Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Where's the Dinghy? Day 2

or, How We Learned Most of Cruising's Lessons in Just One Week

Day 2 (Sunday, May 2, 2004)

The next morning we took a quick dip off the stern to wash away the cobwebs from the previous night, then headed back across Sir Francis Drake Channel toward Tortola's West End. The winds were still blowing at a brisk twenty knots and the seas were still in the four- to five-foot range, but at least the sun was shining. We soon noticed a good-sized flotilla coming up from behind off our port side. In addition to at least twenty flags representing countries, yacht clubs and sailing businesses from around the world, the lead boat was flying just its jib, as were many of its followers. This seemed to confirm that we were doing the right thing, sailing with just our jib. I was starting to wonder how I would ever be able to get the mainsail up, reefed or not, since I wasn't sure if I could get Nan to hold the boat pointed into the wind while I climbed up to the mast to unzip the sail and get it raised without snagging the battens in the lazy jacks. With the weather the way it was, it would be a few more days before I would have a chance to give it a try.

As we rounded the west end of Frenchman's Cay and headed into Sopers Hole, it was like coming home. We had vacationed on Tortola twice before, in 1995 and 2000, and had stayed just up the road at the Fort Recovery Villas both times, so we were very familiar with the quaint little marina and its pastel-colored buildings that seem to symbolize Caribbean architecture. The area around the marina's dock was crowded so we headed for a mooring ball on the opposite side, just past the ferry dock. Yesterday's mooring pick-up must have been beginner's luck because this time Nan had some trouble. Instead of the line being attached to the ring above the waterline, it was attached to the one below. Not seeing the underwater line and not knowing what to do, she hooked the ring and yelled for me to come help her. Before I could get to the bow, the wind pushed the boat awkwardly toward the mooring ball and Nan, not wanting to let go of the boathook, held on as it bent itself around the bow at an obtuse angle. We left the boathook bent for now, thinking it would snap if we tried to straighten it. It was difficult to use but at least it still worked. With a little effort, we were able to fish out the mooring line with it and get ourselves safely situated.

It was still early in the day and we didn't need any fuel, water or ice yet, so we just relaxed. After lunch, I pulled out my guitar, which had fared better in transport than my duffel bag, and was strumming it when a gentleman on a neighboring boat hailed us. I thought he was going to compliment my guitar playing, but he just wanted to let us know that we were tied up to a private mooring. Oops. It had looked just like one of the $25-a-night ones when we arrived, but now that he mentioned it… Maybe that explained the underwater mooring line. We quickly moved to a pay mooring about fifty feet to our right. No harm done. By this time, we were ready to take the dinghy over to the dumpsters near the ferry dock and then on to the Jolly Roger for some pizza and Red Stripe beer.

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