The countdown has begun. Pandora, we’re on our way.

It’s only three days until we winterize our home here in CT and head to Tortola to join Pandora for a few months of sailing in the Caribbean.

Our plan is to stay in the BVI only long enough to become acclimated again to life aboard and then, with the first weather window, make our way to St Martin where we will join up with our friends Maureen and Bill aboard Kaloonamo (I’ll never figure out how to spell that name).  We have “buddyboated” with them for weeks/months at a time over the years and are looking forward to spending time with them again.

They have spent the last few years sailing in the Caribbean and usually summer in Trinidad.   They are great fun and know their way around the islands which will make it easy for us to just tag along and enjoy the ride.   Can you say “tour director” Maureen?

When I arrived in the BVI after my trip down from Beaufort, I spent some time cruising the area with my crew.  The deal was that if they did the run with me, I’d spend time with them cruising once we arrived.

It was a fun time and a few of my recent posts are about the places we visited together during that week, prior to heading our separate ways.

The BVI is a wonderful area to cruise but I have always thought of it as the “charter mecca” that it is.  In fact, I have been told that something like 90% of all boat charters are out of that area and just about every boat you see is a charter boat.

With that comes a very different sort of “cruiser”.  Unlike the folks that we have hung out with over the years, those who visit the BVI for a holiday seem to us to be very focused on “living large” while they are there.

I wrote about our recent visit to Norman Island which is perhaps an apt example of the sort of place that the BVI seems to be for many folks on holiday, a sort of “aquatic pub crawl”.   I do expect that my description will elicit some strong words from those that don’t agree.  What can I say?  It’s just a first impression.

Over the years Brenda and I have certainly participated in many “sundowner” cocktail events ourselves but in the BVI this activity has it’s own “twist” as witnessed by this photo of a young couple sleeping it off after a few too many at Willy T’s.  This is the sort of “sundowner” that Brenda and I prefer.   This photo was taken at a recent Salty Dawg Sailing Association event.   BTW, if you enjoy cruising, you owe it to yourself to consider joining this group.  Yes, plenty of wine flowing but somehow it’s just different and more our speed.  Perhaps it’s our “semi advanced age”.

In any event, the BVI is great fun but there aren’t quite as many cruising types there as we expect to see as we head south to those islands less frequented by the charter set.

However, our plan of heading south means that we will first have to make the nearly 100 mile run from the eastern end of the BVI to St Martin and the run takes us directly into the prevailing easterly trade winds.   We will work with the weather router Chris Parker with the hope that we will be able to find a decent window to make the overnight crossing.  Unfortunately, it’s likely to be “uphill” all the way as the trades blow from the east nearly all of the time.  I am hopeful that Brenda will have had an opportunity to become acclimated to life aboard again and you know how much she loves overnight passages.

I expect that it’s going to be somewhat uncomfortable for her but I am pretty confident that it won’t be nearly as nsaty as the conditions that the crew of the Dagmar Aaen encountered in the Southern Ocean.   Remember the video that I posted from the gale we encountered in our run to the BVI?  Well, that was a mere zephyr compared to this.  As you watch this sort piece, notice how one of the crew’s life vest is inflated after a particularly large wave washes over the ship. Boy oh boy, if we have anything even a little bit like those conditions as we make our run to St Martin, it will be the LAST time Brenda steps aboard Pandora.  Yes, that would be what my son Rob might refer to as a “terminal CLM” (Career Limiting Move).

Anyway, I won’t think about that right now and will try to be optimistic that we will not encounter any conditions like that.  Besides, we have Chris Parker to guide us.

It’s up to you Chris….

So, time is short for us to get everything ready to “fly the coop”, “audios amigos”, “get out of Dodge” and head down to the BVI.  Lots on the to-do list including winterizing the water system so we won’t have any worries about freezing pipes and I’ll also be setting a mess of mousetraps.    We have found in the past that when we move out they move in.   And don’t forget about preparing tax forms to send off to our accountant as we won’t be back till after tax day.   There’s no end to the details.    Ugh…

Anyway, I’m getting anxious just thinking about everything that needs to happen.

The clock’s ticking….

Pandora, we’ll be there soon.  Stand by to accept boarders.

4 responses to “The countdown has begun. Pandora, we’re on our way.

  1. Bob,your initial assessment of the BVI is correct, EXCEPT there are some superb places to go that the charter fleet never gets to. For example, when you went to Norman, you went right by Water Point with its secluded 5 moorings. Water Point feels like you are Ina secluded Maine harbor with excellent snorkeling, and without that yahoos from the Willie T 1/2 mile away. (BY THE WAY, you NEVER will catch me at the Willy T….). As I’ve said before, my good friends who keep a boat there, and have cruised there for over 15 years still have not been to every anchorage in the BVI’s. And a don’t get me stRted on the south side of St. John. There are places there where we spent two days in high season without another charter in sight. And again some of the best snorkeling ever! (Can you tell I like ok, LOVE, to snorkel?)

  2. Also, and I’m pretty sure you know this already is one reason the BVI ( and USVI) are so popular is the protected sailing conditions. As I’m sure you alread know, the conditions going south from St. Martin even though it’s mostly reaching is real open ocean sailing.

    • Yes, I know that the waves are large between islands. Don’t tell Brenda. Well, actually, she already knows and isn’t happy about it. Wish us luck.

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