1 February 1995 Road Bay to Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda (Day 1)
We have an overnight sail to the British Virgin Islands, so we spent the day tidying up and doing a few maintenance jobs. I checked the batteries and found that 2 batteries are completely flat. I tried to charge them with no luck, so I disconnected them. Dad checked the bottle screws and scrubbed the bottom of the dinghy, I checked the rigging.
Before we left, Mum, Dad, Craig and Brett were returning to the beach in the dinghy to pick up a small bucket that Brett had left behind. About 15 metres from the beach, Brett jumped out in front of the dinghy and the dinghy motored over him. My dad managed to pull up the outboard and Brett popped up at the side. Brett escaped with a few cuts and a bad scare. It really scared Mum and Dad.
We decided to tow the dinghy as it should be mild weather. I rigged up the poles for twin, downwind sails before we weighed anchor. We left at six o’clock in the evening and motored for an hour before we had enough wind to sail. As night fell, we were sailing downwind at about 4 knots with a very pleasant motion. We did two hour watches.
2 February 1995 Road Bay to Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda (Day 2)
I started the engine at midnight and dropped one of the sails because the batteries were down to 21.4v even though I had turned the fridge off. We motor-sailed all the way to the Baths arriving at half past nine in the morning. The batteries are still only showing 24.4V so I expect that I’ll have to buy 4 new batteries in the very near future.
We had a great time on the beach at the Baths. Dad, Brett and I went snorkelling and went through a cave. The cave is about 5 metres down and about 20 metres long. Brett went through with me following him. Dad came through and ended up scraping his back because he didn’t go deep enough. He had to turn on his back and push off the cave roof with his hands! As Brett and I came out of the cave, we spotted a turtle which went to the sea bed to hide. It stayed still while we all dived down to get a closer look.
After lunch, Dad and I left the others on the beach and did Confined Water 5. We then motored around to the anchorage in front of Spanish Town. I cleared in and we had a few beers at a bar. We were all tired and grumpy, so we had frozen pizzas and fell exhausted into bed at eight o’clock.
3 February 1995 Spanish Town to Gorda Sound, Virgin Gorda
Up early and motored around to the Dog Islands. Glenys, Dad and I did Open Water Dives 4 and 5 and I awarded Dad with his Open Water Diver certification. We had two good dives, but I had an anxious moment when he did his mask removal and swallowed some water - we were at 18 metres and I didn’t want him bolting for the surface. Fortunately, he sorted himself out.
We then motored around to Gorda Sound, visited the Pusser’s shop and anchored by Saba Rock for the night. The others went to look at the shark pool and visit a bar while I ran the compressor. I filled 7 tanks. What a nice steady anchorage this is!
4 February 1995 Gorda Sound
A lazy day. I went through navigation and multi level theory with Dad and Glenys for their Advanced Open Water Course. Mum and Dad took the boys to the beach in the afternoon while Glenys and I mooched about. I read my book and played the clarinet.
5 February 1995 Gorda Sound to Marina Cay, Virgin Gorda.
The two domestic batteries that I left in circuit are discharging very quickly, so I swapped them with the engine batteries which I hope will be OK for a couple of weeks while I get some new batteries.
We motored over to Marina Cay, where Dad, Glenys and I did their Advanced OW Navigation dive. Dad had problems with the natural navigation and I was much too strict about their performance. Consequently, we had to do the natural navigation exercise 3 times and then ran out of air. I’m so annoyed that my expectations were greater than the PADI standards. We filled up with water and I filled 3 tanks. We went back to Marina Cay so that Mum and Dad could go out for a meal.
6 February 1995 Marina Cay to Road Town, Tortola
We motored around to Road Town, Tortola and anchored just outside the Moorings marina. Glenys did some food shopping and I ran about looking for batteries, fan belts etc. Mum and Dad took the boys into town and we met them for lunch.
