The previous two days had left us pretty exhausted, so we slept a little later on Tuesday, the 8th. After brunch, we eased from our slip at the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour and made our way out into the Sir Francis Drake Channel. The wind had picked up overnight and was now blowing 20 knots with higher gusts out of the northwest. The seas were four to five feet high, but fortunately were coming from abeam on the starboard side. Still, it was a fun ride across the channel to Beef Island, where we intended to tuck in close to the shore in Bluff Bay. As soon as we rounded the southern cliffs of Beef Island, the seas calmed in the lee of the island. As we approached our anchorage, we gingerly made our way past Whale Rocks to starboard and the reef protecting Hans Reef to port. We dropped anchor in eleven feet of water and backed down on it. It seemed to hold. But, when possible, I like to dive on the anchor to make sure it is adequately buried. I did, and it wasn’t. It was partially buried in sea grass, but, although it held when backing down at 2000 rpm, I could have removed it by hand. This meant we would be reanchoring.
I snorkeled around the smallish anchorage, scouting out the depths for relocation. There was a sandy patch not far in front and to starboard of the boat, so we raised anchor and moved fifty feet or so. Unfortunately, we bumped along the bottom two or three times when passing over a small shallow area. It’s always disconcerting when you’re hitting the bottom, but the depth quickly came back up and we were fine. We reanchored over sand, I dove to verify that the anchor was secure, and it was. Soon afterwards, we took Dalí into shore, pulled her up onto the beach and tied her to a mangrove. We then enjoyed a stroll along the beach, collecting shells as we went, and taking photos on the up-side-down fiberglass hull of an unfortunate boat. We then explored our own mini-version of the Baths. There was a large group of boulders we climbed up onto and waded through the pooled water at the bases. The day was completed with cheeseburgers in paradise from Beatitude’s grill and an evening of fun and games in the salon.
The wind howled and gusted all night long, but the anchor held securely. I got up at 4 a.m., to walk around the boat to make sure all was well. Everything appeared fine, so I returned to sleep. The crew all got up around 8:30-9:00. We had a great breakfast and prepared for a short day’s trip to Marina Cay.
Less than four nautical miles away was our destination for the day. As we rounded the southern point of Beef Island we were met with the full force of the twenty-plus knot northeasterly winds. The waves and the wind showered Tracy and I with plenteous sprays of briny water from the Sir Francis Drake Channel. By 12:15 in the afternoon, we had picked up a mooring ball by Marina Cay.
Soon we proceeded ashore to relax and snorkel the reef which surrounds Marina Cay on the south and east sides. The snorkeling was fun, and we spotted a number of sea creatures, including a couple of rays, tangs, and a porcupine fish, among others. Then, we relaxed on the beach while enjoying pain killers, a rum drink that finds it’s origins in the BVIs. When it was time to return to Beatitude a while later, Cindy drove Dalí back to our home with Julie on board (the first time Cindy has ever driven the dinghy without me in it!) while Tracy and I drift snorkeled from the island to our boat, a fifteen minute drift which required a minimum of effort. We again saw fish and rays, but this time we also spotted a barracuda. When a beautiful spotted eagle ray swam by right in front of us, it definitely made the snorkel worth it.
When we were all dry and changed, we dinghied back through the sloppy wind-driven waves to the dinghy dock and had dinner at the beach bar and restaurant, which offered picturesque island scenes as we enjoyed our meal. We watched the sun set from our table, which was just a few yards from the water. Marina Cay is a gorgeous, quintessential tropical island. Julie said it was her favorite and she didn’t want to ever leave.