Passage to the BVIs – Preparations and Departure

It is a rainy day here in Virgin Gorda, where we are resting and settling into cruising mode so we have time to blog. 

The Caribbean 1500 Rally was a great experience. We arrived in Portsmouth VA about a week before the scheduled start of the passage.  

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We decorated the boat with all our flags and bunting, Kathleen’s favourite bunting was on the arch above the dinghy. 

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We had our safety inspection early in the week which was reassuring, we had a couple of minor issues to address, but nothing major or unexpected.  The Rally provided a binder with all the requirements and checklists and this really helped us to make sure we were ready. 

As the week progressed we attended seminars on key aspects of the trip.  Safety, medical, SSB Radio and weather all covered, together with tips on keeping your boat and engine at sea.

Paul and Lisa arrived mid week to join us for the trip south.  Paul and I filled 7 fuel cans and a water can, deflated the dinghy and spent an hour or so stuffing the lasserette.  We successfully got the dinghy, outboard and fuel stowed and were fairly sure we could get the fenders and lines in once we got off the dock.

By Friday, I was starting to feel that we had this all under control but the weather and Andy had other ideas.  On Friday morning during the final round of seminars it was announced that we were leaving on Saturday.  For the first time in this adventure I felt some real stress, I had a plan of action to get us to the start on Sunday but now I had to replan and sort through what we had to get done now and what we could skip.

After a couple of hours we sat down as a crew and tried to process the change.  The boat was mostly ready, just needed to prepare for sea but the crew and I had more than enough butterflies to go round and we struggled a bit to be calm as we addressed some of the crew coordination discussions we had not had time to do before.

Saturday morning came too quickly, we tidied the boat and headed out by about 10:30 in the morning.  We had about 2 hours motoring to get out to the bay.  Portsmouth and Norfolk are very busy ports.  This Saturday was perhaps busier that normal as several large boats were coming in to port.  The Carnival Sunshine cruise ship was coming in and the Coast Guard where trying to maintain an exclusion zone while 40 sailboats headed in the opposite direction.  They had their hands full, but they were very polite.

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Following the cruise ship was a US Navy supply ship that wanted us on the other side of the channel.

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Once we cleared out of Hampton Roads, life became simpler as we had room to avoid the commercial traffic and make our way out to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and the formal start of the rally, next stop, Nanny Cay.

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