Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Busy Days

     Lately our days have been full of busy activity. With our visitors on board we especially want to use all the daylight hours available and take advantage of the warm weather to get out on the water, explore the surrounding land, and partake in "happy hour" on Saba Rock. Yesterday, while talking about doing it all in the North Sound before heading off for Anegada, we vowed that today we would go kiting, hike to the top of the trail overlooking the sound, and snorkel the nearby reef. And surprise, surprise, we got it done! Today I'm going to take the easy way out and let the pictures speak for themselves.

Cheers! Nicole.

Monday, December 26, 2011

More "Yacht Shots" Photos

     En route to Road Town a few days back another photographer from Yacht Shots was out on the water ripping over large waves and taking pictures of passing boats. They managed to get some great pictures of us, so check them here: http://www.yachtshotsbvi.com/

     Again, click "view photos" then "Yachts: December 2011" and skim down to "Child's Play 22 Dec. 2011." They do a great job, especially given that they take these pictures while standing up and steering a small dinghy, often in large chop and swell. Thanks to Yacht Shots Photography!


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

     Merry Christmas from the BVIs! It is absolutely lovely to have Jamie, Brooke and Granny H. onboard. They experienced their first snorkel session at "The Indians" yesterday and today we sailed up to Virgin Gorda and the boys had a short but sweet kiting session off the beach of the Bitter End Yacht Club. Though it doesn't feel entirely Christmas-y without the cold and the snow, it feels right to finally all be here together. Plus you can't ask for a more gorgeous place to spend the holidays!

Improvised wrapping paper!
Opening gifts
Swimming at Virgin Gorda
Brookie's usual "what?" gesture
Today's Kite Sherpa
Kite prepping
A stoked kiter
Happy Holidays to everyone reading!

Love, Nicole and crew. xo.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Mor' Childs Play Going South

     Thanks to Patrice, Julie, Raphael and Tristan for capturing this video of Mor' Childs Play on our passage from St. Georges, Bermuda to Jost Van Dyke, BVI. This was taken on the 3rd day after the strong wind and waves had subsided.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Underwater Snapshots

Snorkeling with sergeant major damselfish
     Lacking much to write about today I thought it might be nice to share a link to some lovely underwater photos from an article on Budget Travel.com http://www.budgettravel.com/slideshow/40-unbelievable-underwater-snapshots,7976/

     We are currently tied up at a marina in Road Town Harbour (Tortola) reprovisioning and prepping for the arrival of the rest of our awesome family on Saturday. Can't wait!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

More Kiteboarding on Eustatia Sound!

     Yesterday Dad and I kited it up on Eustatia Sound. Cutting through the bright blue water on a board felt amazing and in places the water was so shallow that the corals appeared just feet below the surface. A photographer from Yacht Shots Photography showed up in a dinghy to snap some photos of our session. Check out the pics on their website by clicking "view photos," selecting "BEYC Watersports December 2011" and looking under "kiteboarding" on December 16th, 17th and 20th.

     We can't wait for Brooke and Jamie to arrive on Saturday so they can experience kiting in such a beautiful location!

Nicole. :)

In BIG Company

     Our neighbours in the North Sound of Virgin Gorda have been getting bigger and BIGGER over the last few days. We've watched many huge motor yachts arrive in the sound, breaking out "toys" of various kinds, including dinghies the size of powerboats, water trampolines, large inflatable slides, regular sized sailboats being stored on deck, and even the occasional helicopter. Today two of the biggest sailboats we've ever seen elegantly cruised in to anchor, and as the sun set their lights lit up like strangely shaped Christmas trees. Among the fleet surrounding us are the sailing vessels Sea Cloud and Royal Clipper, and motor yachts Rising Sun and Ronin.

     Needless to say, we feel tiny sitting at anchor next to vessels so lavishly luxurious and monstrous as these. It's hard to imagine that people can actually afford to purchase these kinds of luxuries, let alone afford to run and maintain them. It's a whole different level of cruising that just isn't found back home. Funny enough, looking at a private yacht the size of a cruise ship doesn't leave me feeling envious; instead, when I look out into the dark anchorage and see every single light on, illuminating the towering outlines of a five-story yacht, all I can think about is how much power they must be wasting!

Early Merry Christmas to everyone!


Saturday, December 17, 2011

Breakin' out the Hammock

"Nothing bad happens in the BVI mon."
The picture pretty much says it all.

     In other news we said farewell to Raftan yesterday as they set sail for St. Martin, or possibly on a passage all the way to Grenada, depending on the weather. We will miss traveling with them but hope to have another unexpected meeting when we move beyond the BVIs in the coming months!

     We are still anchored behind Prickly Pear Island in the North Sound of Virgin Gorda. The island is covered in mangroves and hosts a colony of flamingos the colour of pink lemonade. Today Dad and I had a short kiteboarding session but unfortunately the wind died down soon after heading out. Tomorrow we hope to scuba dive off Virgin Gorda.

