Tortola Island and Sopers Hole Tortola BV Islands

Trip Start Oct 19, 2012
Trip End Jan 07, 2013

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, St. John,
Monday, December 31, 2012

Up at 0530 to sit on bow sprit at sunrise with S. just lovely sailing in these waters with fish swimming in the bow wave as we head for Tortola Island.
Our regular breakfast affair whilst watching out the portholes the approaching Islands.
Whilst we navigate through the Sir Francis Drake channel I spend some time in the chart room
on the bridge marking our route on the charts. reality of navigation is somewhat different to what you learn to pass your sailing qualifications so i am surprised at taking only 2 bearings to make a fix position instead of three but the officers in the bridge seem unimpressed at the extra work i put them through. An array of instruments in the bridge. Some obsolete, some newer (ship built 1992) but i can follow most of it. I suppose no different from that feeling when you hire a left hand drive car and try to get accustomed to the different controls and instrumentation. Having said that hitting the wipers instead of the indicators is not as embarrassing as sounding the fog horn!
As we navigate along the channel Peter gives another of his talks. Today it is on the operation of the ship and a little local knowledge.
Anchorage is at Yost Van Dyke bay on Tortola Island. Many yachts moored in the bay so i suspect the NYE thing is starting to take off.
Sharan spends time with Chris our dive instructor on diving theory and contemplates whether or not to dive on this trip.
lunch at the buffet and a fantastic honey roast leg of pork, looks and tastes more like gammon but superb.
Dropped of at the beach via a wet landing. Music thumps out and the beach in front of the Soggy Dollar Bar is packed with revellers at 1400hrs. Quite beautiful beach white sand clear flat water. We opt to move along the beach to a more sedate area of the bay. A short cliff and rock pool walk and we get onto a neighbouring bay with Ivan's Stress Free Bar at its epicentre. A few beers and we swim sunbath and sleep until it is time to head back to the ship.
Short sleep. We set sail and get all the sails up to usual anthem and head for our anchorage at Soper's hole Tortola.
We have received invites to sit at THe Captain's Table tonight for the NYE dinner! Panic in the cabin re what to wear. Cocktails are served by Franjo in the Piano bar. Tamas plays his usual repertoire and the Captain arrives slightly late as they are struggling to locate the steel band who should have been picked up before we set off. Pablo entertains us over champagne for 15 minutes. The captains arrives in white jacket slacks and shoes and we share snacks.
2030hrs and we are escorted through tot he dining room to the captain's table. Shailja is seated next to the captain, then S and myself, an Austrian couple (he is a Bio Mass expert), a German couple and a Dutch couple (he is a Bank attorney, she is a solicitor) We all ask the Captain ever more obscure questions mainly about his sailing experiences. A super Pouilly Fume ( Domaine Les Chaumes Loire Valley - crisp with fresh acidity but served too cold for me) is served with lobster and a Grand Cru Classe Graves (Chateau Bouscaut, Pessac Leognan AOC - mildly spicy on the nose, medium bodied with what i thought was a slightly hollow mid palate) with Steak Rossini. Shailja and S politely accept wine refills and then ask me to drink them. I help enthusiastically. A wonderful experience.
The Captain suggests we go up on deck to watch the steel band who are enthusiastically beating out their rhythm in the Tropical bar. We mingle with guests who are revelling on deck and watch with a high degree of scepticism as the Chief Engineer and 3 Goan engineers load our small brass canon. Certainly gun powder was tipped into the front of it and stoked with a wooden rod. A cable, an electric fuse, is attached. Peter is now in possession of his microphone and a short commentary on the proceedings follows in his Bavarian drawl. The countdown over the tanoy precedes an almighty explosion as the canon sends a lethal luminous tennis ball into the Carib. Apparently it is our weapon on board, pirates beware.
So our New Year is under way and we chat with other guests and crew for a while and then dance to music from the steel band.
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