Shake Down Trip #2
Updated: Dec 6, 2019
Recently Clarity came out of Hurricane protection in Puerto Rico, which means it was time to fly out and make sure all systems were a "Go" for this year's charter season. Elise and I flew out on Friday and met our Captain for the week, Rupert Forester-Bennett. He was in the Royal Navy, and now is a Delivery Captain, and regularly brings boats down to the Caribbean from the U.S., so we were in good hands.
As part of the "deal," I would take my 4 yr. old to see Frozen 2 in St. Thomas, when we arrived, which she wouldn't let me forget.
On Saturday it was time to provision the boat for 7 people, and prepare to leave the docks. The second part of the Crew, My Mom & Sister, were to arrive around 3 pm, but their flight was late, so CYOA was nice enough to let us stay 1 more night @ the Dock.
Sunday morning we threw the lines and headed for Maho Bay, St. John, where the last of the crew would join us, Cindy and Emma. Maho Bay is my favorite beach. The water is fantastic, there is a grassy bed on 1 side of the beach, that has plenty of sea turtles and some sting rays.
Maho has a Funky Beach Vibe, recently they added Maho Crossroads, which has a food truck, snow cones, a Bar, gift shop, and live music. This would become our jumping off point to the BVI, and also where we would clear customs back into the US, via the CBP Roam App.
After a long day, Cindy and Emma arrived late Sunday Evening via the St. John Ferry, and they took a Safari Taxi to Maho. The Captain and I took the Dinghy into the beach to receive them and their bags. This was a first, to pick someone up on a beach with their bags, and not get anything wet.
The next day we headed out of Maho for Soper's Hole, BVI, where we would clear customs, this was much easier than Great Harbor, in my opinion. Once we were cleared, we headed south for "The Indians." The Indians has 2 peaks that come out of the water, and has many fish and plant life. From there it was on to the Mooring Field in The Bight. We grabbed dinner at the Pirate's Bight Restaurant, and headed for bed. The next day will be 1 of the longest.
Everyone got up early, because our itinerary included: Cooper Island Beach Club for Breakfast (they don't have breakfast), The Baths, and end up for the night in Leverick Bay or Oil Nut Bay for the night. We would take in all the sights and travel 27 NM.
First up Cooper Island. As stated they didn't have breakfast, but the kids got Ice Cream and Adults, Coffee.
Next was a run through The Baths. Going to the Baths is a workout. First you swim in from 50 yards, then hike up the hill and down to the start of the Trek. You climb up ropes, ladders and boulders until you reach the penultimate, The Cathedral. Then when you are wore out, you swim back to the Dinghy, dragging dry bags and 4 yr. old's, and climb in (which may be the hardest part). Thankfully the Captain had grilled burgers for us, and we were ready for the last leg of the trip.
We headed north for the North Sound, but decided to call an audible and see if we could get into the new Marina Village @ Oil Nut Bay. Thankfully, they had room for us, and the channel had recently been marked, so the Captain had confidence we could negotiate our way into a skinny channel, with a reef on both sides. We were rewarded with a beautiful Marina, Nick welcomed us at the dock, and everyone began to explore the infinity pool, over water day beds, and Bar. The Village is well designed, and has some nice furniture pieces that make it unique. We had dinner at their Restaurant, Nova, which has affordable Tapas, and everyone enjoyed. Everyone agreed this was a highlight and would be back soon.
Wednesday Morning everyone enjoyed a little WiFi, and the girls swam in the infinity pool. The Captain, Emma and I took the dinghy out to the Reef and swam into the open Ocean to snorkel, and back over against the current. I was very proud of Emma, as it was a lot of work just to stay in one place, and then to kick and swim as hard as you could, once a wave came, and you would progress to the next area to hold, until the next wave came. She is a very strong swimmer, and has no fear.
Next we sailed to Anegada, which is approximately 15 NM North. Anegada is made up of coral and limestone, and it's name means the "drowned land." Unlike all the other islands in this Archipelago, which are Volcanic Islands and can be seen for miles. Anegada's highest point is only 28 feet above sea level. You can see the boat's mast in the mooring field, before you can see the Island.