We met James and Fay from “Only Blue”, Steve and Marylyn from “Vintage Port” and Dave from “Adagio” who are all skippering Moorings crewed charter boats. It sounds like a good job. They get £15,000 + £10,000 tips for the two of them with no food bills to pay!
I bought 4 dive torches so that we can do a night dive tomorrow - £80 on torches has put my diving budget back a bit! We dropped our gas bottles off and Dad and I went for a walk to a dive shop. He ended up paying out £300 on a BCD and a gauge console! Glenys and I went for a meal by ourselves and had a great time.
7 February 1995 Road Town to Manchineel Bay, Cooper Island
A hangover this morning. We motored over to Cooper Island and picked up a dive mooring over the wreck of the Marie L. Glenys didn’t feel up to diving, so Dad and I went and did his deep dive.
After the dive we went and anchored in Manchineel Bay. We then waited, prepared, waited and prepared to do the night dive. Eventually we kitted up at quarter to seven. This was the first time that I’ve led a night dive so I was a bit nervous, but we had no problems. I had an interesting encounter with a small squid - it was attracted by my light and actually grabbed hold of it! I was able to touch it with my finger a couple of times before it jetted off.
8 February 1995 Manchineel Bay to The Bight, Norman Island
We motored around to Salt Island and anchored in Lee Bay. I filled 6 tanks.
Dad, Glenys and I went for a dive on the RMS Rhone. I swam through the hatch used in the film “The Deep” and went through the wreck while Glenys and Dad swam around. There was a very strong current and they struggled against it until I re-appeared and got them to swim close to the sea bed where the current is not as strong - lesson learned I think.
We went to Great Harbour and anchored for lunch. We then went to Key Cay but it was too rough. We eventually ended up in the Bight, Norman Island.
9 February 1995 The Bight, Norman Island
Dad, Glenys and I did the second half of their navigation exercise. After lunch we went to the caves to do a bit of snorkelling. A lazy sort of day. I filled 3 tanks - I’m a slave to this compressor.
10 February 1995 The Bight, Norman Island
We went round to Benures Bay so that we could go diving. Glenys and Dad did a multilevel dive and achieved their Advanced Open Water Diver certification. After lunch we went to the Indians and guess what? – we did another dive! I went snorkelling with Mum and the boys. We then went back to the Bight. I filled 3 tanks.
11 February 1995 The Bight to Marina Cay, Virgin Gorda
We had a nice sail to Road Town. The wind was very light to start with and I went in the dinghy to take photos of the boat under sail. Glenys and I ran around Road Town like maniacs getting gas and shopping. We then motored around to Marina Cay. We visited the bar for happy hour – Pussers pain killers. Absolutely deadly things especially since it was twofers...
12 February 1995 Marina Cay to Gorda Sound, Virgin Gorda
I filled 2 dive tanks and filled up with water and fuel. We motored over to the Dog Islands and we did a dive. I spotted a couple of lobster so I filled a tank and went down by myself to try to get one. I snared one but it was so deeply embedded in its little cave that I only succeeded in snapping the wire loop off my snare. We sailed to Gorda Sound, picked up another free bottle of Pussers and relaxed with rum punches in a nice calm anchorage.
13 February 1995 Gorda Sound to Trellis Bay, Virgin Gorda
We had a nice sail down to the Baths. I did a Discover Scuba Dive with Mum. I’m not sure whether she enjoyed it or not! We spent the afternoon lounging on the beach, climbing rocks and snorkelling. I filled 3 tanks.
We then motored across to Trellis Bay and went out to “The Last Resort” for dinner – excellent! A good buffet meal and one man entertainment by the owner with jokes, songs and electronic sound effects. They have a donkey which pushes its head through a split door to check out what is going on (and to be fed carrots by the kids...) A great last day for Mum and Dad.
14 February 1995 Trellis Bay, Virgin Gorda
Mum and Dad spent the morning packing, Glenys nursed her hangover and I mooched about. We went out for lunch at a beach bar which was very nice apart from the sand flies. We then picked up Mum and Dad’s luggage and walked them to the airport. It was sad to see them go but a relief from the pressure of two months of visitors.
