Caribbean Sailing Chapter Two

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First day A

British West Indies

The warm Caribbean sun greets us as we leave Saba Rock and sail to Jost Van Dyke, to the Southwest. We chose this time of the year because the temperature in the British West Indies is moderate and the humidity is low.

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Minutes after we leave Saba Rock we see an island off the starboard (right) side of the boat. This is Necker Island and is owned by Sir Richard Branson. He has one of his homes here, as well as, an exclusive resort for the wealthy. At one time the rate was $25,000 per week, but you could bring 9 of your closest friends! If we had the time, we could, by BWI law, catch some rays on his beach. All BWI beaches are public up to the “high water line”; however, if you approach the island you’ll be met by private patrol boats and “discouraged” from landing on the beach. Oh well, there are many more beaches that welcome our visit and they await us later in the day.

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Jost Van Dyke will be our longest sail on our voyage, but the greatest day for sailing! We are sailing in the Atlantic Ocean for this leg of our trip and the water is spectacular!

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Because we are in deep water, it is a deep royal blue and today the winds are favorable and the sailing is smooth as glass. Sailing touches all of our senses, the beauty of the pure white canvas sails against the azure blue of the Caribbean sky, the smell of the salt air, the feeling of the warm sun as it bathes us with its golden rays, and hear the gentle “flapping” of the sails as they catch the wind and carry us to our destination. Time to kick back and grab a cold beverage.

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The captain ask us if one of us would like to “take the helm”. I speak up and suddenly I am “driving” the boat! (ha) Actually, it is a partnership between me and the wind and it feels sooo good.St. Thomas15  Feb. 02 Anyone else? There will be plenty of time to take turns and learn to sail. Taking the helm is the easy part, it takes many hours to learn to “read” the wind by watching the water and to know when to bring the sails about to “catch” the wind and keep us on our course. If the winds are blowing North and you are sailing South, it takes knowledge and skill to “change the tack” (zig-zag) and cause the wind to take you South.

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As we sail Southwest towards Jost Van Dyke, we see many small islands, some are uninhabited and others have small villages. The largest island, Tortola, is on the port side of our vessel (left). Tortola, legend has it, was named by Christopher Columbus and means “land of the turtle-dove”.  We will spend the bulk of our trip sailing around Tortola and visiting the many ports of call offered by the island.

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As we sail around the island of Jost Van Dyke, on our way to White Bay, we notice a school of dolphins following us. Dolphins love to play with the yachts in the area and are quite a sight to behold.

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White Bay 1

White Bay

Jost Van Dyke A

Jost Van Dyke Island

White Bay 2

White Bay

Our destination for the today is White Bay, on the leeward side of Jost Van Dyke. We drop anchor about 75 yards from shore as there isn’t a dock. Now we have two options for getting ashore:

a) take the dinghy (a small inflatable raft that most sailing vessels have)  b) swimxxxxxx

Soggy Dollar Bar

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Ivan’s Stress-Free Bar

We take option (a) and take the dingy ashore.  The first stop is the Soggy Dollar Bar and a drink called the “Pain Killer”.  The Soggy Dollar is famous for this concoction. Have enough of them and “de pain she go away”. (unfortunately, it WILL return the next morning). The bar got it’s name because if you swim in, your money is soggy!  The rest of the day we rotate from the bar to the sand and back again. Another popular spot is “Ivan’s stress free Beach bar” located just down the way from the Soggy Dollar, offering a great view, a tire swing from a palm tree, and a laid-back feelin’.

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Soper’s Hole Harbor

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Ivan’s Stress-Free Bar

As the sun begins it‘s descent into the Caribbean we “weigh” the anchor (pull it out of the water) and motor our way to the West end of Tortola and a little harbor called Soper’s Hole. Buccaneers (a.k.a. pirates) were attracted to the islands as their hidden coves and complex reef system made them the ideal spot for ravaging passing ships transporting riches from the new world back to Europe. Blackbeard, one of the most infamous buccaneers in Virgin Islands history, made his base of operations at Soper’s Hole on Tortola’s west end in the early 1700s. He and his crew would lay in wait for an unsuspecting trade ship, then quickly pounce on it, killing the crew and claiming the ship and its cargo.

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This is our “overnight” spot. It is now, as the pirates call it, Happy ARRRRR! Our captain prepares his own recipe of the “pain killer” and it is surprisingly better than the Soggy Dollar version! We sip on the stern of the boat (back) with our feet in the warm Caribbean Sea and watch the sun slowly disappear into the sea. This is a memory to hold onto when you get back home to the cold and snow!

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After a delicious gourmet dinner aboard, we go ashore for a few hours of shopping and “beverages” at Pusser’s Landing, perhaps a good Cohiba (yes, Cuban cigars abound here), and back to the boat, happy, tired, and ready for our first night at sea.

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Sunset_Tortola

Hmm….

is that a Jimmy Buffett song I hear someone humming?

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Check back next week for Chapter Three of our adventure.

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About Gene Hess

Hi, My name is Gene. I started this site to share with you my travel experiences and to provide tips I have learned to make your travel more exciting, keep you from some of the "pitfalls" I have encountered when traveling, and share with you some of the websites I have found very helpful to make your travels...Carefree! I have walked on the Great Wall of China, been on safari in South Africa, walked the sands of North Africa, and floated leisurely down the canals of Venice. I have learned a lot about traveling and I want to share it with you. I hope you find it informative and profitable when it is time for your "great adventure"!
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