Caribbean 2015:
Day 5 - The Bight and Soper's Hole, BVI


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Caribbean 2015: [Day 1 - St. Maarten] [Day 2 - Saba] [Day 3 - Anguilla] [Day 4 - Virgin Gorda] [Day 5 - Norman Island/Soper's Hole] [Day 6 - Jost Van Dyke] [Day 7 - St. Kitts] [Day 8 - St. Barthélemy] [Day 9 - St. Martin] [Day 10 - St. Martin]

Tuesday, December 15, 2015: We had anchored overnight so we woke up the next day in the exact same spot right next to Prickly Pear Island.

We were headed a short distance away to Norman Island and we were going to sail there.

You know what that means -- time to cue the majestic music of "1492: Conquest of Paradise." We photographed the speakers every time it was played.
Every sailout was a reason to get out on deck ...
... and watch those sails go up.
Let's do some sailing!
This adorable German couple wore matching polos. A day or two later, Debbie took pictures of them on the bowsprit netting as a favor and they were very thankful.
We passed Necker Island and posted about it on Facebook. A friend replied that we should keep our eye out for naked windsurfers here but the only one we saw had clothes on.
We used every bit of zoom function on our camera to peek at Sir Richard Branson's compound on Necker Island. We'd like to own it.
Here's a navigational thingie.
After sailout, we headed downstairs for breakfast, which included banana pancakes and fried plantains. Delicious!
Here's one of the whiteboards posted in the Tropical Bar.
Here's our schedule for the day. You can safely assume that if it took place after 7:30 dinner, we weren't there.
We were, however, ready to go when mast climbing was offered as a morning activity.
Tom was the first one to get to make the climb. Hottie sports team member Karl from Sweden helped get Tom linked to the safety line ...
... and he was on his way.
He made it up to the first platform, which was as far as we could go. There were additional mast climbing opportunities later in the week so maybe they got to climb higher then, but we don't know.
There were four passengers in Tom's group, and after each of them made it up there, they got to spend about five minutes looking around, taking pictures, and enjoying the view.
Down they came, one by one.
Tom was the first one back down so he joined the crowd watching the spectacle down on the deck.
Next, it was Debbie's turn.
Up she goes, ...
... and goes, ...
... and goes. Tom played photographer this time around.
Here are all the people in Debbie's group from far away ...
... and closer.
Here's the view looking back down at photographer Tom, ...
... looking straight down, ...
... looking toward the bowsprit, ...
... and looking out at the view.
Jay Jay took this photo of Debbie up on the platform. He's nice.
Then Debbie headed back down, having to stop quite a bit since Natasha (more about her later) was below her and was very, very slow in descending, what with having to strike a model pose every 10 feet or so.
Karl helped Debbie out of bondage, ...
... and we headed to the bowsprit netting to enjoy the sail to our next destination.
Yeahhhhh.
A man and his ship.
Macalester Scots represent!
Now THAT's a view.
We needed our morning dose of caffeine so we went to the Tropical Bar. It is, by the way, the only bar on the entire ship.
From here, we stood and watched dozens of yellow and white butterflies flying around, just like we'd seen on Virgin Gorda the day before.
Here's one.
A map of the Caribbean was conveniently posted on the wall of the Tropical Bar so we could find where we were at any given time. We were currently moving through the middle of the British Virgin Islands away from Virgin Gorda with Tortola to our north.
Out on deck, Peter was hosting his daily story time, telling us the history of all the islands we were passing.
That's Tortola out there, ...
... and that's our new house. It's a compromise since Sir Richard's is out of our price range.
There's more of Tortola for your viewing pleasure.
During our stop at Norman Island, we had an opportunity to go on a cave snorkeling excursion, so we signed up for the first trip of the afternoon.
We headed back to our cabin where another towel animal was waiting for us.
Our porthole offered a view of Tortola.
A view just like this, in fact.
One of the best things about our porthole is that it was right on the water line, so when the ship got rocking or the waves were a little high, we got the occasional glimpse into the depths.
We took a million pictures trying to get the ultimate shot, but this was not the day for it.
We turned left at the Indians, four rocks that just happened to line up in a row for this photo. It looked like a pretty popular little snorkeling spot. That's still Tortola in the background, ...
... and this is Norman Island ahead of us.
We anchored in the Bight Bay where we'd be tendering to shore later on.
But we had a date with a snorkel spot and a hearty Caribbean lunch, ...
... and even heartier Caribbean desserts, ...
... like these.
We grabbed our snorkel gear, our camera, and absolutely nothing else as instructed, and headed upstairs. On the way, we encountered this embellished map that was being raffled off to raise funds for the crew. We signed up because we love maps.
Then we were off in the tender heading toward the caves. This photo and the next were the only ones we actually got of the caves, ...
... so you kind of have to use your imagination to picture them.
While we waited for our chance to get in the water, we admired a few moon jellyfish floating by. Pretty!
Let's get in the water, people!
There are fishes here! We swam toward the first cave, ...
... and it got dark back there as we approached the entrance.
