Tuesday morning we set off for what we hoped would be a great day of sailing aboard the Chew’s yacht “Nimble”, a Catana 47 catamaran, and it was! Tacking was the order of the day and with each one we refined our techniques and timing.
On a boat with this big a mainsail it is crucial of ease the main A LOT to allow the bows to come through the wind and not push the boat back into irons. It took several attempts to get that timing just right. Ease the main to early and the boat runs out of power. Ease to late and the bows come back up into the wind and the boat nearly stops before getting underway again. Get it just right and the boat comes through the wind and starts speeding up on her new tack. That’s what we want, the last option, and so practice we did until we could consistently tack the boat without any significant loss of steerage or speed.
The excellent adventure continues
We sailed from Nanny Cay, located about half way down the island of Tortola on the south shore, directly upwind and against the current of Sir Francis Drake Channel to Saba Rock on Virgin Gorda. Virgin Gorda is pretty much the eastern extent of the BVI, only Anegada is further east, and the very eastern end of Virgin Gorda is home to The Bitter End Yacht Club and Saba Rock. Saba Rock is a great bar that is sitting in the middle of a pass to the ocean on….Saba Rock. While we didn’t go to the bar on this trip we did sit on the boat and enjoy the music and atmosphere.
The distance traveled through all of the tacks was about 45 n.m. We did this in about 6 hours. Yes, I did say we were on a catamaran and yes I did say close hauled the whole way but what I may not of said yet was this boat is freakin fantabulous!!! Dagger-boards, a big genoa and a mainsail that could cover the state of Maine make this girl really dance. (I’ll write much more on this in a later article) The purpose of our journey to the Bitter End was to have a good launching point for our ultimate destination of St Kitts, and St Martin.
Engine problems and change of plans
Unfortunately, when the starboard engine was started that morning the key stuck in the start position leaving the starter engaged and we all know what that means. Yep, no more starter. So while we could make the trip to St Kitts with only one engine to use, it is a “blue water” trip and the prudent thing to do is hold off on going till we get it fixed. We got lots to do anyway, with rescues of Harold high on my list. St Kitts, we long for you but will you wait for us? Thank you.
Are we in Disneyland?
People have often heard me say that sailing in the Virgin Islands is like sailing in Disneyland. In addition to being a perfect sailing venue, the scenery is just amazing. Dramatic mountains cascade down into the waters. Picturesque homes painted every color in the rainbow dot the mountains boasting of their dramatic views of us from above.
I always find it amazing that you can see the house on the mountains, often at the very peak of the mountains, yet you never see the roads leading up to them. How in the world did they get a concrete truck up there let alone how do the people get to their homes? With the exception of the towns, most of which look like they leapt off of a jigsaw puzzle you see very little infra-structure. It’s as if each home has been there forever and needs no support from the surrounding community.
Thoughts about the local homes of the islands
About those homes, one striking thing came to my mind. Most are complete. While many of us from the US, myself included, speak about the islands as if all tropical places are the same, they are not. The homes are just one such example.
We are used to seeing homes being built and then finished. In other places, like the Bahamas, that I have sailed many of the homes seem to just never get completed. It is not unusual to see a home being lived in with rebar sticking out the top of the walls. Often you will see walls of a second story with no roof on them. Many of these homes look like they have not been worked on in a long time and in fact many have not.
A local Bohemian told me that when they build their homes the banks don’t lend them money. They save up enough to build a simple structure and move in to it as soon as they can. They then save some more and when they can buy 100 concrete blocks they do so and build a few more walls. Then they wait again. It may take years or even generations to complete their homes and in truth many of them never get their homes completed.
All in all it leads to a disheveled first impression and an overall sense of sloppiness. This is not the case in the BVI. Of course there are homes under construction, and there are homes where construction has stopped (a result of the fallen economy in the US I’m sure) but by and large the homes are completed, neat, and orderly. It presents a much more inviting atmosphere to us, the visitors.
Stay tuned for the next excellent adventure installment. Till next we meet be sure to get On the Water…With Captain Frank