The Catamaran Adventures of Noel and Ceu
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The First Two Weeks of Life On Board

So, it finally happened.

We got off the plane with all six items of luggage safely with us. After all the planning, dreaming, and packing we had finally arrived in Tortola. We loaded all our stuff into the boat, and stepped aboard. This was it, the start of our adventures in Life Part 2.

In a way it was a bit weird, as we only had 12 days onboard before we would have to leave again. Which meant that we couldn’t really unpack, so it was more like a chartered boat than our own. But it actually worked out well, as it gave us a two week peaceful shakedown in the Beautiful British Virgin Islands before we would actually take off on the real adventure.

We kicked into holiday mode. We also had Ceu’s daughter Jessica with us for the first week. So it was some idyllic cruising to beautiful sandy beaches, wonderful snorkeling, and some interesting locations such as the famous Baths on Virgin Gorda – huge balanced boulders left behind after the erosion of a volcanic past.

The winds were light (around 8-10 knots most of the time), the sky was blue (no rain the entire time!) but we were sad to see that so much of the coral under water was bleached or dead. I guess the results of the global rise in sea temperatures that we keep reading about. I didn’t do any diving this time, so I don’t know if the same was true of coral at deeper depths. Maybe those have been spared.

Of course, all was not straightforward. Well, it never is on a boat. The first day we managed to foul our propeller with the painter from the dinghy when we were reversing under engine to bury our anchor. Oops. That is a bit embarrassing. And involved about two hours diving below the boat, just beyond snorkel reach, to get it all untangled. I don’t fancy doing that again.

On another occasion we were just hoisting the main when I noticed the mainsheet block getting caught on the solar panels. That’s not right, I thought to myself. We quickly dropped the main again to have a look. Sure enough, the shackle attaching the block to the traveler had lost its pin and released the block. Unbelievable the pin was still sitting there on the solar panel! Two minutes later and all was well again – but it does serve as a reminder to always put some seizing wire, or a cable tie (which is what we used) through the little hole at the end of the shackle pin and around the shackle itself so as to prevent the pin from coming out. Another ten minutes and I had gone around all the shackles I could find to put a cable tie on those too.

After the first two attempts at guessing how much anchor rode we had paid out when we anchored, we decided that our brand new anchor chain needed some depth markings.

The other challenge was finding internet connections. I had ordered a long-distance wi-fi antenna, but didn’t yet have it, so was restricted to my in-built antenna in my laptop. Actually, I was quite impressed by the range I could get with that, often finding several wireless connections when we were moored in a bay next to a village or harbor. About half of the time I could connect to the internet through these. Once we used the password provided by the café at which we had some drinks. On other occasions a free, unsecured connection was available. And one time I paid for a connection. I think with the long distance antenna the connections should not be a major problem. Of course, when we were in some deserted bay there were no connections to be found.

Sadly our first two weeks drew to a close all too soon. Once again we had to pack everything up and head to the airport. But we will be back in just a month!

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