On a mooring off the beautiful Baths.

The Far Reach, Anchored off Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, BVI–5 March 2016

We departed Cane Garden Bay on the morning of 2 March. We sailed south along the west coast of Tortola on a broad reach with a single reefed main and the working jib in about 15 knots of wind from the east wind.

We sailed into the Thatch Island Cut then sheeted in and beat to the east up the narrow French Island Cut into the west end of the Drake Channel. We had planned on sailing up to Brandywine Bay for the evening but with a rising wind we footed off and slipped into “The Bight” at Norman Island. Other than the required moorings at St John this is the first time since I departed the US that I voluntarily picked up a mooring that I had to pay for.

I think you can anchor in The Bight, but it is jammed with mooring balls and it was a hassle I did not want to deal with when I could get the kids in the water right away. We had a great location and spent two delightful days there. I was able to get a few boat projects completed which included scrubbing the Far Reach’s hull. We met Melike and Nejat, a delightful Couple from Turkey, sailing a Halberg-Rassy 43 named North, on a planned circumnavigation. They gave us a beautiful “evil eye” AKA a nazar to ward off evil. I hung it from a hook on my sextant box which is attached over the chart table. I see it numerous times every day. Perhaps it will keep watch over my navigation. We had a great time swimming in the beautifully clear water and enjoyed hiking the trails.


On 4 March we beat NE back across the Drake Channel into a brisk easterly wind and anchored on the west side of Buck Island in 20′ on a sandy bottom. Sailing in behind us was a boat I had previously seen in Cane Garden Bay, “Sucre d’ Orge”, an orange and red French aluminum catamaran. We chatted with the two couples on board (only one of whom spoke English) and were invited over for an aperitif later that evening. We gladly accepted. In the mean time we hauled 60 gallons of water to the Far Reach in our trusty collapsable Reliance water jugs and topped off the icebox. Gayle and Cailin made a run to the market and the all critical critical ATM.

That night Gayle and I joined Claude, Arlette, Liliane, and Jean Jacques for drinks and hors d’oeuvres. It was a lovely time. Lots of laughter as Arlette heroically translated our conversations. Over the years Claude has sailed “Sucre d’ Orge” across the Atlantic and up and down the West Indies multiple times. It was an evening Gayle and I will never forget.


From left to right: Liliane, Claude, John, Gayle, Arlette.

On 5 March, about 0900 we departed Buck Island and had a leisurely sail over to the Baths. Wow, wow, wow. I have waited 45 years to sail my own boat to the Baths, ever since I saw a picture in National Geographic of Robin Graham’s Dove anchored there. It did not disappoint. Sure, you have to pick up a mooring and there are a lot of boats sharing the view but the water and the geological formations are stunning. The color of the water is a vibrant sky-blue and the clarity probably exceeded 200′. We walked through the cave’s, which Gayle and I had previously done nearly 20 years before, and it was fun, but the real treat was the snorkeling and swimming off the boat. The kids enjoyed it immensely. Reluctantly, we departed about 1530 and worked our way North for about a mile or two off of Spanish Town in 24′ of clear water on a standby bottom.


Cailin the helmsman and Eric the Chief Engineer taking the Far Reach north to Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda.

The weather is supposed to turn snotty for the next five or six days with winds shifting to the south. We plan to head up to Gorda Sound and wait out the weather there. We will swim, work on the boat, do school work, and generally hang out.

More to follow.