Wednesday 13 Mar, BVI day 9, Virgin Gorda: Visit Oil Nut Bay resort, motor to The Baths and anchor in Savannah Bay for the night.
Not a good night for Glen, he woke up due to lapping on the stern (I sleep with earplugs). Cloudy Bay swung around opposite to the wind, due to a current passing Eustatia island. Currents like this are rare in the Caribbean. Anyhow, it meant we were riding over our anchor and the chain was rubbing on the bow. So Glen used the bow sprit to pull the chain forward, watched it for a while then went back to bed. He popped his head out again 1 hour later to find we had swung back to the wind again. Very odd.
As we sit for breakfast in the cockpit we are mesmerized by the color of the water around us. And decide to have a tootle in the dinghy to see Saba Rock and Bitter End from close up. And of course to record them, again. So off we go, for what we imagined it would be a 15-20min trip. We dinghy from behind Eustatia island where we are anchored towards Virgin Gorda Sound, careful not to run into the reefs that are everywhere in that area.
At Saba Rock works are in full swing, with cranes and barges. But they still have a lot to do till the restaurant will be finished and hopefully be brought back to its former glory.
As for the neighbouring Bitter End, there is nothing there that would hint there was a resort or a marina a couple of years ago. They have cleared absolutely everything and are obviously starting from scratch. The way construction seems to be progressing on this island, it will take a while till Bitter End will be rebuilt. The only things remaining are dozens of mooring buoys all marked “out of order” and some Hobie cats on the beach.
On the opposite side of the bay the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda seems to be doing fine. No sign of life around it, but there are no cranes or scaffolding either. So maybe the reconstruction works are finished or nearly finished.
Nothing else to explore in Gorda Sound so we tootle back into Oil Nut Bay and decide to continue our trip towards the end of the bay where the Oil Nut Resort is. Quite a distance in the dinghy, but not exactly painful as we glide over this magnificent blue water.
Once there all I can say is “wow”. It looks splendid. I immediately spot a villa which takes my fancy, as I usually do in places like this. At the jetty we ask if we may dock our dinghy and walk on the beach, and we get an affirmative answer. It is a private property after all. Truth is, walk on the beach is all we can do as we left Cloudy Bay empty handed: no flip flops, no wallet, only the camera. But at least I’m wearing a dress and Glen a shirt, so we kind of blend in, even if we are barefoot and penniless!
The jetty looks very nice, paved with marble. Very upmarket, same as this entire place. The beach we suspect is man-made, as the sand is not the usual fine white sand we see on the beaches here. Anyway, it looks great, from one end of the bay to the other. We wonder what will happen to it if they get big swell. It is on the windward side and the reef protects the bay from the usual swell. But in a big storm…
We do take our time to walk it from one end to the other and back, admiring each villa that we encounter and being picky about what we like and don’t like. You know the story with the fox that can’t reach the grapes…
All residences are beautiful, with floor to ceiling windows and infinity pools in front of them. The gardens are nicely manicured and everything looks just perfect. A few people are about, probably guests.
As we return to the dinghy a speed boat is disembarking a group of tourists which clearly don’t look like guests of these residences. So we ask if they got a day pass. Turns out one can get access to the facilities and spend the day in the resort if lunch is booked with the restaurant. It would have made sense to bring wallet with us, wouldn’t it?
So we start motoring back to Cloudy Bay day dreaming about beautiful properties, and waving the thoughts away by thinking of all the maintenance costs 🙂
The trip back was even more pleasant. With the sun behind us the sea colour looks an even more beautiful blue. And we dinghy as close to the reefs as we can now that we can clearly see them, trying to spot the fish. For a moment we contemplate whether we should come out for a snorkel, but with Glen’s leg severely grazed we thought better of it. Let those nasty scabs heal first before spending more hours in the water.
Back aboard Glen flies the drone over Eustatia island and Bitter End, after which we are ready to upanchor.
Not much wind today so we motor around Mosquito island and then along the lee shore of Virgin Gorda, again as close as we can, to record it all over again. Which is kind of nice, as today is a much nicer day than last time we did this trip, bright and clear sky.
Our early-afternoon destination is The Baths, to see them one more time and of course, to record again. This time we chose to anchor next to them, despite the swell coming in. Crystal clear blue sea, I can see the anchor and the links of the chain even at 7m depth. It is a rocky bottom and we try our luck anchoring here. The anchor drags to begin with but then it holds. And after Glen goes for his usual inspection, he reports the anchor caught very tightly under a rock. That will do, surely Cloudy will not escape in the few hours we go ashore. But will need a trip rope to lift it when we leave later on, otherwise there is a high risk of bending it. A bent 3000 euro anchor on the bow just won’t look the part, would it?!
