4 Jan 2016–The Far Reach, Anchored, Dead Man’s Bay, Peter Island, BVI–At 1045, 3 January, we departed Cane Garden Bay under single reefed main and stays’l. Prior to departure we topped off our water tanks by ferrying 18 gallons of water from the small marina back to the boat. We also found a small reef to snorkel the day before only 100 yards from where we anchored. I think the kids will enjoy swimming there.
We had a nice run to the SW in 15-18 kts of wind passing through Thatch Cut. At the last minute I decided we could leave Little Thatch Island to starboard and so we beat up through the narrow Frenchman’s Cut, past Soaper’s Hole. The Far Reach sailed it perfectly. We had good speed and were healed about 20-25 degrees. The wind accelerated through the cut but there was no swell. She was very close winded under those conditions.
We broke out into the panoramic Drake Channel. We took long tacks beating up the ever widening channel between Tortola to the north and St John’s to the south. The Far Reach found her groove and with the Cape Horn self-steering windvane engaged she handily powered over the top of several large catamarans struggling against the increasing chop. Norman Island was packed so we tacked away after deciding we would head to Deadman’s Bay on Peter Island. We got in to some lighter winds and very quickly found the bottom end of the Far Reach’s performance parameter with the reefed main and stays’l–about 18 knots. We had a short-lived squall roll over bringing a small amount of rain and about 30 knots of breeze. It passed quickly, the wind went light and we wallowed. We hoisted the working jib and it was like we got shot out of a cannon. The Far Reach came alive. We were making 6 1/2 knots and really powering upwind. Another squall and we once again we dropped the jib after some foredeck heroics by Tricia and we went back to the stays’l and reefed main. Eventually we sailed in to Deadman’s Bay. There were 12-14 boats there. We sailed in, tacked, sailed out, gybed around, each time pressing deeper into the bay while we conducted our reconnaissance.
A couple of charter cats departed and eventually we found the spot we wanted so we sailed up, dropped the hook, and dropped our sails. I put on my mask and fins and dove the anchor to make sure it was well set. The water was shockingly clear . . . the clearest we had seen since our swim in the mid Atlantic during our 18 day passage. The anchor was in the grass though where it often doesn’t set as well as when in sand. So, we tied the inflatable up along the port quarter and powered up weighing the anchor resetting it about 150′ further up-wind in a nice patch of sand in about 25′ of gin-clear water. I dove the anchor again and told Tricia she had to dive in and enjoy the beautiful water. She did and while swimming down to the bottom to see the anchor she saw my gerber folding pocket knife laying on the sand next to the anchor! I have no idea how it got there. I’m glad she found it as I have carried that knife a long time and have parachuted with it, swam with it while diving a LAR V rebreather, and carried it through two combat tours. You might say I am rather fond of it. So it was my lucky day and good fortune to have my eagle eyed sister with me. Have I ever mentioned she is a good piece of gear!
The anchorage was rolly but we did not care. It is a gorgeous place. I cooked Deadman’s Bay steak patties (hamburgers) and we ate our fill. We were tired. We had several sharp squalls pass over bringing a fair amount of rain. We both went to bed early and slept soundly.
Next day, 4 Jan, we ate breakfast and took the dinghy ashore to take in the very scenic view from a high rocky bluff. We retuned to the Far Reach, hoisted sails, and sailed right out without fanfare and crossed over the magnificent Drake Channel, bathed in brilliant sunlight and filled with crisp white sails, to the large commercial port of Roadtown, Tortola. The anchorage is exposed to the easterly swell. It was tricky to anchor and initially we did drag a bit as we were slow getting the required scope out. We had a few anxious minutes but we finally got set in place. The plan is to go ashore, check out the local market, check emails, and clear out of the BVI. Next stop is The USVI.