Last month, 16 sailors of the Harbor Sailboats Sailing Club visited the British Virgin Islands. While it’s hard to put in words, this truly was a vacation of a lifetime! The flotilla consisted of 5 boats total that ranged from 37′ all the way up to 54′.
Our charter was set to begin Saturday morning so most of us opted to fly in Friday (and some even Thursday) to get settled in and rested from the long flight. The Moorings’ hotel, The Mariner Inn, and the surrounding restaurants/bars, were fully taken advantage of. The party didn’t last too long on night one- we knew we had 8 more days ahead of us.After our chart briefing, boat check-out, and last minute provisioning, it was time to go cruising!
Day 1 was a somewhat short sail across the Sir Francis Drake Channel to the ‘The Bight’ on Norman Island. There were plenty of Mooring balls available so we were lucky enough to all be in one row. Immediately after securing to the mooring, it was time to get in the 82 degree water and enjoy the view. Without really planning it, the crew elected Corky and Peter’s 37′ yacht as the designated Happy Hour spot. It was a great way for everyone got to know each other over cocktails and a spectacular sunset. Immediately, the entire group had a strong bond and right away I knew this was going to be a special trip!
Day 2’s plan was a somewhat quick snorkel via dinghy ride at ‘The Caves’ and then a relatively long up- wind sail to Marina Cay. The snorkeling at ‘The Caves’ was spectacular, which was great, but at the same time set the snorkel expectations a bit high for the rest of the trip. As we returned back to the boat, it was time depart for what turned out to be a fun, but tough 3 hour upwind sail in 25 knots. While looking behind us the last mile or two pulling into Marina Cay, we couldn’t help but notice the very dark clouds approaching. This could have meant a bit more wind and plenty of water. While we definitely got wet (only rain of the trip btw) the clouds luckily didn’t have much wind in them. The dark clouds in contrast with the white sand and reef bottom was a cool sight. After a quick happy hour at the Pusser’s Bar and Restaurant, all boats chose to eat aboard. Our boat had some nice slabs of tuna, very good on the grill!
Day 3 was an early start in order to get to ‘The Baths’ nice and early as it can become a zoo by noon. The swim to the beach (no dinghies aloud) is definitely exciting and refreshing. The rock formations look pretty cool from the outside, but the real beauty is the trail that goes through
the formations. Numerous pools and lookout spots ultimately end at a nice sandy beach with enough room for swimming. We spent well over our allotted 90 minutes on the Mooring ball but we were out of there by 12:30 and off to the North Sound Virgin Gorda- 20-25 knots with reefed mains and jibs. After picking up the somewhat narrow channel into North Sound, the fleet all grabbed Mooring ball at Leverick bay. After some paddle boarding and snorkeling, it was time to explore the small town and beachfront bar. We all ate dinner that night right on the sandy beach just steps from the dinghy dock. Before leaving Leverick Bay for the short (15 min.) motor up to the Bitter Island Yacht Club, most boats elected to fill up their freshwater tank which was included in the Mooring ball fee. The fee also included a bag of ice and not having to worry about fresh water the rest of the trip was a good feeling.
While approaching the new mooring ball, we all couldn’t help but notice the amazing water color and view. The rest of the day consisted of some sun and water soaking, paddle boarding, and lunch inshore. The inshore lunch was a good chance for everyone to grab the wifi network and make sure nothing too dramatic was happening in the “real world.” We did learn that Tom Brady had received a suspension for the “deflate-gate” incident.
Day 5 our new destination was Cane Garden Bay which consisted of a long and windy, very comfortable, downwind sail along the North shore of Tortola. The Bay is well protected this time of year and is one of the most scenic spots in the islands- long white Sandy beach, palm trees, tall hills in the background, and a straight-line sunset view. Due to the long sail, all boats were showed up at slightly different times and Mooring ball availability was spread out and pretty scarce. Happy Hour was on the 54′ and dinner was on lawn chairs right on the beach. Fun Night!
Day 6 was a quick sail with a short stop at Sandy Cay and then off to Jost Van Dyke for the night. Sandy Cay is one the coolest day spots with a great view of numerous islands. One place a lot of us wanted to check out was the Soggy Dollar Bar in White Bay. While pulling up into the bay, there was absolutely ZERO space as there were at least 100 boats in the small anchorage and 4 times that amount of people lining the beach. It turns out the Soggy Dollar Bar was hosting a Country. With the crowd much too large (although some of us did take a cab over to check out the festivities in White Bay), it was back to Great Harbor for a night at Foxy’s for a group dinner and dancing!
Our final day…After a morning walk on the beach we all packed up and headed to Peter Island through Sopper’s Hole. The sail was real fun and we have now completely circumnavigated Tortola. Peter Island was a very nice, quiet spot which was much needed for the last night, especially after a somewhat wild night at Foxy’s. The snorkeling was great and so was the swimming. The boats that stayed together for the last night all came together for one Happy Hour. In the morning it was a quick motor sail back across the channel to turn in the boats. Most of us stayed the night in Tortola at the hotel while others were able to get a flight home that actually returned that night. The rest of us had a nice last dinner at “The Pub” which was a 10 minute cab ride into town.
Overall, it was a very special and successful trip. Thanks to my crew Jeff, Mary, and Amy along with the captains and crew of the other 4 boats- Brad, Sarah, Corky, Peter, Paul, Anne, Kim, Patti, Greg, Helen, Larrry, and Vanessa. Stay posted for the announcement of our next trip to take advantage of these amazing vacations!