Time with Friends and Future Plans

DSC01139

I suppose the first news we should talk about is our interview. You may remember from the last post that we were attending a second interview with the Moorings Yacht Charters who are part of TUI Travel and one of the largest Yacht Charters in the world.  I am more than happy to tell you that the interview was a success and we have now been offered a job as Charter Captain and Hostess/Chef on-board one of their 46 foot catamarans – we start in October.

DSC01117DSC01130DSC01124

These are exciting times and Carlotta and I could not be happier with our new career but before we start there are numerous hurdles.  Firstly I need to complete my Yachtmaster Practical now that I have more than enough sea miles.  I will also need to get my commercial endorsement from the RYA, an ENG 1 medical exam and pass the PPR Exam before our work permits can be granted.  Another good thing with the job is that we have the opportunity of taking up residency in the BVI’s and are offered private healthcare.

DSC01112DSC01073DSC01115

So, what are we going to do next?  Carlotta and I were planning to sail back to Antigua to do the course and take Troskala South but really we do not need to do this and will instead leave Troskala on the hard being the Mooring’s office in Tortola where she will be prepared for the hurricane season.  I think this is the only downside to the future in the fact that we will now only have one more month of sailing Troskala before she is hauled out and we both head back to the UK and Spain for a couple of months from July.  The good thing is that we have a month ahead of us and in that time we plan to sail to the US Virgin Islands, Spanish Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico before bringing Troskala back to Road Town (Tortola) where she will sit for the 10 months before we then set sail for South America and back up to Florida before heading back to work; that is the plan anyway.

DSC01140

All of the above sorted it is time to go back to the blog and our current adventures.  Last week we were joined by our friends from Yacht Limbo; Tim and Natalie.  There were shipping their yacht back to the UK so it was agreed that the best thing would be for them to spend their remaining 4 days in the BVI’s sailing with us.  We had a great time.  We headed first to Peter Island (my favourite) and anchored off Deadmans Cay.  I only learnt this morning that the Peter Island Resort was frequented by the late Princess Diana on numerous occasions; I can understand why.  We all took a work around the sunset loop but had to turn back before it got dark so we unfortunately could to complete the loop.

DSC01142

The next day we sailed to Virgin Gorda to experience the ‘Baths’.  This really is an astonishing place.  Huge boulders sit on the beach with crevices and walks underneath them.  Apart from being crowded by American tourists it was an amazing place and the snorkelling fantastic.  We could not take our cameras but next time we will get some photos to give you a better idea of what they are like.  We headed to Trellis Bay in the evening on Beef Island but it was not as busy as we had expected as the last time we were there it was the Full Moon Party and crowded with people.

DSC01147

We spent the evening sipping Pina Colada’s and Rum & Cokes before going back to a lovely meal.  The next day we sailed to Little Jost Van Dyke and visited the Bubbly Pool, which is still a great place for removing dead skin from the bottom of your feet as you are bounced around the small stones in the pool.

DSC01151

We then sailed down to Great Harbour in Jost Van Dyke as we heard there are amazing parties at a bar called Foxy’s.  We found a great place to anchor and later on we visited the bar but we are bit let down with the music and the atmosphere.  We spend most the night watching a local gentleman dancing with a pole, chair and invisible women.

We sailed back to West End in Soupers Hole to drop Tim and Nathalie off and stock up on fuel and water before we headed back to Road Harbour.  We had a great few days and some fantastic sailing with Tim and Nathalie and thank you both for spending these few days with us.

DSC01143

In the evening we attended the Village Cay Charter Yacht show, invited by the skipper and first mate on-board Elvis Magic, Tim and Sophie.  We met many more friends that night ended up being entertained aboard a beautiful Catamaran called Moonstone, which is run by a lovely couple called Jaco and Jenny.

