Tortola; Kind Hearts on Golden Cays
We were very grateful for the kind welcome at Nanny Cay and the hospitality we received there. Still shattered from the previous 36 hours it was a relief not to be straddling our hammocks but to be set up with a hotel room and a bar tab! I fear we were too tired to make the most of the latter... another time maybe.
The next morning we had a rather important errand that the rest of the trip now hinged on. It might seem an obvious part of the planning phase to check, double check, and check again that we met all the visa requirements for each country (and we're visiting 18!) you plan to visit.
We turned up with ESTAs, part of the visa waiver programme which entitles you to enter America or its territories for 90 days without a visa. The catch is it is only valid on certain official carriers i.e. airlines and ferries. Private planes and vessels, including kayaks, do not count.
It was an unpleasant night back in Carriacou when we found this out. ..
Luckily there is a simple back door! Get an official carrier to the United States, clear through homeland security with your ESTA, then you have 90 days to come and go from the U.S.
We were very lucky to run into our new friend Marcie, who after hearing about our exploits offered to sponsor us by taking us from the marina to the ferry terminal (and back) and pay for our ferry tickets. Suddenly life went from difficult to alright and Marcie kindly saved us a massive hole in our budget.
So we spent the first half of the day travelling to St. John's, US Virgin Islands and back so we could get the little stamp in our passports allowing us to re-enter by kayak. It was a great trip.
When we got back to Nanny Cay we were privileged to meet the General Manager, Miles, who was kind enough to sort us out with lunch and an incredibly generous credit at the marina store where we were able to replace much of our broken kit, walking away with new dry bags, repair kit (duct tape), and two shiny Leatherman's to replace our rusty Gill marine knives. Thank you Miles!
Ready to carry on but with only a couple of hours left of daylight we set off and kayaked four miles down the coast to Frenchmans Cay where we have been put up for two nights while we get ready for the next leg.
Update from Expedition HQ; Sun Oct 30th
Will and George have now left the US Virgin Islands and are currently transiting the south coast of Puerto Rico having set out this morning at 4am and are heading for the town of Salinas. Then, over the next couple of days, they will make their way to Mayaguez on the West coast which will be their jumping off point for the crossing to the Dominican Republic. Optically, it may appear quicker to transit over the north coast but given the Atlantic breakers would probably result in tragedy the southern route, although longer, is the more pragmatic.
Overall the expedition is going well. They are on schedule and the two most important components of the expedition, their bodies and the boat, are holding up well. They have suffered a litany of broken kit issues which is to be expected on a journey of this magnitude and with grateful thanks to Miles at Nanny Cay, much of the BAR (beyond all repair), kit has been replaced. It is perhaps worth bearing in mind that there are few expeditions of any type these days of this duration and a lot of manufactured kit is just not made to the extreme specs required for something like this, or certainly not within their funding limits.
While there have been some hairy moments, which they have decided not to share with us until the end of the expedition, the months of planning and preparation have so far at least, been vindicated. Without though, the kind hospitality and support that they have experienced across the islands, and freely offered advice, it is unlikely they would have made such good progress. Certainly, their limited budget would be under some duress at this point and that's putting it mildly.
While one never wants to tempt fate the navigation has been bang on throughout which is a heck of an achievement in its own right. I'm going to ask them to expand on the subject a little more when time allows because I think it will be of interest to future kayaking expeditions in the area. Of particular interest will be the explanation as to what happened here...... couldn't find your way out of the marina lads?
In front of them they have the hop to the Dominican Republic and then a long and arduous leg to the Turks & Caicos which will easily be the longest to date. From there to the Bahamas and then Miami. They are struggling for accommodation offers in the T&C and Bahamas. If you have any contacts, please do get in touch, email@example.com You may be unaware but on some islands, camping is very much frowned upon, if not illegal, and their primary consideration is always the security of the boat so safe havens are important to the success of the expedition.
Finally, thank you again to all kind supporters for both your charitable donations and messages of support. I know Will and George would like to spend more time thanking people individually but with a small Samsung tablet and sporadic wifi it isn't always possible. I am sure they will on their return.