I happen to be one of 5000+ women who belong to a Facebook group called Women Who Sail (WWS). The participants are located around the globe and have been an amazing resource of information over the last couple of years. One of the women (Holly Scott) decided that perhaps there should be a ‘rendezvous’ and as she organizes charters in far off locations, she (with the help of many, many others) decided to pursue the First Annual WWS Rendezvous in the BVI.
With some significant prodding from Dan, I signed up to join the trip. To say this was a little bit outside my comfort zone is an understatement. I’ve not gone on any type of trip with a group of women since my freshman year in college and I’ve not gone on vacation without Dan since the day we me met thirty years ago. However, the trip, my crew mates aboard Fleming (Captain Suky, First Mate Anne, Brodie, Charity, Jules, and Kathy) and all of the other women who participated exceeded my expectations by light years.
With partner in crime, Kathy Crothers (who is way too similar to me than can be explained), I laughed until my ribs hurt, behaved like a complete dork (and comfortably so), and learned a ton about myself and just a little bit about sailing. And since it was at the start of our sailing season on the Great Lakes, it was a fabulous crash course to get the winter cobwebs blown out.
Moving onto Gaviidae and trying to pack for a trip where items needed had not been seen for 5+ years and were buried in boxes some of which were in the trailer and others in our Bayfield storage unit was a challenge. Seriously, how often does anyone need a snorkel and mask on Lake Superior?
The Crothers were gracious enough to let us stay at their place the night before departure and both Kevin and Dan escorted us to the airport at the ridiculous hour of 3:30 AM. Aaarrrgghh – no, that is not pirate speak, that’s just flat out whining.
As we were arriving a day early to make sure we could get to the boat on time, I booked us in at The Tamarind Club on Tortola for Friday night. Thinking that we would run into others on our various flights and ferries, pink was chosen as the identifying color. The Tamarind was also chosen as the meeting place for the entire group on Friday night. The photo below is the start of the pink invasion at The Tamarind Club on the east end of Tortola.
In an effort to utilize frequent flyer miles, Julie O’Brien and I flew on Delta and Kathy flew on American. The two airlines had us departing/arriving within 15 minutes of each other in St. Thomas. Unfortunately Kathy had flight delays and she finally arrived somewhat wiped out at the Tamarind Club well into the evening and was immediately attacked by a throng of women in pink!
With several hours to kill Saturday morning, Kathy and I took a stroll down to Josiah’s Beach and met up with some other WWS for a brief splash in the waves. Not sure how we managed to do it, but we walked right past the hotel on our return including up a very, very steep hill. When we hit a Y in the road, we were completely lost – not a good day for navigating! Needing a little pick-me-up we cooled off in the swim-up bar with a couple of rum thingies.
And as for the elephant and the giraffe in the background, they were part of a circus themed wedding and have been left to entertain the guests.
Kathy, Jules (aka Julie O’Brien) and I arrived at Hodges Creek early afternoon. A very big thank you to Captain Suky who looked at Kathy’s height and let her pick our berth – which we later referred to as the locker room. Suky also asked who was good at organizing (duh!) and Kathy and I found ourselves stowing all of the food that had just been delivered.
We left the marina late on Saturday and anchored in nearby Brandywine Bay where the first of many memorable and hysterical quotes were issued by various crew members.
Day 2 (Sunday) took us to Jost Van Dyke where we stopped at the Bubbly Pool – just when you think you’ve seen everything in the BVI, you find another little hidden gem.
From the Bubbly Pool we headed to Little Harbour and Sydney’s Peace and Love for an evening get together with the other WWS charter boats and some of those who were on their own boats and in the area for the event.
Upon our arrival into the bay, we learned that we had to Med-moor, something Suky had not done before. I let her know that I had but I was also shit for backing up a boat, especially with any cross-winds. So we had a little collaboration and landed the boat with no dings, dents, or injuries. Can’t say it was picture perfect but I’d give it an ‘8’ and Suky deserved a really big Margarita.
Special kudos goes to Gary Spidell on s/v Tribasa Cross for being the only guy who joined his wife Kathe for every event/anchorage throughout the week – what a trooper! And I think he learned to like dancing or maybe that was the rum….
As lobster was one of the menu options for dinner there really was no other choice. They were delicious and huge with enough left over that Charity made a lobster salad for us later in the week. Those of you who know me, know that I don’t cook for fear of poisoning someone. We were lucky that we had more than a few excellent chefs aboard with Charity, Suky, and Anne.
Oh – did I mention that Sydney’s has a self-service honor bar…….Rummathon, Rummathon!
Day 3 (Monday) took us to Foxy’s for lunch and a little shopping.
And then on to White Bay for a trek to the Soggy Dollar Bar – I was at the helm going into the entrance when my relatively new Tilley hat decided to go flying. Unfortunately it landed above the coral reef and while Anne and I searched for it in the dinghy, I think it is probably on it’s way to St. Croix.
After a Painkiller at the Soggy Dollar and a final check of the shoreline for my hat, we bee-lined for Norman Island for the night and dinner aboard. Sorry Willy T – next time.
We started Day 4 (Tuesday) with snorkeling at the Caves and then on to the Indians where we swam through some beautiful fan coral with a huge school of dark blue fish, a small squid, and a turtle. From there we headed on to an anchorage on Peter Island.
