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We arrived in the British Virgin Island on November 10th, after a hard five days at sea from Bermuda! This was the start of the 2015-2016 cruising season, and the British Virgin Islands was the first stop in three months cruising the Caribbean.
Ten days is pretty quick to move through the British Virgin Islands – we moved every day – but there’s a lot to see and it is really beautiful. Chartering is very popular here, and this itinerary would be great for a charter as well.
We pulled in to Jost Van Dyke and tried to drop the anchor when we noticed our chain counter was not working. There was enough going on (with our depth sounder still not working) that we paid for a mooring for one night – $30.
We chose Jost Van Dyke because the customs was simple in this small town. David only had to make one stop, and the building was right in front. Great Harbor is really just a small little road with the beach on one side and a few bars and misc buildings on the other. We paid $87 to clear in, including the use of National Trust Moorings.
David came back and immediately got to work on our anchor windlass and chain counter. I went for a swim! I was glad to get off the boat, so I swam the water for a bit, stopping to talk to two of the boats near us. Charter boats filled the mooring field. We are in the charter boat capital of the world. I am sad to say that we enjoy the people and boat watching as the charters come in and attempt to moor. I think we are entitled to watch – we were those people once, four years ago. David and I remarked on how far we have come since then.
I had thought about dinner at Foxy’s, but with the freshly caught tuna from our passage, how could I resist? I used my favorite marinating recipe and David seared the tuna…it was delicious!
Foxy’s at Jost Van Dyke
Wednesday morning was a generator day. We did not run our watermaker during the passage, so we filled up our tank. David cleaned the outside of Starry Horizons while I cleaned the inside. Then I ran some laundry and we took a well-deserved break and headed to Foxy’s for lunch. David had the Roti and I had the Grouper Sandwich.
We walked down the road to the end, where Rudy’s Superette allowed us to pick up a few items (4 L of UHT milk, a bunch of bananas, and hot dog buns = $22.50).
White Bay, Jost Van Dyke
Back on the boat, we packed up to move over to White Bay, where we found room to anchor. We anchored on the east side, to the east of the moorings and did a swimming inspection. We had plenty of room to swing and were in about 8 feet of depth. I stayed in the water, snorkeling to the beach for a walk and then back. The east side of White Bay is quieter than the west side. Back to the boat and sashimi for dinner.
Thursday was more laundry and attempting to problem solve our transducer. I managed to talk David into a snorkel in the afternoon. I wore myself out – my legs are not used to snorkeling anymore. Muscles in my feet I didn’t even know I had were complaining.
Cane Garden Bay
Friday we picked up our anchor and headed to Cane Garden Bay. Unfortunately, it was an upwind slog. We did roll out our screecher for the first zig and zag, but we realized that we couldn’t get the angle we wanted with it, so we furled it up and rolled out the genoa and tacked back and forth, all the way up to the bay. After entering the bay through the channel, we immediately tucked into the right side to anchor. There are so many moorings, so we stayed far back. We anchored in the sand, but when the wind blew us to the west, we were over rocks. But, it was easily 20+ feet deep all around, and I snorkel the area to check for shallow coral heads.
For my activity of the day, I spotted a road that went up the hill and offered a view of the bay, so I dinghied into the government dock and went for a walk. I walked the road to Myett’s, a restaurant, and then turned around and went back up the hill. It was a 300-foot rise in elevation in less than a mile, so it was quite steep! I did enjoy the amazing view though!
There were several large cats in the bay, and three of them were anchored. We hadn’t wanted to come that far in because we weren’t sure of the depth but turns out its about 15 feet, so next time we know to anchor there instead.
Saturday we picked up our anchor and moved over to Brewer’s Bay. Pete and Debbie from Maple Cookie told us Brewer’s Bay was their favorite spot, hands down, and I can see why. I was nervous because our cruising guide cautioned that there were submarine cables in the bay, although they didn’t know of anyone getting snagged. They also cautioned that the navigation into the bay was a little difficult due to the narrow inlet of the coral. But we bucked up and gave it a go.
We passed through the natural channel and plopped our anchor in the middle of the shallow sand. Our chart plotter was totally useless in this bay, and I was glad to have the cruising guide instead. We were all alone…for a little while. Two other catamarans joined us for the night…an FP Eleuthera and a Matrix 45. Neither were identifiable as chartered. It was a quiet night!
