Our return to the BVIs….

Saturday morning after I had finished the blog and Richard had returned our hire car, we headed back to the marina, enjoying the cloud formations along the way. Virtually the minute we got on board the heavens opened again….. so no external cleaning for us today. So we spent some useful time getting Morphie ready to go to sea including repacking and redistributing the weight around in the bilges….. After that we just had a quiet night on board.

Great cloud formation

Sunday and we were up really early…. We washed Morphie, we waxed her, we did all the stainless steel (apart from under the capping rail) and cleaned down below…. On top of that we did some more heavy-duty laundry like pillows and rugs…. And we kept on going doing maintenance jobs like an engine oil change, water maker filter changes etc etc etc. Phew…. Pretty exhausting day and we collapsed into bed very early. But she sure looked pretty after her spring clean!

Sparkling clean again

Goodnight Marigot

Monday morning and it was time for Richard to go up the mast. We need to check out our rigging particularly before we run south to Bonaire. So we got one of the dock boys to winch him up while I tailed…. He started very enthusiastically but became pretty exhausted quite quickly and I offered to do my turn to give him a break, but he clearly wasn’t going to let some middle-aged old woman get the better of him LOL!!!   By the time Richard was at the top he was absolutely shattered…. Oh dear…. Anyway, Richard found that we had sheared a split pin at the head of the genoa and it was stuck inside the hole. Otherwise apart from a bit of tape around the end of the spreaders, all looked fine. So I let him down and we went and purchased some split pins…. So again I called on the dock boys to help me out – and they sent the youngest biggest one!  Well…. he really struggled…. and we took it in turns to tail / winch Richard up to the top…. He looked on in dismay when I could turn it quite easily when he had been two-handed and struggling to put all his weight behind it…. Oops!   Not sure that was too good for his ego!!   But he was a good sport, and we took turns until we got Richard to the top along with his bucket filled with all sorts of tools etc for the job in hand. Unfortunately Richard wasn’t able to shift it – he probably would have been able to do it if I could have taken some of the pressure off at the bottom of the genoa – but it was too dangerous to leave him up there without the line being tailed….. So he did a temporary fix before I let him back down again…. Interesting view up there with some very different shots of Morphie!

Different view of Morphie Don't let go of that rope!

Tuesday morning we wandered into the patisserie for our breakfast as this was potentially our last day here. We just needed to check out the weather window. Yep – it was holding – so we are definitely leaving. Wandering back to the marina – armed with baguettes for our overnight food – we were amazed by all the coaches that had turned up and the amount of people that were milling about. One little girl looked to be wearing Minnie Mouse’s outfit and there were a few other Disney looking tee-shirts so we wondered whether this was a Disney ship!?!   Anyway, back to the marina, checked out of customs for later that day and we paid the hefty marina fee. Ouch!  Didn’t mean to stay here a week and we couldn’t have the reduced weekly rate because that is only available if you pre-book and pre-pay grrrrrr…… But actually the dock fee itself wasn’t that bad…. it was all the extras like showers / washing machines / driers / electricity hook up and water usage that pushed it up. And still less than we would pay in the UK – just a bit of a shock after the prices we had paid down island!

At around 4.30 pm we left Fort Louis Marina and headed off towards Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. We decided to stick with our shift pattern again – with me starting at 6-9pm and then Richard taking over for his three hours. I prefer to do the first shift as it gets dark around me so I get used to it gradually. So ready to go….and Richard took this dreadful photo!  But you may be pleased to notice that I’m actually wearing my life jacket – we always wear them at night, and are clipped onto the lifelines in the cockpit, irrespective of the conditions.

My shift

The winds were very very very light….. and way below what was forecast. The forecast of 12-15 knots was turning into 6-8 knots. But thankfully the direction was right and we pulled out the sails and enjoyed a very slow downwind run. The wind changed around a bit during my shift and started to strengthen as Richard came on duty….and I took myself off to bed. We had a rough passage across to St Martin at the start of our cruising life and we were determined to sail back, not caring how long it took us!!!!

During the passage, two cruise ships were tracking us….and yes, indeed, one was definitely a Disney vessel. Then we had all stations alert on the VHF – the Disney ship was going to be doing a firework display! We didn’t see much…. then they came on to say it was over. Then the Norwegian ship put out an alert – it was their turn to have fireworks. And this time we could see them lighting up the sky. Have never seen this before….. Well it kept us entertained anyway…..

Wednesday morning we enjoyed the sun rising while at sea and, shortly after daybreak, we could see Virgin Gorda coming into view….

Sunrise at sea Approaching Virgin Gorda

As we were coming through the Necker passage we noticed that Sir Richard Branson has completed building his new house to replace the one that was destroyed by lightening a few years ago…. And he has three fake palm trees on his sandy spit now instead of two!!!!

New main house on Necker Fake palm trees off Necker

It was interesting to see the development of huge villas going on the back of Virgin Gorda and Prickly Pear which, when we were last here, were pretty uninhabited and just naturally beautiful. Clearly a lot of investment cash coming into these islands…..

New development

As we turned to go into North South – passing the massive reef – we were also struck by how many boats we could see out sailing…. 40 at the last count!  We haven’t seen so many boats on the move in one place for a long time and, of course, most of them were charter boats so we gave them all the right of way just in case…. It is clear that many of them do not know the rules of the road!

Arriving into Leverick – after an 18 hour passage covering 82 miles – we quickly picked up a mooring ball – and dinghied round to customs. They welcomed us back!   Wow!!!!   Back to Morphie and we dropped the ball and headed over to Saba Rock. This is a stunning anchorage and remains one of our favourites…..

Beautiful anchorage in North Sound

Anchored on the second attempt – hit sea grass the first time – and went to bed for a few hours…. Later on we went ashore for Happy Hour at Saba Rock – and were a little surprised at how expensive the drinks and food were!   Obviously we’ve been spoilt by the prices down island. Never mind… you can’t take it with you!

Saba Rock

We enjoyed our first BVI sunset for a very long while and headed back. As we climbed on board the heavens opened and we just managed not to get soaked. But it was great – washed all the salt off of Morphie for us!

BVI sunset

Thursday we had a lazy day on board and went ashore to Saba Rock for happy hour again…   Admiring the views across to the Bitter End Yacht Club and the panorama of the North Sound.   Just plain stunning…..

View across to Bitter End Yacht Club

Panorama view of North Sound

Saba Rock has had a bit of a makeover since the last time we were here – the toucans have gone and so has the pirate statue and other pirate paraphernalia…  But they have kept the stuffed hammerhead although he is now painted bright red!

Not art a real hammerhead.....

This evening we were meeting Arndt off of Zanshin who we had spotted in the anchorage.  We very briefly saw him in the Saintes and thought he would have hauled and left for home by now – but he has picked up some consultancy work, working from his boat!  Nice turn of events. So we had a good catch up and an enjoyable few hours together. Back on board for dinner and so to bed.

This morning – Friday – we sailed across to Leverick Bay and anchored behind the mooring balls at the back of the fleet.   Having just got set and a helicopter came over really low – and I mean low – check out the photo!   He landed for a short while then took off again…. then buzzed the anchorage again.   Curious behaviour!

Be careful budgie!

We are planning to stay in Leverick until Monday morning before we leave for Nanny Cay and an appointment with the riggers.   Leverick have their annual Poker Run this weekend – which is for high powered speed boats – and is usually a fun time. And some people we know are on island too…. So should be a bit of a party! Really looking forward to it…..

Bye for now