Is everyone cool with this? Yes? In that case, let's turn the flash on the camera and take some pictures.
FISH!! All around us was a massive school of glassy sweepers.
We popped our heads and camera out of the water to take a picture of the cave itself.
More tiny fish!
When we had seen enough, we swam over to the other cave just around the corner.
The scenery along the way was spectacular. Here are some yellow sponges, ...
... a stoplight parrotfish, ...
... some sergeant major damselfish, ...
... a tiny bluehead wrasse (intermediate), ...
... and a huge field of soft coral.
The second cave wasn't very deep and was in direct sun so it was nice and bright..
Here are more sergeant majors, ...
... and some yellow/orange sea urchins.
Here's a shot from inside the cave looking out.
Back outside there were more coral and sergeant majors, ...
... a male stoplight parrotfish (terminal phase), ...
... and a French grunt.
Here's some colorful tube coral and brain coral.
We swam past a few hundred more sergeant majors on our way back to the boat, ...
... snapped a photo of our ship from the water, ...
... then got back onboard the tender and declared it to be a very good excursion indeed. It was our first cave snorkel and it was great fun.
We headed back to the ship, took a quick shower, and got on the next tender to the beach.
Right this way to Pirate's Bight!
It's a beautiful open-air bar and restaurant on the beach.
So, we went inside, ...
... and found ourselves a nice little table in the shade.
Hmmm, what shall we have? Their frozen cocktails were a little pricy, but beers were a little more reasonable at $5 each.
Of course, we had one of each. Debbie ordered the Passion Guava Lava, because she's a fan of anything involving passionfruit, and Tom had a Carib.
We ordered a little food and photographed each other while we waited.
Tom's learning, but he still struggles a little with centering his subject in the photo. But hey, check out that Christmas ribbon on the post over Debbie's head!
Mmmm, tasty conch fritters. When in the Caribbean, our rule is to always eat something we can't have at home.
Afterward, we headed to the restrooms and passed a pair of lizards hanging out on rocks.
Then we decided to give kayaking a try.
While we were doing that, another couple on our ship came flying by with Karl, doing some waterskiing.
The water was beautiful and absolutely clear as we (well, mostly Tom) paddled by.
We had hoped to visit the Willy T, a famous bar on a boat, but it looked like our only option to get there was by kayak, and that just wasn't going to happen. So, we zoomed way in with our camera to at least get a picture of it.
Then we headed back.
This was the last photograph taken using this particular camera, because it fell into the water when we returned the kayak and we weren't able to dry it out. Fortunately, we always travel with several cameras - a primary one, an identical backup, another one that works well with our waterproof camera case, and one on each phone. We live in fear of being without a camera at all times on vacation.
Back on the ship, we were out on deck for ...
... you guessed it, the raising of the sails and the playing of the theme music.
The sun was getting lower in the sky and we were heading to another destination for the evening.
We were all gathered on deck as usual, ...
... and this gentleman was allowed to steer the ship, with supervision from a crewman. The staff reminded us several times that any of us were welcome to try it if we wanted; we just needed to ask at a time that the ship was in no danger of running aground. We opted not to, but it was nice to know it was an option.
We were headed back north to the west end of Tortola.
Off in the distance in front of Jost Van Dyke, another masted cruise ship, the SeaDream Wind Surf, was heading further west. We ended up seeing her again two days later in St. Kitts.
Much closer was a SeaDream Yacht Club ship. Fancy.
We anchored off of Tortola, outside of Soper's Hole.
At 6:00 PM, we started tender operations for those who wanted to go ashore and visit.
We were in the first boat to head over and see what there was to see.
Look how gorgeous our ship was in the twilight.
We disembarked at the marina. It was fairly quiet but a couple of boats were lit up with Christmas lights.
This ship had a big light shining at the water below, and just like at Saba Rock, it attracted the tarpons.
Almost nothing was open, including this grocery store.
But Pusser's was open, ...
... so we bellied up to the bar ...
... to try a Pusser's Painkiller. We opted for the Painkiller #2, which features only 2 ounces of Pusser's Rum. We could have ordered a #3 or #4, with 3 and 4 ounces of rum, respectively, but the #2 was plenty for us. We were joined around the bar by a few other ship passengers and we raised a few cheers, then we decided to head back to the ship for dinner.
It was dark by the time we got back, and our ship looked more magnificent than ever.

After trying unsuccessfully for two nights to serve Debbie a birthday cake, we stuck around for dessert and the entire waitstaff came out to sing a song and present her with a cake and candle. We didn't get a photo of it before the maitre d' whisked it away to plate it, so here's the upper right quarter of the cake after it was fancied up with some ice cream and finishing touches.

Day 6 >


Caribbean 2015: [Day 1 - St. Maarten] [Day 2 - Saba] [Day 3 - Anguilla] [Day 4 - Virgin Gorda] [Day 5 - Norman Island/Soper's Hole] [Day 6 - Jost Van Dyke] [Day 7 - St. Kitts] [Day 8 - St. Barthélemy] [Day 9 - St. Martin] [Day 10 - St. Martin]

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