DSC01166

We spent the next few days in Road Town doing interviews and stocking Troskala for the next sail.  On one of our days doing internet  we had a call from Tim from Elvis Magic informing me that another boat was trying the make love with Troskala.  I jumped on the dinghy and found that a 45 foot Hunter was brushing our side.  Another great friend, Neil, from Miss Kirsty brought his dinghy over and drove it in between Troskala and the offending yacht to protect her from yet more damage.  We could not track down the owner and the marina would not answer our calls on the VHF so before the yacht could do anymore damage Neil suggested that we board her, lift and anchor and take her further out.  This sounded like a great plan but once on board the neglected yacht passed more problems with a faulty windlass making it impossible for us to lift anchor with it so all had to be done by hand.  Neil managed to start their engine and we were off.  We managed to drop anchor and she held but the issue was trying to turn the engine off.  We could not see any means of turning the engine off so in the end we had to leave her running until the owners finally arrived.  When they did we could see the look of confusion so I went over and explained what had happened and they were very thankful, they even brought a chilled bottle of white wine over for Neil and me.

DSC01148

In the evening we went out for dinner with the crew from Elvis Magic and Miss Kirsty and had a great night drinking Pina Colada’s and eating pizzas.   During the night the wind picked up and when I woke up I realised we had dragged anchor and over my breakfast a powerful gust of wind managed to dislodge the anchor completely.   We were quick to get the engine going as we were only 3 feet away from another vessel.  We tried to re-anchor but the holding in this part of the harbour was so poor I gave up and found another anchorage, which although roly we held and finished our victualing before heading to Little Harbour on Peter Island.

DSC01157

We sailed into what is a great anchorage.  The wind was still blowing 20-25 knots outside but in this small oasis surrounded by lush greenery and clear waters there was barely a knot of wind.  We were joined by our friends on Moonstone and had a few drinks onboard Troskala in the evening.  The next day, Jaco took us all out in his extremely powerful dinghy to another harbour where we hiked for two hours before heading back.

DSC01165

In the evening we were invited to Moonstone for a Bar B Q.  We had the most amazing food and company.  Their boat is true luxury and the food presented was nothing less than 5 Star.  We sat drinking wine and enjoying the culinary delights before Jaco and I decided to go for a midnight swim off the back of the catamaran jumping from the top deck down into the floodlit waters of the bay.  It was a great evening and our thanks go to both Jenny and Jaco for entertaining us.  I hope Jenny does not mind if I share a great serving suggestion for garlic.  If you get one bulb of garlic, cut the top off and poor olive oil into it and then Bar B Q for 10 minutes the results are unbelievable.  Once I get a Bar B Q it will be the first thing I cook.

DSC01167

We are currently sat in Cane Garden Bay attending the Cane Garden Bay music festival.  We could smell the party before we got to it as the waft of marijuana came to meet Troskala as we entered the harbour; it should be a good night.

DSC01173DSC01177

Anyway, we will have dates for our UK visit within the next week and we hope to meet up with as many of our friends and family as we can during our time there not to mention drinking a good Bitter Beer, having Fish and Chips by the sea and not being constantly eaten by mosquitoes and the myriad of other beats that like eating us out here.

See you all soon.

DSC01164

Oliver & Carlotta

To Charter or Not to Charter

Well, the time has come to think about work.  We have been discussing our future opportunities for a while now and how we can avoid returning to London to pick up the desk job.  Money has not been an issue and our monthly budget seems to be holding well with another year and half worth in the bank.  Our decision to work has primarily come from boredom.  I understand that anyone reading this in the UK will be thinking that we are crazy, but whilst talking to a friend we ended up saying that yes, tomorrow is another beach and the after that will be another beach and so on.  We have found that both of us need to get our teeth into something that exercises our mind and our bodies.  This is not to say that Troskala’s travels are over, this could be not be further from the truth but before we head to the Pacific a little money and a foundation for a new career would be a sensible option at this stage.

So we are in the Charter Yacht Capital at the moment and have been talking to several friends about what it is like working for Moorings, Sunsail, BVI Charters and so on.  The more information we have received the better this lifestyle appears to be.  We are both very sociable, have a hospitality background and love sailing; could there be a better career for us to take up?