I felt in limbo because we’ve come to the end of a stage of our journey – I just HAD to get the chart out and plan our next year’s travelling. We decided not to go up to the States, but instead we will go back down the islands, through Venezuela and Bonaire, and then across to Honduras, Belize, before going to the States via Cuba. We expect to be in Florida for a month in April/May before crossing back to Europe.
15 February 1995 Trellis Bay to Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda
It threw it down this morning. I awoke at five in the morning because I was cold! I couldn’t be bothered to search for a blanket so I stayed cold until I got up. We waited for a gap in the rain and motored over to Spanish Town. Glenys went into the Marina to go to a launderette and do some shopping. I filled 5 tanks. We then motored around to Gorda Sound, where we expect to remain for a few days.
16 February 1995 Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda
School work in the morning. I then spent most of the afternoon windsurfing – I’m starting to gybe quite smoothly now except for the last bit where the board seems to sink and hook around. I don’t know if it’s me or the board.
A guy came over and wants to do a dive with me, so I’ve arranged to meet him at The Dogs tomorrow. I picked up 3 conch in the shallows by the beach and then proceeded to make a mess trying to get the lambi out of the shells. I ended up having to smash the shells to pieces and got slime all over the place. I’ll have to find out how the locals do it! One of the towing points ripped off the dinghy today – another job! I’ve started to write my C.V. – its only 18 months before I have to get a job.
17 February 1995 Spanish Town to Trellis Bay, Virgin Gorda
We motored around to the Dogs and met Chris Nute. I took him for a dive while Glenys did a bit of school work. We had a nice dive and I spotted a very large lobster.
After lunch Glenys and I went back to The Visibles to try to get the lobster. We found it and I managed to poke it out of its hole and then it gave me a good chase before disappearing into another cave. I tried to poke it out but only succeeded in rooting out a smaller one, which I managed to catch (2.75 lb). I reckon the big one pushed the smaller one out!
We then motored over to Trellis Bay, where it continued to blow a hooley. Filled 4 tanks.
18 February 1995 Trellis Bay, Virgin Gorda
Blew a hooley all night and all day. School work in the morning. I repaired one of the towing points on the dinghy and then spent the rest of the day and evening doing our accounts up to the end of December - we’ve blown £16K in 9 months. £4K on the boat, £4K on diving, £4K on food and £4K on living. We’ve only got £37K left in the bank. If only we hadn’t hauled out and I hadn’t done the Instructors Course...
19 February 1995 Trellis Bay to Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
It was still blowing this morning, so we decided to go to Cane Garden Bay. Before we left, Glenys and I went ashore to get some food. I went to the windsurfing centre and looked at second-hand boards – they’ve got an Astro Rock ‘91 which I could probably get for $200 U.S. I’ll wait and see what they’ve got in St Thomas. We were caught by a heavy rain squall on the way to Cane Garden Bay and got soaked. The anchorage in Cane Garden Bay is wonderfully peaceful.
20 February 1995 Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
School work in the morning. I did Brett’s school work with him. What a pain in the neck he is about working. It took 4½ hours to do the lesson with constant attention, persuasion and reprimands. He spends too much time feeling sorry for himself instead of just getting on with it. I suppose we will just have to keep plugging away until he gets back into the routine again.
I played the clarinet and built Lego castles in the afternoon. Glenys painted a custom flag for an American and earned $20. Gary and Jackie from “Celebration” (USA) came for drinks.
21 February 1995 Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
School work in the morning. I did school work with Brett again – it’s like teaching a sloth to run! After a slow start ,we managed to get through the schoolwork in 3 hours today. In the afternoon, Glenys and I went and did a dive off the north headland.
22 February 1995 Cane Garden Bay to Green Cay, Jost Van Dyke
We motored around to Sopers Hole and cleared out of customs. We filled up with water and then motored over to Cruz Bay, St. Johns in the US Virgin Islands.
