On the way to the airport, we stopped at Tucks for some sandwiches, and made it to the STT airport with plenty of time to spare. They are still rebuilding from Irma/Maria so the waiting area gets pretty crowded. While waiting there was a pretty heavy afternoon shower that cleared up just before we walked out on the tarmac to board our planes.
Eric flew into Charlotte, while Lori and I went through Miami. Many hours later we were all back home.
Having spent our last night near the previous location of the Willy T, we spent the evening watching the tarpon and barracuda circling in the light we hung off of the stern.
Departing the Great Harbor on Peter Island for a short sail across the Sir Francis Drake Channel and over the Denmark Banks brought us back to the SunSail base and back to terra firma in Wickams Cay in Road Town.
Captain Morgan and the SunSail crew checked us back in quickly and after showering, we were packed and ready for travel. We had intended to spend a leisurely afternoon wandering Road Town when we realized that we could make the early ferry back to St. Thomas. The next thing we knew, we were on another boat and on our way back to the United States!
Clearing customs in Charlotte Amalie was painless. By this time, we were in dire need of sustenance so we wandered to the Pie Hole for some wonderful fettucine alfredo with shrimp to top off our week.
After a wonderful nights sleep with the a/c running, we fueled up and headed east for a wonderful dive/snorkel at the wreck of the Rhone.
The RMS Rhone was a UK Royal Mail Ship wrecked off the southwestern shore of Salt Island in a hurricane on October 29, 1867. She was an iron hulled sail-steamer launched in 1865, 310′ long with a 40′ beam, and a top speed of around 14kts (~16mph.)
The Baths were surprisingly empty on a Saturday, I guess that is to be expected as most of the tourist spots were closed with the month of September being the height of hurricane season.
We made our way to Peter Island and picked up a mooring ball for our last night at sea.
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.