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Thread: BVI's on a sailboat trip report

  1. #1
    MartinS is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Snead Island, Florida. Posts: 3,102

    BVI's on a sailboat trip report

    BVI sailboat trip.
    January 24th to February 2nd 2014.
    Invited down to BVI’s by a friend from Antigua to sail around for a week. I thought about it for a second, maybe two, and said yes. It was short notice as the trip was only a few weeks away. Lisa and I would be sailing with my friend, Dominic, and his girlfriend, Amber.

    Nice 8:30am flight out of Tampa on Jet Blue. Arrived in San Juan 12:15, on time, and then time came to a standstill. Had to exit the arrival side to find the Cape Air desk and then back through security to try to catch my flight to Beef Island. Security was so slow. I mean, the TSA folks were laughing and joking and cutting up. A dead run to the Cape Air boarding area thinking the flight was all but leaving us behind. What a fool I am. My 1:25 departure left at 3:45….. With no explanation. I do not like San Juan airport.

    So we fly for about an hour, in the clouds, rain, zero visibility, not a lot of fun. There are two small children on board. They must have been scared silent. Up until we got on the small 9 seat plane they were fighting and whining. Our small plane starts flying in a big circle, round and round we go. I’m watching the altimeter and we are not losing any, just flying in a big circle.

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    Suddenly, a break in the cloud, the pilot dives the plane through the hole and just like that, there’s the airport. Wisk through Customs in lightning speed, 30 minute taxi ride and we’re at the marina and soon having a cocktail on the boat. She is nice, for a sailboat I mean. A relatively new 50’ Beneteau (monohull) sailboat. Most of the sailboats down this way are catamarans. With only four of us on board there will be plenty of room.

    Our friends are already on board having flown over from their home in Antigua the day before. We start the task of provisioning the boat for our week long jaunt around the BVI’s. Lots of wine, ok, lots and lots of wine……. A fair size grocery store is a block or so away. Walk over, fill two carts and take a taxi back to the boat. The boat has a large refrigerator and freezer, plenty of cabinets for storing everything out of the way.

    We spend Friday night on board at the dock, cooking steaks on the grill, wine and a perfect breeze. Saturday morning and we’re ready to cut the lines and sail. Attended the mandatory briefing Saturday morning and get a fast run down on the boat. Cut the dock line around noontime, first stop, Norman’s island, a short few hours sail. Every morning gave us a new sunrise view, and it seemed like each day tried to out due the day before.

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    With the wind blowing around 15-18 knots, the sail over was perfect. In less than 3 hours we were tied to a mooring ball surrounded by island music, beautiful yachts and pretty girls doing what they do down here. Show offs. I won’t continuously mention the antics of the sailor girls, but just know that every anchorage brought out the best of them. Maybe it was the rum.

    Norman’s is a good first night out. Willy T’s is here. Google Willy T's BVI and you'll get the idea. If you can get to, and leave, Willy T before dinner you must be a saint. It’s our first “pain killer” of the trip. Wait, I meant to say it’s our first 4 pain killers of the first night of the trip. It’s rum and maybe something else, but mostly rum. How we made dinner I’ll never know.

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    Dinner at the “Pirate” was exceptional. It was the best dinner of the week, except maybe our own grill cooking on-board. Conch chowder, curried chicken and more pain killler’s. It took all our strength not to go back to Willy’s after dinner. But it was very obvious that the much younger crowd had taken over. The music was no longer island music, it was more ear-splitting teckno something or other. We were moored just far enough to not be bothered by the sound. So there is your first lesson, if you come here, do not take a mooring close to Willy’s, they party all night and it is very loud.

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    Sailed off from Norman’s at noon, much later than we wanted to but the pain killers kept us laying around trying to find our bearings. The sail to Virgin Gorda was perfect. 15 to 20 knots winds is great in this boat. Captured a mooring ball, showers and hit the Bitter End Yacht Club for dry land and happy hour. First mistake of the day, we dinked over to Leverick Bay for a cocktail and then had to come back against wind and waves after dark. Another shower and off to dinner at Bitter End. Fantastic dinner, a few more pain killers and back to the yacht for, well, more pain killers. No AC needed, the breeze is blowing great. Fact is we didn’t run the generator all week for AC. We run the engine 2 hours in the morning and evening to keep the batteries up which keeps the refrigeration units running fine.

