Winds were light for the long sail from Anegada to Jost Van Dyke today, so we fired up the motor to assist the sails in order to give us time to play at the Playground and Sandy Spit before settling in at the Great Harbor on Jost Van Dyke for the evening.
Shortly after we had dropped the sails and were approaching mooring ball at the Playground, Eric and Lori spotted dolphins. Since we had already prepped for the upcoming SCUBA dive, all of our gear was already laid out. Eric and Lori quickly grabbed their snorkeling gear and hopped in the water to swim with wild dolphins in the open water while I circled the boat around them!
The Playground off of Green Cay was wonderful as always. Lots of schooling fish and even a black tip shark! We saw the only lionfish of the trip on this dive in the same location that I had seen several the previous year.
After the dive, we circled around Green Cay to drop anchor at Sandy Spit, a tiny island that is still recovering from Hurricanes Irma and Maria. The swim to shore was pleasant and we wandered around the island for an hour or so.
Wonderful sleep with air conditioning at Leverick Bay, then an early start to head over to Sir Richard Bransons Necker Island for Gumptions Nature Tour.
We played with Lemurs, they are so soft and cuddly, and they crawled all over us! Could it get any better?
Well the answer to that is YES. On top of providing us with a memorable experience, Gumption is making a difference providing guidance and support for young British Virgin Islanders. Several years ago Branson started a fund to provide seed money and assistance to help people build a better life for themselves in the BVI’s. Gumption was one of the first recipients of the Branson fund with his plan to provide glass bottom boat tours in the islands. These people are making positive difference in the lives of others.
The 12 mile sail to Anegada was fantastic, I was able to take a nap on the deck while Lori and Eric sailed the boat. We are the ONLY boat in the mooring field out here, a couple of light showers has cooled the temps down for what I expect will be another peaceful night on the mooring ball.
We left Cooper Island early so that we could catch the Baths on Virgin Gorda before noon. Of course, the Baths were closed because of the strong swells, so we set sail for the Dogs. Wonderful dive at the Chimney on the west side of Great Dog. Lots of surge from the northern swells made for an uncomfortable surface stay for Lori and a rather physical dive for Eric and I.
On surfacing, we cast off the mooring ball immediately and headed over to calmer waters and the Kodiak Queen. The Kodiak Queen remains to be an impressive dive, tons of sea life, and lots of history. She was a US Navy fuel barge, one of the five ships that survived the attack on Pearl Harbor. in 2012 she was discovered rusting in a Road Town junkyard. Mike Cochran and Owen Buggy worked to sink her and create an artificial reef. They cleaned her up and covered her stern with steel mesh in the shape of a Kracken climbing onto the stern of the ship to give coral a lot of surface area to adhere to and populate. The project was completed in early 2017 and she was sunk in Long Bay off the NW shore of Virgin Gorda. Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September of that year damaged some of the mesh that formed the kracken. We cleaned off the dedication plate and took some pics that were sent to Owen.
After the dives the wind picked up so we headed away from the islands for a few hours to get some sailing in before making it to Leverick Bay and grabbing a slip so that we could enjoy air conditioning for an evening.
We woke up reasonably early in Kay Bay and moved Ananda over to a mooring ball so that we could dive the Willy T. Beyond the Sea did a great job preparing the Willy T for its new life as a tourist attraction and coral reef. There are pirates and cannons everywhere. It’s like an underwater amusement park. In another year or two it should be covered in coral and marine life and be quite spectacular!
Having depleted all of our scuba tanks, it was time to head over to Nanny Cay and Blue Water Divers for refills. Since so many of the dive shops are closed this month the wonderful people at Blue Water gave us an extra four tanks to make or diving easier.
Then it was time to head back to Sunsail to find out why they had not fixed the anchor light that we had mentioned to them before we departed the Sunsail base. We showed up fully prepared to read them the riot act. Before we had to get nasty with them, they had somebody waiting for us as soon as we arrived and were all over our boat getting us fixed and back on the water as soon as possible. Kudos to Sunsail for getting the repair done in an amazingly quick period of time.
All they were working on our boat we took advantage of the shore facilities for a badly-needed showers, a nap in the air conditioning, and a great meal at YoMama, where mama served up a wonderful meal and some homemade lemonade with ginger that was out of sight!
We departed to Sunsail base rather late and made our way to Cooper Island where we projected a slideshow of all the photos we have so far along with a wonderful cheese and snack tray that Lori put together. It’s 21:45 now and I may be the last person awake on the boat, looking forward to more adventures tomorrow!
We woke up to a 3:30am rainshower and had to close all of the hatches. Luckily it passed quickly and were able to reopen them for ventilation.
In the morning, Lori spotted a turtle swimming by us. Then we had a light snack we moored over to the Caves for some more snorkeling.
No wind at all, so we will be motoring all day. Circled around the Willy T at its new (original) home in The Bight on Norman Island.
Motored over to the Indians for a wonderful first SCUBA dive. Lori stayed on the boat and weathered out the rains while Eric and I were underwater. Near the end of the dive I found a basket starfish all curled up in it’s protective daytime ball. Once we returned, Lori did some snorkeling and even swam with a turtle! Her words on returning were “World Class Snorkeling!”
There was a quick dinghy practice before we headed to Kay Bay on Peter Island to drop anchor near the newly sunk Willy T (the one that was damaged by Hurricanes Irma and Maria) for another wonderful night on the hook.
We started the day with an island rainshower just before the orientation @ 9am. As expected there were a couple of items that needed to be fixed before we set sail. Captain Morgan came to our rescue and showed us where everything is on the boat and made sure things were fixed.
After a wonderful breakfast at the French Deli we picked up some beer and wine for our after SCUBA beverages.
Dropping a light in the water at sunset ensured that we had a lot of fish action around the back of the boat, mostly yellow fin tuna.
We left the Sunsail base around 3:30 and slowly made our way to Norman Island for an exceptional snorkel at the Caves!
Oof, I hate these 5:30 departures from ABIA. In order to get to the airport 2 hours before my flight I had to leave Ripple @ 2:45am. Caught up with Eric in St. Thomas and had a wonderful stuffed lobster at the Green House and won $3 at the slot machines! Lori met us at the ferry landing and we took the 4:15 to Road Town.
We arrived at the Sunsail base at 6 and walked straight onto Ananda, a Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 479 (47′ monohull sailboat) that will be our home for the duration.
After putting our luggage away, we wandered over to the Rite Way to provision the boat. That took about 2 hours to shop and stow all the groceries securely.
Once the boat was shipshape we made our obligatory trip to Pussers for a painkiller. Sleep came early and deep!
My duffle bag is filled to capacity with SCUBA gear and supplies for PAWS, the local BVI Animal Rescue group. With the exception of a tropical wave off the coast of Africa near the Cape Verde Islands all of the weather seems to be moving away from the BVI. We’re hoping this means that we will have some optimal weather for sailing, SCUBA, and snorkeling next week! Going to try to catch a few hours of sleep before I leave for the airport at 2:45am.
We have been watching the weather closely, and current indications show all of the storms moving away from the Virgin Islands, so it looks like this trip is a go! It’s time to load up the suitcase and find a ride to the airport. I’m filling all of the extra space in my suitcase with carriers for the local animal shelter, PAWS. They use these carriers to transport animals back to the States for adoption.
My heart it’s what everyone in the Bahamas and also In Harm’s Way that are being devastated by Hurricane Dorian. Please do what you can to help these people recover.