Day 5 (Wednesday) took us to the other side of Peter Island – Deadman’s Bay for some more swimming and snorkeling. Within minutes of arriving we saw several more turtles bobbing around. For another BVI first, I actually got to set foot on Peter Island as the resort invited us ashore. While the other boats had lunch ashore (not in my budget), we opted for ginger lemonades at the bar made by Casper – (the best bartender) and then headed back to the boat for lobster salad which was fabulous.
We continued on to Leverick Bay on Virgin Gorda where we were tempted with free hot showers and 100 gallons of free water. With the line for the women’s shower too long, Suky and I took over the men’s shower much to the dismay of a couple of gentlemen. Nothing better than a nice shower after days without. And for those of us who are spoiled with the ‘free’ water available in the Great Lakes, conserving water is a challenge and the offer of ‘free’ water meant more showers on board!
Which brings me back to my earlier statement about the v-berth being a locker room….sometimes boat designers need to ‘experience’ their designs and our Dufour was no exception. The main hatch in the v-berth was aft of the bed which meant there was no airflow where you slept except for one tiny fan. You can imagine what a boat would smell like after many, many years of service as a charter boat. Yup – a boy’s locker room. Ooeee-ick. Fortunately Suky had a sage smudge and smoked the boat, especially the v-berth. Mucho better.
As you might notice, I am wearing a hat – thanks to Brodie who insisted that I take her ‘floppy’ hat. And I still have it – a little memento of the trip and a new friend established (thanks Brodie!).
The winds were up on Day 6 (Thursday) and we opted to sail rather than go to the Baths with the other boats. We had a great sail out around Necker Island – waved at Sir Branson as his helicopter flew overhead. I realized that I’ve not mentioned the sailing much – we actually sailed every day although some of it was motor sailing as we needed to get to various destinations before nightfall and the winds were not always cooperative. Suky was great about making sure everyone got a chance to do pretty much everything, whether it be dropping/retrieving the anchor, picking up a mooring, and time at the helm. We also got practice starting the ornery outboard which would only start after the appropriate number of swear words were used (and in the correct order).
Thursday night found us at the Bitter End Yacht Club and we went ashore for cocktails but opted for dinner aboard as we still had a lot of food onboard (and rum). Did I mention that we had a lot of rum?
Our last full Day (Friday) brought us to the Baths via the dinghy and a swim to shore. We ventured through the tunnels and crevasses and found our way to Devil’s Bay.
Kathy and I proceeded around the backside figuring that there had to be a trail that led back to the restaurant at the top. We were right and in the process saw parts of the Baths that I had not seen before. A very nice hike – and the devil does hide back there…go find him the next time you’re there.
From the Baths we headed to Marina Cay, one of my favorite places ever. The history and charm of this tiny little island takes over from the minute you approach it. As expected the moorings were quite full but the management had graciously reserved mooring balls for WWS by putting orange life jackets on them. It made for a unique retrieval wrestling the mooring line and the life jacket aboard.
Pusser’s provided a fabulous buffet dinner for the entire group on the beach. Of course Kathy had to start her collection of Pusser’s rum cups – as we have way too many, she took mine – two cup Kathy.
One of the lessons I learned during the week was how frequently we all start sentences by saying ‘I’m sorry’ – no it’s not just a Minnesota thing. Suky put an end to this by demanding that every time someone said I’m sorry (unless it was legit like me stepping on Brodie’s foot), we had to put a buck into the ice cream pot. By the end of the week, there was enough for everyone to have an ice cream bar but we all did much better as the week progressed. So no, I’m not sorry.
With the boat turned back in, Kathy, Jules, Charity and I headed back to the Tamarind Club for our last night in the islands. Brodie also decided to join us for a short time before she headed to St. John. Now you would have thought that Captain Suky and First Mate Anne would have been thoroughly sick of the MN girls’ misbehavior and would want to gel out in a hammock someplace. Nope – they opted to come over to the Tamarind for happy hour and dinner. And Captain Holly and First Mate K.C. along with their crewmate Terri also decided to join us. Perhaps they heard that we had a half a bottle of rum that we needed to polish off. Regardless, it was a wonderful evening among friends that we all hope to see again. Fair winds all.
Quotes of the Week:
‘That’s Annoying’ – Brodie to Captain Suky who was talking and did not realize that car headlights were shining in Brodie’s eyes.
‘I didn’t do it’ – probably said by all crew at one time or another
‘We are NOT old’ – Brodie
‘We can’t cook meatballs in a Paawt’ – Anne, who seems to have redefined how to pronounce pot and firmly believes that meatballs must be done in a saute pan.
‘I bet you do have issues’ – Kathy to Brodie
‘If the rest of the trip sucks, it will still be awesome’ – Kathy on Day Two…
‘This crew is a bunch of introverts’
‘Rain is not part of our reality’‘Kathy’s spitting on me’ – Julie to Kathy after rain was excluded from our reality
‘The boat smells like a boys’ locker room’ – Julie
‘Hey, sometimes my math is good’ – Brodie when trying to figure out how to split a bill
‘It’s salvage’ – after Brodie claimed the second hat/visor find of the week
‘We got lunch’ – yes, leftover lobster!
‘We’re building immunity on this boat’ – a little bit of dirt and a few bugs are healthy.
All names are fictional unless actually claimed by the individual. Thank you to those who took photos and allowed me to ‘borrow’ them.