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Four of us (two couples) chartered a 35-foot motor yacht from NorthSouth Yacht Charters for the winter holiday season.
12/28/00 We flew from Hartford, CT to Beef Island (Tortola) via San Juan P.R. Taxi was waiting to take us to Nanny Cay to pick up the boat. Never seen so many speed bumps in my life, never rode in a vehicle with such lousy suspension!
Couldn’t find our boat at the docks, then discovered that ours was under repair, and we were upgraded (at no extra cost) to a 42-foot trawler. Darn the luck! Provisioned the boat ourselves. The cab ride into Road Town, and provisioning from the ‘big’ Riteway supermarket, saved us a bunch over the charter company’s provisioning plan. Note to self.... we really DON’T need to fill the liquor locker just to get underway!
12/29/00 After about 45 minutes of boat checkout and briefings, we were underway. We decided on a clockwise route around Tortola, so we made a day stop at West End, where we did some shopping, and spent quite a while at Pusser’s Landing. We are now experts at the differences between Navy Grog and Traditional Grog! Departed West End after lunch, cruised at 6 knots to Cane Garden Bay. Found good mooring in the harbor, set out in the dinghy to snorkel a reef that was recommended during our briefing. We never did find it, maybe because the seas were surging to 5 or 6 feet. Went ashore, and spent most of the day at a nice little place called the Elm Beach Bar. Very entertaining proprietors, good drinks, great barbecue for dinner. After dinner, went to Quito’s for more drinks. Found Quito’s to be too loud, too busy. Went back to the boat for nightcaps.
12/30/00 Underway for Jost Van Dyke. We had New Year’s Eve reservations for upstairs at Foxy’s, and wanted to get into the harbor the day before so we could get good anchorage. There are no moorings here, you’re on your own. There were also a LOT of inexperience sailors who don’t know how to properly set scope. Some dropped straight down, most were 3:1 or less. Harbor was so crowded, we could only get a scope of 3.5:1, but we felt we were set good. A 35 ft sailboat behind us was nervous about our swing, because we came within 12 feet of her bow. We decided not to move. Dinghied over to White Bay, tried some snorkeling, but sand was stirred up. Had lunch, then dinghied back to the boat. Dinner that evening on the boat (filet mignons hand-carried from home) were excellent on the grill.
12/31/00 Lazy day, resting up for New Year’s Eve celebration. Went onshore for lunch, had some kind of fish platter. Back to the boat for an afternoon nap. Ran the generator and A/C to get a good nap. Headed back to shore at about 7:00 pm. Tied the dinghy at the main town dock. Should have gone all the way to the right end and tied up right at Foxy’s, but we didn’t know there was still room there. Upstairs at Foxy’s, we had a nice meal, and open bar. We drank at least 9 bottles of Chanpagme Veuve Clicquot, then started on Moet & Chandon White Star. Reggae and Caribbean bands played until 2 am, then things quickly died. We were disappointed that the party didn’t last all night.
01/01/01 We were awakened by someone tapping on our hull. Apparently the wind and water went slack around sunup, and we drifted up to the sailboat that was already nervous about our proximity. We started engines, hauled anchor and kept going. Out of the harbor, we made a 60 degree heading and 5 hours later found ourselves at the channel fo Anegada. Most charter companies don’t allow transits to Anegada because of the reefs and shallow anchorage, but we had a shallow draft, GPS and expereinced skipper, so we were cleared to go there. The channel markers were tricky, with three reds and two greens that parallel the shore going west to east. At the end ot the second green, it’s a hard left rudder into the 6 - 8 foot deep harbor. All the moorings were taken, so we dropped anchor. It set easily in the fine silt in the harbor. We spent the rest of the day recovering from the night before, lounging around on the boat.
01/02/01 Dinghied to shore, had a full english breakfast at the Anegada Reef Hotel for $8.00/person. Took a cab cross-island to Loblolly Bay, spent the day snorkelling the lagoon and drinking at the beach bar. Even the lagoon was a bit cloudy due to strong seas from the northwest, but it was still fun. Swam with some sea turtles for a while! Took a cab back to the Reef Hotel, back to the boat to change, then back onshore to Neptune’s Treasure for dinner. Tricky to find, even though it’s on the water, because there are no signs. Had to dinghy up to shore at each building and ask where we were. The dinner and service at Neptune’s Treasure was, like everywhere else, excellent. By the way, most of the restaurants in the BVI ask you to select your entrée when you make your dinner reservations that afternoon. There’s a limited supply of everything on the islands.
01/03/01 Up at dawn for a beautiful sunrise over Anegada. Got underway about 8:00 am, headed due south for Virgin Gorda. On the way, we decided to go into North Harbor and moor at teh Bitter End Yacht Club. What a beatiful place! All-inclusive resort, impeccable landscaping and accomodations, perfect service, friendly people. You soon realize why..... the room rates start at $5,000.00/week! We stayed for two days. Took the dinghy across the bay to harbor to Leverick Bay. Unfortunately, the Pusser’s restaurant is no more there. It’s called the Lighthouse. Pusser’s store was still there, as well as a nice art/souvenir shop (The Palms), and a well-stocked grocery (Buck’s Market). Had problems getting back, the dinghy motor kept stalling. Almost washed up on the rocks, but got things going just in time.
01/04/01 Another day exploring BEYC. Two of us walked to Biras Creek, and the report was that it was even more exclusive than BEYC! Spent rest of day exploring, lounging in hammocks along the waterfront, and generally being on vacation. That evening, had dinner on Saba Rock. Good buffet mix of English/Caribbean, excellent steel drum band after dinner. BEYC is definitely the playground of the rich (and maybe famous). The free Saba Rock ferry took us right back out to our boat that evening.
01/05/01 Up that morning, underway for Norman Island! Moored at the Indians for the most outstanding snorkelling I’ve ever done. Crystal clear 50 foot water, coral, colored fish. I had two barracuda swimming underneath me for quite a while. It made me just a bit nervous. Later that day, moored in The Bight on Norman Island. Spent the afternoon swimming off the boat. That evening, went in to Billy Bones for a wild night. Dinner was followed by LOTS of rum and music and dancing. We met a group of Germans and ended up on their catamaran drinking beers. A great way to end our last night.
01/06/01 Underway to take the boat back. Really didn’t want to do it! We had a good checkout with the charter operator, hopped a cab to the West End, and caught the ferry for home. Cleared U.S. customs in St. Johns, then on the St. Thomas. Direct flight home, to 12+ inches of snow in Connecticut! We’re already planning our next trip to BVI and beyond!
Thanks to Richard for this trip report ...