I recently returned from a sailing week in Ariadne with a group of old friends. This group first visited the islands to sail in 1988 so this was a well overdue reunion at sea. As a result we set about the business of sailing hard to catch up! I thought what we achieved was worth recording as an example of what you can get done in Ariadne in a relatively short period of time!
Day 1 - 2 of us arrived earlier than the rest of the group and, after provisioning at the Riteway next to the marina, set out to move the boat from her base at TMM to Sopers Hole in the West End. Ariadne sails really well on a reach and we were able to make good speed gybe tacking downwind towards the west over a couple of hours, getting to Sopers Hole by around 4pm. Once there we tied up alongside to wait for the rest of the crew, and began reminiscing over some rum at Pussers Landing. Needless to say as the others arrived the evening lengthened, more rum was drunk, and plenty of fun was had!
Day 2 - We set off from Sopers mid morning, with a few thick heads, and the intent of getting to Anegada, against the wind. It was a blustery day, and as a result maybe not the best choice of destination. We set out on a long tack to the NNE with the intention of getting far enough to the north of the sunken island to tack towards the entrance later in the afternoon. However we underestimated the strength of the wind and sea against us, and we assessed that our tacking angle meant that we would get to Anegada only after dark… unacceptable. Discretion being the better part of valor we dropped the sails (not without protest!) after several hours and motored the final distance getting to the morning field an hour ahead of sunset.
Day 3 - The payback for the hard work of the day before came in the form of a long reach under the screecher from the channel entrance of Anegada all the way to Manchineel Bay at Cooper Island. It was a glorious sail, with steady easterly winds, and we sailed close past the Dogs on the way, getting to Cooper in the early afternoon. We took a mooring on the westerly side of the mooring field to ensure we had some breeze over the deck overnight, and settled in for the evening at the beach club. The Roti at the bar was really good, and the drinks at the Rum bar down the beach were wonderfully refreshing. Well worth a stop.
Day 4 - Busy day! We needed to collect a few extra provisions so we tacked across the gap between Tortola and Virgin Gorda to Spanish Town, and the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor. Having topped up water tanks and provisions, we set out again for Norman Island. En route we spotted a problem with some damage to one of the reefing lines on the mainsail, so we ducked back into the TMM marina in Road Town to get the line repaired. As ever, the team at TMM responded immediately to the problem, and we were equipped with a brand new No 1 reefing line in no time, and were able to set out agin to Norman Island - arriving on a mooring there by around 5pm. We barbecued for dinner, and then went across to the Willy T floating bar for drinks later. The Willy T was its usual exciting night out - enough said!
Day 5 - White Bay JVD, the formal port of registration for Ariadne, was on the morning agenda today. We arrived there in time for lunch and spent a few hours lounging on the beach and trying our luck at the ‘Ring Game’. Early in the afternoon we set off again, and tacked across the channel between Tortola and Jost Van Dyke to reach a mooring in Cane Garden Bay for the evening. Dinner was in Quitos on the beach that night, and we took an opportunity to catch up with another old friend who has spent the last 25 years carving out a life for himself and his family right there on Tortola.
Day 6 - The last full day dawned, and we set off from Cane Garden mid morning - this time to the West. Our intent was to pass Sopers Hole and then tack up the Sir Francis Drake channel to reach Salt Island, and an opportunity to dive on the wreck of the RMS Rhone. The sail through the Narrows between West End and Frenchman's Cay gave us an opportunity to practice short tacks, in some funneled wind, and then we broke out into the wider stretch of water north of St John. It was a great sail, with the crew working very well together to have Ariadne beat to windward for several hours. We made Salt Island after a 4-5 hour sail, and had a refreshing swim over the wreck. We then reluctantly reached back across the channel to Road Town and the TMM base for Ariadne at the end of the trip. Dinner that night was in Sharkeys, in the Royal BVI Yacht Club, which is well worth visit at the start or end of your charter.
It was a fantastic week. Great to sail wth old friends, with great conversations, plenty of rum and loads of laughter.