It is a beautiful morning, the sun is just beginning to rise and the sea gulls are circling overhead calling to each other “I think this is the boat that will feed us!” The water is calm and the coffee is ready. As I join the rest of you on deck, we discuss what a great time we had at Pusser’s last night. We relax and enjoy the gentle breeze blowing in off the sea. While I am sipping my coffee I glance at the water and I see a porpoise just below me. It is just watching me watching it. I could have touched it. Calmly I said something and everyone jumps up and peers over my side of the boat. Needless to say, this causes the porpoise to bid me farewell. It dove and came back up about a hundred yards away in less than 20 seconds!
I ask the Captain what’s on the agenda for today. His answer: “I don’t know, what would you like it to be? Do we need to plan that much?” I had forgotten, we are now on “Island Time” and that meant “chill”, we will sail and, maybe, something will come to mind.
We decide snorkeling would be fun and just laid back sailing. We set a course for Norman Island, just across the Sir Francis Drake channel from Soper’s Hole. The channel was named forFrancis Drake, born around 1540-1544 in Devonshire, England, he was involved in piracy and illicit slave trading before being chosen in 1577 as the leader of an expedition intended to pass around South America, through the Strait of Magellan, and explore the coast that lay beyond. Drake successfully completed the journey and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth upon his triumphant return. He later saw action in the English defeat of the Spanish Armada.
Once again the sail across the channel is great! Sailing in the channel is like sailing in the world’s largest bathtub. What I mean is, there are islands all around you, it’s just beautiful. We spend the rest of the morning sailing and arrive at “the bight” on Norman Island around 1 pm. The bight is a bay that can be sailed in and out of on a single tack in a sailing vessel, regardless of the direction of the wind.
We have lunch on board, lobster rolls and strawberries, then go ashore in the dingy to a bar, Pirate’s Bight. It is a fun little restaurant and bar. They have a small gift shop where we purchase the obligatory pirate flag, a couple t-shirts, and a cap. (note: in 2013 the Pirate’s Bight restaurant burned to the ground, but is being rebuilt)
Everywhere we go in the Caribbean we want to just stay, but other ports call. We take the dingy, not to the boat but around the point to a place called “the Caves”. Out comes the snorkeling gear and overboard we go. This is one of the best spots to snorkel. Norman Island, and these very caves were, supposedly, the inspiration for the novel “Treasure Island” I can just see a treasure chest behind the next clump of coral!
The Caribbean’s multi-hues of blue and turquoise are a feast for the eyes. Under the surface we see a crystalline array of rainbow colors. A manta ray glides by in slow motion as the warm water suddenly becomes ice-cold as I swim into an “underwater river”, a current. Was that a gold doubloon I just saw? Nope, just an overstimulated imagination.
After returning to the dingy, we motor to another interesting Caribbean jewel called Willie T’s . The William Thornton II- known as the ”Willie T” because after you’re here for a bit you won’t be able to say its full name without slurring-is a 98-foot schooner that was converted into a bar/restaurant and anchored in the Bight of Norman Island in 1996. Ahh, so much to see, so little time!
It is getting late and we are sailing to Peter Island for the night. Fortunately for us, the captain and his first mate did not join in the festivities on the Willie T so we are “good to go”! We do not have far to go and soon we arrive at Great Harbour, Peter Island. As the first mate prepares dinner, we spend time reminiscing about the snorkeling excursion. Wow, what an experience! After dinner we sit around on deck and watch the sun set behind Tortola and the sparkle of lights begin to appear from Road Town, Tortola. It is then I see my “pirate’s treasure chest” as I look up and behold the millions of diamonds sparkling in the sky.
Another day to remember.
Check back next week for Chapter Four of our adventure.