Thursday, June 30, 2011

VirginSSUDs2011 Trip Report - Day 1

Bomba Charger. No, Speedy. No, Island Patriot. Yes, Island Patriot, Conch Charters, Kokomo, and Cap’n Jon. Phew!

Yawn comes the dawn. After hotel checkout, we humped all our gear out to the taxi and took the long, mountain route to the ferry terminal. Free sightseeing because of an extra passenger on our ride. Eventually, however, we worked our way back down to the waterfront and the ferry terminal. Bureaucracy is the universal human constant. Flying to St. Thomas counts as a US internal connection but now we were going international on the ferry ride to the British Virgin Islands and there was paperwork to be done.

Our ferry was scheduled for 0830 so when the Bomba Charger pulled up for an 0825 departure, we lined up. Wrong boat. Ok. The large, beautiful power catamaran Speedy was just down the dock and one of the workers pointed us there. Cool. Much nicer boat than the ancient Bomba, which I had ridden in the late 80s when it already looked old and tired. However, we were not on the lovely Speedy either. Finally, we were approved for the decent-looking, fast catamaran Island Patriot. Boarded and sat on what turned out to be the hot, stuffy lower deck. A one-hour steambath with some Spiderman videogame storyline playing on the tv. Ack!

Jon later confessed that he was distressed by that ride to the point that he feared that our sailing experience would be similarly unpleasant. Happily, that was not the case; but I’m getting ahead of my story.

An hour later, we arrived at the Roadtown ferry dock and got in line to clear customs. A hot, endless time later, we made it through that particular bureaucracy and boarded our special Conch Charters taxi. Our charter was scheduled to begin at noon and we were early so we left our bags at the charter office and walked next door to the pub for some brunch and liquids. We drank and snacked and watched them do final prep on our boat.

At the appropriate time we did a buncha paperwork then started a boat checkout with the delightful Emma. For a decade-old charter boat, Kokomo was in fine shape. Simultaneously with our ongoing boat checkout, our grocery delivery arrived and we loaded all those supplies under Jon’s supervision. While all this wonderful, efficient prep was going on, I managed to step through an open hatch, twisting my left knee and bruising the shit out of my lower lumbars and buttocks, mostly on the right side but with some effect on the left, too. Ouch.

Finally, we were all checked out, food put away, and dink attached. Ready to leave the close, stuffy marina and get out on the lovely, fresh, open water. Despite their lack of sailing experience, Jon and Ben were very efficient at getting the mainsail hoisted and then unrolling the jib. Engines off, we became a sailboat. W00t!

I pointed out our course to Jon and he took over the helm. Cap’n Jon on duty.

A pleasant couple of hours later, we rolled up the jib, dropped the main and motored into the bight at Norman Island to pick up a mooring ball for the night. By radio, we arranged for a rendezvous SCUBA dive for day 3 and settled into our first night aboard. Jon prepared a wonderful meal and we enjoyed our tropical sunset and evening from the cockpit of Kokomo.


  1. Nice memory, Capn. You called it like it was.