Things break

Quick wiring job so we could get our anchor down/up
Quick wiring job so we could get our anchor down/up
New Rocna held too well!  That piece of metal to the right of the roller should go straight like on the left.  It is heavy steel.
New Rocna held too well! That piece of metal to the right of the roller should go straight like on the left. It is heavy steel.

Yesterday we sailed from Road Town Tortola over to Jost Van Dyke. Prior to departing we put sail tape on a tear we discovered in the sail. Hoping it will hold enough until we can locate some sail fabric for a proper repair. Upon arrival to Jost,  as we prepared to anchor we discovered that our remote for the anchor windlass would not work. So I idled the boat in a circle while P investigated. It seems that corrosion took place on the connector. After fiddling to fix it to no avail, P decided to remove the connector and hard wire it.  Was no fun in 25 gusting to 35 knot winds with 4 foot swell and wind chop – but it worked.

An hour or so later, we were ready to try anchoring again. Now the problem was where, given that all the best spots were now taken and the wind decided to perk up to 25-35 knots. We found a spot, let the anchor down and had a wind gust turn the boat sideways just as the anchor took hold. This caused the anchor roller to bend. We’re talking about a heavy duty piece of steel.  With that being the third issue of the day, and stormy weather all around we reversed course and headed to Soper’s Hole to pick up a mooring ball for the night. Next thing we know is  large party cat moors behind us and proceeds to play loud party music from dusk until dawn. We are ready for some quiet. Tomorrow we will head to another island for a few days. We do have to be back at Soper’s Hole on Tuesday morning to be hauled for a bottom paint job and to install our new props.

Soper's hole - one of many rainbows = rain
Soper’s hole – one of many rainbows = rain

It’s not all fun and games, but it is warm and that beats winter.

Wifi Extender

Salty Dawg Coffee Mug courtesy of Bamboushay Pottery, Tortola BVI
Salty Dawg Coffee Mug courtesy of Bamboushay Pottery, Tortola BVI

P installed a WiFi extender the other day. It took a bit of listening to his grumbling through poor instructions and trying things, but he finally got it working. This means we now have access to the free WiFi on shore, while moored.  So I’ve been trying to catch up on emails, etc. from the comforts of home. Bad news is, Charlie isn’t getting ashore as often.

I haven’t yet shared with you about the benefits and bonuses we’ve experienced as being a part of the Salty Dawg Rally. We have free mooring at the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda from our arrival through December 20th. They also gave us a free night on the dock, which we took advantage of the other night. We did have to pay for power and water, but it was worth it to get everything fully charged, do laundry, and fill up the water tanks. We try to give back to the BEYC by filling our fuel tanks and enjoying happy hours at their restaurants. Oh, we also have free access to their pool, which I used once so far. I have yet to attend the free yoga classes on dock at 7:45am, 3 times per week, and we have yet to use our free 2 hour watersport rental.  Not too shabby for a free rally. This is making it hard for us to leave this lovely little location, but we do need to leave one of these fine days as we have run out of fresh greens. I’m down to 1 potato, 4 onions, and a bulb of garlic, plus a few apples and grapefruits. In the freezer there are peas, mango chunks and a bit of ginger.

Another  bonus of the rally, was an event night last Thursday.  It did cost a nominal amount, but it included a meal and a cash bar. We got to share our tales of the trip with fellow cruisers, meeting those we’d heard on the radio along the way. The Bamboushay Pottery store provided each boat with a souvenir hand made coffee mug. We also received a discount card from the Rite Way grocery store, plus other discounts from various other retailers/providers on the islands. I can tell you this has certainly made us happy that we joined this rally.  We do know that the rally has grown so much in the past few years that they will be requiring memberships to join in the future just to offset some of the overhead costs. Given the bonuses, we’ll be joining.

Tomorrow is US thanksgiving. Some of the boats are planning a potluck at the beach in the afternoon. We are undecided if we’ll go. At this point I believe we’ll be heading over to Road Town, Tortola to get some groceries. That said, we were planning to leave yesterday to do that and we’re still here. We said we’d plan very little, and that’s why we will go when we go. Life is treating us well so why stress about what’s next.

