HOLD ON TO YOUR COCONUTS MARGRET!
In COVID times; it’s a small miracle when everyone shows up on time, and we all did, amazing! November 6-13, 2021, our Colgate Sailing Adventures® Flotilla took us to the British Virgin Islands, truly a sailor’s paradise! Tortola weather was sunny and 86 degrees, so worth it! Day one is always a lot of running around storing provisions and baggage, and learning the boats. This trip we had four identical Moorings 48.4 monohulls. Nate skippering, “Bright Idea” with me, Lonnie, Jenny Roberto and Joanne. Frank Passarge skippering “Wombat” with first mate Ruth, Paul, Pat and Bob and Vicky. The third boat was “Meant to be,” affectionately renamed “Meant to Sail,” skippered by John Bound and crewed by Tom, Jeff, Peter and Lisa. And last but not least, “Marty J” skippered by Joel Wolfe, first mate Susan, crew Richard, Bonnie, Nelson and Susan. These were our new friends for the next seven days and we had a great crew!
Day 1, Saturday – Moorings Base Tortola
We had a Skipper/Navigator meeting outdoors under the tent where we went over charts, the general itinerary for the week and safety precautions. It turned out to be a Plan B kind of a day. Nate and I made the decision to stay in port the first night instead of the hoped-for Cooper Island visit, to address several boat issues. It was a good decision based on safety. We quickly shifted gears and as it worked out, people were able to relax around the pool and get to know one another before dinner at The Moorings Yacht Club restaurant. We toasted to a safe and fun trip with Pain Killers followed by spiced mahi mahi among other choices, and finished dinner with chocolate cake for dessert. The bunk was a welcome sight that night.
Day 2, Sunday – Wickham’s Cay, Tortola (Moorings Base) to Cooper Island
Rain and boat issues kept us at the dock till 10:45 a.m. when we threw off the lines and headed out to the promised Cooper Island. It’s a short distance but we put up the mainsails and unfurled the genoas, more to familiarize ourselves with the configuration of the rigging, than to sail since there was not much wind. We power sailed and picked up our Boaty Balls at Cooper. Most swam, some snorkeled, while others went ashore. We assembled later on the beach for our group photo and marveled at the gorgeous sunset. Part of our group headed to the Cooper Island Rum Bar for refreshments before dinner while we awaited for our tables. Dinner was amazing! We had preordered so upon being seated our drinks immediately. . . for most, painkillers, and for others, soft drinks or beer. The tuna was sushi grade and rare which suited most people and the jerk chicken was reported to be gourmet as well as the dessert – a mango chocolate tart, to die for! We took our dinghy back to the boat afterward and enjoyed a night cap before retiring to our bunks. For those of you not familiar with Boaty Ball, it is a company that maintains moorings in the BVI. You set up an account on their website, Boatyball.com, and at 7:00 a.m. you get on the site and click on the mooring ball that you want, hit reserve, hit pay and $40 later voila, you don’t have to rush to get a first come-first served mooring. It worked out great for us as we could squeeze a lot of sailing into the day.
Day 3, Monday – Cooper Island to The Baths, then on to Leverick Bay in Gorda Sound
After navigation rounds, we dropped moorings for a spirited close reach sail on starboard tack to the famous Baths. It was a perfect blue sky, puffy cloud day. Not too much surf, so after securing a mooring, we could dinghy to the outer ring of floaties and tie off our dinghy, jump over board and swim to shore. We brought life jackets and they came in handy because the swim in is longer than you think. Someone (not to be named) thought they had lost their phone on the swim in so a few folks were searching the sandy floor of the water only to find out it had been left in the dinghy. Problem averted, thank goodness! Losing your phone is a nightmare in today’s world, I cringe to think of losing mine when I travel. After lunch aboard we headed off for another nice sail, to Gorda Sound. We started off on a beam reach and ended close hauled. When I saw “Meant to be” sailing right up to the end, they earned their new name . . . “Meant to Sail.” We secured to our reserved moorings and headed ashore to Leverick Bay and the Pusser’s Store. After a swim ashore and a lookabout, including an abbreviated shower in the sink (what we sailors do to save water!), we grilled marinated steaks on the yacht’s barbeque with veggies and brown rice for dinner aboard. Jenny was our grill master and she did an excellent job.
