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BVIs? Sea Of Cortez? Both Are Beautiful Sailing Locations. So How Do They Compare?

So recently a reader wanted to know what our average speed is on TTR.  His thought was that we have owned Ticket to Ride for more than four months now and must have an idea of what her average speed has been.

This seemingly simple question took me down a rabbit hole because it sort of assumes that the sailing conditions we have had are consistent. This caused me to think about how different it is to sail in the Sea of Cortez compared to the British Virgin Islands.

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Looking at Saba Rock in the beautiful BVIs

Long term readers know we had our first boat, Let It Be, in charter in the BVIs through Tortola Marine Management. (TMM has great people and they took excellent care of us and our boat.)  It was in the BVIs that I cut my sailing teeth but because I was completely inexperienced, I didn’t understand how perfect the sailing conditions are there.  Now that I have sailed thousands of miles in a variety of places, I have a better appreciation for just how nice sailing is in the BVIs.

But I digress. The point is that we don’t really have an average speed to report for Ticket To Ride because the sailing conditions these four months have been extremely varied. The first six weeks we sailed TTR we had professionals on board who were there to teach us and to push TTR to make sure she was ready to go.  During that time our fastest recorded speed was 24.7 knots!  (And yes, that is under sails alone.)  Frank and I have not come close to that speed on our own.  Our fastest speed has been 15.6 knots while pinched up at about 55 degrees and true wind speed of 22 knots or so.   I thought we were plenty powered up and wanted to stay at a tight wind angle rather than push the boat any faster.

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In the SOC it looks like we’re sailing in the mountains of Arizona.

In the Sea of Cortez the sea state changes greatly because there is a lot of fetch,  land masses come and go, wind directions change and chop is caused by varying wind.  It is very rare for us to put sails up and not tack or change sails each time we move anchorages.  Some may think this is a down side to the SOC, but it has been an excellent way for us to practice raising and lowering sails and changing sail configurations on TTR.

SOC vs BVI

In the SOC, flat, desert land here and mountains across the way. 

As we moved into late spring and early summer, the wind patterns in the SOC have changed. Earlier in the year the wind was driven by northerlies and pressure systems from the north, but as the temperatures heat up the winds are thermally and land driven.  That is, the wind is determined by the heating up and cooling off of the land which affects the speed and direction of the breezes.

The Sea of Cortez is well known for some crazy wind conditions with interesting names like Coromuel Winds, which are unique to the SOC. Other wind phenomena in the Sea include Elefantes and Chubascos.  This link to the Club Cruceros website gives a brief overview of the weather near La Paz.

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BVIs have plenty of places to leave marks of your presence.

When we were sailing in the BVIs, the winds were much more predictable because of the trade winds.  Although the amount of wind changed, the direction was usually the same so we could easily plan our destination. In fact, most of the sailors in the BVIs travel from anchorage to anchorage in the same direction. As a result of the predictability of the wind, it would have been easier to say, ‘oh, TTR sails X percentage of wind speed most of the time” if we had spent these four months in the BVIs.

I can tell you that we sail much more often on TTR than we would be sailing on our former boat.  We sail more often on Ticket to Ride because she points into the wind well and she moves well in light winds.

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A working fishing village in the SOC.

Stark differences exist between cruising the BVIs and the Sea of Cortez.  First is that the BVIs are much more developed than the Baja Peninsula. This affects many things:

~there are fewer cruisers in the SOC

~there are fewer restaurants in the SOC

~many anchorages are completely undeveloped in the SOC

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Party time at White Bay, BVI is a daily occurrence.

~villages often do not have electricity or running water in the SOC

~there is less cell phone/wifi connectivity (think none for days at a stretch) in the SOC

~there are very few chartered boats in the SOC

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Los Gatos is a pretty crowded anchorage in the SOC.

~there are more monohulls than catamarans in the SOC

~SOC is less expensive than the BVIs but buying things may be less convenient

~the electronic charts in the BVIs are way more accurate than in the SOC

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Cleaning the day’s catch in San Everisto, SOC.

~less commercialism and a greater need for independence in the SOC

~we have stayed in only one anchorage with mooring balls in the SOC

~more large mammals in the SOC

~fewer coral in the SOC

~the local people in the SOC as a whole seem more welcoming

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Limbo time on Anegada, BVI.