This decided we managed to make some contacts.  At this stage all has been very good but unfortunately I lack my Yachtmaster Practical, ENG 1 (medical) and a commercial endorsement all of which are needed to become a licensed Captain for vessels; up to 200 gross tonnes.  As you can imagine this has changed our plans somewhat.  There is no point continuing the search without to correct paperwork, wo we have put the networking to bed for now and will focus more on getting the licenses as soon as possible.   I have now booked my Yachtmaster course in Antigua; not many places do this RYA qualification and Antigua really is the best place, so in the next few weeks and after we have visited Puerto Rico, the American Virgin Islands and Spanish Virgin Islands  Troskala will begin sailing back to Antigua.  In the meantime we have had an interview with a large charter company who may have an opportunity for us in October; our second interview is tomorrow so please keep your fingers crossed for us. 🙂

Once we have the qualifications, which will take a week we are left in quite a tricky situation.  Hurricane Season is dawning and on the 01st of June we will be in it.  We do not know whether to head to St Lucia, Trinidad or Granada, or head back to the British Virgin Islands; does anyone have the right answer?  We understand from talking to numerous cruisers that this year is to set to be a record year for hurricanes but this can be just ‘dock talk’ with no fact, so before we set sail another 400 miles south we need to know exactly how bad it is likely to get out here.

If our job prospects come together we will be leaving Troskala for a month to return to the UK and then to Spain to tie up some loose ends and say hello to family and friends before returning to the Caribbean in September.

There is  a lot of change happening and these are now very exciting times with the chance of a new career and some more money to be able to carry on our circumnavigation.

We will let you know how we get on and we hope you are all well.

Best wishes,

Oliver & Carlotta

Peter Island, Norman Island and Tortola

005

Well, it has been a busy couple of weeks.  We headed back to Road Harbour shortly after the last blog to stock the boat up with food, water and fuel.  We were still with Rafiki and enjoying every moment of their company.  After a couple of days in Road Harbour we decided to both sail back to Dead mans Cay with Rafiki.  We spent a glorious day there sipping tea with Calley and Rob and swimming with Emily and James.

DSC01024DSC01064DSC01058

We saw the most amazing wildlife below the water and had an absolute shock when we saw a Spotted Black Stingray glide gracefully past us. Rafiki had to depart but we spent the evening enjoying the quite of Deadmans Cay.

DSC01043

The next morning we headed to Norman Island, where the parties and beaches are meant to be the best around.  We met up with another yacht called Fabiola and anchored next to them.  When Rafiki arrived we all met on the beach for cocktails and lunch, kindly provided my Rafiki and Fabiola.  In the afternoon Calley, Emily, James and their new crew member Andy took us to some caves just around the corner from the bay we were anchored inIt was a great day and Carlotta and I decided to finish off the evening by visiting an old schooner that has been converted into a bar/restaurant.  The boat is called Willi T and the parties are said to be legendary.  So off we went for a few drinks.  As soon as we had sat down a couple of guys start naked decided to throw themselves of the stern, followed by another naked girl and and then 10 more.  Apparently this is all part of the party and whoever jumps off naked gets a free T-shirt; we declined to take part on this occasion.

DSC00981DSC00989DSC00995

We set sail the next day heading for Gorda Sound.  This is a beautiful spot situated on the north western side of Virgin Gorda.  There we found paradise again.  This is a huge protected bay. There are a few reefs to navigate when entering but once in you are clear of most dangers.  We anchored briefly in Gun Creek to do some shopping and then to Biras Creek where we were to spend the night.  Our main concern at this point was to make Happy Hour at Saba Rock, which is literally a rock with a small beach and an amazing bar/restaurant.  We topped up with Painkiller Cocktails and had a great meal although service was not a strong point, thankfully the food was great.

DSC01012DSC01021DSC01025

The next next day we sailed to Leverick Bay as this would be the departure point for Rafiki and the time for us to go our separate ways was fast approaching.  We spent the day swimming in the resort swimming pool and after that we went aboard Rafiki and were treated to an amazing ‘fry-up’ before they had to leave.  The time had come for Rafiki to leave us and what a sad occasion it was.  We said our fair wells and amongst all the tears Rafiki departed into the sunset.