Day 4, Tuesday – Leverick Bay to Anegada
The weather looked good, so after navigation rounds and getting water for some, we set off out the channel and then sailed 6 degrees, 14 miles to Anegada. It seems so distant to me because in the old days Anegada was a place people were discouraged to sail to because it is surrounded by reefs. Today people visit regularly and the channel is well-marked. As fate would have it, a small squall blew in just as we were all arriving at the channel entrance. “Marty J” had difficulty furling their genoa and finally, as instructed, turned away from the wind (and the reef) and was able to furl it without more challenges. We were definitely glad to have the reserved moorings. It gusted to 25 knots and rained . . . not the nicest entry to Anegada. We got in early so some rented a vehicle, we took a free shuttle to the Anegada Beach Hotel and enjoyed the beautiful beach and the largest (only) pool on Anegada. Then back to the boat for cheese and crackers and the sunset before heading into Potters for a lobster and ribs bake. Huge spiny lobsters, melted sweet butter, baked potato and veggies . . . what a fun and tasty meal. The DJ spun good dance music into the night and the dance floor was a hot gyrating mass of people (some with masks) open air under a high roof. Sam with a capital S was the grill master and he knew a thing or two about it. We all slept well aboard “Bright Idea” after a really great day.
Day 5, Wednesday – Anegada to Jost Van Dyke
After navigation rounds and Ice procurement, we dropped the mooring and headed out the channel. We set sail for a nice moderate air broad reach on port tack most of the way. We left at 9ish and arrived around 2:30 and after rounding Sandy Cay we picked up our mooring in Great Harbor off Jost Van Dyke. I had pre-arranged with the clinic there to test eleven of our participants the following morning for a COVID test which is required now to reenter the USA. So, I shared the QR code with everyone and they input their information to receive their personal QR code which allowed them to be tested the following morning. Those that went ashore visited Foxy’s for t-shirts and drinks. “Marty J” and Bonnie had invited everyone over for a cocktail party at 6. It was dark when we dinghied over and it was a fun time. Then back to our boat to prepare mahi mahi and chicken on the grill with garlic and onions, beans and rice. We were rocked to sleep that night.
Day 6, Thursday – Jost to Little Jost, then to West End (Soper’s Hole)
Early to rise for some to be tested for COVID within 36 hours of return to the USA. Breakfast for some ashore. Joanne treated our boat to cinnamon buns from Christine’s Bakery, where the service is slow but the baked goods are yummy! After devouring those we powered around the corner to Little Jost to pick up moorings and investigate the Bubbly Pool. Again “Meant to Sail” lived up to their name, never stopping but sailing all day. After lunch, we left there at 2:30 for the approximate 7 NM sail to Thatch Island Cut and we ducked into Soper’s Hole on the west end of Tortola and got our moorings 1,2,3, & 4 lucky strike. Some had a good meal ashore that night at Omar’s Fusion. We choose to have “everything pasta” which Nate and I concocted with the remaining veggies and sauce. We enjoyed a relaxing meal and gazed at the stars with our starwalker2 app to identify the constellations and listened to cool jazz. Gorgeous night aboard.
Day 7, Friday – West End Tortola to Norman Island
We left the moorings at 8:30 a.m., powered through the cut, set sail and tacked back and forth in a spirited upwind sail to Norman, being careful not to sail into US territory. Winds were ENE about 20 knots, so we got a good work out tacking back and forth up Sir Francis Drake Channel. We picked up moorings at the Bight on Norman at around 10:30ish. Plenty of time to snorkel the caves and have a relaxing swim from the beach.
For an early cocktail, some visited the famed Willy T pirate ship. One who will not be named got the whole young crowd wild when he jumped off the transom en plein air so to speak. The young crowd apparently followed suit or no suit to be more exact. A good laugh was had by all. The final dinner took place at the Norman Island Bight Restaurant. A table was set nicely for the 23 of us at 6:15. First up, your choice of cocktails, followed by grilled snapper fillet, barbequed ribs, veggie quinoa, or jerk chicken then ice cream with carrot cake. The restaurant was packed and the next morning we met some folks that kiddingly blamed us for their eating rice and beans for supper as they could not get a reservation at the Bight. It was a very good meal and everyone was tired after a good, packed day and adventure-packed week. Back to the base early the next morning . . . we dropped moorings at 7 and were back at Wickham’s Cay at 8:30 a.m. The End of another great Colgate Sailing Adventures® Vacation!
This blog post was written by Heather Atwater, who hosts Colgate Sailing Adventures® flotilla cruises with her husband, Nate Atwater. Six fantastic cruises are planned for 2022, so head to this page NOW and get your reservations in before your choice is sold out!