I went in to clear in and was told that I had to “present” everyone. I went and got Glenys and the boys. The old bag of an immigration officer then rudely told us that Glenys’ visa wasn’t valid for the children - they couldn’t enter the US Virgin Islands. We pointed out that it was accepted last year, but she said that it would not be accepted now. We could pay for a waiver at $95 US each to get them temporary visas.
While we were considering this, the big, fat “trunchball” then decided that she would be cancelling both Glenys’ and my visa because the U.S.A. has introduced new visas with photographs and the old type of visas were only valid for one entry to the U.S.A. At this I said that if she gives us our passports back we would just leave the country. She said that was impossible because we had to enter and then clear out. If we didn’t do that then she would fine me $3,000 for not reporting to the correct authorities.
In the end, I had to clear in, she then gave us a deportation order for the boys, cancelled our visas and cleared us out. What a load of crap! I was incensed because of her rudeness and frustrated about the ridiculous bureaucracy that stopped us entering the US Virgin Islands.
We retreated to Jost Van Dyke and found out that we have to go back to the BVI Customs tomorrow to clear immigration as their immigration officer was ill. What a day! We went around to Green Cay and got on with some serious drinking.
23 February 1995 Green Cay to Road Town, Tortola
We went around to Great Harbour and cleared in through immigration. We then motored to Road Town and anchored in Bauger Bay which is the most protected bit of the bay. Unfortunately, it’s about a mile from the shops. We dinghied over to the marina and saw “Meander”. We went on board to catch up with what Bob and Jean had been doing.
We then did a bit of shopping. We called in on “Naia” and had a beer with John and Chris. Chris has had a big argument with their owners and has quit. John is going to deliver “Naia” to Florida and meet Chris in St Martin. We agreed to take some luggage and 6 bottles of gin up to St Martin to save Chris having to lug them all on the plane. She’ll be staying on a boat called “Willow”.
We re-anchored Glencora outside the marina and went out with “Meander” and “Naia” for happy hour. Suitably happy, John and Chris, came with us for a meal which was very good and great fun. We’ve decided that we don’t need to go to US Virgin Islands because we can get most things from St Martin. We will probably spend a week in the BVI and then go back to St Martin where we’ll spend 2 or 3 weeks working on the boat.
24 February 1995 Road Town to The Bight, Norman Island
Nursing a hangover today. I went and bought a load of charts of Venezuela and Belize from “Meander” for $30. Some are photocopies and interestingly, the ones from Belize came from “Adagio” originally. We did a big shop and then motored over to The Bight where we collapsed.
25 February 1995 The Bight, Norman Island
School work in the morning. In the afternoon, I looked at our charts, sorted out the new ones and decided which ones we will need to get. Glenys made some pennants which she is going to paint with pictures to sell – if she can.
26 February 1995 The Bight, Norman Island
School work in the morning. I spent the rest of the day figuring out all of the major 7, minor 7 and dominant 7th chords for the clarinet. Glenys spent the afternoon painting her flags and then got really cross at me – it must have been building up for days. I’m a lazy sod who never does the washing up or any domestic chores... Guilty, I’m afraid!
27 February 1995 The Bight, Norman Island
School work in the morning. It threw it down until about three o’clock. Glenys and I went for a dive and caught 2 x 2lb lobsters – lobster curry tonight! We chatted to Alan and Caroline on “Satori” (GB) who charter in the BVI and know “Dabulamanzi”. I filled 4 tanks.
28 February 1995 The Bight to Trellis Bay, Virgin Gorda
Motored over to Peter Island, picked up a dive mooring off Great Bay and then did a dive to find the anchor of the Rhone. We then went across to Road Town. I went to get some cash, did a bit of shopping and rang the UK.
The damn tenant in our house still hasn’t paid his rent, but our managing agent reckons he will get the arrears within a few days. I hope so – it’s about £2000! We went to Trellis Bay for the night.