The Last of the British Virgin Islands and the Short and Terrible Passage to Guadeloupe

British Virgin Islands

Ari finished her scuba diving certification successfully, so we finally got our go ahead to leave Sea Cow Bay in Nanny Cay.

Ariana doing scuba diving book work:


Ariana sailing with the Nanny Cay yacht club kids:

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We headed for Norman Island (also part of the BVIs). The anchorage was nice and the water was VERY inviting. When we first got to Norman Island, we dinghied over to the Willy T’s. Luckily, we went early in the day when it was not so “rowdy.” I didn’t realize it was probably not the most appropriate place to take kids. The Willy T is an old boat that has a bar and restaurant. On a TV screen, they continuously play photos of all of the women who end up going topless and jumping off the second floor of the boat into the water. Even though it was only about 3 in the afternoon when we went for lunch, we ended up seeing a bit of that ourselves; two older women jumped topless and were only holding a towel up to them when they walked back through the restaurant to the second floor. Interesting place.

The Willy T


Unfortunately, Dan got terribly sick while we were at Sea Cow Bay in Nanny Cay. We are pretty certain it was chikungunya, a mosquito-caused disease that came to the Caribbean Islands from Africa. (Why do they always seem to have the worst stuff over there?) They had A LOT of Chikungunya last year in the BVIs, but apparently, no real serious outbreak this year—but I guess that sole infected mosquito managed to find Dan. Anyway, it started with a high fever (103.2) and a rash, and then came the fairly severe joint and muscle pain, nausea, and a headache with shooting eye pain. Even after 11 days, Dan still has nausea, which is not a common malady for Dan. He REALLY doesn’t like it. We held off leaving for Guadeloupe for several more days so he could recuperate.

Back to Norman Island. The next day Dan was still not feeling well, so after the kids finished school, we kayaked over to the beach and then swam around the boat playing. The next day we decided to take Do Over around the corner to the caves where we snorkeled and swam into each of the three caves. That was pretty neat—not as good as The Baths, but still cool nonetheless! Dan lasted two caves and needed to go back to the boat. It is amazing what a mosquito can do to a person.

Dan at the bow off of Tortola, BVI and Ariana kayaking Ryan and me to shore…


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The next day, we took the boat over to Cooper Island where we ended up staying for three nights so Dan could try to get over his Chikungunya. The kids and I snorkeled and saw a ton of fish, including a Lionfish (a venomous fish that is not native to these waters but is unfortunately becoming quite commonplace).

Norman Island and the Caves (needlefish in the second photo):

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Cooper Island Beach Club and a full rainbow:

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On our second day there, another cruising family (Andy, Heidi and kids Drew and Evelyn from Tangent—and Heidi’s mom Joyce who was visiting them for the week) dinghied over to our boat to introduce themselves. Earlier, they saw Ryan helping us anchor, and families cruising with kids are still fairly rare. We ended up meeting them later at the beach and hanging out with them there, and joining them for happy hour 2X1 Painkillers at the restaurant later that evening. It was fun!  Poor Dan stuck to diet Coke. I sure do wish he felt better!

Ari and Ryan with Drew and Evelyn from Tangent drinking virgin cocktails:


We were really hoping we could meet up again with Bob and Lori Brothers (on Barbara Jean) and Wendy and Lou Griffith (on Annabella) but they were all the way over in Jost Van Dyke and we were WAY behind our schedule. We had them over for a potluck dinner when we were over in Sea Cow Bay and we had a great time!

Bob and Lori Brothers:


After yet one more night at Cooper Island, we decided to make the voyage to Guadeloupe…

The Short and Terrible Passage

Where to begin. This was the worst passage yet—even though it was the shortest (46 hours and 30 minutes—can you tell I’m scarred for life?).

I’m not sure what made it the worst, although it could be any number of the following things:

  • We ALL were seasick (well, Dan’s nausea was probably not seasickness but he felt sick the entire time too).
  • The seas were very rough.
  • We pounded into the wind the ENTIRE time.
  • The winds continued to strengthen throughout the second night and we only had one reef in the main (I would have preferred a double reef at this point)
  • It was squally.
  • We had no AIS because we shipped our brand new unit back to San Diego for replacement or repair (we were only able to receive information about other boats but we were not transmitting our information to the other ships)
  • Our radar that was only working for three-minute transmissions decided to quit altogether.

So, we were down to our pair of binoculars for locating ships and that good ‘ole technique of determining “constant bearing/decreasing range” with points on our boat while trying not to vomit. Good times.

How could you not love sitting at the helm of a boat at night and cringing every time you see a grey blur on your bow that you know is just a big deluge of water that is going to hit you in the face about 2 seconds later? What, that doesn’t sound appealing?

I’m pretty sure the rock-bottom moment for me was when I was trying to make us burritos (which I didn’t end up eating) and ended up sitting on the floor of our salon with my head against the cabinet throwing up into a one-gallon Ziplock bag. That pretty much sums up our passage to Guadeloupe.


We got into an anchorage at about 7 a.m. on Tuesday, the 9th. You would think we would be jumping for joy but we were so exhausted, our reaction was numbness. We had to go to sleep for a while, actually. But later, only somewhat reinvigorated, we headed for land.

The marina in Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe:


First, we were above the pretty bridge.  We walked back a different way and the bridge was closed so we had to wade through the water.  Ryan picked a bad day to wear sneakers!

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Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe

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Graffiti on a side road:

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The first day, we walked into the center of town, explored a little bit, had some pizza in a nice air conditioned restaurant, bought some fruits and vegetables at a store that had way more vegetables than anywhere in the BVIs, and headed back to the boat in the late afternoon.    I finally got Haricot Verts!  They were impossible to find in the BVIs but being in a mini-France here in Guadeloupe, I found fresh green beans!!   I can’t wait to buy pain (bread) today.  Yum.  We just ate mozzarella tomato paninis here in an outdoor cafe and I even got to have a small kitten on my lap after lunch.  This is MUCH better than being seasick on a boat.  I do wish, however, that I spoke more French.  Spanish-speaking countries are much easier for me!  Not a lot of people here speak English.  They may know a few words but that is about it.  So, it is fun to try to communicate back and forth!

Where we are anchored now, there is a small, volcanic beach at the shore.  The school kids come to the beach to learn to swim, kayak and sail.  It is interesting that this seems to be part of their curriculum.  There are also a lot of swimmers out by 7 in the morning, bicyclists, and some runners/walkers.