Here’s what I bought

When I left my job 6 months ago, my collegues collected a bit of cash and gave it to me as a parting gift. I was told to buy something for the boat and I promised to blog about it once I bought something. So I pondered all summer long. A few days before we departed Annapolis, I found an end of season sale and got what I felt would be the best item to add to the boat.

I purchased an inflatable paddleboard. It’s perfect because it can be stowed during passages when it’s best to have the decks clear, plus it can be shared with boat guests who wantg to give it a try. And, it’s great exercise to boot.

I inflated it the day of our arrival. It’s great. I go out most days and get my paddling in. Charlie insists on joining me every time I go.

Thanks again VGH Ambulatory staff. I think of you everytime I’m enjoying this wonderful gift.

Gwyn & Charlie paddleboarding
Gwyn & Charlie paddleboarding

Passage Hampton, Virginia to Tortola, BVI

We did it. We sailed 1,440 nautical miles on the open ocean. It took us 11 days and nights of 3 hour shifts. Yes, this means that with only two of us, we slept no more than three hours at a time for 11 days straight. Surprisingly, the body adjusts.

We left Hampton, Virginia near noon on Nov 6th. The day was sunny and warm. Charlie,our dog got sea sick just after dinner and was sick for about 24 hours. We started experiencing heavy seas as soon as we departed the mouth of the Chesapeake. This continued to get worse which followed by me getting sea sick for the first time in my life (Gwyn). I still mannaged my shifts, but could not fathom food for the next 48 hours.

We hit an unusual storm as we crossed the Gulf Stream. I can describe the experience as feeling like you were in a giant washing machine. Being tossed around constantly. This eventually ended with us feeling lucky, as we heard radio reports of boats being demasted, losing props, etc. Those of us that made it through, felt blessed for sure. After this it wasn’t completely smooth sailing. We experienced squals, wierd wind shifts, etc. There were also a few days of sun and mild enough weather to sit on the foredeck and savour the moment.

We approached the BVI in 20-25 knot winds. We were double reefed and had the genoa down and were still going 6 knots. It was the middle of the night and we wanted to arrive after sunrise.  We managed to go slow enough to arrive around 6 am.

Paul went ashore after 8 to check us in. He had to return to the boat to bring Charlie ashore. The vet wanted to see thedog to ensure he had faired the trip okay. You’veneverseen a dog so happy to go in the dinghy. He loves his boat, but he knows the dinghy means he gets to walk on land.

So we have another passage behind us, and now we begin to enjoy the sun, the sea, and the sand for the next 6-7 months.

Ready to depart Hampton, Virginia

Ready to depart Annapolis

We arrived in Hampton, Virginia on November 2nd after a 24 hour overnight sail from Annapolis, Maryland. The afternoon of our arrival was beautiful and warm and we were able to sun on the deck as we neared the entrance to the bay. There was a lot of shipping traffic along the way and we had another boat from Pier 7 Marina join us during the wee hours of the night, so we buddy boated with sv Simplicity the rest of the way.


After fueling and docking at the Blue Water Yacht Club, we joined the other fellow Salty Dawg Rallyers for happy hour in the Dawg House.  We were exhausted, so didn’t stay long, but heard the music from our boat as it lulled us to sleep.

We’ve been watching boats depart for the Bahamas and the BVI daily since our arrival. We missed the initial planned departure of November 4th due to weather, and are now planning to depart in the early morning hours on November 6th. This delay allowed us to hire divers to scrub the bottom of our boat today (the last in a long list of boats they dove for the rally). This is a blessing, as we had some slower than normal performance on the trip from Annaopolis.

Charlie has adapted well to boat life. He’s learned to potty on his fake piece of turf, doesn’t complain about wearing a lifevest 24/7 while underway, and greets everyone he meets with a bark followed by a tail wag.  We’ve made many friends who we’ll meet up with once we arrive in the BVI. Others’ we hope to run into in the Bahamas next year.

We’ll give you an update again upon our arrival in the BVI.