Saturday, February 27, 2010

Caribbean Bath Tme

After a howler of a night with winds gusting to 25 knots, we awoke to a cloudy dull morning. As the winds were finally behaving as they should for this time of year, they were right on the nose for our destination this morning, The Baths.

Virgin Gorda makes up the most easterly island of the BVIs and in fact as we sailed up Drake Passage we could definitely see the profile of the recumbent woman and understood why Columbus named her the Fat Virgin. At the southern tip of the island the land is strewn with massive granite boulders right down to the ocean where the pounding waves have dumped little pockets of sand to make up beautiful little bay beaches and fascinating paths between the rocks, including this one that we rather thought was like Jim going through the spin cycle.

As the area is so heavily visited it has been turned into a national park and no beaching of dinghies is allowed. This is all well and good in theory but when the ocean swell is coming in from the north, it is not for the faint hearted. You tie up the big boat to a mooring ball and then dinghy in to tie up at a line secured about 100 yards from the beach. Now between you and the beach lies a passage lined with boulders and a huge surf. Here’s our list of things to remember for next time:
1. pick up a mooring ball off Devil’s Bay and dinghy in there – it’s much closer to the beach and less treacherous than Spring Bay and the Baths entrance,
2. don’t bother taking sandals/crocs ashore, you really don’t need them even on the rocks or the overland paths,
3. unless you want to eat in the restaurant at the end of the path, don’t bother taking a shirt to put on over your bathing suit – do take a few dollars in a Ziploc bag though if you want a drink at the Mad Dog cafĂ©,
4. if the surf’s up and you find the swimming tough, take your flippers but don’t bother trying to prevent mother nature from pounding you into a pulp on the beach – it doesn’t help.

Providentially, the sun came out and it turned into a glorious day. We hiked all over the Baths and made our way up to the car park at the end where there is a very civilized little commercial area at the road entrance to the park. We sat on a veranda surrounded by flowering bougainvillea looking out at the landscape made up of boulders the size of small apartment buildings.

After lunch back on the boat we headed up the west side of Virgin Gorda, around the Seal Dogs and on into North Sound and Leverick Bay. The winds were about 18 knots from the NE and Mowzer sailed nicely balanced with one reef in the main at 6.5 – 7 knots. What a glorious afternoon of sailing with a gentle swell coming in from the Atlantic, it was hard to turn our nose towards our home for the evening.

The North Sound marinas have a nice feature in that if you pick up a $25 mooring for the night, they will fill your water tanks and give you a bag of ice in the morning. We took advantage of the opportunity to clean up ourselves and boat. I am wondering if we might be able to hire Jim out as a deck-swab??