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The Sound of Silence: Sailing to the Open Ocean

Sailing is the most silent way to travel. With sails up, the swoosh of the wind is all you hear. Our friend Bill is a former sailboat racer. While he doesn’t own a boat, he enjoys chartering them. He invited us to sail with him on a 44 foot Jeanne’s Sun Odyssey 440 named the Rhythm & Blues. (Image: Nanny Cay Marina)


We made our way to Horizon Yacht Charters in Nanny Cay on Tortola Island where we met Captain Ollie. Given the wind forecast for the day, Bill and Captain Ollie settled on a route that would take us to the open ocean, to Norman Island for lunch, and then back to Nanny Cay. (Image: Captain Ollie and Bill discuss the route.)




The sailboat looked new. The galley was well laid out, with a nice size dining table. There were two bedrooms and a head with a shower. However, we had no plans to use “down below." We were there to feel the wind on our faces, watch the sails, and marvel at how well Captain Ollie, with some assistance from Bill, handled the boat.


During our adventure we saw both US Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands. It seemed to me that we were at the boundary. Captain Ollie said it’s okay to sail between the two territories, but if one were to remain in the other’s boundary, you’d have to report within 24 hours. Pelican Island, uninhabited, is close to a snorkeling spot that we will visit in a few days, and was one of the prettier islands we passed. (Image: Glen as we pass Pelican Island).


The open ocean was quite beautiful and a blue deeper than the shallower waters of the channel we traveled through. There were gentle swells that the boat handled smoothly. We were alone with nothing but water around us. (Image: Bill at the helm.)


We turned back from the open ocean and headed for Norman Island. There are tales of pirate booty being stored on the island, but if there was buried treasure, none remains. Norman is supposedly the inspiration for Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. It is uninhabited and privately owned by the same man who owns Guana Island, where we are staying. The reason to stop at Norman is to eat at the restaurant. It is quite popular with boaters.


The bay where the restaurant is located is called Pirates Bight, bight being a recess in the coastline. To me the bight looked like a bay, but the name Pirates Bight sounds better than Pirates Bay.



After lunch we headed back. At one point Captain Ollie let me steer. I got to feel how the boat tends to veer off course, but like a car, it is quite easy to correct the course. The difficult part is that there is no centerline in the ocean, so one needs to pay attention to other indicators to keep sailing on course.


It was a wonderful day to sail. There is no better way to relax than to hear only the sound of the wind.

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