Sunday, David and I went for a snorkel, and it was not exactly for the faint of heart. Some area of the coral got really shallow, enough that we were concerned about getting scraped. But we made our way to the beach and enjoyed some time sitting in the shallows and walking around. We also determined we did a great job picking our anchoring spot. The Eleuthera anchored in front of us, and while we are in 15 feet of water, they must be in 25 feet or more.
Another nice thing about Brewer’s Bay – there’s an open wifi network that’s actually the fastest we’ve had since we arrived. We thought for sure, since this is a more secluded area, that there would be no wifi. Using our fast(er) wifi, we made calls to our parents.
Monday, we picked up our anchor and headed north to Anegada. A lot of people have recommended this small island to us, and when we chartered here four years ago, we didn’t make the slog up. After five hours of sailing upwind, we worked our way through the channel and anchored just outside the last markers. Now that we’ve surveyed the harbor better, we know that all of the boats in the front rows (near Potter’s) were anchored and not moored.
Where we were anchored was fairly rolly, but we were away from the main group of boats. Tuesday, we packed up in the afternoon and took a taxi to Cow Wreck Beach for some splashing and playing in the Atlantic Ocean.
Dinner at Wonky Dog
Back to Starry Horizons to clean up and go to dinner. Here in Anegada, everything has to be ordered in advance. I was a little concerned about the Wonky Dog when they weren’t answering the VHF, so we had stopped by on our way to the beach and made a reservation. They are the #1 restaurant on Trip Advisor, so I hoped it would be worth it. I wasn’t disappointed.
Wonky Dog is a small place, with a center tiki bar and entirely outdoor seating. It was not a crowded night – only three tables, probably because their VHF wasn’t working to make reservations. The seating area was lined with citronella tiki torches and bug-repelling coils to keep the mosquitoes away. David, Mr. Mosquito Magnet, went ahead and doused himself with the offered Off anyway. The atmosphere was very romantic.
We arrived early and had a drink at the bar while striking up a conversation with the young Scotsman nearby. Turns out he was Tommy Gaunt, of Tommy Gaunt Kitesurfing. We chatted about our pasts and lifestyles and he was really entertaining to talk to. Check out his video!
Our dinner arrived. I order the Conch Three Way – coconut cracked, fritters, and ceviche, and David had the medium Anegada Lobster. Even the medium left plenty of lobster for me at the end! The food was all excellent. The service was even better.
Sailing to Virgin Gorda
After leaving Anegada, we aimed for the west part of Virgin Gorda. Our original plan was to spend the night in Long Bay. When we arrived, it was a little crowded with a 50-something foot Privilege catamaran and two private yachts. We weren’t quite sure what the bottom was underneath us, and so we decided to pass and head to Savannah Bay instead.
We very cautiously entered Savannah Bay, as it’s a reef-surrounded bay, with a narrow inlet. We were all alone.
For some reason as soon as we were settled, two more boats joined us. One was a catamaran that stayed through the night. The other was one of the private yachts we’d seen in Long Bay, Lionshare, and they pulled in VERY close to shore, anchored for about 10 minutes, and pulled out again. Weird.
As always, I snorkeled the anchor to check its settings and our surroundings. We slept very peacefully that night.
The Baths/Spring Bay
On Thursday, we woke up early to head over to the Baths. The Baths are giant rocks on the beach that have created caves and pathways. It’s a major tourist attraction in the BVIs. We picked up our Parks mooring in Spring Bay by 8:30, and quickly got in the water, with just our go pro and sunglasses. Instead of taking Little Dipper to the beach, we swam up to Spring Bay, took a walk around the trails there, and then swam around to the Baths. We got ahead of a tour group and entered the Baths.
There is a trail through the Baths that leads all the way through to Devil’s Bay. Of course, the whole thing is spectacular. Our walk back was noticeably more crowded.
Salt Island Bay/The Rhone
Back on Starry Horizons we finished up a few internet things and dropped our mooring, headed to Salt Island Bay to stay the night. After snorkeling the anchor I stayed in the water and checked out the reef near shore. It was amazing! One of the things we’ve noticed in the BVIs is that the coral itself hasn’t been that great – sadly due to the popularity of the area, a lot of coral is suffering. Salt Island Bay is off the beaten track enough that there was more life to the coral. I swam next to the cliffs and spotted two octopuses, an eel, and a pufferfish, in addition to many cowfish, urchins, and parrotfish. It’s one of the best snorkels I’ve had here.
