Wednesday, 02 March 2016

Wow, what an amazing few days sailing in the BVI's sailing onboard this Fountaine Pajot Saba 50. The BVI's are amazing to sail around, lots of islands within easy reach, great temperature, you don't need huge change of clothes as its warm enough to live in your bikini! We only visited a few places, you could spend months!

DAY 1 - Tortola to Norman Island

After a really informative chart and boat briefing by the BVI Yacht Charter Team and our National Marine Parks Permit, we released the lines and motored to Norman Island. You have to remember that the buoyage system is reversed from Europe (bit like driving on the wrong side of the road) and we kept a good lookout for fast ferries.

We motored with the revs just under 2000 RPM doing around 7 knots and when we got to Norman Island picked up a mooring off Treasure Island point in the Bight, we liked it so much - we stayed for two nights. The night time moorings are all $30.00 and are white with a blue stripe.

The fridges are fantastic on-board, we had 3 in total and a freezer. There was only the two of us, so we had plenty of fresh water and lots of fridge and freezer space for cool drinks and fresh food.

DAY 2 - Snorkelling around Norman island

There's so much to do and see, so we lowered our RIB into the water and went round to The Caves on Norman Island, amazing snorkelling. You tie your RIB up to blue buoys, then swim and explore. The Pelicans are also another great snorkelling place, if you get there early enough in the morning, you can pick up one of the red National Marine Parks buoys free of charge as your cruising permit covers this. We saw 30 inch Great Barracudas lying about 15 feet under our boat, amazing coloured fish and coral small and large.

DAY 3 - Virgin Gorda Baths

The wind over the next few days was 20-25 knots so we thought we'd head to the Baths on south end of Virgin Gorda, unfortunately there was a fair bit of swell already. We picked up the red National Marine Parks buoy (no anchoring here) lowered our RIB from the davits and headed over to the dinghy park (light blue buoys see in image below). There are huge boulders where you can swim in-between and walk inshore from one bay to another. Its beautiful.

We spent a few hours at the Baths and then headed to north of Virgin Gorda for overnight shelter in Gorda Sound.

Looking north we can see the Seal Dogs rocks.

Looking south west towards Sir Francis Drake Channel

Looking north east, Sir Richard Branson's Necker Island in the distance

Looking south east into Gorda Sound, keep well clear of Mosquito rocks. You can see the boats moored at the Bitter End and Mosquito Island in the foreground. There is a buoyed channel keeping you in-between Colquhoun Reef which extends from Mosquito Island (west) and Cactus Reef (east). We picked up a mooring off Prickly Pear Island and went to the Bitter End Yacht Club by RIB.

DAY 4 - Virgin Gorda to Marina Cay

Overnight we'd had quite a bit of rain and remembered to close hatches so the inside of the boat didn't get wet! When it rains its heavy. Beautiful morning and after a morning swim, headed to Marina Cay. Wind had piped up and we had a nice behind the beam run to Marina Cay. We could see squalls heading close, so just had our had the jib out. The wind piped up to 30 knots and the boat behaved very well, really didn't make much difference to sailing, very manageable. Always reef early!

Our route was outside of the Dogs (Islands) towards Beef Island. The approach is clear and simple and Marina Cay has plenty of moorings. We developed a really simple mooring system with port and starboard mooring warps. The helm is on starboard side, so we picked up the mooring close to starboard hull first, tied off starboard, then passed the port warp through the mooring eye and back to port hull. Then its easy to use the one engine at a time to take up the slack on the lines. We used a hand signals too, 4 fingers for 4 meters away and a closed fist for stop.

DAY 5 - Marina Cay

All moored up. The reef at Marina Cay sheltering us from the wind. Marina Cay the home of Pussers Rum.

Stand in front of the red telephone box and its webcam takes a picture every 15 minutes so you can tell friends and family to look out at a certain time, also place a sticker inside the phone box. The building to the left of the phone box is the fuel station.

DAY 6 - Heading back

This is just a small snapshot of what you can do and what to see, there's great restaurants and you must try the painkillers (the best rum cocktails out there)

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