Thursday, 6 February 2014

Escape from the BVI’s

Escape from the BVI’s

Sunday 12th January. We finally have what looks like a weather window to sail to Virgin Gorda and then on to Antigua. It is only 15 miles to our planned anchorage in North sound Virgin Gorda, the winds have reduced to a moderate F4 from the East.

On the way to Virgin Gorda

We motor out to the end of Scrub island and then are able to sail NE to the top of Virgin Gorda. We enter Gorda sound via the Northern passage leaving Mosquito Rock to starboard and keeping well north of Colquhoun reef. The entrance looks narrow but is marked by buoys -they get cruise ships in here so it cannot be that narrow.

The Anchorage  - Leverick Bay
Once through the entrance we head towards the anchorage at Leverick bay. The anchorage area off the marina is densely populated with moorings at US$30 per night. We find a space close inshore and drop the hook in 6m of water, a sandy bottom and we are dug in well and safe for the night. By the next day all the mooring balls are taken by a variety of charter boats, mainly catermerans.
Our plans are to spend a couple of days here, replenishing our stores before heading to Antigua. Cliff has already arrived in Antigua and we need to be there by the 17th January when Anita is planning to join him and us.

Our New Dinghy in Leverick Bay
On arriving at Leverick bay we find we are short on internet access having managed to use up all our airtime on the dongle. The only way to get to Spanish Town to recharge the airtime would be an expensive taxi ride so we will wait until we reach Antigua where we can top up. We find mobile phone signals are also poor here so we have limited conversations with everyone.

A Pearly eyed thresher in the café at Leverick bay - These are usually forest and woodland birds, obviously at the seaside on holiday!
Wednesday 15th January
The forecast looks good for the next few days and  spurred on by our need to get to Antigua we probably left a bit earlier than we should. A couple of days of easterly followed by a day of South Easterly should enable us to make our easting to get to Antigua.

A very steep road at Gun Creek
We motored round to Gun creek and checked out. At 09.30 we are away. Ho hum, we should never trust weather forecasts, (how often have we said that), the seas are much bigger than predicted (2-3m) and with a strong easterly breeze F4/5 we are struggling to get our easting in.

Necker island - leaving the BVI's

After a day and a half of travelling slightly east of south, we tack NE, Rowena is sick from a stomach bug and I have got a chest infection. The boat is bashing into heavy seas and F5 winds, we have green water everywhere - over the sprayhood and in the cockpit, the wind generator has packed up and we are having to run the engine to charge the batteries. We are thoroughly miserable. The good news is there is a full moon so the nights are not too dark.

A rainbow at sea!
Eventually we manage to sail to the SW of Nevis (Dogwood point), it is 0300 on Saturday morning, Antigua is 50miles due east, guess where the wind is coming from? EAST!! Whatever happened to the predicted SE? We cannot motor directly into the wind and seas so we motor sail at about 110 degrees. Eventually the wind moves slightly south of east but not enough to sail so we motor all the way to Jolly harbour marina to check in in the afternoon.

A welcome sight - Jolly Harbour fairway buoy 
Exhausted but relieved to be in Antigua we check in, and move to a berth in the marina. The boat is covered in salt crystals and the sprayhood is white, there is salt crystals all over the rigging it looks like we have been in a snowstorm. We will have to spend a day washing the boat and sorting ourselves out. Considering the conditions and how hard we were slamming into the seas it is remarkable that we didn’t break anything. We now have Cliff, our first visitor for the year and shipmate from last year’s Atlantic crossing with us.

Cliff on 'Le pearl noir'

Unfortunately Anita, Cliff’s wife is unable to join us due to family reasons back home in the UK but we will spend some time with Cliff catching up on their Mediterranean travels and drinking a few cold ones (as you do!).

It is good to be back in the Eastern Caribbean although it has been a mission to get back here from our summer retreat of Bonaire and Curacao. I think next (this) summer we will do things slightly differently.