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    Second day in Virgin Gorda was more of the same, perfect weather. Lisa and I jumped ship at noon and met up with a cabbie at Gunn Creek for a day of adventure. An ex pat we met at Leverick gave us the number of a cabbie, Stambu, that would hang with us for a great island tour. He was great. We did The Baths, I of course slipped and almost became a Med Flight candidate, and we did some sightseeing around the island. He took us to one of the highest point on the island, the Hog Heaven bar and grill, that had the most wonderful view towards Virgin Gorda and the Bitter End. The people here are all very friendly. Our cabbie picked up about 15 kids (10 year olds) from the school, and we dropped them off at their houses. It was great fun!

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    A ferry ride back to the Bitter End Yacht Club from Gun Creek and then the water taxi back to the boat, a quick shower and off to dinner at Saba island. Saba is right next to the Bitter End. Dinner sucked. A great price, a buffet, but kind of like dinner at something even less than Golden Corral. The location was perfect; the food was about a 2 on a scale of 10.

    Overnight on the yacht was again, perfect.

    So now it’s Tuesday, and we plan to head to Anegada Island. A few hours sail in deep Caribbean water. The passing can be perfect or a nightmare. We had 18- 20 knot winds, 6 and the occasional 10 foot seas. The crossing was absolutely perfect. The approach makes my blood pressure steadily rise, water disappears under the boat and coral heads clearly show all around. The entrance channel shows 7ft on the finder, our yacht draws 6 feet……………. Once inside we found a mooring ball and quickly tied up. During the mooring ball maneuvering Dominic slipped and cut a toe, bled all over our nice white deck, in front of all the other yachties at anchor. I piloted in, so I had a drink and a cigar first off. Nerves calmed, all is good. I can smell the lobster grilling on the beach from here…. I must add, I never dreamed that I would make it here, Anegada Island. The view from anchor is breath taking. If you get down this way do not miss this island. It can be a little difficult to get to which makes it that much better to be here.

    The mooring field filled up with cats and a few mono hulls, lots of people having lots of fun. The sailor girls are out in force and the view from our boat is stellar no matter which direction you look. The mooring guy came out and we paid up, $30. was the going rate all over the BVI’s. He suggested Whistling Pines for dinner. We took his suggestion and had a great lobster, drinks and a great sunset here. The seating is right on the beach, toes in the sand. As we sat down, Lisa leaned a little too far back in her chair and it slowly sank in the soft beach sand. She ended up on her back, feet in the air, laughing hysterically. Word of advice, take great care when approaching the beach, lots of coral and shallow water. Use the dingy docks for sure.

    The next morning we went ashore at Potters (restaurant and dingy dock) and met up with a taxi driver named “Domo” and traveled around the island. Goats, white sand beaches, Tee shirts and pain killers. Late lunch at Cow Wreak,, God comes here for vacation I’m sure, or close by I think… Lobster lobster lobster. Best burger, cheese and bacon. Great service and on the beach with a view forever. If you can get here, you can rent a little beach side cottage, private, for not a lot of money. I can see coming back and hanging out.

    Whistling Pines Restaurant

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    Potters Grill and Bar

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    Beach on Anegada
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    Another nice night on the boat. A little rain in the morning to wash the boat and a perfect sunrise. As we prepared to cast off we found our mooring lines had twisted around the shackle and mooring ball. The mooring guy in his little boat saved the day and off we sailed towards Jost Van Dyke. Again a perfect sail with great winds and seas.



    Page two to follow,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Sometimes there's Justice, sometimes there's just us.

  2. #2
    MIke R is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Stinson Lake - New Hampshire & Provincetown - Cape Cod Posts: 52,003
    super!!!!!!...keep em coming..

    reminds me so much of when I was finally able to leave St Croix and head to Houston with the boat and we did many of the stops you did along the way....wonderful part of he Caribbean
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  3. #3
    JEK is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jan 2004 In the ether . . . Posts: 51,677
    This is a better read than those books you are in! Quite the adventure, mate!
    The Marius 100th Birthday Party -- June 5, 2023

  4. #4
    MartinS is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Snead Island, Florida. Posts: 3,102
    Page 2,,,


    About three hours after sailing out from Anegada we dropped the hook in Green Cay for a swim and a little lunch. A great place to snorkel, and a small white sand beach for hanging out. We sailed off for Foxy’s in Great Harbor, only a mile away, but found the anchorage completely full. We moved over to Little Harbor and moored to a ball off of Abe’s restaurant. In this anchorage there is Abe’s restaurant on one side and Harris or Sidney’s Peace & Love on the other side. Went to Harris’s for dinner, service sucked, one wait staff, she was crazy. The place is known for lobster, but you must put your order in early in the day to get it. We had fish that was marketed as grouper. It was not grouper. Great little spot to moor overnight, the restaurants are not so great. Calm water spot, would be a nice spot to grill out on the boat…

    Abe's restaurant
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    Sunrise in Little Bay

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    Friday morning we moved back over to Great Harbor and found a mooring ball. We dinghy in to Foxy’s so I could see it and get a tee-shirt. And, of course, a painkiller.

