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Longest Sail Yet….

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Our last evening in Deshaies, Guadeloupe.

Okay, let’s admit right now, we do not have much passage experience, so “longest yet” for us is nothing for many others.

Still, we are doing our best to build our experience at a reasonable rate and not jump from square one to 10, thereby skipping the learning in between.  This sail was an excellent next step for us.

Our first overnight passage was from Virgin Gorda, BVI to St. Martin (84 nm) and that went very well.  We had a great weather window with almost flat seas which made our maiden overnight excellent.

Our second passage was from St. Bart to Antigua (80+nm) and, like the first one, was an upwind sail. So the wind angle and seas weren’t perfect but we made it and added to our experience.

This last sail was from Guadeloupe back to Virgin Gorda, BVI and a total of 202 nautical miles.  I know that isn’t a long distance for many cruisers, but it was a perfect step for us since we are fairly green and we don’t yet live on Let It Be.

Happily, once again we had an excellent weather window and this time we were with the wind and waves which made me a very happy 1st mate – especially since I did not get sea sick this time!

So what do cruisers see and do on passages? Well, of course we see a lot of this:

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Ocean, ocean and more ocean.

But often we saw other islands, some we had visited on our way south and others we just didn’t have time for on this trip.

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Hmm, I am pretty sure this is Montserrat.

We spent the night listening to music or audiobooks, but also staring at the sky because the beauty there is beyond description. The stars are truly innumerable when earthly lights don’t interfere and the sundeck is the perfect spot to watch for shooting stars.

This trip Frank trolled for fish and managed to land a skipjack tuna! We have had several hits on the line and were unable to land any fish, but success was finally ours.

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Frank is thrilled with his catch!

Some friends have asked us what the difference was and how Frank was able to land this fish. In other words, do we now have the “secret” for catching fish?   Well this picture might give away the secret:

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Frank kneeling to the sea gods as he reels in the fish. 

Truly I jest…. we do not have the secret, but hopefully just as our experience will make us better sailers, practice will make us more successful fishermen.

This trip we had our first and second visit by dolphins! So often I have heard about dolphins visiting boats but experiencing it firsthand was thrilling. They glide and jump and dart about with so little effort and with amazing speed.

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Jumping in front of the bow.

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They are literally right below the forward beam!

Both times the dolphins played alongside and in front of our boat. The first pod consisted of about 10 dolphins. The second pod had closer to 15 dolphins and they swam with us for a solid 10 minutes.  We both wished we could jump in the water and swim with them.

Other activities that consume time on a passage…. sail handling! Those who know Frank, know he has plenty of energy, so we tend to tweak and test sails often. We sailed with a main and jib, we sailed with a jib only, we sailed with a spinnaker.  Yep, we played with all the toys.  But that keeps Captain Frank busy and we learn in the process.

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Virgin Gorda, BVI

After a pleasant 28 hours of sailing, Virgin Gorda was in sight.  We had survived our longest sail to date with no serious issues, thank God.

Returning to the BVIs was similar to returning to familiar streets after a long driving vacation; you have had a really great trip, but it’s also nice to be home.

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Five Card Fever

Well our usual quiet marina became alive with noise and action yesterday when boats entered in the BVI Leverick Bay Poker Run fired up!

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Two hundred forty one boats  from the Virgin Islands, U.S., Puerto Rico and other places entered this annual event.  A total of 180 poker hands were sold. For those who don’t know, a Poker Run is when boats quickly motor from a starting point to five locations within the BVI.  Upon arrival at each designated spot, the boat is given one playing card. After collecting a card at each stop, the driver returns to Leverick Bay and creates his best 5 card poker hand.  The best hand wins a cash prize of $10,000.

Apparently the BVI police are very aware that each stop is actually a party scene and they were ready for action as you can see them departing prior to the start of the Poker Run.

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Normally the Sir Frances Drake Channel is dotted with sailboats and aside from the occasional ferry or tender, few motor boats are seen zipping around.  However, yesterday as we were coming into the North Sound of Virgin Gorda, this was the view behind our boat.

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The start and finish of the Poker Run is at Leverick Bay on Virgin Gorda where we happened to be heading yesterday. That is why we felt like we were being chased by motor boats all day as they completed their fun in the same bay where we were headed.

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These boats “chug” along a bit faster than we sail and we were overtaken often during our sail from Road Town to Virgin Gorda.

Lest you think the Leverick Bay Poker Run is all about the luck of the draw, there are also prizes for “the most original boat, best boat performance, best dressed crew and best dressed lady.” In total, $15,000 worth of prizes were distributed.

Happily no injuries or accidents were reported this year.

If you are interested in buying a hand in next year’s 14th Annual Leverick Bay Poker Run, get your $250 entry fee and a boat ready.

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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