DSC00991

We had met another yacht called Rufian, which is a Sadler 34. The lovely couple onboard are called Fiona and Ian and they invited us over for a fantastic Chilli.   The following day we were surprised to come across our friends in Limbo who had sailed their 26 foot yacht from England to the BVI’s.  We all decided to go for a walk around Virgin Gorda and experience the pleasant views.

DSC01039

The next day Rufian had to depart and continue their passage up the East coast of America.  We sailed with Limbo down to Tortola as they have to have their boat shipped back to the UK although they would be staying with us for a few days before they catch their flight back to England.

009

Sint Maarten’s to The British Virgin Islands

 

DSC00864

So, all was in order.  The wind had decreased and we were set to leave Marigot Bay for our sail to the British Virgin Islands where we would meet up with a friends onboard Rafiki.  The journey was 80 miles and the winds favorable with a lovely Easterly pushing us from behind.  We lifted anchor at 02:00 in the morning and sailed off into a full moon and calm sea.  An hour into our sail we poled out the Genoa and I managed top get some sleep whilst Carlotta took on the first watch.

DSC00813DSC00820DSC00815

The journey was pretty uneventful, which is just what we needed after a few hard sails in previous weeks.  The journey took 15 hours to complete 83 miles, we were certainly not rushing and the winds went light as we approached Virgin Gorda; the first Island of the BVI’s. As we rounded Virgin Gorda and Ginger Island we were greeted into a new world of calm sees and stunning scenery.  It was very much like enetering a forgotten world with islands doted around us in every direction and lush green mountains dropping down to golden sands below; it almost looked fake and nothing like what we had expected.  Our first stop would be Savannah Bay, which is located just North of Spanish Town, which is the main town in Virgin Gorda.  We radioed Rafiki and let them know that we were approaching the reef-strewn bay.  Kindly Rob and the children took to their dinghy and met us at the entrance to guide us into the bay, which was absolutely gorgeous.  We had settled down and had dinner with Rob, Cally and the children whilst catching up on the past months events; it was so nice to be with friends again and to be surrounded by such bewildering beauty.

DSC00822

The next day we needed to check in so we sailed, or rather motored, to Spanish Town and whilst the Rafiki’s took the chance top victual along with Carlotta I began the process of filling out 4 different forms and being nicely questioned by several members of Customs & Immigration.  All of this done we set off to Trellis Bay to join in on one of their Full Moon Parties, which take place every last Saturday of every month or the closest weekend to the full moon.

DSC00826DSC00828DSC00829

We had a great sail from Spanish Town to Trellis Bay making sure we took photos of each other as we went.  The thing about Trellis Bay, especially near party time is that the anchorage gets very busy but we found space and were settled.  We headed to the party around 18:00 and were in for a great surprise. The atmosphere of the party hits you as soon as you arrive.  There are plenty of craft stores, bars and restaurants on the side of a white sandy beach.  Later on the music got going and the atmosphere increased.  They have metal sculptures dotted around and filled with wood, which the light after 21:00.  It seemed like a bit of a hippy set up with plenty of odd people dabbling in crafts of all kinds, but it was pleasant and we had an amazing evening with friends, beers and great entertainment.

DSC00850

The night unfortunately went sour.  When we reached Troskala we found a Catamaran was trying to make love to her and had damaged her Pull-pit and navigation light not to mention a lot of damage to our rubbing strake.  The damage caused to the catamaran looked far greater and we dreaded speaking to the owners the next morning.  We finally re-anchored and had a sleepless night.

DSC00889DSC00888DSC00893

The next morning I went to investigate the damage and speak to the owner.  He had sustain a lot of damage to his port side and bow and I expected the worst with insurance companies and the like.  We had come in last the previous night but were located far away from the Cat, the only thing we can assume is that he had way too much chain out and as the wind died he came to greet us.  Anyway, we were in luck and met a lovely Greek gentleman whoi was very understanding to the situation and did not want to exchange details.  We felt much better and decided to continue our journey.

