We had a fantastic time in the BVI’s and found the reefs had the best coral and sea life that we have seen this voyage. In Trunk Bay Virgin Gorda we had fun exploring the “Baths”, a group of rocks that have been pushed up from tectonic activity many years ago creating caves and a labyrinth of passages to explore. The kids loved bouldering and canyoning through the tight spaces and finding beautiful pools of water hidden underneath these magnificent boulders.
BBQ on the beach
From Trunk bay we made our way up the coast of Virgin Gorda to Long bay where we had fun snorkling around the reefs and point. We then sailed up to Leverick Bay and enjoyed Pirate Beans show, then sailed on to Great Camano island where the kids and I explored the island including shipwrecks and huge hermit crabs, before sailing to Trellis bay where my aunt “Tinks” lived for many years running various charter yachts. After Trellis bay we sailed to Peter Island, but we were disappointed to find huge signs informing us very matter a factly that we were not allowed on the beach or island!
Max at the helm
We explored Norman “Treasure Island” (see previous blog”) and the kids found a treasure map so we spent a few days looking for Blackbeard’s treasure. We then sailed up to “The Indians” and had a great snorkel around the magnificent reefs with the best coral so far! We returned to the Indians a number of times to keep diving on the reef it was so good.
Heading to town
At Cooper Island I hired some scuba gear from the local dive shack and spent the afternoon diving “The Rhone” which is a mail ship wrecked in a hurricane many years ago. The wreck was fascinating and provided some very accessible swin through compartments. In the wreck I saw some of the largest crayfish I have ever seen, they were about the same size as a Labrador! The wreck is classified as a national park so I left the crayfish to continue living their exotic lifestyle in the wreck. Surrounding the wreck were numerous reef sharks, fish, turtles and eels.
The next morning I dived “Wreck Alley” a number of purpose sunk vessels to create a great dive with four wrecks to explore, and ending on a nice reef and underwater pillars and canyons. After this dive the kids were keen to try out the SCUBA gear so we found a nice sandy bottom with some reef fish, rays and hopefully sharks and I dived to 2m with the Issy and Max both having a turn to breath underwater. The kids loved it and can not wait until they are of an age to complete their PADI dive course.
Sailing to windward
We then sailed up to Anegada Island and picked our way amongst the bommie’s and reefs to find a good anchorage in the shallows with our keel up. Sunday Islands lifting keel allows us to reduce our draft to only 1.4m, which is a great asset when exploring shallow areas and reefs. It is important when cruising through these uncharted coral reefs to have the sun at your back or overhead and have someone on the bow to let the helmsman know where the bommies are.
I found this in a hole
After we anchored Issy and I took the tender to horseshoe reef and went for a good snorkel with rays and turtles. That afternoon we walked to the middle of the island to look at the pink flamingo colonies. We remained at Anegada for a few days, but the wind and swell began to pick up making it imprudent to remain, so we sailed to Prickly Pair Island and then down to Spanish town were we met up with some American friends on another ketch “Mug Up”.
Max and Issy love coconuts
We sailed in convoy with Mug Up to Great Dog Island for a snorkel before lunch and then George Dog Island where I went for a dive with the Mug Up boys where we dived “Visibles” and then the wreck of the Kodiak Queen. The Kodiak Queen is a fuel barge and was one of the only vessels not sunk in Perl Harbour during WWII. It ended its life in Road Town and was due to be scrapped when a few divers acquired it and turned it into a dive wreck. To make the dive more interesting they created an underwater sculpture of a huge sea monster wrapping itself around the ship! We enjoyed a lovely evening with the Mug Up crew eating crayfish and fish that we had caught over the past few days.
The next day we motored inside trunk bay reef and enjoyed a fantastic snorkel, followed by another great snorkel at Great Dog rocks, and returned to the more protected anchorage at Spanish town that evening before clearing customs and setting sail back to Antigua.
Max and Issy’ garden
It was a bumpy ride back to Antigua but the wind was north of east so we sailed on a shy reach all the way back to English Harbour where we waited for my sister Amanda to arrive from Palma. Amanda stayed with us onboard in English harbour while she taught a medical course and I spent the time looking for an electrical fault and re wiring the batteries, and replacing the wiring on the solar and wind generator for larger gauge wiring. I also replace the motor in our anchor windless and did some other maintenance onboard.
Emilie enjoying a coconut
Amanda’s husband Jason arrived on the 4th March and they hired a 40ft catamaran for a week. We cruised in company up to Green Island and hoped for a week of kitesurfing, but the wind had other ideas. Despite not having any wind we did have a fabulous time just hanging out with the “Beryl and Jack”. We then cruised to Cades reef and had a couple of days snorkelling around the coral. On our way out to Cades we came across a huge pod of hump back whales and stopped the boat to drift and watch while they put on a show for a couple of hours who swimming quite close to our boat.
Humpback whales off Antigua
After saying goodbye to Beryl and Jack (Amanda and Jason) we cleared customs and hiked up to Shirley Heights to enjoy the steel drums and rum punches with some Aussie cruising mates before setting sail the next morning for one of our favourite anchorages in Tobago Cays. We had an amazing sail inside the windward islands and were entertained by a few pods of Humpback Whales. One pod was breaching out of the water as we sailed past. It is amazing to see these massive creatures leap so high out of the water then come down with a massive splash.
Beryl and Jack’s Cat
While we were sailing Emilie went below to boil the kettle and found their was no water pressure. She immediately checked the B&G and found the water tank showed 0%, while last time we checked an hour earlier it was at 100%. I began to investigate and found the engine bilge was full of fresh water! A fresh water pipe had burst and our water pump had pumped 500L of water into the bilge! This took a bit of cleaning up and we had some repairs to do on the fresh water hoses, so we puled in to Bequia for the night and stayed a few days while we sorted out our bilges (which are now very very clean!). While we were at Bequia they harvested a hump back whale, but we did not find out until it was all consumed one day later! The people of Bequia are allowed to harvest 3 whales per year, and are famous for their boat building skills, especially their model boats, so while there I had the opportunity to buy another boat – a souvenir Bequia whaling boat!
With clean bilges, and water back in the tank we sailed to Tobago Cays and are presently enjoying snorkelling with the turtles, while we tidy up the boat in preparation for sailing to Trinidad where we will haul out and return to Australia for a work contract at Incat Tasmania.