Grand BVI Sailing Adventure: Part 1

This begins a multi-part post about Jeff’s fantastic sailing adventure in the British Virgin Islands last month. I didn’t go along because, well, I’m just not into that. Plus it was a “guy” trip! I enjoyed staying solo in Orlando, experiencing peace/quiet and playing with Sean and friends. Win-win! Here’s Jeff’s guest post:

Several months ago a good friend of mine suggested that we take a sailboat around the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Although I had ventured into BVI waters before, this was the first time as Captain. After finalizing the crew (4 total including me) we settled on renting a 2017 42’ Jenneau 3-cabin yacht, leaving out of Roadtown, BVI. The general plan was to circumnavigate Tortola BVI, visiting a number of out islands and coves along the way.

The BVI is one of the top sailing destinations in the world, and there are virtually unlimited options regarding sailboat rentals. They are blessed with consistent trade winds, line-of-sight navigation, stunning mountainous scenery, spectacular snorkeling, pleasant diving, and white fine-sand beaches. The warm, clear waters are exactly what you expect of a tropical paradise. As the sun rises it continually develops and refines the inviting blue/green water. The reefs are healthy, well-developed, and colorful. The biggest problem to overcome is how to spend the limited 7 days on the yacht!

All of us are certified divers, so it seemed natural to obtain scuba gear and tanks for the week. One of our crew members had a BVI dive shop deliver 4 tanks and gear directly to the yacht. Getting to the BVI was relatively painless, but required some careful advance planning since we needed to first fly into USVI, then take a ferry over to Roadtown, BVI. Alternatively, we could have flown directly to BVI, but the cost of flights were substantially more expensive, even after factoring in ferries, hotels, and taxis.

Since all of us left from different States, we opted to stay on the yacht Friday night to ensure all crew members were present for a Saturday mid-morning departure. This also allowed time to provision the yacht on Friday afternoon, and get familiar with the yacht systems prior to departure. Friday night was spent sampling the local brew, and socializing with some of the Captains who happened by our occasionally loud pre-departure party. One of the Captains met up with us from time to time as we circumnavigated around the islands, after comparing notes and determining that our planned itinerary seemed better than his! Since none of the other crew members had previously visited BVI, an aggressive but flexible schedule was prepared for the week. This schedule was predominantly followed, but altered several times to accommodate additional diving activities.

The first sailing day entailed sailing a beam to broad reach in consistent 15 knot winds across Sir Francis Drake Channel, with snorkeling planned at the Indians. Upon arriving at the Indians we waited for a National Park mooring buoy for about a ½ hour, but still had enough time to snorkel most of the Indians. After a delightful snorkel, our first overnight mooring buoy was secured at Norman Island. After snagging dinner reservations at Pirates Bight Bar and Grill, the dinghy was launched on its maiden voyage to our second snorkeling site of the day, the Caves.

The Caves consist of three deep water-cut tunnels carved into Norman Island. One of the caves extended about 100’ into the mountainside and another consisted of a deep, well-developed arch which projected sunlight from the opposite side.

After snorkeling the Caves, it was time for our inaugural water entry into the dinghy. There are three ways to enter a dinghy from the water: using a dinghy ladder which is the easiest; pulling yourself up and over the dinghy pontoons while forcefully kicking with fins (this is not very easy for us old guys); and the Dinghy Mount. Since we did not have a dinghy ladder, the Dinghy Mount was the preferred method. The Dinghy Mount consists of laying on your back in the water and reaching up over the pontoons while grabbing the handles. The key is making sure you grab the handles on top of the pontoons, not the side. While floating peacefully in the water on your back with your legs fully stretched out, you essentially do a back flip into the dinghy by throwing your legs over your head and into the dinghy while your head dips down in the water, then pulling yourself the remaining way into the dinghy (since your legs and most of your body are now in it). U-tube has some wonderful videos of how to do this technique, and it is a great safety maneuver if you are too tired to complete another entry. After one or two false starts we all were able to successfully accomplish the Dinghy Mount! After cleaning up, we piloted the dinghy to the Pirates Bight and had a wonderful BBQ rib/chicken dinner, while watching the sunset over the horizon. What an awesome first day!

<MB editorial comment:  I’m just picturing the boys attempting the “dingy mount”. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!! THAT might have been worth the trip to just see it!! >

The adventure continues ……


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