Wednesday, May 31st, 2006
After a pleasant three-day passage from Bequia the Picton Castle made land-fall in the British Virgin Islands early in the morning, sailing between Dead Chest Island off Peter Island and Salt Island. Then we sailed down the smooth Caribbean blue waters of Sir Francis Drake Channel between Tortola, Norman Island, and St. John before ducking through West End and the last few miles to Jost Van Dyke. The Captain sailed our ship right up to the anchorage, which was fun and interesting for the crew. It might have scared the few yachts already anchored in that little bay. Soon we were surrounded by more yachts there for Foxy’s Famous Wooden Boat Regatta.
While the voyage is not complete until we tie up in Lunenburg, Jost Van Dyke marks the circumnavigation point for those crew who have sailed on the Picton Castle for the whole of her fourth voyage around the world. Yipppeeee! Woo hoo! Congratulations!
Jost Van Dyke is a perfect Caribbean playground. It’s got all the pre-requisites, such as hammocks gently swaying in the shade of two palm trees alongside a beautiful, white, sandy beach bordering clear, turquoise waters. No joke, it really does. And really cool, cool drinks—some in the form of the best Piña Colada you will ever taste! Great snorkeling, games like dominoes and checkers in the shade of tin-roofed shacks to fill your time, good food, calypso singing by an old rum barrel, and nowhere would you ever have to think about wearing shoes. It’s perfect for us Picton Castle crew who never remember to put our shoes in the skiff to go ashore anyway! All this, AND we went during Foxy’s Wooden Boat Regatta, which meant we got to go sailing on some very, very pretty boats and some very fast ones, too.
As soon as we had anchored and cleared in at Great Harbour, the crew were ashore getting themselves lined up as spare hands for all the old wooden and classic boats in case anyone needed extra crew. It turned out that Picton Castle crew just in from a global circumnavigation were quite in demand. By the next morning we had dinghies coming by frequently to ask for crew and soon there were only four people onboard. It is a lot of fun to suddenly find yourself aboard a much smaller boat, and quite different. The crew sailed on everything from hand-built trimarans, old schooners, JVD sloops, small double-enders, and ketches. The crew had lots of fun! And we all made new friends, as well as getting to check out some pretty little boats.
Just to top off a good weekend, we called it a long one and had holiday Monday over on a small sandy little secret island for a last tropical anchorage in the warm trade winds. There is absolutely nothing there, and it’s only around the corner from Jost Van Dyke. It took us all of 30 minutes to get there and there wasn’t another vessel in sight. We piled the crew into the Monomoy and the skiff and sent them all ashore to play Frisbee, swim in the gorgeous shallows, build a bonfire, have a barbeque, and generally have fun and frolics on the beach. Foxy joined us and led us in having a great time. Then the next morning we all went back for some more.
But finally the time came when it was time to push on towards Bermuda. Getting the crew out of the blue water was similar to trying to get five-year-olds out of the water—it took awhile. Then trying to get all the sand off the ship! Holy Moley! I myself had a small sand dune in the bottom of my bunk and I think I swept up a good-sized beach from the companionway! It took two long washdowns of the deck to get even some of the sand off.
Last night in true “post Jost” fashion there was no one on deck except the watch. Those who could be were asleep by 1930 hrs! And as soon as they could, those who had been on watch too were cuddled up in their private sand dunes—aka their bunks. It probably didn’t help that Joe made turkey for dinner, so not only did we have “post Jost” sleepiness but a lot of full turkey bellies also!
We have about 720 nm left to go to Bermuda—almost a week of being at sea. Right now we have all sails set and are gently heading North at 5 knots. Before long the temperature will start to drop again. We’ll cross the Gulf Stream and not long after we will pull up to our own dock in lovely Lunenburg. Has it really been over a year?