~the atmosphere in the BVIs is more like a party where the SOC is more about daily life

~the terrain in the BVIs is lush and tropical but the SOC is arid and mountainous

~the temperature changes more in the SOC than in the BVIs

~the water temp in the BVIs is warmer than we have experienced in the SOC

Hopefully this gives you a small insight into the differences between the BVIs and the Sea of Cortez. One isn’t better than the other, they just appeal to different people. I can’t say that we prefer the Sea over the BVIs or vice versa.  For now, the SOC fits our needs (getting experience on TTR in a variety of situations) and we are perfectly happy being a bit more remote.

IF I had to guess the answer to our reader’s question about the average speed of TTR, I couldn’t.  What I would say is that in lighter winds and the right conditions, she is capable of sailing at wind speed. We have had times when TTR actually sailed slightly faster than the true wind speed. I would say TTR is extremely quiet under sail, no creaking of rigging or slapping of halyards.   I would also say that we are really happy with our new home.

Thank you for reading our blog. We would love to hear from you if you have questions. Feel free to look for us on FB for more regular posts, assuming we have connection while in the Sea of Cortez.

St Martin

St. Martin

Fair or not, St. Martin will not be remembered as my favorite place, at least from this trip. While the island is beautiful, I was sick the whole time we were on St. Martin, thus my impressions are negatively colored.

This trip we really only experienced the French side of St. Martin.  Still even when sick, this is a beautiful place and we did manage to see some rather lovely spots.  I am certainly interested in stopping here again later this year as I am certain St. Martin will be even more fun when I am feeling better.

For now, here are some photos to show you some of the beauty of the areas we visited this time.

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Leaving Virgin Gorda, BVI

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                     Arriving in St. Martin at dawn….. Captain is ready for land!

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      Exploring pretty little ocean side towns by foot.

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Stopping for lunch and watching the Ski School teach with LIB in the background.

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How about the Pink Iguana – with the Texas flag to represent?!

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A narrow and beautiful entry to Anse Marcel marina

There is so much more to share, but my internet is very limited and I had a hard time loading this much. With luck, we will have better internet and I can post more often.

Hope you enjoy the views!

From Neutral to Eye Popping…

Let It Be has now been in charter for a bit over 2 years (already!) and she has been an excellent boat.  Many people have enjoyed sailing her from one beautiful BVI hot spot to the next.  We have been very fortunate because most of the maintenance has been routine and expected.  In other words, Let It Be has been reliable, fun and predictable.

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LIB patiently awaits us.

However, there is one purely cosmetic item we have been anxious to improve ~ the exterior cushions on LIB.  The cushions currently aboard have been workhorses, but I think it is almost time for them to be put out to pasture.

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Perfectly neutral and acceptable cushions.

We hope to have new cushions fabricated in September so they will be ready for the post hurricane 2015 season. While choices are not final, the current front runner of color pallets is the one pictured below:

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This could add a lot of pop!

I think that teal blue with lime green piping could make some beautiful cushions. Add some accent pillows in the stripe material and a few others in the tangerine and LIB will look mighty pretty, I think.

We plan on taking a sample of the teal blue with us on our next trip, just make sure it doesn’t get too hot in that Caribbean sunshine.  We sure don’t want our guests getting scorched each time they sit at the helm!

Do you think those colors will be beautiful or do you prefer a more traditional, single color theme?

Happy Tax Day 2015

Okay, so there isn’t much happy about April 15th in the U.S., so I thought I would just post a few pretty pictures to brighten your day.  Tomorrow will be here soon and you will have another 364 days to forget about whatever preparations you had to do to meet today’s deadlines.  Hope these turn your thoughts to more pleasant things…

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A beautiful start or finish to a day.

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Near Scrub Island

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Jaunty red spinnaker.

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Beauty in the land and sea.

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Nothing like kiteboarding to take you away.

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A spectrum of blues.

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Day’s end at last.

Nothing weighty here today. Just a wish that your April 15th isn’t too taxing. 🙂

Sharing is Fun

I’m not sure all parents are this way, but we love to share our “toys” with our kids.  Seeing them become proficient and learn new skills is something we focused on while raising our two sons.

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Clayton and Natalie

We were thrilled when our son, Clayton, asked if he could spend his senior year spring break on Let It Be with some of his friends.

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A few of our friends thought we were crazy to lend our future home to our 22 year old and 7 of his closest friends for Spring Break, but we think trust and responsibility go hand in hand.  If we can’t trust our kids with our things, we failed to teach them responsibility as they grew.

