Monday, April 18, 2011
Day 1 in the USVI
Saturday evening we settled into our bunks and started to get to know Captain Bob and Debbie who have been sailing together for 26 years and spent 2007-2009 sailing from Seattle to Florida, through the Panama Canal with many harrowing adventures along the way. After spending an almost sleepless night at dock in raucous Red Hook Bay where vacationers partied and screamed until well past 3am, instruction began and we set sail onto gorgeous waters, so brilliant with its variations of blue and green, for Soper's Hole to check into the British Virgin Islands. Keeping in mind that we are flying on the lowdown with our contraband chihuahua into British territory, we brought Pika, not the happiest sailor to say the least, below deck. As Jason and Captain Bob readied the dinghy to go show the authorities our passports, Pika let out a bark, in the only place on the trip that she shouldn't, because she thought the clanking noises from above were a dog's collar. Luckily no one heard her and we slipped into British territory without incident.
Our next destination was the Indians, an outcropping of rocks where we snorkeled for the first time. We hooked up to a mooring ball, donned our snorkeling gear, and hopped in the warm, clear, blue-green water, feeling like we had dropped off a cliff when we discovered we could see bottom in the distance below. Suspended on the surface, we were amazed at how much life was swarming below us without our knowledge. All we had to do was dip our heads into the water to enter a completely new world. As I held onto Aaron, we swam towards a coral reef gazing at all of the tropical fish below in wonder, blue tangs, yellow tangs, yellow and black stripey fish, parrot fish, rainbow fish, it was truly amazing. When we reached the reef Aaron was desperate to stand up which we couldn't do because we were floating over a living reef. His mask kept filling with water and his diving vest had lost a tiny bit of air so he was understably beginning to freak, especially since this was his first time snorkeling. We kept adjusting his mask to try to keep the water out and in between shrieks to go back to the boat, he would look down and say "ooooh a giant brain coral," or "ooooooh fan coral." While we were fighting with his mask we followed Jason over a shallow ridge where our legs looked as if they were only inches above poisonous black spiny sea urchins. Yikes. It was really wild to be immersed in a coral reef, something we had only caught glimpses of at aquariums or on television. When we realized the mask situation wasn't going to change, Aaron and I headed the 100 yards back to the boat. When we were back on the boat, Aaron was so excited, exclaiming, "the fish were really cool, wow, I can't believe I was snorkeling, but I kinda thought I might drown." A couple of minutes later Isaac and Jason swam back to the boat with stories of seeing cuttlefish, a dog fish and Isaac thinks he saw an octopus. Though we had some drama, I'd say we had a pretty successful first snorkeling trip.
Setting sail, we headed to the Bight to moor for the night. The Bight is a sailboat infested cove where a pirate-ship-turned bar is permanently moored. From the beach we could hear live reggae music emanating from another ramshackle bar. The Bight was not exactly what I had pictured in my brain when I thought of sailing in the Virgin Islands, but it was definately better than the previous night. I am getting the impression that people come here to drink. A lot. After Debbie cooked an amazing meal, the boys settled into their bunks and Jason and I went to the front deck to lay down and gaze at the stars while listening to live reggae music in the warm, humid night air, the sound of waves lapping against the hull.
Author's apologies to those who have already seen these photos that I posted prematurely. Click here for photos.