Dinner at the Cooper Island Beach Club
That evening all seventeen of us joined together at the Cooper Island Beach Club for our dinner reservations. It’s a nice place with some pretty darn good food: I had the seared scallops & pork belly as an appetizer (which was quite delicious) and some blackened mahi-mahi as my main course (also good). Others had things like conch fritters, tuna, West Indian chicken curry with roti, and pork, while we all had some really tasty cocktails. Not just painkillers, this time!
After dinner my crew hung out near a wifi hotspot for a while, uploading a few pictures and checking in with loved ones, before I took them back in groups (since we couldn’t just fit all nine of us into the dinghy at once). A few went to bed, a few stayed up a while longer in the quiet, and I showed them the game of shining a bright flashlight into the water to see what we could attract.
Answer, at least for Cooper Island that night: not much. You’ll always attract a lot of the tiny, barely-visible stuff. The hope is that it’ll then attract larger and larger things up the food chain. This time, though, we only managed to attract some tiny red fish and some tiny blue fish, which darted among the barely-visible stuff feeding. (I’d previously in Mexico had great luck with this game, attracting some long skinny blue fish which a peckish brown pelican then paddled over to devour, thus my attempt this time).
Sailing to Virgin Gorda
Monday morning we left around 9am to head to Virgin Gorda. We’d decided the day before not to bother trying to get day buoys at The Baths, opting instead to go directly to the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor. Once docked, we’d simply take a taxi down to The Baths from Spanish Town.
With the wind coming from the north east, we had a close-hauled sail up, with a tack at the end after overshooting the yacht harbor so to sail a bit longer before heading in on engines. The wind was pleasant, if not particularly strong–I think we were seeing 10-13 knot winds with the occasional 16 knot gust, so without trimming our sails too hard we made an easy 6.5-7.5 knots. Holoholo trimmed her sails a bit harder and caught a great point of sail, passing us for a little while:
I followed Holoholo in to the marina, this being my first time requesting docking at a marina over the VHF! So I listened in on how they asked and followed channels when the marina requested to listen in on the directions. They told us to put our bumpers on the port side of our boats, the slip number, and that we’d have to back in.
Yikes. These catamarans are very maneuverable and I’m reasonably adept with them, but I was pretty nervous since I’d never actually done this before. We followed Holoholo in about five minutes behind them. The marina has a very narrow (but well-marked) channel, and I took it slow and careful, so we made it in just fine. Actually getting into the slip was a bit more difficult. I was trying to take things very slowly, yet the guy on the dock was yelling and trying to get me to do things faster. Trying to follow his directions I made it in with just one tiny tap against the dock and no lasting mark on the boat. It was all a bit panicky–I should have just ignored him and focused on the boat, but it all worked out just fine, and we hooked the boat up to shore power, closed all of the hatches, and turned on the air conditioning. Hey, it’s a vacation.
Glenn and The Baths
Charles had already checked in with the marina, so I wandered over to do the same. On the way in a friendly guy greeted me and asked if he could help me find anything. This turned out to be Glenn, and I (somewhat vainly, I suppose) introduced myself as ‘Captain Dan’. He asked if we were looking to go anywhere on the island; in fact, we were, and I told him 17 of us would be wanting to go to The Baths, but it’d be a few hours until we would be ready. He was fine with this and told me he’d be hanging around the marina and to come find him when we were ready to go.
All checked in, the crews disembarked, looking for food and drinks. Several of my crew headed over to the restaurant nearest the marina to grab lunch–it was a bit past noon at this point and we were rather hungry. Good food, too. Unfortunately this was when I discovered that one of my crew hadn’t been feeling very well the whole morning–he ended up spending the rest of the day in his cabin, unfortunately.
A while after lunch, we finally got everybody rounded up and herded over toward Glenn’s taxi, a truck with five large rows of seats and a roof in an open-air arrangement, with a truck cab up front.
The Baths National Park is a series of beaches and huge boulders, which compose “caves” with large pools of salt water in them. There’s a path through these rock formations down to Devil’s Bay to the south, so we enjoyed the first beach for a few minutes before heading through the boulders. Even better, just before we got to the beach, I heard and then saw my first Antillean crested hummingbird of the trip. I didn’t manage to get a good picture of this one, but it was enough to have seen it so soon after arriving on Virgin Gorda!
Once inside there are lots of dead-ends and semi-hidden pools as well as huge rock formations overhead.
Once we made it down to Devil’s Bay we were presented with a stunning golden beach with a protected swimming area. Well, moderately protected: there were still some nice waves coming in (and a small bit of riptide), which made the whole thing even more fun.
There were also some feral chickens poking around.
After swimming for a while, we took the trail back through The Baths–we had to meet Glenn at 5pm, and besides, nobody was supposed to enter The Baths after 4:45pm, because they closed at 5pm every day. It was an easy hike back, and we took advantage of a sand cleaning station at the top of the beach so we wouldn’t cover Glenn’s taxi in sand!
The evening was a blur of food and drink–enough drink that I’m struggling slightly to remember what we had for dinner. What I do remember is what happened before dinner… but we’ll save that for the next entry.