior grads and ongoing Sailing Club members, wanted an overnight cruise experience as part of their training. ¬†We decided on Oyster Bay.¬† Say hi to Marc & Sheri…

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Evening on Oyster Bay

Moderate, slightly gusty breezes tapered off as we departed, so it was light winds all the way. ¬†They became variable in direction as well so it was a good challenge to keep the boat moving. ¬†Too many people just give up in these conditions, and never learn to actually sail a boat in them. ¬†This is one of the fascinating challenges in sailing, and as Long Island Sound and the Northeast are light-wind regions, it’s a critical skillset to develop. ¬†We did motor-sail briefly when it was futile to sail. After all, there was a sunset to catch while relaxing on the mooring!

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Hard to get tired of this vista!

We arranged for a mooring and the timing was perfect. ¬†After the yacht club’s sunset cannon went off, we walked into town in time for our dinner reservation at Wild Honey. ¬†Appetizers and entrees were all excellent as usual. ¬†We did have to reject the first bottle of wine, but the replacement was fine.

The next day saw winds increase beyond what had been originally forecast.  We expected Northwest winds of 10-15 with gusts to 20.  We were greeted with 20-30 from WNW.  Higher gusts were to be possible. So, after taking our time with breakfast and boat prep, and preparing quick access sandwiches and snacks (as well as water), we headed out with our smallest genoa and a single reef in the main.  First thing we encountered in the mouth of the bay? A fleet of little Optis zipping all over in perfect control, and one chase boat seemingly with nothing to do.  We knew we then had no choice but to tough it out on our Pearson 10M (33-foot) keelboat!  (Opti, short for Optimist Pram, is the most popular kids training boat in the world.  We see them everywhere we cruise in the Caribbean and Mediterranean.)

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Marc honing his helm chops while our Director and Dockmaster, and HBIC (Head Bozo in Charge), Captain Stephen Glenn Card sort of hangs around.

But it wasn’t a big deal despite a confused sea state with short choppy waves. ¬†Kilroy ate it up with a balanced helm. ¬†The seas became more rhythmical the further west we progressed. ¬†But after a brief lulling of the breeze to mid-teens, it picked back up. ¬†By the time we had to negotiate the entrance to City Island Harbor, winds were 30-35. ¬†That’s getting into gale forces. ¬†Whew! ¬†But the boat and crew both took it in stride and it was a rewarding finish to a fine trip.