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Bermuda to British Virgin Islands

November 15 thru 20, 2002


We woke up early on Friday, November 15, 2002 to move the boat to a fuel dock and fill up. Afterwards, we moved over to Ordinance Island (still within St. George Harbour) and cleared customs. Shearwater in the meantime got fuel and started heading out (confident PatiCat would catch up with our bigger engines).

There were a number of other boats heading out at the same time, justifying our reading of the weather window. We counted at least 5 other boats who stayed within view for much of the rest of the day. One of them, a large twin-master named Eliza, passed by right next to us. Conditions were quite good at the time with plenty of sunshine, 14-16 knots of wind from the north east, and although the waves were 9-10 feet they were just lazy large swells from the east. This made for very nice sailing conditions through the whole day and much of the first night. With our lighter boat, and our nice screecher sail, it didn't take long for us to pass Shearwater and start leaving them behind us.

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The winds started building gradually and veering to the ESE during the evening. By mid-night we were tight reaching with winds in the 15-22 knot range. This was good for speed, but the waves were counter to this and made for uncomfortable motion on the boat. By the second day, Shearwater was no longer in VHF range, but we kept in contact by E-mail.

Over the next couple of days the clocking wind and counter-seas caused us to attempt further easting to get into position for better angles later in the trip. The conditions were really not fun, but not really a problem either. We still managed home schooling with the kids, and normal meal schedules, etc. No one got seasick. To keep us alert, we occasionally would have squall lines which were easily negotiated with our radar. The only big drawback was that we couldn't go to the front of the boat without risking getting wet as there were a lot of waves crashing over the bows.

At one point, during a squall, waves at the bow were strong enough that we had several of the special latches which hold the ropes for the trampolines up front snap off. These latches are designed to only take up so much load, and then they break so that the trampoline itself doesn't get broken. We ended up losing 16 of them! Frank will have a lot of work replacing these when we arrive in port. There's still at least 75 of the latches left on each side, so the tramps can still hold weight, although one side has a sizeable gap we need to avoid.

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The girls had their birthday during this trip. We celebrated by opening a Bermuda Rum Cake. The girls didn't like it much though, so we opened a pound cake for them instead. We decided to watch a movie on DVD as a treat for the girls' birthday. Unfortunately, it was evening and a squall approached - making the seas rough. Not good if you're inside and trying to watch a movie! Poor Patricia suddenly didn't feel well, but it was thankfully all over quickly.

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We eventually got far enough east to get slightly better winds, but it wasn't until after the third day that we finally got far enough south - about 25 degrees North in lattitude, for true East winds. The fourth day was a very nice sail with better seas and nice winds. The last evening we were sailing again with the screecher and it was wonderful! We were all starting to get excited as the end of this voyage was near. Tossed out a line for fishing for the first time, didn't catch anything - but, it was fun. We took lots of pictures of the beautiful sunset, and enjoyed dinner outside on the cockpit table. It was nice to be able to move around the boat!

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However, around midnight, we approached some squall lines and then the winds shift and lightened considerably. We tried numerous sail changes for several hours, and finally gave up and motored. We ended up motoring from midnight.

We first spotted land at 9:09 AM. Land Ho! It turns out it was the mountains of Virgin Gorda, BVI. We were looking for Anegada which was 35 miles closer, however Anegada is a VERY flat island, and we didn't see it until we were less than 10 miles away. The feeling of joy and excitement when land is in sight after a long ocean voyage is hard to express! It helped that we had smooth seas, and sunny skies - for the most part. Actually, there were a couple of squalls along the way, and we actually intentionally moved towards a couple in order to get a nice fresh water wash for PatiCat. She was gleaming in the morning sunlight by the time we approached the islands (with a little help of some sponges and chamouis cloths).

We kept hoping for some wind to make our arrival in full style with the sails up. But, if anything the winds got calmer. We had glassy seas as we passed Anegada - which helped us negotiate a few areas with fish/crab traps. Oh well, so much for our record of always sailing the last few miles of a passage...

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We arrived at Soper's Hole, Tortola, BVI at 1:57 PM. On the way, we all got cleaned up and dressed. So, only a few minutes after mooring, we took the dinghy over and entered customs. We then went over to the shopping area and found an Internet cafe, did some shopping, had some ice cream, and found the local dive shop (for information gathering).

Shearwater E-mailed us that they would arrive later in the night. We told them we'd find them in the morning and join up.

We had dinner at the Jolly Roger restaurant in Soper's Hole. Our friends, Bruce and Vanessa, from Voyage Charters (they were the nice South African couple who took us out last year for a couple of days) showed up and visited with us for a few minutes at the restaurant (they were joining another party). We promised to visit with them soon.

We heard from Shearwater this morning on VHF, they ended up arriving about 3:00 AM. We're going to join up with them tomorrow. So, today we'll probably just hang out around Soper's Hole and move off to somewhere this afternoon to anchor. Who knows where? As long as there's good conditions for snorkelling, we'll be fine!

And so, our Caribbean visit begins!


© Copyright 2002-2008 by Frank Taylor. All rights reserved.
Note: for those of you who read small print, the last picture is a cheat - we forgot to take pictures of our approach into Tortola. :-) This was a shot from a different boat three years ago, and is actually nearer to St. John than Tortola - the island is Lavango. Please E-mail me at frank@paticat.com if you read this.
Last modified: Tue Jul 08 17:50:30 2008