Back in July, my family chartered a 39 ft Beneteau called the Santa Maria and sailed for 7 days in the British Virgin Islands.
It was the first real vacation that my husband, my parents, and my two sisters and I ever took together. We knew it would be a real adventure! My dad has been sailing since he was a teenager and taught us the basics when we were little. We basically grew up on his Catalina 22. Jonathan, on the other hand, had been on a sail boat only once or twice in his life. Luckily, he was a quick learner.
Our journey started in Slidell with a 2:30 am wake-up to make it to the airport for our 6:00 am flight. We were on the interstate and making good time when randomly the entire I-10 was closed. Forced off the interstate in an unfamiliar neighborhood at 4:00 am made us all uneasy. Even navigating using an iPhone proved to be challenging because of other construction and all of the “no turn”, “no U-Turn”, and “one-way” signs. Eventually we made it back to the interstate after a bunch of huffing and puffing and yelling about which way was the right way to go. How were we going to handle sailing a boat for a week in a place we’d never even been if we couldn’t even navigate to the airport without getting into a tizzy fit?…
Off we went from New Orleans to Miami and then from Miami to Charlotte Amalie in St. Thomas. After a quick lunch in St. Thomas, we took a very choppy ferry ride to Tortola. I have never been seasick in my life but thought I might vomit on that ride. Luckily it wasn’t too long and the scenery was interesting. We arrived in Tortola close to dusk and it was beginning to drizzle. We had to clear customs and the lines were a nightmare. I will never understand why grown ass people think it is okay to jump ahead in line. Jonathan & I were two of the first people off of the ferry and somehow wound up dead last in line. Once we were through, it was just a short taxi ride to the marina from a friendly local named Mike. When we arrived, the weather felt ominous & I had a knot of nervousness in my stomach. It’s always a thrilling feeling to not know what will come next or how the journey will unfold.
The first order of business was to unpack our bags and stow the rations. Unfortunately, Madelyn’s clothes got wet from her bag sitting on the belt at the airport in the rain. She decorated the boat with her clothes & it really felt like we were starting out on some weird luxury camping trip.
Sleeping on the boat went well, except for the fact that there was no air conditioning. It was slightly uncomfortable, but by the end of the trip I was used to it. The BVI breeze coming through the open window was soothing and the sound of the waves lapping against the boat lulled us to sleep. That was probably the only night I got a decent night’s sleep on the boat, but that’s a story for next time.
In the morning, we were briefed by the charter boat company, BVI Yacht Charters. They marked X’s on the charts in places where it would be dangerous to sail and they pointed out where the moorings were for us to stay each night. My dad somehow talked them in to giving us an iPad to use for navigation purposes. It turned out to be extremely helpful and user friendly. The app showed exactly where you were and allowed you to plot each leg of your journey. It showed an estimated time of arrival as well as the depth of the water around you. It was hard to screw up as long as you knew where the “Xs” and reefs were.
After some more briefings and the distribution of team apparel (Yes, my dad bought us all matching crew hats & shirts!), they turned us loose.
The journey had only just begun!!!