We had a fantastic stay in St Maarten at The Crew House where we were warmly welcomed by Riselle screeching to a halt on the road, beeping the horn, waving and shouting directions as we paddled past. We continued on and reached the hostel`s own slipway where we were meeted and greeted with a cold beer and some much needed rest. We had a great dinner with Jamie and Riselle, the famous Travelling Island Girl, at a bar overlooking Maho beach, and a very early night. We took a day to restock supplies, replace broken kit and do some maintenance on the kayak - thank you so much Riselle for running us around and for all your help! - and we checked the weather. Then we checked it again. And some more...
Our next leg was the daunting task of the Anegada Passage - appropriately nicknamed the OhMyGodAhhh! Passage by sailors - famous for yachts turning around and returning to shore mid crossing due to the rough swells. We are getting used to this... but the distance, 64 nautical miles, was a new ball for us!
We left St. Maarten early on Friday morning setting a course for the southern point of Anguilla and on to Dog Island beyond it. Dog Island is small and uninhabited aside from iguanas and goats and has just two beaches. We landed on one and made camp in the mangroves, stringing up our hammocks and preparing oursleves for the wait before we would set out for the BVIs. We waited the whole of the next day, cowering in the shade of our ponchos as the sun rose over our own paradise island.
I'm not going to lie - we were nervous.
We set off just after 4pm, we had a couple of hours of sunlight left and were adamant to make good progress before it disappeared into the sea. We did well. And then it rained. It stopped, it got dark, then it rained some more. The first few hours were pretty miserable as we were hit by band after band of rain. Each one lasted no more than 15 minutes but it was cold Atlantic rain and for the first time in the month we have been going we were almost chilly! When each band let up the heat would overwhelm us again and sweat would pour down our faces before the next one hit.
But we made steady progress through the night. The hardest part was staying awake through the monotony of paddling in complete darkness with nothing but the small glow of our stern light, our hopefull warning to other boats not to plough into us. It is only two feet off the water so we do wonder if anyone can even see it!? We were lucky, though, with the conditions - no towering breaking waves threatening to capsize us with every stroke, just some bouncy rollers that did seem to be hitting us from 6 different directions, a result of the abnormal current, depths and wind.
Morale picked up as dawn broke and we were able to speed up considerably. Unfortunately the wind that had thrashed us about during the night decided to dissipate as it got light so we were unable to use the sail at all to help us along. In total we were paddling for 23 hours 40 minutes... a long time to be sat in a kayak. But we made it across all safe and well, if maybe a little tired.
As goes with all well planned expedition, we had organized nowhere to stay for when we got to Virgin Gorda at 4pm Sunday evening. Fortunately, the first place we pulled up to was the Bitter End Yacht Club, an incredible location just on the North Side of VG. We hooked up to the dinghy dock and were immediately chatting to boat loads of guests about our journey. Water Sports manager Jerome welcomed us into the fold and introduced us to the management who very kindly found us a couple of spare beds for the night. We had a wonderful dinner with Ron and co. who were taking part in the pro-am yacht race week and then passed out and slept.
A rest day would have been nice at this point.
30 miles on through the BVIs. We managed to snatch a swim at The Baths, an incredible array of massive boulders spread over shore and water on the South West tip of VG and the Pro-Am race members welcomed us on board for a quick lunch before we set off again. We were very grateful not to be eating cold tinned ravioli on the water again! Then we set off for the 11 nautical miles to Nanny Cay, where we hoped they might be expecting us but had had no contact over the past few days.
And then a sickening dose of boat envy...
It started to get rather late... we would probably get in just after 6pm when it was just about dark and so we were preparing ourselves to sneak into the marina and pitch up on the dock or a beach. We were thus slightly surprised when a drone appeared over our heads and guided us all the way into the marina to a fantastic welcome on the beach from staff and guests! We were set up with a room and dinner and all was good. Until Roan, a chap who introduced himself at the bar, suggestd another drink in town.
And just like that we were on another boat... slightly nicer than our own... travelling at 32 knots (our average speed is 3kts) over to Road Town and then onto the Famous Willy T bar. It was just what we needed to recover from our 24 hour crossing... we took it as a little celebration that 700 miles into our trip we are still alive and well.
A few shots from the aerial footage - All credits to Alastair, Nanny Cay.