BVI Bareboat Vacation
At the end of our sail to Cuba in May 1998, Joanna, Jack and I discussed what adventure we could pursue for our next vacation. We talked about something more relaxing and at a less hectic pace, but it had to involve sailing. Jack mentioned bareboating and the British Virgin Islands and it seemed to click with Joanna and myself immediately. A few months later we started looking into the wealth of charter companies established in the US and British Virgin Islands. We settled with Conch Charters based in Road Town, Tortola. Their charter fleet consisted of older boats, but at rates within our budget. We proceeded to book one of their available Beneteau 38s for a 7 day charter for the first week in May 1999. Airfare, however, wasn't going to be a bargain and turned out costing more than the charter itself when combined(Joanna, Jack & myself). To save approximately $100 pp. on airfare cost, we opted to fly in to St. Thomas instead and take a water ferry to Tortola($20).
At last the first week of May 1999 was approaching and we were getting excited about our bareboat. Our flight from Florida was early in the morning Saturday with an arrival in St. Thomas around mid afternoon. The flight went w/o a hitch, that is until Joanna's luggage was lost by the airline. This was to be a major headache - more later. After informing the appropriate airline person of the lost baggage item(took some time since we were on island time now), we were running close to missing the last ferry from St. Thomas to Road Town, Torlota. Luckily the ferry dock was a quick ride from the airport and we just barely made it. The ferry ride was approximately 45 minutes and gave us the opportunity to see some of the islands we would shortly be sailing to. All-in-all the ferry worked out to be a great, and economical, way to get between the US and British Islands.
Once we arrived in Road Town late Saturday afternoon, it was only a 5 minute cab from the ferry dock to the charter company and upon our arrival at the charter company we were shown to our Beneteau 38 - Liana Jane. After dumping our luggage, we inquired about places for Joanna to shop some cloths. We were told that nothing would be open until Sunday morning and that it might be best to just go to the Pub for a beer and a bit to eat. So with that advice we did just that.
After a decent nights rest, Joanna pursued finding some replacement cloths and then we went for some minimal provisions. However, the store that had proper clothing was closed until Monday AM. We had no choice but to wait one more day before starting our charter. Monday morning arrived and clothing was successfully purchased. With that said and done we went through our orientation and paid some fees for permits. Finally we were ready to start out charter!
Monday the 3rd
We left the charter base around noon for our first sail, which was a short two hours sail from Road Town to Norman Island where we would anchor in the bight. The trade winds where blowing out of the SE around 15-20kts and would put us on a beam reach across Drakes Channel. This is sailing!! Once arriving, we decided to dink around to the water caves on the point of Norman Island and get some snorkeling in. What a treat! The water was warm and so clear with lots of different types of fish to be seen. After an hour or so of snorkeling the "caves" we headed back to the boat to clean up for dinner at Billy Bones on the beach, which was very good. After dinner we headed back the boat to call it an early night since we planned on a long days sail to Virgin Gorda.
Tuesday the 4th
We awoke early Monday morning(sun raises around 5:45am in May) to another gorgeous day. We did our daily "boat systems check" and head out of Norman Bight for a brisk sail to The Baths at Virgin Gorda. Buffet playing in the back ground as the swells rolled under us with the beautiful Virgin Islands for the backdrop. Picture perfect sailing. We arrived at the Baths before noon, but it packed. We decide to drop the hook for a few minutes to have a look around. After a while we decided to complete sail to the northern end of Virgin Gorda to the Gorda Sound where we planned on overnighting. The sail to the Sound was wonderful with just the genny out on a broad reach. Truly relaxing.
The entrance to the sound mandates caution due to the very long reef that parallel with it. Once clear of the reef we headed for Leverick Bay area and grabbed a mooring ball. This resort area is a maintained by Pussers Rum. We took a shower and dinked ashore. Climbing up the roadway gave us some great views of the sound and a close look at some of the beautiful vegetation. Later in the day we had dinner at the Pussers Restaurant that faced the sound. Food was good, though as usual expensive. After dinner we headed back to the boat to lounge around for a few hours, discussed our next stop(Trellis Bay) and then retired for the evening.
Wednesday the 5th
As usual it was an early rise with the sun the next morning. After fully coming to life, we decided to do laundry and have some breakfast. We dinked ashore, started the laundry, eat breakfast, moved the laundry, picked up some minor provision at Buck's and headed back to the boat to make way for Trellis Bay.
The sail to Trellis Bay was leisurely with very light winds, the lightest wind we had seen yet. We reached Trellis Bay mid afternoon and found a spot. Once again it was time to snorkel around. Joanna snorkeled to the beach a few, with Jack later following in the dink. I decided to swim to the beach and was exhausted by the time I got there. We all walked the lengthy beach and noted the trash along the shore. I sad to see discarded outboard motors, aluminum cans, etc littering these beautiful islands.
After returning to the boat we decided it was time for some dinner so we headed to shore. One popular place is the Last Resort which is on the little island in the middle of Trellis Bay. We actually made reservations for dinner there when we first arrived, but stumbled upon the De Loose Mongoose and decided to grab a bite there. After dinner we moved to the bar and got to know Rose the cook. She was quite friendly. After closing they had a birthday party complete with cake for the owner. Since we were the only patrons left, they gave each of us a piece of cake. With the good food and friendly people we knew where we were going to have breakfast the next morning. It was now late and we were getting tired, so back to the boat for another solid nights sleep.
Thursday the 6th
Awaking the next morning to another beautiful day, we decided to return to the Mongoose for breakfast. The food was good and at a reasonable price. Jack opted for the "trash omelet", which literally included everything but the kitchen sink. Time to head to our next destination which was the Great Harbor at Jost Van Dyke. This is the home of the well known Foxy's bar. On the way out of Trellis Bay we cut through a pictures cut through the island. The wind was decent and it was a pleasurable sail to Great Harbor. Once in the harbor we picked a spot to anchor. It took two tries to get the hook to bit and a visual inspection of the anchor was in order to be sure is was set securely. As the afternoon wore on, the anchorage became very crowded with boats trying to anchor right on top of you and the scope couldn't have been more than 3 to 1. This is when you get to see those with no experience anchoring and there is constant worry about someone dragging anchor on top of you during the night.
After the anchorage settled down we headed to shore to walk around and grabbed a bite to eat at Foxy's.
More to follow...