Sailing and Diving by Jill Dearden
We all arrived at the airport ready to go. The flights went really well apart from a slight delay at Antigua. We had some lunch at the Sticky Wicket courtesy of Mr Stanford and his plush cricket ground outside Antigua Airport. Where the first samples of the local brew were consumed.
It was late when we got to the BVI and we got a taxi to the marina. We piled out of the taxi and were shown to the boat by a big burly German chap who showed us the basics and promised to be back in the morning. We found our beds, which proved amusing as the rooms were all doubles apart from one, so Jon and Kev were a bit cosy.
The boat was gorgeous, very plush inside with lots of toilets and showers (which were hot!) unlike the usual boats we are on. Nice little kitchen and a lounge area with a radio.
The German chap returned to give Rick the low down about the boat, the weights and bottles arrived and a few of us went food shopping at the local supermarket. Then we were off!
There was a little dog leg to get out of the marina which was rather shallow, but Rick negotiated it all perfectly. The British Virgin Islands are a group of islands in a large circle and the navigation is fairly straightforward. The dive sites were well marked, usually with lots of mooring buoys to use. The people at the dive centre were really helpful and gave Rick some tips about where to go.
We decided to hit the ground running and do the wreck RMS Rhone which was featured in the 1970’s film The Deep. What a superb dive! It was in 4ish large pieces, there was a lovely swim through the bow section, really pretty with lots of fish and a turtle on one dive. There were 2 large anchors on the seabed near the wreck and lots of debris scattered around.
The other sections gradually got shallower until the stern at only around 10m. The prop is still on (not brass unfortunately!) and there is a nice swim through here too. The wreck is full of life; we saw barracuda, turtles, pipe fish, jacks and lots of crayfish. We did this dive 3 times.
The rest of the diving was on reefs, no drop offs but lots of nice easy diving. I was impressed with the quality of the diving with lots of fish and some lovely small stuff which you had to search out. We spotted a few nurse sharks hiding under coral and some pretty morays in some holes. The corals are good quality and there were lots of soft corals too.
We all enjoyed being on the yacht. Our day usually started early, about 6.30/7.00am. Then we had an early breakfast and a dive in the morning, some lunch and then a dive in the early afternoon. We then had to find a mooring and a dive shop to fill the bottles and a restraunt for dinner. This usually wasn’t a problem as the BVI seem to be geared up for chartering. We then would proceed to enjoy a few drinks on deck from the copious amounts of alcohol we brought on board. Ann and Kev were expert cocktail makers by the end of the week. We sometimes ate on the boat too and generally got an early night. I was in bed at 8.30 one night!
We didn’t do to badly on the incidents front, Ian Fletch crushed his finger on the first dive (typical!) and there were plenty of bumps and bruises with lumping dive kit around the boat. I went up in the Bosuns Chair to free a flag stuck in the rigging and we nearly lost our tender one lunchtime as it tried to float away recovered by yours truly and I never found out who tied the knot that came undone!!
Kev TRIED to catch some fish with the gear we hired and he did catch several things but none were fish. Jen was a wiz in the kitchen and rustled up some fabulous food. We all pitched in as well and ate really well.
We managed to get the sails up several times and managed over 10KN which we were told was the fastest so far! It was lovely when the breeze was strong and the boat really keeled over.
Rick did a brilliant job of organising the holiday, sorting out the boat, air fills where to moor the boat etc. It made the whole holiday really easy and relaxed.
Getting back into the marina was a really tight squeeze as Rick had to reverse the boat in and we didn’t have our bow thrusters, it also didn’t help there was a stiff breeze that day which was blowing the boat around. Me and Debbie manned the tender and used that to push the bow, everyone was manning the fenders and Rick took it nice and slow. So I think we managed not to disgrace ourselves! Then it was time for home.
It was an early flight to Antigua, so we had breakfast on the beach and a swim in the sea once we got there. We had to go to the Sticky Wicket again for lunch, several beers later Jen went over on her ankle walking back to the airport and had to be wheel chaired on and off the plane!! At least she got a whole row of seats to herself on the plane.
So we all got home in one piece after a really quality holiday, thanks Rick and I’ll be there next time!