    Foxy's
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    I'm guessing this swing sees a lot of action at night here at Foxy's,,,,

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    Only on shore about an hour and back to the boat, we want to get moving to Soper’s Hole Wharf and Marina, about a 3 hour sail. The sail was great. A lot of wind and we pushed her a little hard. For the first time we heeled WAY over and stayed there, felt like we were flying. I’ll bet she looks good with the sails full and heeled over.

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    All the mooring balls have boats tied up, so we took a quick vote and decided to try staying at the Soper’s Wharf, our first tie up of the trip. Dominic had been the captain while under sail and I was tasked with moorings and piloting in the anchorages. Well,,, the slip they assigned us was nestled between two super yachts and wedged between dozens of catamarans. Oh, did I mention the wind blowing on the quarter at 15 knots? I was able to get us in without touching anything I shouldn't have touched, but I really don’t know how.

    This place ROCKS. Fantastic patio bar and restaurant, great food, nice live music and friendly people. There are several choices for dining. Dominic and Amber leave on the dingy to meet up with a friend that is also moored there. He sails all over the Caribbean on a sailboat nearly exactly like our boat. They go off to dinner giving Lisa and I some free time. We have diner at Soper’s and listen to the music. Great spot here.
    At this marina is the Caribbean office for Voyage Charters. They charter Voyage catamarans. We tour several boats and decide that this would be a great jump off location for our next trip here. There is a much superior provisioning store here right at the charter base. The store prices are reasonable and they have had a much better selection than the store in Tortola. Im thinking a 50ft Cat for my next excursion down here, which I hope is not too far off.

    We stay up late. Dominic and Amber returned from dinner and we all sat on the boat drinking wine and talking, listening to the music from the patio bar. Life is good. Last night on boat, back to Tortola marina in the morning.

    We wake to find the wind really blowing, 20-25 or better. And to make my morning tense, there are now two more super yachts between me and open water. I mean, it looks like I have a snake river to get away from the dock. I make a plan, tell my crew what we are going to do and prepare to cast off. Then, Superman saves the day….. Dominic’s friend, Marrtan, pulls up in his dingy to says goodby. He too surveyed my situation. He climbed aboard and tied his dingy to our port side. He took the helm and skillfully backed our sail away from the wharf and between the other yachts. As we started to move away from our slip the crews on the super yachts poured out like ants, dropping down fenders in case we got a little too close. Crisis averted.

    Now we are headed back to Tortola and to our original base to drop off the boat.

    The sail back to base was rough, no sail, full on engine.. Light rain, and an end to end rainbow. The wind was up to 25 knots, seas 8 to 10 right on the bow. We arrived back at base around 11:30, stopped at the fuel dock and topped off, and then back to the main slip. We used around 22 gallons of diesel over our week.

    Our plan was to get a hotel on Tortola for the night and fly off to Antigua the next day (Sunday). After looking around we found nothing worth staying at available. Checking with our charter company and we were able to spend one more night on the boat for $50. Great deal and we made the best of it. The marina was quite; we grill out steaks and had many glasses of wine talking about our trip and planning the next one.
    I am so ready to get back there. I would like to go try it just Lisa and I. I think it would be even more fun!

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    Anegada on the mooring

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    Next trip's boat

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    Sometimes there's Justice, sometimes there's just us.

  5. #5
    MIke R is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Stinson Lake - New Hampshire & Provincetown - Cape Cod Posts: 52,003
    what was the dock fee at Sopers?
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  6. #6
    katva is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2009 Posts: 4,769
    Beautiful boat, and what a trip! Thanks for the report----looks like a blast!
    If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room :)

  7. #7
    MartinS is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Snead Island, Florida. Posts: 3,102
    Sometimes there's Justice, sometimes there's just us.

  8. #8
    KevinS is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Boston Posts: 19,627
    Nice!

  9. #9
    Grey is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jun 2009 New York Posts: 2,006
    Martin, thanks for this. This was fun to read.

  10. #10
    JoshA is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Aug 2005 Annapolis Posts: 4,106
    Great trip report, Martin! I was smiling at your experience thinking how great it is sailing in the BVIs for the first time. Love that place.

    We watched last year's superbowl at the brand new upscale Pirates last year. I heard it burned down and they did a temporary replacement. From your pictures, it looks like they did a great job. We avoided the Willy T last year knowing we wouldn't be able to get up the next morning if we went. Did anyone get free drinks?

    The BVIs are addictive. Disneyland for sailors.

