Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tuesday: East-end Tortola

Forecast:  Winds NE 13-18 knts. Seas 3-5’. Scattered showers.
This was one of those days: an exhilarating sail, an isolated bay, an aquarium-like snorkel all wrapped up with a fun beach-bar.
We set out from Cane Garden Bay to find the winds running about 20 knots and the seas at 4-8’ up the north side of Tortola.  We tacked our way up the coast managing to tack very conveniently around rain-showers as we made our way into White Bay on the west side of Guana Island by late morning.  This is a privately owned island and so no chance to go ashore but with all the fish-action there was plenty to keep us occupied.  The small-fry would jump in concerted clouds across the bay, like watching the wind blow across a wheat-field.  This was followed by jumps from larger fish into the middle of the school of small-fry which would send them scattering in all directions.  One can only imagine the larger fish jumping with a gleeful ‘cowabunga’ and then hoots of success for how could they miss, the fish were so plentiful.  Finally, this show was followed up by the kamikaze-style dives of the pelicans and boobies (yes, they are called boobies).  It was like a concerted show put on just for us.
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We had the bay to ourselves for about an hour and then two more boats pulled in.  I have to say I have never seen so many boats flying France colours – is it a national ‘go to the Caribbean while your region’s economy tanks’ holiday?
Just around the corner lies Monkey point where we made a lunch and snorkel stop.  There were only about 4 or 5 boats there and yet the snorkelling was the best we’ve seen so far.  Unlike The Caves you’re not having to spend half your time dodging other swimmers all lined up to see the parade of fish.  We saw more species and had great fun identifying them afterwards on our fish guide and the deck of Tropical Fish cards we picked up.  Unfortunately the camera battery was dead so no pictures here.
We thought we might make the night’s stop in Lee Bay on the west side of Great Camanoe Island and there was one other boat there (flying the Canadian flag) but the bay was very bleak and uninviting so we carried on and left the other boat to their solitude.  Through the tight passage between Great and Little Camanoe Islands we headed down to Trellis Bay.  Even tighter is the navigation in the bay between the moored boats, but we found a spot and settled in for the evening.
Ashore, we then settled onto the bar-stools of Da Loose Mongoose for a free drink from our copy of The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI, and then a few more. 

When we were here with Jim in Feb. 2010 we sat in this beach bar (shack) and watched the Olympic gold medal hockey game between Canada and the U.S.  This time we met up with some interesting folks in the bar:  being so close to Beef Island airport, the beach bars are really like the arrival and departure lounge and true to course a young woman arrived lugging a big duffel back, still dressed in jeans and sweater – she had just flown in from Kansas via San Juan.  Another fellow was a deputy fire-chief in Connecticut who swaps out all his time so he can come down here and crew on a private motor yacht.  Locals as well were in the bar since it is a popular stopping point on the way home from work each day.  Henry even recognized a face from time were were down here.
Unfortunately, because there is a cyber-cafe in Trellis Bay there is no free wi-fi and we were too far from Marina Cay to pick up theirs, so although we’re back in the main islands we are still disconnected (not a bad thing.)