This would turn out to be the only sailing on the trip, as everywhere we went, the wind was on the nose, even when we returned back West toward St. Thomas. The traditional Easterly Trade Winds would turn West, and we would motor against them.
We arrived into Anegada in time to enjoy a little beach time & Happy Hour in Setting Point at The Anegada Reef Hotel. Watch out for the eject button on the Hammocks, I know someone who flipped it all the way over to the ground, wink wink Mandy. I wish I had a video, as I would insert it here.
Instead we made our way back to Clarity, took showers, and enjoyed a sunset from the back of the boat. Captain made Homemade Painkillers and we prepared to go back to ARH for their famous Lobster dinner. Here is the low down: First you have to put your order in before 4pm, then a guy prepares the lobsters straight out of a holding basket, that is in the Harbor, then they grill them with butter and it smells just like Drago's in New Orleans. After it's all prepared it is served family style directly on the beach. Cindy and Emma shared the 2lb Lobster.
Thursday was Thanksgiving, but it would turn out to be a very un-traditional Thanksgiving. We started early, so we could make it out of Anegada before 2pm. We still hadn't seen anything in Anegada, beyond the harbor, so we started out on a 3 Beach run, all before 2 pm. First up, Loblolly Beach, it was nice , they have a Restaurant right on the beach, Big Bamboo Beach Bar and Restaurant. Unfortunately, since we were so early, not much was going on.
From there we were off to Cow Wreck Beach, which was on the opposite side of the Island. 1/2 of their roads are concrete/asphalt and the other sand/rocks, which makes for a rough ride, they are like a washboard. Again, we arrived before any of the action, but a beautiful beach.
Last, we would head for the highlight of Anegada, Anegada Beach Club. They have a pool the kids swam in, and we ate lunch before heading back to the boat. The Beach Club is home to Tommy Gaunt's Kite Surfing School, and people come from around the world to learn to Kite Surf. He can take you from "Zero to Hero" in 3 days, and the reef surrounding Anegada is ideal for kite surfing.
Anegada Beach Club is a Resort that has Eco style Hut's on the beach, that are full on "Glamping." The Resort has a restaurant and bar, and welcomes visitors.
With everybody fresh and our tanks full on our Island Thanksgiving Lunch, we headed back to Clarity. Since our rough trip to ABC, someone had graded the sandy roads, and now the roads were like fresh tracks on a ski slope, so much better than our ride in. Captain Rupert was ready and we were ready to make the next "tough decision," Where would we go next? Scrub Island, Cane Garden Bay, or Little Jost Van Dyke. The final decision was made to head 22 NM East to Little Jost Van Dyke.
We made it in time to try to make it to the "Bubbly Pools." A Grotto that is protected by boulders, but when the North Swell is evident, it creates a natural pool. Unfortunately we first had to make it across the Machineel Tree, that is laying across the path, with a sign that reads, that it is "One of the Most Poisonus Tree's in The World". Just sitting under the tree in the rain can cause the sap to blister the skin. First you hop over the tree to find the sign, as you try to get over the rest of the tree, all while standing in the water, that it warns you about. Not to be scared off, we pushed forward. We arrived at the bottom of the ascent, where a rope laid, to climb up the first boulders, we made it, but now the overwhelming amount of No-See-Ums were about to carry us away. We decided to turn back and abandon the idea, and would try again on a future trip.
After our exhibition, we decided to try the B-Line Restaurant. B-Line is pretty much a beach shack, where they serve $20 dinner plates- Ribs, Chicken, or Fish, and of course Pain Killers.
With our last full day, we decided to anchor off Sandy Spit Cay, and take the Dinghy to shore. The waves and current was a little rough, so we had enough time to get everybody out and then take it away, and anchor 20 yds. off the beach. I think this was one of the most picturesque spots on our trip. The Island has 3 small palm trees, that someone has planted since Maria/ Irma, but other than that, is all sand.
Finally we pulled up anchor, and would motor Clarity back into the US Virgin Islands, and pull back into Maho Bay to finish the afternoon at Maho Crossroads.
Saturday morning we would turn back toward CYOA, and motor the last 14 NM, against the Westerly wind. In all a great trip. The boat and all its systems performed perfectly, and Clarity is ready for another successful charter season. Hope to see everyone out in the Virgin Islands.