Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Pinky's Up From Virgin Gorda, BVI

We found an open weather window yesterday afternoon at 2:30 and arrived on the french side of S St Marten, Marigot Bay, and dropped anchor in the dark at 4am. We are happy to be here....meanwhile, please enjoy these photos from the BVI.  While we waited, we snorkeled, took pictures of pelicans and did chores - like refilling water and gas for the dinghy outboard motor.  

More from St Marten soon...

BVI hitchhiker
For the cruiser potluck on Thanksgiving, we made a pasta salad with these fun shapes my mom had made sure I used to provision.
Even though it's just a nurse shark, Baxter was scared to pull his tail.
Cannons right off the reef behind Saba Rock.
Chores....but in water so clear you can see your keel and rudder....not too shabby.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Waiting Room

Here is the view of our neighborhood in North Sound, BVI while we wait for a weather window to sail to Sint glad we're waiting here and not back in the states waiting to get to the Caribbean.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Limin' Around

Since being back on Virgin Gorda, we have been hanging out working on boat projects and waiting for a weather window to travel south to St Martin.  It has been said that the cruising life is about fixing boats in exotic locations...oh yeah...and having lots o' fun in between projects.

By the way - for those who are interested in more details regarding our passage from VA to the BVI, Dan Cross, one of our crew members put together some notes from his journal along with photos/videos.  Click here to read more.

It is so convenient to have Terrapin so close to the beach where Kala likes to swim

Millions of fish in the sea
Wahooooo!  This guy looks pretty big when you're snorkeling next to him and see his teeth
Sunset rub down puts someone right to sleep

Captivated by the flamingo
Jumping off the boat from the rub rail is so fun!


Neighbors who have the biggest house on the block

Selfie with Kala

Sunday, November 20, 2016

New Addition- Companionway Doors

Terrapin has a new exciting addition!  Before we left SLC, we ordered companionway doors that will allow easier access during the day but still lock if we run to shore.  Previously, we had to slide our boards in which worked okay, but this will be much easier and still look nice.  The doors were custom made, since you will notice we have an offset companionway (not in the center of the cockpit) and the top of the door slants from port down to starboard.  They include both plexiglass and screens which will allow ventilation in warm climates and it will keep the cabin warm in cooler climates.

The doors arrived unvarnished and without the hardware in place.  We stowed them during the passage and this week Baxter has been able to find time to varnish and complete the hardware and drilling to get them installed.  

We will still use our boards offshore as a safety precaution, but at anchor, these doors are awesome!
Beginning point with hatchboards.
Making sure the doors fit before applying the varnish
View from in the salon looking out. We still need to add the 1" square teak bar to bridge the gap at the top. 
Finished look with tinted plexiglass inserts in place.

Finished look with screens in place. 
So pretty and functional while maintaining the classic heavy teak look we like so much

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Beaver Moon

Baxter and I are very grateful that our life is on Terrapin.  When people ask us where we live, we answer – “Currently, we live in the British Virgin Islands.”  Next month, the answer might be “Sint Maarten”.  Alas, our crew, Scott and Dan have lives and wives and children at home and they were ready to see their families.  They both scheduled flights out of Tortola which is very near Trellis Bay, which also happens to celebrate the full moon every month. Baxter and I have never been to that party before so we dropped our mooring ball at Bitter End and headed over to Trellis Bay.  It was a nice relaxing sail and there was a mooring ball waiting for us when we arrived (usually the moorings are taken the day before The Full Moon party).

We sadly said goodbye to Scott and Dan and soon received a radio call that Kim, a girl who had crewed on another boat during the passage was looking for a place to stay for a couple of days.  We picked her up and then found our way over to the Full Moon party that evening.  It was pretty awesome and we were so glad we could experience it.  Early the next morning, we dropped our mooring ball in Trellis and headed to Guana Bay - Kala's favorite beach in the BVI and the closest mooring to Monkey Point, a very cool reef for snorkeling.  

We picked up a mooring, paddle boarded to the beach, and played in the sand.  After lunch we headed over to Monkey Point and snorkeled but the visibility was marginal due to a strong northeast wind - first world problems, I guess.  

We are back in the Bitter End on Virgin Gorda and the other half of the Salty Dawgs (who left Saturday vs our leaving on Tuesday) have arrived and it has been so fun to meet new people, see new boats and start talking about moving down island.  

Fun broad reach to Trellis Bay
Trellis Bay with Terrapin over Baxter's left shoulder
Full Moon Party
Full Moon Party
Guys on stilts representing spirits - Full Moon Party
Fire balls are cool
Guana Bay!!!