All the best,

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Kiting Eustatia and Gorda Sounds

     This morning I met Scott, kiteboarding instructor at the Bitter End Yacht Club. He said it would be no problem using the Bitter End launch site. I have to say that Scott was incredibly friendly and helpful and I am sure that his kind of friendliness and later the same with Joe, the Head of Watersports at the Yacht Club has paid off with happy guests at the Yacht Club over the years. Of course we ended up spending money to reprovision the boat at the store at Bitter End and there will be more to come....

     It turns out that the month of November and the first half of December have had light winds. We all hope the Christmas winds of December are here to stay. Today was blowing about 20 knots and the forecast looks solid for the next 4 days. I had a morning session and an afternoon session that were awesome. It have never kited in water so blue and it's amazing to glide over the coral below, visible through crystal clear water. Our boat is anchored by the back end of the North arrow in the picture below. The launch is located at the Bitter End Yacht Club just above Saba Rock in the picture.

     I worked my way upwind and kited along the break from the barrier reef that encloses Eustatia Sound. You could ride big swell on the outside or flat water on the inside. I did a downwinder along the sand beaches of Eustatia Island, which I understand was purchased a few weeks ago by Larry Page (Google founder).

I kited past Saba Rock and through Gorda Sound where the boat is anchored. Totally Epic.

     At the end of each session I kited into Gorda Sound and landed into the dinghy near our anchored boat. It's actually a good way to keep sand off the kites. I can't wait to kite the next few days. There were only a handful of kiters out today. I understand that Sir Richard Branson's daughter is getting married on the weekend at Neckar Island and that the overflow of guests will be at the Bitter End. I hope that some kiters are on the guest list.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

On Island Hopping

Lounging in Cane Garden Bay
     Time has slowed down. Since arriving in the BVIs we've lost track of time as the days pass by with ease and we island hop across stretches of water that seem almost ridiculously short after the long distances covered on our way down here. From Cane Garden Bay we jumped to Soper's Hole, a busy bay with a few trendy waterfront shops and a well-stocked grocery store. Here we visited the Sunny Caribbee Spice Shop, purchasing curry mix, mango chutney, papaya chutney and passion fruit hot sauce to use in recipes from our new Caribbean cookbook.

Soper's Hole
     A quick sail from Soper's Hole took us to a small anchorage at the entrance of the Bight on Norman Island, a beautiful spot with rocky hills framing deep green water with one of the best coral reefs we've visited. Here we were happily surprised to find Raftan, who we'd last seen in Cane Garden Bay just the day before. Since then we've stuck together in a companionable travel pattern that feels natural after so many months of sailing together. Sadly, however, we will soon have to say goodbye to our friends as they plan to spend Christmas in St. Martin and we'll be staying in the BVIs for the holidays.

Snorkeling at Norman Island
     While at this spot we had to be on constant hatch-closing alert for rain showers that seemed to start up every ten minutes or so and then stop after a brief five-minute downpour. Who says it never rains in paradise? Two days in this spot gave us lots of time to explore the reef and its plethora of colourful fishes and corals. Floating above the shimmering colours I felt I could spend hours just swimming and watching and marveling at the abundance of life below. On the other side of the Bight we snorkeled a popular spot with four caves, three of which you can swim right into. One had purple corals and sponges clinging to the rock and another was pitch black, requiring a flashlight to see the tiny squirrelfish hiding inside.

Diving at "The Indians"
     From Norman Island we spent a few hours at "the Indians," a rock formation with an amazing coral reef surrounding it. Sarah and Dad scuba dove with Patrice while Mom and I snorkeled above. Here we saw trumpetfish, french angelfish, and a green spotted sea turtle doing handstands while trying to snack in the swell. A short distance brought us to Little Harbour at Peter Island where we spent two nights. One night brought some excitement as Julie and Patrice rescued boaters who had run aground of the reef at the edge of the bay and were sinking in their dinghy.

Manchioneel Bay
     Tuesday we made a brief stop at Salt Island to snorkel above the RMS Rhone, a famous wreck dive. Sarah and I saw squid for the first time and watched eight of the small creatures floating together in a straight line. When we moved closer they shifted away in the swell but still held onto their funny formation. Next came Manchioneel Bay at Cooper Island with its sandy cacti-dotted cliffs and palm-fringed beach. This morning we went scuba diving at Cistern Point off Cooper Island. Sarah and I went first with Patrice and had our best fish sightings yet (Mom and Dad went later using tanks we've rented for a month). We saw porcupinefish, a stingray, a huge conch shell, loads of gorgonian corals, sand dollars, schools of purple-blue creole wrasse, giant barrel sponges, barracudas and several large tarpon. After refilling our tanks from the local dive shop we set off for the North Sound off Virgin Gorda. This afternoon we set anchor in a lovely section of water behind Prickly Pear Island. It seems like a well-sheltered spot to spend a few days. The weather tomorrow is supposed to be poor but we can't complain as the last few days have been sunny and beautiful.