Back on Starry Horizons David was pretty worn out, so he took a nap while I gave our grill a long-overdue cleaning. Before sunset I took Little Dipper over to the dock and walked the beach, enjoying the sunset.
We picked Salt Island Bay for its close proximity to the Wreck of the Rhone. Another tourist attraction, this is one of the few wrecks that is in shallow enough water to snorkel, because the Rhone sits on the bottom in half; one-half deep, one-half shallow.
The wreck sits in about 30 feet of water like a skeleton, with nature slowly taking over.
The surrounding rocks also provide good coral and marine life for snorkeling, including seeing an octopus running around!
We dropped our mooring and left for our next destination – Deadman’s Bay on Peter Island. We arrived in the late morning. Unfortunately, we discovered two small issues: we’d accidentally left a line overboard as we left the mooring. The rope cutters did their job cutting the line. Additionally, the block on our stern dinghy davit broke. We didn’t want to risk chafing the line though, so I inflated our kayak as an alternate means of transportation. I went ashore to use the wifi and have some lunch – every once and a while we need a bit of space from each other.
Meeting the crew of Alive
On my way back from lunch, I stopped to chat with the FP Sanya 57, a yacht in the Tradewinds’ fleet. The crew of Alive was without guests and offered a tour of the boat to me. I paddled back to Starry Horizons, grabbed David and some cold drinks and headed over to hang out with Alive’s crew, Noam and Dalit.
In another great example of friends we met on our trip, Noam and Dalit were fascinating! This Israeli husband and wife team has crewed private and chartered boats. They gave us a tour and we sat around chatting for a while. Alive is beautiful, with 6 double cabins (five for guests) and is extremely well equipped for diving. Noam showed us the forepeak, which he had immaculately organized with tanks, BCs, and regulators all hung up and organized. Noam is a divemaster, and told us he wanted to get a trial run dive in before they had guests – would we be his guinea pigs? Hell yeah!
Peter Island – Diving
Saturday morning we were back on Alive at 8:30 for our briefing and gathering of gear. We loaded up their dinghy and went over to Deadman’s Chest Island, to grab a Parks mooring and dive Dead Chest and the Painted Walls.
It was an amazing dive. Noam led the way while Dalit stayed behind us. Noam knew, of course, that we’d both done our classes and certifications (David in Kemah and I in Tampa) but hadn’t dived since then. It was so wonderful to have one on one attention for our first dive together. The walls were amazing, although I had to remind myself to look up at them instead of focusing on the seafloor or Noam. They get their name from the patches of colorful coral on the cliff faces.
We saw a lobster, pufferfish, and all the usual suspects. We also saw one lionfish. Noam and Dalit had come prepared with a spear gun. Lionfish are indigenous to the Pacific and are a major problem in the Caribbean as an invasive species. Thanks to a wide effort to encourage hunting them (plus they are tasty), their numbers are dwindling here. Unfortunately, this one lived to see another day as he got away from Noam.
Swapping Boat Tours
Dalit and Noam spoiled us after the dive when they cooked a massive brunch for the four of us, under the pretext of emptying out their fridge.
After brunch, we invited Noam and Dalit over for a tour of Starry Horizons. We had cleaned up the night before because in getting the kayak out and searching for a part we had completely emptied one of our storage lockers, so equipment filled our cockpit. We always enjoy showing our girl off, and it was fun talking about the similarities and differences between the two FPs.
Alive departed later that afternoon for Nanny Cay. They are doing a haul out too, so we will definitely get to see them again.
Peter Island – Hiking
David and I took a nap that afternoon, as we had more plans for the day! Just as the sun went behind Peter Island, we kayaked to the beach and went to walk the Sunset Loop. The hike goes up and up and provides stellar views. It’s not for the faint of heart – think heavy breathing and screaming legs, but the views were so worth it. We were able to look down on Deadman’s Bay, White Bay, the resort, the spa. We walked past several of the private residences that are part of the Peter Island Resort. A wedding was even taking place at the spa! We caught the sunset just over White Bay.
The trail continued on, but it was getting dark. Someday we will have to come back and do the whole thing – with a picnic dinner!
Sunday we stayed in Deadman’s Bay for a bit. I went for a snorkel, which was ok, but I did see a lot of cuttlefish.
After lunch, we upped our anchor and moved over to the Indians. The Indians is a rock formation just off of Norman Island. The wildlife is pretty spectacular there, even just snorkeling under your boat at the mooring gives you lots to see.