  11. #11
    cec1 is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2008 Posts: 5,231
    Beautiful report, Martin . . . great reading and photos!

  12. #12
    amyb is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 25,411
    Great read, Martin. Keep.having fun guys!
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  13. #13
    MartinS is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Snead Island, Florida. Posts: 3,102
    Soper's was $65..... Didn't need power or water....
    Sometimes there's Justice, sometimes there's just us.

  14. #14
    MartinS is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Snead Island, Florida. Posts: 3,102
    " Did anyone get free drinks?"

    A few free drinks poured while I was there, however, I am sworn to secrecy as far as my shipmates participation... After dark it started going off the scale crazy, geared toward the young folks from Tortola there on their go-fast boats. It was a Saturday night too... The music went from JB to ghetto blasting at sunset.....

    Pirates was fantastic. The best food and service of the trip, except our on-board grilling. Our galley wenches ​were very accommodating after a few pain killers...
    Sometimes there's Justice, sometimes there's just us.

  15. #15
    MIke R is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Stinson Lake - New Hampshire & Provincetown - Cape Cod Posts: 52,003
    Quote Originally Posted by MartinS View Post
    Soper's was $65..... Didn't need power or water....

    its amazing to me how cheap dock and mooring rates are compared to here..I would have thought the opposite..

    when I was budgeting how much fixed living expenses would be for the Tub for Two I figured way more than what it is...nice
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  16. #16
    Goooner is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Aug 2012 Posts: 1,050
    Wow, what incredible photos.

  17. #17
    MartinS is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Snead Island, Florida. Posts: 3,102
    Mooring balls were great, no need to tie up overnight at the dock really. In our case it was that or way out from the anchorage where the wind would have played with us all night. There are several places to pull into for water, fuel or picking up provisions. Soper's by far had the best selection when it came to a real grocery store with deli and liquor and all.... We took on about 150 gallons of water at Bitter End for less than $20.......
    Sometimes there's Justice, sometimes there's just us.

  18. #18
    MartinS is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Snead Island, Florida. Posts: 3,102
    And you quickly learn which mooring ball to grab,,, like not close to shore, and not close to the restaurant or a place like Willy T.... Loud late into the night.......
    Sometimes there's Justice, sometimes there's just us.

  19. #19
    MIke R is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Stinson Lake - New Hampshire & Provincetown - Cape Cod Posts: 52,003
    yep..I much prefer mooring balls....way way more privacy than a dock slip
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  20. #20
    MIke R is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Stinson Lake - New Hampshire & Provincetown - Cape Cod Posts: 52,003
    and we get 65 for a mooring ball and 175 for a slip..so the rates down there are incredibly good
    "When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace" Jimi Hendrix

  21. #21
    julianne is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2003 CT Posts: 3,082
    Wonderful report, Martin. Thanks! Brought back many, many great memories. If you liked the BVI, you would love the Grenadines. Ever sailed there?

  22. #22
    MartinS is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Snead Island, Florida. Posts: 3,102
    Not yet Julianne,, but it's on my list.....
    Sometimes there's Justice, sometimes there's just us.

  23. #23
    sbhlvr is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Sep 2009 Dunes of Cape Cod Posts: 1,757
    Martin, loved your report. It made me think of our trip too long ago. Dave and I can't wait to see you and Lisa and talk about it.
    There's no dumb a$$ vaccine

  24. #24
    MartinS is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Snead Island, Florida. Posts: 3,102
    I'm there April 28 for a week,,, and back on June 1st for a week or so,,,,
    Sometimes there's Justice, sometimes there's just us.

  25. #25
    sbhlvr is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Sep 2009 Dunes of Cape Cod Posts: 1,757
    we arrive on the 30th until the 8th at P'tit Morne
    There's no dumb a$$ vaccine

  26. #26
    dalbys is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Apr 2003 Manakin Sabot, Penhook and Cape Charles, VA Posts: 55
    Thanks for the wonderful report! We were on a 47ft monohull this Feb 8-15 sailing around the BVI's. It was fabulous!! I totally agree with you about the food at Pirates Bight on Norman. It was the best meal on shore we had the whole trip! We'll be back next year and we'll definitely try some of the things you did that we didn't especially Anegada.

  27. #27
    MartinS is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Snead Island, Florida. Posts: 3,102
    Anegada could take up 3 or 4 days if you are into hiking. The restaurants were great too.

    We were on the boat until around Feb 1st. Already planning another trip, next time a big cat I think. And maybe just Lisa and I, I think it will be fun... Im also researching the Spanish Virgins ,,, maybe a trip there too....
    Sometimes there's Justice, sometimes there's just us.

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