Day 2 - Sunday November 3 - Roadtown to Norman Island
There was a big party at the Moorings; what looked to be a French telecom company was fete-ing its top achievers with a big, noisy bash. It went on late into the night, not helping with sleep. But already my ills are abating. Funny how salt air and humidity cure me. Think my doc could write a permanent prescription? Think my insurance company will let me fill it?
We rise early and are in the restaurant area before the 7:30 opening. This gives me a good chance to see the renovations prompted after the fire that followed our last visit here. Pretty swanky stuff, with a new stainless steel-covered bar, light wood pavilions with skylights, chrome railings. It's nice, but seems to have lost some of that dive-y sailor feel. We have a quick but nice breakfast. I've always found the restaurant staff at the Moorings complex among the most pleasant and friendly people we've encountered in the BVI.
While we weren't on the list at the Mariner Inn, we know that the boat people are expecting us. I spy Julian Hodge, and his re-assuring presence lets me know that "every little t'ing, it's gonna be all right." The briefing starts at 8:30; we've already seen the video and heard the spiel, but a re-fresher never hurt anyone. After the briefing, we ask Julian if we might be allowed to go to Anegada, knowing full well the Moorings' requirements of having been there before with a skipper or on a flotilla (and having no intention of doing either). He thought for a second and then said OK, and walked us over with him to Customer Service where we sign the required waiver and get our other paperwork in order.
As we wait for our boat briefer, Rick checks out the boat, while I do the provisions. Although I was planning to go to Riteway, I decide I can't bear taxi-ing to and fro, so I hit the K-Mark store on the base. Desiree warned that it would like going grocery shopping at a 7-11, and she was right. But I am actually able to get most stuff on my list (alas, no conch or grouper, but this ain't de Bahamas, mon). Prices are generally about 50% more than home, and I drop about $150, not including beverages. Some items really skew the totals though. I mean, $8 for paper plates? At first I balked at that, and then thought, "Hey, $8 isn't much to pay for not having to wash dishes." Also, it's pretty cool to be able to push your grocery cart down the docks to your boat. We stow our provisions and get our boat briefing. Real refrigeration; sweet! We also notice that there is an INFLATABLE dinghy attached to our boat Moorings bareboats used to get hard dinghies. I remark on this, but Rick shushes me, for fear that they might change their minds!
Cocoon moored at Sprat Bay.
Cocoon is a Moorings 352; 35 feet long, two staterooms and one head. This particular boat has been ridden hard and put up wet. For a 3 year old boat, her cosmetic condition leaves something to be desired, and she looks worse for the wear than the 5+ year old M445 we chartered from Footloose in 1999. The cabin sole is scratched and stained; the "racing stripe" trim topsides is worn off in spots; there are scuffs in the gelcoat which suggest seriously incompetent docking; the sails are dirty; etc. Rick's theory is that this size boat, because of both its size and price, gets chartered more often; also, it is more likely to be chartered by the less competent skippers (my skipper's competence NOT an issue), and thus more likely to be beat up. No matter, though; all systems (except electrical more on that later) work well. By 11:30 we are off.
Since I'm sick and worn out from the day's activity, we decide to take it easy tonight and head for The Bight at Norman Island. The plan is to have an easy trip over, grab a mooring for the night, and have dinner out: easy on both the Captain and the Galley Wench. Although the morning started out still, by the time we sailed, we had a nice southeasterly breeze of 8-10 knots which allowed us to be on a mooring at The Bight by about 3 p.m. with only one tack. As we slide into our spot, who should we find moored next to us but the gang from Jubilee. We take the dingy over to Billy Bones to pay for the mooring, have a drink, and make dinner reservations. We hung out there for a while, and chat with a man who is chaperoning his sturdy 10-month-old daughter. She is pretty and solid as a rock (and makes the funniest faces as she dips her inquisitive fingers into a Carib); she reminds me of my similarly-aged niece Zoe, who would have been in Tobago on this very day but for her parents' concerns about the security of air travel these days.
After drinks, we dink back to Cocoon to grab Rick's snorkeling gear. This is the first time it really dawns on us that we are sailing alone, as we notice how quickly we get ourselves together to make this next stop, compared to waiting for everyone to get their stuff. We run the dinghy outside of the Bight to the Caves, and tie up on the dinghy line, where there are a number of others tied up as well. I've decided not to snorkel here, so I hang around soaking up the sun and chatting with the lady in the next dinghy over. It turns out that she is the 5th member of Jubilee's crew whom we hadn't met yet. Their plan is to have drinks at Billy Bones tonight, followed by dinner at the Willie T, while we are planning the reverse; our paths will undoubtedly cross tonight. Before going to dinner, we bobbed around in the water near the boat on our fun-noodles and I took a quick bath on the transom.
And so we went to the Willie T for drinks, but it was mobbed with motorboats and what looked like a very loud, crowded singles scene. This has its time and place, but not for us tonight, so we got to Billy Bones instead, where we spy the Jubilee gang still enjoying their drinks. At the bar, we also meet a crew from Idaho on Esprit Liberte and have a great chat with them (Rick was born in Idaho how many people do you know who share that distinction?). Dinner here was great, with excellent conch fritters, followed by ribs for me and a chicken roti for Rick. Jubilee gave up on the Willie T as well and ended up dining at Billy Bones. Back at the boat, we hang out on the swim platform, swirling our toes around in the water to stir up the bioluminescence. Stars in the water to match the stars in the sky.
Although this turns out to be our last calm weather night of the week, it is nevertheless difficult for me to sleep. The noise at the Willie T goes on all hours, and the first night aboard is always a bit of a challenge, even though we sleep on the hook on our own boat many weekends every summer.