After a few days of adjustment to life ashore in Tortola, my land legs are back and I am functioning in a manner that is close to my norm. Post-landfall activities are the perfect antidote to land sickness. Caribbean 1500 activities keep us active and engaged with our fellow sailors. During the day, we attend chart talks to learn more about navigation and cruising opportunities here in the Virgins and beyond. In the evenings, there are beach barbeques and socials during which we compare passage notes with our colleagues. Equipment failures at sea earn bragging rights. The sole incident aboard Cutter Loose involved a refill container of hand soap under the galley sink that spilled its contents throughout the cabinet and onto the galley floor, creating an ice skating rink in the process. This story generates little sympathy on the part of our fellow cruisers who have experienced more complicated challenges during their voyage.
The final Caribbean 1500 festivity is the Friday night awards ceremony on the beach at Nanny Cay. Trophies are presented for first, second and third place finishers on corrected time in the monohull and catamaran divisions. Each boat is handicapped based on its dimensions and sail area. Engine hours are added to elapsed time, the effect of which is to reward crews that utilize their engines sparingly. In addition to the performance trophies, there are a series of other awards to recognize achievement that reflects the spirit of the Caribbean 1500. With an elapsed time of 9 days, 13 hours and 45 minutes, we are not amongst the top three finishers. But the first mate of Cutter Loose receives special recognition for preparing freshly baked bran muffins during the voyage. After the awards ceremony, we are treated to a buffet dinner at Pegleg’s, one of the restaurants at Nanny Cay Marina.
Nanny Cay is a full service boatyard and marina. Horizon Yacht Charters is based here, as are several smaller charter companies. As hurricane season winds down, the charter season is just getting underway. The yard and docks are humming with activity. Each day, more and more of the ubiquitous 50+ foot catamarans in the charter fleet are moved from the yard to their slips, awaiting vacationers from the north.
Our days here at Nanny Cay Marina are consumed with boat tasks. Every square inch of Cutter Loose, both above and below decks, must be cleaned and re-cleaned in order to remove the salt bath from the passage. The deck is washed, the stainless is polished, the engine oil is changed, the fuel filters are replaced and the headsail is removed and taken to the local sail loft for repairs. A lift to the masthead in the bosun’s chair enables me to retrieve the spare halyard that broke away from the octahedral radar reflector during one of the many squalls that we encountered at sea. The cold weather clothing that we needed in Hampton is folded and stowed in a remote compartment for future reference. Our reward at the end of each afternoon is a walk to the beach for a swim before showers and dinner.
On Saturday, most of the Caribbean 1500 boats and/or their owners depart Nanny Cay Marina. Some of the owners are returning to the U.S. for the holidays or for work-related reasons. Other participants are anxious to leave the dock to begin sampling the protected anchorages and snorkeling opportunities in the BVIs. It is sad to see this party come to an end. But parting ways is a part of cruising…a temporary separation, never a final goodbye. We will almost certainly cross wakes with many of these folks here in the Virgin Islands and as we resume the cruising lifestyle.
After a final swim and a brief stop at the fuel dock on Monday afternoon, we sail the short distance west to Soper’s Hole on the West End of Tortola to spend the night on a mooring. Moderate intermittent showers begin early in the evening and remain with us until morning. This afternoon’s sail will position us to clear BVI customs in the morning. Even though today’s distance is short, it feels good to complete our tasks and escape the confines of the marina. Let the relaxation begin!