DSC00852

We were heading to Cane Garden Bay http://www.bvitourism.com/wtd/cane-garden-bay-beach on the North side of Tortola.  As the winds were light we had to motor but the scenery made up for the noise of the motor and soon enough we found ourselves anchored in a glorious bay.  We went for a swim after the rain had ceased and walked up to a view point to get a better perspective of our surroundings.  So far we love the BVI’s.  It has a Caribbean feel but the people are more friendly and the scenery is much more diverse than previous islands.  The BVI’s have also to succumbed to mass tourism so places feel like they would have been twenty to thirty years ago.

DSC00897DSC00900DSC00899

We were joined later by Rafiki and after swimming with Emily and James we had a lovely meal onboard Troskala whilst the moon moved slowly across the sky; it was a perfect end to a perfect day.

The next morning brought more sunshine.  Carlotta and I went to get some ice and were joined by some other friends on Easy Rider who we had met during the ARC.  We departed Cane Garden Bay Shortly after and decided to head to Sandy Cay Spit, which is a small island just off Tortola and Little Jost Van Dyke.  It was, as you would imagine from the films, a small island with white sand and a few palm trees.  We both picked up a mooring buoy and went for a swim in crystal clear waters.  We decided later to investigate the island but after a tricky entrance with a confused swell and then followed by a full-on attack from sand flies we decided to make a quick exit.

DSC00843

We sailed on to a small anchorage just off Little Jos Van Dyke.  Nearby you could see the angry swell of the Atlantic crashing on coral reefs but we were tucked in close to some rocks and forest; it was a blissful spot and the moon again provided the evening entertainment followed by a lovely meal on Rafiki.

DSC00879

The next day we were joined by another yacht and a few of us decided to explore Little Jost Van Dyke. The main attraction is a bubble pool, which is basically a rock pool that is ravaged by the Atlantic swell.  After a short work through scrubland and forest, and being careful not to touch any poisonous tress we reached our destination.  The pool was literally a bubble pool and every so often huge waves would crash through a small gap in the rocks filling the pool with white spume and bubbles.  It is a dangerous place if not respected and two people had already dies this year after being swept through the gap and into the Atlantic beyond.  Unfortunately we had no battery power in our camera but Rob took photos, which will be posted shortly but if you cannot wait please see the following link: http://www.virginislandsnewsonline.com/en/news/update-us-tourist-dies-after-bubbly-pool-incident-at-jvd and a nice one: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g580449-d2461948-Reviews-The_Bubbly_Pool-Jost_Van_Dyke_British_Virgin_Islands.html

DSC00906

After our lovely visit to Jost Van Dyke we set sail for Sopers Hole on the north east side of Tortola.  This was a lovely place although anchoring is very limited and the harbour very deep.  If you do not want to pay the $30 dollars a night your only option is to anchor in the far corner, which is not so idyllic.  We however managed to grab a spot and spent the afternoon looking around the shops and stocking up on some wine at the supermarket.

DSC00910

The next day we were in baby-sitting mode and as Rob and Cally had work to finish off before setting sail to the Azores we offered to take Emily and James for a day sail to Peter Island and visit Deadmans Cay.  Unfortunately the wind was on the nose and we had to motor all the way there but as we are in the BVI’s the distance is not more than 7 miles.

DSC00916

The motoring was worth it and at around midday we entered Deadmans Bay.  Again it was idyllic with beautiful sand and green mountains.  We had a fantastic swim with the children and we enjoyed our time in their company although I was completely worn out after two hours of ‘lets push Oliver out of the dinghy’.

DSC00922

We sailed back to Tortola to drop Emily and James off at Nanny Cay where Rafiki was now located and then we sailed on to Road Harbour where we anchored for the night after a few attempts.

DSC00926

Anyway, the plan is to stay in the BVI’s for the next month before we decide on our next plan of action.  We will post more photos shortly and will keep you updated on all the islands visit.  We wish you all the very best and we look forward to posting more soon.

All the best from the BVI’s J

 

 

DSC00942

Deadmans Cay
Deadmans Cay

 

 

Rob and Emily on Sandy Spit Cay
Rob and Emily on Sandy Spit Cay

Carlotta with Emily & James
Carlotta with Emily & James