Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Iris arrives from Germany to help me sail South

Although I am happy that I can sail Elephants Child by myself, on longer passages it is good to have some one to share the night watches and there are always situations developing that an extra pair of hands and a quick brain can sort out so I have been looking for crew to help me get down to my favorite cruising grounds further south and happily it looks like my crew problem is sorted with relays of people helping me get to Grenada via as many interesting spots as I can find.

Iris has joined me for a couple of months and will help me get the boat down to Antigua. It looks like we will be setting off on the first big step on Friday when we seem to have a favorable forecast to cross the Anegada passage down to St Maarten.

However we have been gunkholing around Tortola as Iris slows down from a hectic
life , a stressful journey to the point today when she said "I havn't seen my watch for a few days".

My little sailing adventure has already started at still home 'port' Frankfurt airport. The US Airways airplane was 2 hours delayed, which in the end lead to an 8 hours delay at final destination and extended my journey to 40 hours!
Luckily enough, John never seems to be in a hurry and welcomed me patiently waiting at Tortola airport on Wednesday night. It's always strange to arrive to a place in the dark, especially if it does as in this case include a dinghy ride to the floating accommodation.

However, when I woke up, I realized I finally made it and bright sunshine, incredibly blue water and a nice cup of coffee made by the captain himself were a great start into the day.

Our first joint destination was White Bay at Guana Island. According to the book, this is a private island (!) - wonder who's got so much money to live here. Anyway, looking at the beautiful beach is allowed, even walking on the beach and I had the chance to admire the beautiful diversity of fish during my first snorkel excursion. And this first day ended with a nice cold Gin & Tonic watching the first amazing sunset in the BVI. Difficult to top! Really wondered how the next 11 weeks and 6 days are going to be like!
Well, tonight, I actually completed my first week! Truly unbelievable how office stress, alarm clocks, snow & ice and short dark days just vanish so quickly... We have been doing short trips from one lovely bay to another, each with its own little charm and things to explore.

Even the very rainy and windy passage from Jost van Dyke back to Tortola was fun, since water and air temperature never dropped below 25C – and this fast old Lady carried us with some 7 knots over the waves.
Coming to speak of Celsius – I still have to get used to the mix of imperial and metric system that comes with being in the BVI. At least, now I finally remember that the chart indicates the depth in meter, the Tiefenmessgeraet does it in feet! Quite good to know to keep in mind... But John's being very patient and doesn't really mind repeating things various times.
The other thing I really have to get used to it is the prices for basically anything that can be bought. Though John had warned me, I still find it amazing that even basic things as milk, bread and fruit are easily twice the price from home. But every day, I care less (doesn't really help to worry, anyway). In fact, we are really happy if we manage to find some fruit and vegetable, preferably locally grown.
I'm so happy that John plays along with my Vegetarian diet and we actually seem to like each other's cooking and experimenting with whatever we do eventually find. In a real hopeless situation (the only, tiny supermarket at place only offered imported stuff from Puerto Rico and the US at and the very only local piece of vegetable, lying in the lowest corner of the fridge - was not for sale. Though, despite selling everything at ridicoulous prices, the nice lady from the shop gave it to us – for free!
This so far unseen type of Squash was actually quite tasty.
Anyway, the ordinary day is not full of supermarket experiences and the worries about the dollar prices is getting less every day – latest tactic is trying to think it's some kind of pesos currency.

So the days are mainly filled with long mornings, nice swimming, sometimes snorkeling, meeting nice people, relaxed conversations, explorations of the shore, nice sailings from bay to bay, some ordinary cooking and cleaning -

and just enjoying the life in 'island time'. Really, just what I needed!

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