Sunday, March 15, 2015

BVI Tour

There is a golden glow over St Thomas at sunset that I have never seen anywhere else. Something about the light, the angle of the sun between the islands, the lights from the houses and streets. Whatever it is, it is beautiful.

We are sitting here, back in the Caneel Bay moorings, ready to start the long trip west and north towards home. The dinghy is back on the foredeck. I got sentimental putting away the towing bridle that we have used to drag the poor dinghy all around the Virgin Islands. It feels like we are moving on. And, we are. Tomorrow morning, we are heading back to Culebra -the first time we have gone west in quite a while.

But, we wrapped up our stay in the Virgin Islands in style. Our daughter, Emily and son-in-law Tyler just left this morning after a 5 day BVI and St John tour with us. I will do a separate post with that story. First, I have some catching up to do.

We left the US Virgin Islands and checked into the British Virgin Islands way back on February 17th. We have had limited/no internet since shortly after that. Sometimes we would pick up just enough of a signal with our wifi extender to load emails and, maybe, update Junie's Facebook stuff. Seldom could we actually load web pages. So, I didn't get much blogging done for the last several weeks. Here is the quick summary of that time.

Our path around the BVI up to March 10

Norman Island - Privateer Bay
Privateer Bay
One of our personal favorites. Fairly isolated even though there are several very popular snorkeling sites and night-life scenes right around the corner. Nice snorkeling right off of the boat. Fish, fish, fish.

Sunset over St John

Marina Cay
We actually started the day headed for Trellis Bay which has been hyped as an artsy community and fun place to be. Before we even picked up a mooring ball, both Junie and I had a bad feeling about this place. As far as we are concerned, it is a s#!^hole. We went ashore, walked around for 15 minutes, went back to the boat, dropped the mooring and ran to Marina Cay. We really just needed a place for the night.

This has been on our list for a long time. We knew that we were going to go here and get a lobster dinner. The sail out was fabulous. Entry to the harbor was well marked but getting awfully shallow. We ran aground in the middle of the mooring field. In the middle of the mooring field! Big minus points for Anegada. We got off without incident but annoyed. The dinner was average and expensive. We left the next morning and the sail back to Virgin Gorda was fabulous. We are pretty sure that we did not give Anegada a fair shake but are not anxious to go back. Except for the sailing.

Anegada as we were leaving. As you can see, it is more like the Bahamas
than any of the Virgin Islands - flat, shallow.

Captain Junie under full sail - and smiling!

Oh yeah!

Leverick Bay - North Sound - Virgin Gorda
Love this place. North Sound is home to the Bitter End Yacht Club and Saba Rock but Leverick Bay is smaller, homier and friendlier. We went to visit all those other places but hung out at Leverick. We could hear the pirate show from the boat.A little hokie but fun.
Left to Right - Bitter End, Saba Rock, Necker Island (Richard Branson)

Guana Island
Lovely Guana Island baeaches
Our neighbor for the evening. Note the helicopter on deck.
We set out the next day from North Sound to go to Cane Garden Bay. Halfway there, we detoured here to Guana Island. This place is amazing. It is a private island but has some mooring balls. Beautiful beach (which you can dinghy to - even on private islands the beach is accessible up to the tree line), isolated, clear water (see the bottom in 30 feet). We met some great folks from Louisiana on the catamaran 'Mardi Gras' and had a wonderful time talking to them. Chalk up another 'small world' experience - one of the guys aboard 'Mardi Gras' worked with Junie at the St Francisville paper mill 25 years ago. Crazy.

Mardi Gras!

Cane Garden Bay
Known for its sunsets, this place is the quintessential Caribbean beach scene. We loved it before and we love it more now. Unfortunately, the cruise ships have discovered it and they are bringing in people by the busload over the hill from Road Town. Nonetheless, it is cool. When another Cabo Rico cruised into the harbor, we went to investigate and met Guy and Susan on 'Footloose', a CR 45.
Guy has been cruising the Virgin Islands for years and set up a great evening ashore including live music at Quito's - Quito Rhymer himself performing. What a fun time and nice people.

Privateer Bay
Again - because we like it. 

Road Town, Tortola
Provisioning time! Groceries, propane, boat parts. We anchored right inside the harbor but outside the Moorings Base - one of the largest chartering operations in the world.  Not a quiet night exactly but we accomplished all of the tasks. We were planning on staying a second night but we came back from our errands to find that a chartered boat was anchored right on top of us. I called over and asked if they planned to stay there and they said yes. So, I said, 'Well, we are uncomfortable with you being this close so we are leaving. But you will have to move your boat because you are right on top of our anchor.' One might think that this would prompt the offending boat to move. It did not. We pulled our anchor in the pouring rain (he did, indeed, have to motor out of our way so we could retrieve our hook from underneath his boat), and left the harbor at 4:00 pm to cross the Sir Francis Drake channel and find a better home for the night at...

Peter Island, Great Harbour
Second time here but we picked up a mooring ball this time. We thought we would be lucky if we could find one this late in the day. We motored deep into the bay and thought we saw one. Then, we saw a guy motioning and pointing to a free ball all the way inside and up against the shore. A beautiful spot. The last mooring ball in the bay. Nice. Spent 2 nights there.

Cooper Island
The turtles were much more attractive than the
'upscale' resort.

Saba Rock
Rolex Swan Cup race
Now, we were getting near the time when Emily and Tyler were scheduled to meet us in Virgin Gorda so we beat our way up to North Sound again. We rounded the north point only to be met by 2 dozen boats with spinnakers and full sails flying. We had, inadvertently, come across the Rolex  Swan Cup race. What a pretty sight.  
We went on to grab a mooring ball at Saba Rock for the night, got a big burger at the restaurant. During our dinghy ride around the harbor, we were admiring two Ted Hood-designed Little Harbor sailboats. Anthony, the yacht manager, noted our interest and gave us a tour. What gorgeous boats.

Leverick Bay Marina/Moorings
We planned on getting a slip here at the marina in order to meet our guest more easily. The marina staff was great. Loved Leroy. But, as it turned out, the marina was very exposed, the winds were gusting over 30 knots and it was uncomfortable. SeaClearly was not happy. After one night, we moved out to a mooring ball where she could ride on her own terms and we were all happier.

And, that brings us up to the arrival of Emily and Tyler. They flew in to St Thomas and took the ferry to Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda. We rented a car and met them there and took them back to Leverick Bay. Of course, as I said, the wind was gusting over 30 knots, the waves were 3 feet in the harbor and we had to dinghy them and their luggage out to SeaClearly in the dark. Welcome to cruising! More later.

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