     It's hard to believe that Christmas is approaching when every day brings 80 degrees and sun. I don't think it will quite feel like a proper Christmas without snow, but I can't say I mind too much! Now that we've spent almost two weeks here swimming and exploring constantly we can't wait to finally share it with the rest of the family over Christmas. We've had time to scope out some favourite spots for anchoring and snorkeling so it should be a pretty amazing Christmas for us all!

I hope everyone reading is happy and healthy and looking forward to the fast-approaching holidays!

All the best,

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Dolphins playing in the bow wave on our Bermuda to BVI passage.

Days in the Sun

     Days in the BVIs bring sun mixed with brief rain showers as large fluffy clouds float over rugged island peaks. On the weekend we anchored behind Little Jost Van Dyke. In the morning sun as charter boats around us scrambled off in every direction we piled snorkel gear into the dinghy and motored over the aquamarine water to Dad's kiting island (Green Cay). Washing in with the surf we pulled up onto the spongy white sand and leisurely strolled the beach marveling at the tropical panorama. This was exactly what everyone from cold places dreams of as paradise: white sand, blue water, hot sun and surf rolling across sun-kissed feet. Gazing beyond the sand and water breaking over shelves of dark reef offered a panorama unlike anything in my dreams: mountainous islands rose with majesty from the waters and white sails brushed blue sky moving slowly from idyllic anchorage to idyllic anchorage.

Bubbly pool
     Later that day we pulled up to Foxy's Taboo and hiked the sun scorched shore crunching over bits of reef and coral interspersed with shells. Dried out corals peeked out between the creeping roots of mangroves as the trail wound past stinky salt ponds and over rocky ledges to the famed "bubbly pool." A rocky crevice facing the open ocean, the bubbly pool results from waves breaking over pieces of rock while surging through the crevice into an open pebble-strewn "pool" where the waters bubble and knock laughing tourists about as they enjoy a refreshing dip in the waves. Climbing volcanic rock to the side of the pool offered a great view of the waves as they built and crashed through the crevice, smashing into the pool below. On the return walk we saw tiny hermit crabs and noticed coconuts adorning the green undersides of palm trees. We returned to the boat that evening feeling the tiredness only achieved after a long day of pleasurable sun-filled activity.

     Yesterday as Dad lived his dream of kiting off a deserted tropical island the water shone like an aquamarine jewel and tiny silver fished leaped from the water performing a flashing aquatic ballet. We crossed to Tortola and took a mooring in Cane Garden Bay where a white beach bustled with tourists lounging on plastic beach chairs. We fulfilled the tropical vacation tradition of rum drinks on the beach and tested our resort legs by sunning on lounge chairs while sipping away.

     Looking out at Child's Play moored in the bay and knowing we'd traveled thousands of miles aboard her to get here brought a strong feeling of pride to that sunny beach moment. A celebration was especially fitting since Wednesday brought with it the three-month mark since we cast off from Kingston on this unique journey to paradise. Thinking back I remember all the places we've visited as well as the trials and stresses of adapting to life on a boat, all done with one destination in mind as the final goal. Arriving has felt amazing in so many ways, but it has also felt surreal. The destination is absolutely beautiful and far better than I ever imagined, but the journey itself has been just as rewarding in its own way. That night we had dinner with Raftan and did some reminiscing over cool Caribs and fresh seafood. Tasty conch fritters made a delicious appetizer. 
Entering Soper's Hole

     Today we did some grocery shopping at a small store in Cane Garden Bay picking up the usual necessities as well as cassava, sweet potatoes, yams, and tiny delicious (and fresh tasting!) bananas native to the islands. After some quick washing at the local laundromat we moved on to Soper's Hole on the west end of Tortola. A busier harbour, there are frequent ferries from other islands and lots of cruising boats mingling among the multitudes of charter boats. There are a few nice pastel-coloured shops along the waterfront where we picked up a few small things including a Caribbean cookbook. Hopefully we can try out some new recipes in the coming weeks. But first we'll have to visit the spice shop here because after glimpsing a few recipes in the book Mom has deemed our spice stores sorely inadequate for concocting proper Caribbean cuisine.

Hope you've enjoyed,

Kiting in Paradise

     Here are some pics from my first kiting session in the Caribbean. Terri and I went to Sandy Spit (the perfect island) and Terri helped with the launch. Unfortunately the wind pooched Constance Bay style after about 15 minutes and the session was over. The wind never really got strong enough to boost or do any tricks, nonetheless it will be a session that I will never forget.