ith reports this month from Moontide on completing the Salty Dawg Rally; from Pelagic on the Guyanas in South America as well as the Windward Islands; from Sea Loone on passing Culpepper Island on the way to the Marquesas; from Quixotic on a woman's view of catamarans; and Cruise Notes. Moontide — Lagoon 47 Bill Lilly The Salty Dawg and the BVI (Newport Beach) "We sailors on the West Coast don't know what 'real weather' is," insists Bill Lilly, who sailed his Newport Beachbased Lagoon 47 Moontide in November's Salty Dawg Rally from Hampton, Virginia, to the British Virgins. "The wind and seas come from all directions at all different speeds, and there are a lot more fronts." By saying this, Lilly echoes last month's comments of Jim Fair Are you a gal looking to of the Berkeleysail the Caribbean? Bill based Outbound might be your captain. 46 Chesapeake, who has sailed most of the way around the world, and who also did the 1,400mile Salty Dawg Rally with Linda Powers. "The Salty Dawg is a much looser version of the Baja Ha-Ha," says Lilly. "Looser in the sense that only about half of the 81 entries started from Hampton, Virginia; looser in the sense that while most boats headed to the BVI, a number went to different destinations; looser in the sense boats started over a two-week period rather than on the official November 2 starting date." Boats started either before or after the 2nd in order to avoid a front coming down from the north. The last thing anybody wants is to be in the northward-
LATITUDE / RICHARD
Bill and 'Moontide' were at Cane Garden Bay in late November and early December, early enough in the season so it wasn't crowded at all.
flowing Gulf Stream when it clashes with a front coming down from the north. Lilly and his two female crew motored for the first 27 hours, something he's never done before, to get across the Gulf Stream before the front hit. They made it. After that they had six days of every kind of weather possible, from calms, to 12 hours of 35+ knots of wind, to an ideal final 48 hours of sailing south on 'Highway 65' trade winds on a beam reach in 15 to 18 knots. Thanks to the cover on Moontide's two-year-old main halyard wearing off, midway in the passage Lilly decided that safety demanded he go to the top of the mast to replace it. Forty-eight hours after collecting a number of boat bites from going aloft in even calm conditions, Lilly got his reward. He was able to tuck in a much-needed third reef — for the first time ever — when the wind really came up. The boat had already hit a record 18 knots careening down a particularly steep wave with a double-reefed main. The unusual thing about Moontide's eight-day trip is that the crew never got cold. "Normally Salty Dawg Rally crews freeze their asses off in the beginning of the trip," says Lilly. "Not this time." "The Salty Dawg was very different from all the Ha-Ha's I've done," said Lilly, "in that we only saw two boats in eight days. During the Ha-Ha, we often saw eight or more boats at a time." Nonetheless, a good percentage of the fleet, which included Eric Witte and Annie Gardner's San Diego-based Catana 47 El Gato, met up at the Bitter End YC in Virgin Gorda. One of the benefits of paying for a 'Premium' upgrade entry in the Salty Dawg was getting free moorings in Gorda Sound until December 19, when the Caribbean season really starts. Otherwise moorings are $30 a night, although it's possible to anchor, too. "Another good deal," says Lilly, "was taking a mooring at nearby Leverick Bay or Saba Rock. Moorings are $30/night, but you also get a bag of ice and 250 gallons of water." After about a week in Gorda Sound, Lilly wanted to hit some of the other spots: The Baths, Norman Island, the Willie T, the Soggy Dollar Bar on Tortola, Soper's Hole at the West End, Foxy's on Jost van Dyke, and
Cane Garden Bay. If you've chartered in the British Virgins, you know the spots. It was early December when we talked with Bill, so the howling Christmas Trades hadn't kicked in yet. "The vibe in the British Virgins is so much different than in Mexico," says Lilly, who has a lot of experience in the latter. "This is charter country, and most of the people come down for a wild week. If I spent three years here I still don't think that I'd have time to visit every beach bar. And given the thousands of charter boats here, the locals are a little jaded. Unlike Mexico, the typical beach bar hamburger is $14. And they drink rum rather than tequila in the Caribbean." Getting Internet in the British Virgins has been more problematic for Lilly than along much of coastal Mexico. "I have T-Mobile with free unlimited 2G in 122 countries," says Bill. "It's very slow, of course, but sometimes I can get email. Some of the beach restaurants have Internet, but a lot of them don't."