The bay is as busy as ever with charter catamarans and even some superyachts. And as we approach the last beach in the dinghy, we see it mobed. Lots of people on the beach and even more coming down from the foot path. Were we lucky last time or unlucky this time?
We quickly tie the dinghy to the line and swim ashore. Where we redo the tour through the boulders and pools and enjoying it just as much as the first time.
There was one difference though. When we reached the end and wanted to return to the dinghy, a guard stopped us saying “no entry”. What do you mean no entry? How silly is that? Turns out they have a bit of a one way system in place (maybe for the days when it is so crowded?). So in order to return to where we started from, we have to go all the way up the hill to where the restaurant and parking lot is, and then down. And we know how long that walk is, not because we did this exercise last time (no one way system that day), but because we flew the drone over the Baths and it was a loooong flight to get the drone from the parking to the sea level.
So up we go, in the intense sun and with no flip flops. Our feet start feeling like burning fairly quickly and I was aiming to step only on the shady bits. If you can call a shade the silhouette of a cactus or a tiny bush. It was a long and hot walk, and once back to the beach we jumped straight in the water to cool off.
Lots of people here still, but less than earlier on. Once reasonably chilled we take a comfy “seat” on the beach leaning against a boulder and watch the world go by.
A group comes along and they prepare to fly a drone. We wonder how many hundreds of thousands of drone footage are over this bay :). We’ve been here three times and each time somebody was flying the drone (once being us).
The guy feels brave enough to fly it from a rock, which is far from being flat. After a wobble and lots of sand blown, it does take off. Phew, that was a close one. The flight is quite short, and when the drone returns we overhear them saying “oh, but where do we land it?”. Hm, not experienced “pilot” it seems, he hasn’t thought of that before hand. As one suggests to land it on the beach, Glen volunteers my services to catch the drone. Which they reluctantly accept, despite Glen reassuring them that I am an expert at catching a drone. Anyway, it takes me few seconds to grab and tilt it, but the propellers don’t stop. What is going on? Normally it stops instantly. Glen takes over the control and stops the drone. This guy didn’t know he has to let go of the controls for the drone to stop. Happy “landing” in the end.
4pm already so time to swim back to our dinghy and return to mothership. We motor close to the marker buoys to have one last look at this beautiful place of granite boulders and interspersed sandy beaches. Cloudy Bay has behaved in our absence and as soon as are aboard Glen dives to the anchor to tie a rope to it. Normally diving to the anchor is easy, but in 7m of water diving is a bit challenging, let alone tie a bowline knot onto the anchor.
We gather up most of the chain then we pull on the trip line and motor forward, reversing the anchor point out from under the rock. The anchor then comes up ok, and most importantly unharmed. Our biggest worry when we anchor near rocks is not to bend the anchor.
We decided to anchor in Savannah Bay for the night, where we hope it’s going to be calmer. But as we motor into the anchorage we see the swell rolling in. Hm, should’ve we stayed at the Baths? Or maybe next to Spanish Town ferry dock? Well, we are here now. If swell gets in here it will get everywhere.
So we have a rolly lunch and try to decide what other options we have for peaceful anchoring.
Glen tries to set a bridle line from the stern to the anchor chain to turn the boat in line with the swell, but there is not enough wind for this technique. So we accept the fact it’s going to be a rolly night and settle for a quiet evening onboard doing some admin. Mostly downloading videos (all safely saved!), and looking at charts and pilot book for future islands we visit.
And while we are doing this Cloudy has an extraordinary rolling session and Glen jumps up and declares we are going to use a stern anchor. But because the back of the boat is already over coral we cannot simply lay a stern anchor in the coral, it would do a lot of damage. So we have to anchor all over again closer to the beach to ensure both anchors are in sand and correctly positioned to keep us parallel to the incoming swell. Pitching in the swell is so much more comfortable than side-on rolling in it.
So in the pitch darkness (yes, we should have done this before it got dark!) we lift the anchor and motor as close to the beach as we dare, drop the main anchor but this time add 30m more scope. Glen then reverses away from the beach towards the swell until the chain is tight, then he throws in the kedge anchor off the stern. I then pull back in 30m of chain on the bow anchor and there we are, bow and stern anchors both set and tight. And most importantly holding Cloudy Bay in one position with the stern into the swell. Much much more comfortable. Let’s hope the little stern anchor does not pull out in the night or we might be digging Cloudy off the beach! Just in case, we set an anchor alarm. Basically an alarm goes off if we move more than 35m from a set GPS point.
The rest of the evening is peaceful with no more anti-rolling tantrums from Glen who considers rolling in swell to be torture. Well, me too actually!
And peaceful it was till gusts up to 20kts started coming through the valley in front of us. Hm, exactly what we didn’t need! So instead of having a relatively early night, we are on watch monitoring the stern anchor.