Fri. Jul 8th, 2005
Day 2: Road Town -> Norman Island (Benures Bay)
The AC in the hotel room didn't appear to actually have any connection to the
thermostat in there, so we shivered all night. The windows weren't openable so
we were just kinda stuck. In the morning we went back and got checked in for
the new flight. We were expecting big delays as they would probably tighten
security after the London bombings, but I guess it hadn't trickled down this far
yet as we had no problems at all.
Our 9am flight to EIS was on time and actually going to leave. As its a prop
plane we flew low enough to be able to get some great aerial shots of the islands
as we came in. Its a quick flight only 30-45 mins. You land at the Terrence B.
Lettsome airport and rather make your own way across the tarmac to the terminal
building. Inside you're lined up to clear customs and immigration. The people
were very friendly there (as they were everywhere this trip), and it wasn't too
bad. They still stamp the passports so now I have a nice bright blue BVI stamp.
We were originally told to put S/V <boatname> on our forms for where we were
staying, but the woman doing to precheck said they need the name of the charter
company. It could change depending on who is doing the check maybe, I don't know.
We went thru to customs and answered the usual question about declaring
anything, and the customs agent grabbed us a taxi driver and told him where we
were going. The driver grabbed our bags and whisked us into the taxi and away
before we had a chance to say a word. We were in a mini van and following
another taxi that almost looked like something you'd see in an amusement park on
the Safari ride or something. I think it had everyone else that had been on
our flight crammed in there. The price into town was $20 plus tip.
Our driver dropped us at the Footloose dock in Road Town,
between Moorings and Village Cay marina, and we had our first look at The Golden Crown. We had
arranged to meet our captain, Jim Palmer, at noon, but with the flight changes
we'd arrived at 10:30. We decided to kill some time and walk into town for a
bit. A guy on roller skates shot up behind us and skated along trying to
panhandle money off us. That was our first and only time that happened.
We needn't have walked if we hadn't wanted to. It sometimes seems as if
everything other car is a taxi. They all honked and asked if we wanted rides.
We got to the edge of town and saw a place selling fruit slushies and decided
this would be a good place to sit a spell. The humidity was quite high and I was
still in my jeans, not having had time to change yet. So Len ran over and
crossed the streets. Coming back was trickier, as he had to be careful not to
step on the chickens strutting about.
There are very few traffic signals (compared to California, anyway) but as
driving is so different there its probably just as well. At the roundabout
where we sat we noted that it appears to be perfectly acceptable to stop in the
middle of the road to drop off people, pick up people, or just shoot the breeze
should you see someone you know. Its a wonder you can ever drive from one place
to another at all.
We walked back on up to the dock to be there when it was time. At noon a dinghy
appears from the other side of the boat and shoots up to the Footloose dock. Jim
had just gotten the new dinghy and was quite proud of it. We dropped our things
off on the Golden Crown and then he rain us over to the RiteWay market so we
could do some provision shopping. He wasn't certain about our food prefs so we
all went together. I had a hard time not wanting to buy up all the cans of
Sticky Toffee since its not as easy to find at home.
We somehow managed to get it all on board the boat. Jim started by showing us how
to raise the mainsail when reefed and unfurl the jib and away we went. Our first
jaunt was across the Sir Francis Drake channel towards Peter Island. Jim
explained how to remember the order of the smaller islands - From east to west its
Ginger Cooper (gave) Salt Peter (to) Norman. I just couldn't get over the colours
of the water. It really is those blues and greens you see on all the postcards.
All these years I figured that was enhanced colour, but nope, all real.
Jim started us out with Len on the sails and me on the wheel and as we rounded the
end of Peter and headed for Benures Bay on Norman he had us swap. The trip took
about 2 hours I've been told, but probably because it was our first time and it
was all so new it felt like 30 mins.
We had a good bit of heeling over going for awhile, but then we came into the bay
and it was time to drop sail. I just didn't have the muscle to furl that last bit
of the jib and had to surrender it to Jim's care. I hoped that by the end of the
week I'd build up enough brawn.
There was one cat here already, and about an hour or two after we anchored the
"Winnebago" of all catamarans pulled in for the night. It was this triple decker
Moorings 6200 behemoth with loads of air conditioning*.
By the end of the week I was wondering if there were any monohulls available to
charter as it seemed as if they were all catamarans of various sizes.
Jim showed us how to set the anchor and check it for drag vibration. Once the
anchor was set we were ready for swimming and a late lunch and more swimming in those clear
turquoise waters. I saw these cute reddish black urchins, turban snails as big as
baseballs, yellow & brown striped wrasse things and some blue and yellow green
"blueheads". Swam back to the boat and discovered the joys of sipping mint tea
from a hammock slung under the boom. Sipped some ginger wine until dinner (this
eventually was referred to as cocktail hour). As below could be very very hot and
stuffy we tended to spend as little time there as possible. The beverages were
stored in an ice chest on the aft deck and meals were eaten in the cockpit.
we're closer to the equator here the summer doesn't give the late nights we're
used to at home and the sun sets around 7 every night. After a dinner of grilled
tuna steaks we spent a little time looking at the stars and milky way and finally
went down to the aft cabin. We had the breeze booster us, and while there was a
top sheet an several blankets available, we rarely needed even the sheet. The
cabin was a bit stuffy so we latched the cabin door open for the breeze. With all
the hatches open that made it tolerable. We later discovered if we treaded the
straps of my hat thru the drawer hole we could use it to secure the head door open
and get the breeze thru that porthole so we could shut the main cabin door.
And while this night we were anchored far enough from shore, other nights we found
it was a prudent idea to pop on some bug juice to keep the mosquitos off. They
have a voracious appetite and sleeping without a sheet makes it too easy for them.
*(A note about A/C here. I know it seems there's no end to hot and sticky, but don't
do it. Really. AC only makes it worse. There are going to be times where there's
no AC and you're going to be 4 times more miserable. Our first day we were
wishing for AC. Our next morning we remarked on how much cooler it seemed,
and by the second morning were amazed at the change in the weather. Then we went
into a shop that was air conditioned. The instant we walked out it was all hot and
sticky again. Took us another hour to re-acclimatize. So remember, Just Say NO.)