Thursday, April 12, 2012

April 4th: Manchioneel Bay (Cooper Island) to Leverick Bay (Virgin Gorda)

From Screen Captures

The morning started with a conundrum. A couple of days ago, while swimming to the snorkel at cistern point, I had noticed that both lines to the mooring were tied to the buoy, rather than one line to the pennant and one to the buoy as recommended. I had mentioned it to Arturo, and asked why he made the choice, and the response was that it was easier to equalize the tension the way he did it. Well, after 2 nights on the buoy, we discovered that the lines had tangled around themselves, which made it pretty much impossible to untangle the lines from the boat. "Now I see why you can't do it this way," said Arturo. "The difference between sailboat lines and climbing lines is that sailboats move and climbers don't." He jumped into the water, untangled the lines, and then we were ready to go.
From Escape Catamaran 2012

The sun came up as we motor'd towards Virgin Gorda, making for a beautiful sight. Arturo and I experimented with paper plotting and the result was very satisfying: we made it to the Baths (named after Batholiths) on Virgin Gorda at around 7:15am or so, and were about the third or fourth boat on the scene.
From Escape Catamaran 2012

I had made it to the Baths years ago at sunset, from a boat tied to a slip at the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, but doing it the nautical way was much more satisfying. We would tie up the boat to a mooring buoy, drop down the dinghy, load everyone up to it, and then motor to the dinghy moorings after dropping XiaoQin and Cindy off so they wouldn't have as long a swim to shore. The rest of us would then swim from the mooring buoys.
From Escape Catamaran 2012

John begged off from doing the Devil's Bay trail because of his hurt hand. I remember the hike from before, and I did not think that his hand was so injured as to make it worth passing up, but it was his decision to make. The trail leads through tunnels, climbs up several rocks (though always with a rope to aid), goes up and down stairs, and in general, gives you a feeling of exploration of adventure while not actually putting you in any real danger or even chance of real discomfort. In other words, one could think that it's almost designed by the Imagineers at Walt Disney. Nevertheless, the area so beautiful and unique that I cannot help but recommend it to everyone who visits the area. After a while, we emerged on op of some rocks and found to our surprise that the only sailboat visible from the spot was the Escape. We could not pass up getting a photo of everyone together with the Escape.
From Escape Catamaran 2012

By and by, we got to Devil's Bay, with clear water and beautiful snorkeling. We donned our mask and fins and immediately got to snorkeling amongst the boulders.
From Escape Catamaran 2012

The variety of things to see in the area is amazing. You get to swim between boulders, under them, through swim-throughs, next to waves crashing about you. The water was a little cooler than the day before, but it was still a lot of fun. While Steve, Amy, Shauna, Arturo and I were more than capable of swimming back to the start of the trail, Cindy seemed intimidated by the water, not daring to stray very far from the beach. Arturo and I agreed to let the others swim back while he, XiaoQin and I would hike back with Cindy.
From Escape Catamaran 2012

The return hike illustrated why you are often told to show up at the Baths early. While our hike to Devil's Bay from the entry point led us to having the Baths all to ourselves, but on the return, the middle sized crowd (from more sailboats arriving) led us to having to line up at choke points for one side to pass and then cross over to the other side, ruining the experience. My guess was that when a real cruise ship crowd arrives, there would be a line all the way along the beach and up the stairs from the road.
From Escape Catamaran 2012

Once we returned to the entrance, we did a little bit more snorkeling. Arturo said he saw a Manta Ray but I didn't find it. John, because of his hand problem, would swim all the way to the Escape while the rest of us would swim to the dinghy. After having taken the dinghy back to the Escape, we discovered that there was already several sailboats waiting to take our mooring buoy as soon as we left! I toyed with the idea of perversely having breakfast on our mooring buoy instead, but decided to do the friendly thing and start sailing for Leverick Bay. We were running low on water, and would need to replenish our water. While Amy had wanted to see the Bitter End Yacht Club, I had called ahead several days ago and they were completely full from some event, and I did not relish the idea of more crowds. Leverick Bay offered a free 100 gallons of water to folks who moor'd overnight at their mooring line, and so it was towards Leverick Bay that we sailed, heading north on the Sir Francis Drake Channel.
From Escape Catamaran 2012

Since it was an easy sail, Arturo and I took the opportunity to teach folks how to sail the Escape. We toy'd with detouring to visit Richard Branson's Necker Island, but the memories of racing for a mooring buoy from 2 days before was still haunting me, so we aimed straight for Leverick Bay, sailing through the channel instead of motoring, and turning on the engines only at the last minute to moor at one of the many mooring buoys in Leverick Bay.
From Escape Catamaran 2012

Once Moor'd, we put together laundry and a shopping list, and prepared to go ashore to do things that crew ashore needed to do: provisioning, laundry, land showers (which were free!) and hanging out at the bar. At the bar, a conch was passed around, and I took a try at blowing one. It's trickier than it looks: you can't just blow into it, you need to purse your lips and blow.

Amy & Shauna went for the full spa treatment, and the rest of us hung out at the bar. When Amy came back, she discovered that there was a conch blowing contest. "I'm from Hawaii, I'm going to win." So she entered the contest and indeed won a bottle of rum!
From Escape Catamaran 2012

We were going to let Amy, Steve and Shauna stick around for shore showers after the event, but by the time I'd gotten the rest of the crew to the Escape I had realized that the seas had gone rough and swells were in! While it was possible that the North sound, being very sheltered had gotten as rough as it was going to get, I still had memories in Canouan of watching a skipper turn-turtle a dinghy, ejecting me several feet and trapping several others underneath it, and decided I would rather be a wuss than risk a night time dinghy docking when the seas were swelling with a small craft advisory, so I recalled everyone and hoped that the swells were already as bad as they would get.

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