Monthly Archives: March 2016

Ronan at the helm, BVIs

Developing the Boys’ Mariner Skills: Part 2 – by Theresa

Last year while cruising around the British Virgin Islands (BVIs), we spent a significant amount of time developing and honing the boys’ maritime skills. (April 17, 2015 post, “Developing the Boys’ Mariner Skills”.)  The BVIs is an excellent cruising location to advance one’s mariner skills as all but one of the islands are within eyesight of one another. It was here that Ryan and Ronan mastered picking up mooring balls, keeping their dock lines neat and how to safely maneuver the 25 hp dinghy.

Wow, what a difference a year makes! With each passing day, the boys have been devouring their marine environment, learning about all of the various systems on board. While they are still adept at previously learned skills, they are now more interested in how to run “the big boat.”

They are planning routes and plotting courses between the islands. They navigate the vector (digitally created layered charts) and raster (scanned paper charts) charts with ease and are more familiar with the Rules of Navigation and crossings than some of the adult boaters that we have encountered.

Ryan & Randy changing the oil in the generator

Ryan & Randy changing the oil in the generator

When not running the boat, they are often tinkering about in the engine room helping Randy with some boat project or another. After taking on fuel they are responsible for managing and running the fuel polishing system. They also help with basic maintenance projects such as changing the generator oil and filter, changing the water maker filters, and washing down the boat after a day at sea.

As our world revolves around the weather, monitoring sea and wind conditions has become routine for us all. While the Caribbean is mostly sunny, every good mariner has foul weather gear close at hand.

On sunnier days, the boys get a charge watching our battery voltage increase from our solar panels. They understand how the solar power is harnessed and distributed throughout the boat. They also now wholly understand the mechanics of the patent pending solar powered picnic table catamaran in Cane Garden Bay, Tortola.

Ryan and Ronan routinely monitor the VHF radio and listen to transmissions between the Coast Guard and vessels in distress. They know that having capable crew on deck is important to running the boat safely and efficiently. Having witnessed other vessels in distress only heightens their safety awareness. Nobody ever wants to return to the dock like the boat we saw being towed in on air bags in Nanny Cay!

This is not how any boater wants to return to the dock

This is not how any boater wants to return to the dock

As the saying goes, “all work and no  play makes Jack a dull boy.” Hence, as we have been cruising around the BVIs, honing the boys’ mariner skills, the boys have also been honing their having fun skills. They have reconnected with friends met during our previous stay in the BVIs, as well as having made some new ones.

R&R, Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

R&R, Nanny Cay Marina, Tortola, British Virgin Islands (2016)

Soccer at Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI

Soccer at Nanny Cay, Tortola, BVI (2016)

Sidney’s Peace & Love, Jost Van Dyke, (2016)

Ryan Village Cay, Tortola, BVI

Ryan, Village Cay, Tortola, BVI (2016)

Ronan, Village Cay, Tortola, BVI

Ronan, Village Cay, Tortola, BVI (2016)

Ronan on the rope swing, Nanny Cay, BVI

Ronan on the rope swing, Nanny Cay, BVI (2016)

We have thoroughly enjoyed cruising the British Virgin Islands, and are grateful, once again, for the maritime lesson opportunities they have provided for the boys. Alas, weather, time and immigration restrictions have us pressing on. We have discussed our go forward cruising plans and have decided that at the next appropriate weather window we will be continuing our Caribbean journey heading south towards Grenada where we will ride out the next hurricane season. Our next port will be in St. Martin where we will post additional updates.

Technical Services in the British Virgin Islands – by Randy

Given that the BVIs lie approximately half way between Florida and Grenada, it is a logical place to plan to stop to attend to the inevitable maintenance issues that come up on a cruising boat. We have encountered several mechanical issues that required the help of well qualified technicians both on our way south last year and again this month as we cruised the British Virgin Islands. As has been our policy in the past, we are not going to focus on the vendors that we have encountered that did less than satisfactory work but rather provide you recommendations for companies and individuals that we have found to be both honest and competent.

Welding and Westerbeke Genset

Our list of reputable firms in the BVI has to begin with BVI Marine Management in Nanny Cay. Mr. Tim Brown is the Service Manager there and he is a tremendous resource to call upon if you need anything boat maintenance related. We utilized BVI Marine Management to do some stainless steel fabrication and welding last year when we were redesigning our tender lift to better deal with the sometimes rough conditions that we have encountered in the Caribbean. Additionally, they have helped us obtain parts for our Westerbeke Genset (BVI Marine is a Westerbeke authorized dealer). BVI Marine Management can be contacted at (284) 494-2938.

Cummins QSM 11s

Sanchez Christopher

Sanchez Christopher

When we arrived in the BVI earlier this month, we needed to have some work done on our main engine heat exchangers and after coolers. I called Tim Brown at BVI Marine Management and asked if they could do the work and he informed me that they did not have the capacity to work on QSM 11s but he had a solid recommendation. I was referred to John, the Service Manager at Parts and Power, in Road Harbor, Tortola, (284) 494-2830. Again, we were dealt with honestly and the work performed was excellent and more than met our expectations. The technician assigned to our boat was Mr. Sanchez Christopher.  Sanchez is a very knowledgable and hardworking diesel mechanic and it was a pleasure working with him.

Air conditioning and Refrigeration

Our final recommendation for the BVI is Mr. Alfred August , Manager at Marine Cooling Systems. If you have any refrigeration or cooling issues while in the BVI, Alfred is the guy to call. Alfred can be reached at (284) 441-6556 or email at

We recognize that there are many other well qualified technicians in the BVI and this list is in no way intended to be all inclusive. We have always felt more comfortable calling on someone whom we have had a favorable recommendation from a fellow cruiser; someone who understands the lifestyle and the resulting demands on our mechanical systems aboard our floating home. If our recommendations can provide you with that little bit of extra comfort factor while trying to address mechanical issues in unfamiliar territory, we are happy to help out. We will keep our list updated as we establish relationships with other vendors and technicians along the way.

Pet Import Requirements in the Caribbean – by Theresa

Patton driving the dinghy

Patton driving the dinghy

We have been receiving a lot of inquiries through our site recently about the customs and immigration issues associated with bringing our Cocker Spaniel “Patton” along with us as we have cruised throughout the Caribbean. As such, we have updated Patton’s page to include a compilation of helpful contact details and information for various island nations that we have visited in the Caribbean over the last year and a half (2014 – 2016). For those interested in cruising the Caribbean with their four legged friends check out Patton’s page under the “About Us – Patton – Customs and Immigration” on the header above or visit: or send us a reply message below.