Well, Spring Break is over, the trip is in the books, and the kids had a great time.  Jonathan Healey generously shared his photos from the trip and said I could share them here and on FB.  It looks to me like Jon has a pretty good eye for photography. Here are a few of his photos:

Route planning

Route planning.

bathing beauties

Bathing Beauties.

Jon & Andrew

Jon (photographer) at the helm and Andrew tending lines.

Leaving via Oil Nut Bay

Taylor keeps a look out as they pass Oil Nut Bay.

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Andrew – come back!

near foxy's

Outside of Foxy’s Taboo.

walk from bubbly pool

Returning from the Bubbly Pool.

N sound at night

Nighttime comes quickly.

I am hoping Clayton will guest post in the future, share more photos and tell us about spring break, on a boat, in the BVIs, with a bunch of college kids and acting as captain.

I’m so happy to know this great group of young adults. They are interesting individuals and very caring people. Let It Be was in good hands.

Bondi and Don Winstel Come a Callin’

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When dreaming of the perfect guests on board, you can’t get much better than Don and Bondi!

Frank and I managed to dock LIB only 3 hours before our guests arrived, which meant that we weren’t quite ready when the taxi man dropped Bondi and Don off.  But that didn’t deter these guys! Bondi immediately helped unload provisions and Don grabbed a brush and started swabbing the decks with Frank.  UNTIL – SCREECH!! Our sound guy, Don, noticed a problem with the speakers and that just couldn’t remain with our pro music man on LIB.

I wish I had a picture of the Winstel’s first hour on LIB; the bags were not even unpacked and Bondi was shuffling groceries in the galley while Don had the tool box out and was attacking the sound system.  HOW can guests get better than that?

Once the provisions were settled and the speakers were properly tuned, we were off to the usual BVI hot spots:

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The Baths – a must see.

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Bitter End Yacht Club

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Toasting the “little boats” at YCCS

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Day Dreaming on Anegada

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Bondi cracks me up!

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Time to dive the Wreck of the Rhone

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Shaving is a group activity?

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Photo Op as we walk to the Bubbly Pool

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Sundowners, of course!

Bondi and Don, we are SO glad you came to share some time in BVI paradise.  Next time we will get our 4 missing musketeers there too!    We missed you Lisa, Dave, Iain and Jean!

Back to Tortola

Wow, I am having a hard time believing that January and most of February are already finished! They disappeared in a blur of temperatures soaring and plunging in true Texas style.  One day it’s shorts and flip flops only to be replaced by winter gloves and layers of clothing to protect us from those whipping winds.
But instead of suffering the cold we are enjoying some beautiful scenes in the British Virgin Islands like this one when we were taking the ferry from St. Thomas to Tortola:

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On the ferry, we had a welcome escort along side the ferry for most of the trip:

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It’s nice to be back in the BVIs and climb aboard Let It Be.

Ahoy 2015

The first day of 2015 was filled with hope for the new year. It also included a very relaxed evening meal on the ” front porch” of Let It Be.
We hope your start of the new year was equally beautiful.

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Anchored off Sandy Spit, BVI

Cow Wreck Beach

P1020040 This beautiful beach on Anegada has an ugly name: Cow Wreck. Cow Wreck earned its name long ago when a ship carrying cow bones, which were used to make buttons and other items, wrecked off this beach.  Legend says that for years afterwards, cow bones would wash up on shore, thus the name. P1020020 I have arrived at Cow Wreck Beach Bar by sea, as shown above. I have also arrived by land via rented scooters: P1020031 And once I arrived at Cow Wreck Bar, the seating was plentiful… P1020209 and the views were beautiful… P1020027 Regardless of how you get there, Cow Wreck Beach Bar is a fun place to land.

Stroll on Virgin Gorda

Every time we stop at Bitter End on Virgin Gorda, I take this hike and post beautiful pictures to the Let It Be Facebook page.  I thought I would show you a bit about the hike itself:

The initial and steepest assent is a driveway that leads to the actual hiking path.  While the “path” is easy to see, it isn’t exactly easy terrain:

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                                  Fortunately all of the boulders are deeply embedded.

The climb is steep and usually pretty hot but it leads to fabulous views like this one:

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And some unique foliage:

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This tree bark looks like pieces of orange tissue paper.

The walk does have some easy sections that are also shaded:

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Plus the backside offers a bird’s eye view of Deep Bay:

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However, this time, my favorite part of the walk was the pictures I was able to take of Frank while he was kiteboarding!

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The water is so clear and the bottom so well defined, it almost looks like he begins on gravel.

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Can you imagine how fun it is to ride across this crystal clear water?

 

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