Monday, March 10, 2014

Anguilla and the start of the Leeward Islands

Greetings from the Leeward Islands! We have now embarked on the next major leg of our trip. The Leewards begin at Anguilla and head south to Dominica. Martinique begins the Windward Islands, which end at Granada. From there it’s on to South and Central America. We’re making some serious progress!

We just completed an 85-mile overnight crossing from the British Virgin Islands to Anguilla. We waited until the weather was forecast to be calm, and it paid off. Our motor sail crossing last night was relaxing, a serious change of pace from most of our other crossings. Hanna got her sea legs, and we all took shifts at the helm overnight. We made fantastic time and got into Road Bay in Anguilla just after sunrise. We’ll spend a couple days here then on to St. Maarten.

Leaving the BVIs was bittersweet. Although the sailing is top notch and the beaches are picture perfect, the islands are crowded and have a spring break atmosphere. While all cruisers like to have fun, most of the yachties in the BVIs are on chartered boats and are there for only a week. Hence, everywhere you go, people are up for a serious party. Don’t get me wrong, the crew on Eventyr is always up for a fiesta, but it gets a bit draining day after day :-)

Chopping coconuts with my machete
Day time leisure activities
One of the fun spots we took in was Willy T’s. Between rum punches, we happened upon the crew of the Amistad living it up before sailing further in a long cruise. The Amistad is a replica of the slave ship that was captured by slaves being brought to America who then sailed it to New Haven, CT in 1839. The replica is typically in New Haven and seeing it in the British Virgin Islands was quite a sight. Dana and I went on board in Philadelphia last summer when the boat was touring the east coast. We had a drink with the captain, Greg, at Willy T’s and a toast to New Haven.

Captain Greg from Amistad at Willy T's
Amistad in Philly last summer
After Willy T’s we headed on to Virgin Gorda, where Hanna and I did some serious hill running. We also got to attend the Happy Arrrr, where local pirate Michael Beans puts on an amusing interactive show with the audience at the outdoor bar. Virgin Gorda sound is a beautiful retreat and marks the Bitter End of the Virgin Islands. We checked out through customs and made a couple day excursion to the much more isolated and flat coral Island, Anegada.

We chose to wait in Anegada for our weather window because we learned the Dark ‘N Stormy Anegada Regatta would finish there the next day. We all agreed that it would be fun to see these racing sailboats come in and meet those salty sailboat racers.  While waiting for the race to finish we biked across the island and did some snorkeling at picturesque Loblolly Beach. Hanna and Dana demanded I catch a lobster, and I partially came through. I speared a red grouper and a slipper lobster. Slipper lobsters are strange creatures in the same family as the spiny lobster and their meat is said to be sweeter. That afternoon we dined on fresh seafood and watched the sailboats race in.

Have spear, will travel
Loblolly Beach
The three amigos
Red grouper (I think? Tasted good, whatever it was)
The night of the regatta was a fun time celebrating with the racers and folks on charter boats who were also there to take in the scenery and camaraderie. We spent much of the evening with a group of guys from Buffalo spending a week on a large catamaran. Heading for home before things got too crazy from so many dark and stormies was a wise choice. We had a long sail the next afternoon and we’ve learned our lesson about too much rum prior to a major sail. That said, I was able to take a fun ride on a tire swing that I’m sure was assisted by a dark and stormy or two.

Mooring field at Anegada post regatta
No more dark and stormies
Our journey from Anegada to Anguilla last night was magnificent. Not only was the weather in our favor, but we also got our share of excitement.  I caught a yellowtail snapper and hooked two other large fish. The larger fish escaped after brief battles, but we still had fresh seafood for dinner. Then, the sunset was amazing! Moments before the sun set behind Virgin Gorda, and I had just lost a fish that was jumping repeatedly out of the water during the struggle, Hanna yelled, “Whales!” We looked out and two Humpback whales came to the surface. They lingered momentarily before flipping their huge tails up into the air and diving deep into the ocean. After the sunset, Hanna got to witness the bioluminescent creatures in our wake that Dana and I have been admiring during our overnight sails the past couple months. It was an evening we won’t soon forget.

Yellowtail snapper: dinner!
Watch out for that lobster trap at 11:00!

1 comment:

  1. I don't know how you could improve on this trip...except to have me there!