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Friday, December 28, 2018

Day 8: Cooper Island to White Bay, Peter Island

We woke up early in the morning and motor'd to Dead Chest before Arturo reminded me (kindly) that the Rhone was off Salt Island, not Dead Chest. This doubling back cost us an extra 20 minutes, but we were once again the first boat on the mooring balls, though another boat arrived and we moved our mooring after a snorkel check so as to have a shorter swim.
The 2 dives on the Rhone (with a surface interval during which I took Bowen snorkeling with warnings from Mark and Arturo not to do duck dives and free dives) were astonishingly good, with a giant reef shark that visited us on both dives, and plenty of wildlife to see, including a turtle!

After the dives, we ate lunch and then proceeded to motor to White Bay on Peter Island to see if it was worth an overnight. The chart briefing on Conch told us that it was a quiet place to spend the night, but the beach was marked as "off limits" because of the Peter Island resort. The wind was too light to sail, so we headed there purely on motor. Along the way, we looked for Carrot Shoal's dive balls in case there was diving, but it was very clear that those dive balls, like those at Lee Bay, had been swept away by the hurricanes and had not been replaced.

Indeed, the bay itself had buoys marking off the swimming area, but the next bay over which was still quite close, Welch Bay, was open. So we dropped anchor there in 15' of water, and then dove the anchor. Arturo said that the anchor wasn't quite dug in, so I dove the anchor, but by the time I'd got there the anchor had dug in. With a catamaran, 50' of chain was more than enough, as the weight of the chain kept the chain nearly horizontal at the shackle, which would end to keep the boat dug in. I was willing to add more chain, but on the catamaran it was a hassle: you'd have to raise the anchor, get the bridle off, let out more chain, and then put on the bridle. We'd already had several issues with the bridle, so we opted not to dick with it.

The snorkeling turned out to be quite good, given the small size of the reefs. Xiaoqin went out to the point and found a shark. We chilled for a bit and at 5:00pm, I got out the paddleboard and paddled to the beach with Xiaoqin, where after a couple of employees left, we got the beach all to ourselves. Along the way, we saw goats which we had heard from the beach!

The beach was superlative, with super  soft sand. It was quite clear that there used to be 4 gazebos on shore, but all but one had been destroyed by the hurricanes, and it was quite feasible that that one standing one had been restored prior to our arrival, along with the cordoning off of White Bay, which peeved me.

We took a few final sunset pictures and went back to the boat during the civil twilight.
That night, after dinner, the bay lit up with occasional flashes of bio-luminescence. Since we were the only boat in the Bay, there was no light pollution and no humming of generators to destroy the mood.  The star gazing was superlative, especially after we turned off all the lights in the boat except the floor lights, and I was astonished to find that after 8:30am with the pending moonrise, the light pollution from the moon was enough to destroy our stargazing.

This is the classic signature experience you can only have in the BVIs, where you can easily charter a sailboat and be the only boat in a Bay with everything to yourself. Those who travel to the area by cruise ship or on land resorts will never have this experience, and while I felt sorry for them, I was also happy that not too many people have discovered this lifestyle, as the last thing I wanted was for more neighbors in our little slice of heaven.

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