Kala's fave!
Digging to's down there somewhere.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Switching Gears

On Friday morning, we checked into the BVI, clearing customs and immigration and then we went ashore for cold beers and french fries.  Kala was so happy to get her paws in the sand and to go for a relaxing swim.  We immediately switched gears – we had worked so hard to prepare Terrapin for the passage and to live aboard.  When we saw the lights of Anegada, it represented a culmination of hard work and stress during those moments when we weren’t sure if we would have delays due to unforeseen repairs or setbacks.

BUT – now that we are here, we are celebrating!  We are paddleboarding, we are hiking, walking on beaches, going to happy hour at Saba Rock, and listening to cruiser nets (morning briefings with other boats on what’s new for that day).  It is so awesome to be here and we look forward to celebrating in gratitude

Kala OWNS all coconuts - everywhere

Who doesn't love a dip in beautiful clear water?

Shake it off! Shake it off!
Faster please...

Hot hike over the top of Virgin Gorda

View of Saba Rock and Eustasia on the east end of the Bitter End
Terrapin at the dock for watering and a nice deep clean.

Broad Reaching in Brisk Conditions

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Neptune's Choice- Our Passage from Norfolk, Va to the BVI

You know sometimes you visit a restaurant and there's a "Chef's Choice" which is an option that could vary from Pasta Primavera to Filet Mignon....well, this passage was Neptune's Choice and was pretty much a grab bag of every possible condition at sea.

Though a large percentage was a broad reach (wind from behind the boat) and was very nice, we did have a couple days with pretty strong winds and big seas as we transitioned through a TROF (very strong Lo that had moved in from the north).  The wave direction was interesting to navigate because the seas were not only from the north but also accompanied by an eastern swell so Terrapin would surf down a 15 - 20 foot wave at 9 knots and then a swell would come in from the east and bury our starboard rail a couple of inches into the water.  From the port light at the nav station, I think I could see the fishes underwater (yes, I'm exaggerating).

We also had a day or two of light winds, some amazing sailing, some motoring and the last day left us with a close reach at only 30 degrees off the nose.  However, as far as the North Atlantic in November goes, this passage was pretty great and if you can ever get away with doing those 1300 miles and not beating into the wind every day, I would say you are pretty darn lucky.

Every passage is different than the ones before, but this one had a few game changers that gave us an advantage thanks to Baxter's hard work before we left the boat yard.  The SSB (single-sideband radio) that he installed while we were in the boat yard made weather forecasts easier to receive twice per day and with the changing conditions, the access to that information made all the difference.  Also, we had more canvas in the cockpit so when it did rain or the waves hit us on the beam, we were more protected and could stay comfortable during our watches.  The IridiumGo! worked flawlessly.  It was so simple to send position updates, check email, make phone calls or send texts to the outside world.  Finally, the watch schedule I created also added some consistency to our 9-day passage where we could count on sleep at certain intervals and if you were in the cockpit alone - it was only for an hour before the next person came up to help talk through things, like a cargo ship within 1 1/2 miles or the nasty cloud ahead that could be a squall in the middle of the night (should I reef down?) or duuuudde, look at that awesome star twinkling next to the shooting star I just saw.

It was great to have Dan and Scott on Terrapin during the passage.  There were times that it was definitely an advantage to have eight hands around the boat (unfortunately paws without thumbs don't help much).  There were days when we had fun, there were days that we were walking from grab rail to grab rail down below and there were days of perfect sailing that we could do for the rest of our lives.

We arrived in the BVI around 9pm on Thursday - making the passage about 9 1/2 days.  We sailed right into North Sound and picked up a mooring ball at Bitter End.  We will stay in the BVI for about 30 days.  From there, our plan is to work our way south through the Windwards and Leewards but most cruising plans are written in we'll see where the wind blows us.

The USCG did a demonstration of an at-sea rescue while we were in Hampton.  Just in case.
So tired and exhausted, Baxter fell asleep down below with his harness on.  Kala took an opportunity to snuggle.
It's so nice to have time to sleep on a passage.
Fouled prop in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean
Fouled prop - no problem mon.
Never a better sunset than on an ocean passage. 
Flying the new Spinnaker...Thank you Ullman Sails Virginia!
A celebratory toast to a great day!
Scott and Dan reeling in a Mahi...he escaped at the last minute
This is a great start to a fantastic winter
Our nightly weather briefing from Chris Parker (  I am listening to the SSB radio and plotting the coordinates of the Trof and our waypoints for the next three days.
Our Monitor Windvane autopilot (aka Bertha) did 90% of the steering on the trip, even with 15 foot seas...since it is mechanical, it doesn't require a single watt of power and keeps us steady on course.
After picking up the mooring ball in the BVI, we cracked open a tasty bottle of champagne to celebrate.
Our daily positions...thank you IridiumGo!