Tuesday, March 20, 2012

BVI Day 2/3 - Norman Island to Cooper Island to the Baths on Virgin Gorda

In the morning we woke up and plotted our course for the day. We were heading for Cooper Island and we thought it might be fun to head around the south side of the island into the Atlantic for part of the trip. For awhile it WAS fun, but it didn't take too long before we realized that between the swells, and having to head into the wind (which meant we needed to tack, zig-zagging back and forth) we weren't making very good progress. We circled around Norman Island and headed back into the Francis Drake Channel.

It was calmer, as far as swells went, but the wind was strong. With Doug the speed demon driving, we stayed on a fairly close reach, heeling enough that we buried the rail once or twice. Lynn the coward probably had her eyes shut half the day. Finally the wind got so strong that Lee said we needed to take the sails down and motor the rest of the way. Yay for my sensible captain!

There is only one small mooring field on Cooper Island, and because of our little misadventure in the Atlantic, we got there too late to pick up a mooring ball. But there was a decent place to anchor around the corner from the mooring field so we made our home for the night there.

We needed ice, so a few of us decided to take the dinghy over to the little beach restaurant and see if they would sell us some. Originally we thought that we would go out to eat at the little beach restaurant, so this gave us a chance to see just how rough the ride would be. The answer was, very rough indeed. Rough enough that I was cowering on the floor of the dinghy, praying for that ride to be over quickly.

The verdict was, no ice, and dinner on the boat again. Oh well!

After dinner we turned off the lights to watch the stars. Suddenly Doug said "Wow! Look at that!" something was making little phosphorescent lights in the water. At first it looked like little fireflies were swimming around the boat. Then here and there the fireflies would gather together and create a little explosion of light, followed by a string of lights disapating into the water. We watched in fascination as the lights blinked, gathered, exploded and disapated, over and over. We thought they were little marine animals of some sort, and later we found out that they were a biological thing but not exactly an animal per se. That was a little disappointing; we thought it was some sort of mating ritual!

In the morning we lost no time getting ready and leaving for the Baths on Virgin Gorda. We knew it was a popular destination and wanted to be able to find a mooring ball and avoid the crowds.

Once again I initially had no memory of the Baths. We pulled into the mooring balls and decided we could swim into the shore. Suddenly a little storm swept through and a rainbow appeared in the distance. It was a complete rainbow, very cool, with a faint double rainbow visible above the first.

I was a little anxious about the swim, because it was a little farther than I usually like to go, but with flippers and a mask I did fine. The waves at the shore were pretty big, however. There was a yellow flag flying, which meant use caution. Getting through the breakers and into shore was no picnic, but I made it.

Then, we started walking along the little path along the beach, toward the rocks. The path disappeared between the rocks and suddenly I remembered the Baths. Small sandy paths wound between big boulders along the beach. Pools of water glimmered in the dim recesses between the rocks. I could remember our kids clambering around on the rocks, and the beautiful little beach at the end.

The only difference was the crowds. Fifteen years ago there was hardly anyone there. This time there was a line of tourists wandering along the paths. When we got to the little beach there were lots of people. It was still beautiful but it just wasn't the same.

On the way back to the boat we took a higher path to avoid the crowds. That was fun. We saw little birds, lizards and cactus. For being surrounded by water, these islands are actually pretty dry.

The swim back to the boat was pretty hairy for me however. Just getting away from shore with flippers on was difficult and I started hyperventilating and couldn't put on my snorkeling mask. I finally held onto someone's dinghy until I could breathe calmly. Then I could swim back to the boat without too much trouble.

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