Tag Archives: BVI sailing adventure

Grand BVI Sailing Adventure: Part 4

And now, the last installment of Jeff’s guest post!

The next morning we navigated to Great Harbor to explore Foxy’s Yot Klub, where we met and talked to the one and only Foxy. He was wearing his Make America Great Again hat, and kept us fully entertained with his many jokes and stories. Upon departing Great Harbor the yacht was sailed on a beam reach around the West End of Tortola, then sailed upwind along Sir Francis Drake Channel to the Indians for one more snorkel. Since we were tacking the entire way up the channel, I pointed out that we were theoretically violating US border laws by countlessly crossing the BVI/US line. Prior to clearing customs, a sailor is supposed to hang a yellow “Q” flag, a.k.a., Quarantine Flag, from the starboard spreader. Since we already cleared BVI customs, the Q flag would theoretically be raised every time the line is crossed into US waters, and lowered every time we crossed BVI waters. That’s a lot of flag raising. A border wall would have stopped us for sure! After snorkeling the Indians, we stayed the night at Norman Island.

On Day 7 we awoke to stormy, windy conditions. According to the weather report, it was supposed to clear up by mid-morning, so we decided to motor our way for our second dive at the RMS Rhone. Our perseverance rewarded us with a nice sunny, warm dive. After diving we navigated to Great Harbor at Peter Island, and took the dinghy over to Willy T’s. Willy T’s used to reside at Norman Island, but the ship was destroyed by Hurricane Irma. A new ship was christened, and the new Willy T’s was relocated to Peter Island. However, an injunction was filed against Willy T’s giving them until June leave Peter Island, so their future is currently uncertain. Dinner and drinks at Willy T’s were fabulous.

The next morning, after coffee, the yacht was sailed on a spirited beam reach in 20+ knot winds back to Roadtown, Tortola. After safely docking the boat – this time in full daylight conditions – we reflected over beers on a great 7 days of sailing, snorkeling, and diving, and decided that we would give it a go again in 2 years!


Grand BVI Sailing Adventure: Part 3

Jeff’s (very long) guest post continues!

Day 4 represented our first change to the planned schedule. Originally the plan was to sail off-shore looking for whales, diving or snorkeling at the Dog Islands, then sailing back to Guana Island for the night. After talking to the local dive shop regarding local reef conditions, we decided to grab a mooring buoy at Marina Cay where a dinghy could be taken to nearby Diamond Reef. With the Dinghy Mount now perfected, the crew felt comfortable diving off the dinghy. Diamond Reef is a very well developed reef, providing considerable vertical relief and an assortment of large coral and fish. A noticeable current was present at both ends of the reef, but provided a good indicator of when to reverse course. During this dive we saw a small school of large sea bass, standard reef fish, and some good-sized lobsters.

Day 5 left us with empty dive tanks, which provided an opportunity to explore the luxurious Scrub Island Resort while filling the tanks at the dive shop. Rooms on this private island go for $800-$1,000/night, but the views are spectacular. We lounged at the bar and pool while absorbing the laid-back island life. After the island visit, it was a downwind sail in 20-25 knot winds to Jost Van Dyke. We arrived later than expected and most of the mooring buoys were taken, so we moored at the less-desirable, but quiet Little Harbor. The dinghy was piloted one cove over to Foxy’s Taboo Bar, where we sampled a couple of Pain Killers. After finishing our refreshments we hiked to the Bubbly Pool. The Bubbly Pool consists of a long narrow channel set in carved steep rock leading to a shallow pond. When the waves are high, seawater violently rushes up the channel and into the pond creating a back and forth washing machine action, which massages the body.


After a long dinghy ride back to the boat we cleaned up, then watched the sunset while sipping on cold brew. Our plan was to eat dinner at Foxy’s bar in Great Harbor, but a storm delayed our departure. The winds increased considerably during the storm, and our yacht’s mooring line somehow got tangled on keel. When we tried to untangle the lines, the poorly-maintained mooring line broke. After some quick maneuvering, the yacht was carefully weaved through the scattered moored boats out to deeper water in the harbor. First crisis averted!

Circling the star-lit harbor allowed time to evaluate options and potential plans, none of which were fully embraced. Pat and James were deployed to the dinghy to explore whether there were any open mooring buoys or available docks, while Jose and I continued circling the harbor pondering alternatives. Pat broadcast on the hand-held radio that he found a dock, so we navigated through the moored boats to observe the location. The first dock he located was not long enough, but a second option was possible. It wasn’t the best place to dock being fully concrete with no rubber or wood fenders, but it still offered the best solution to our current situation. Luckily the crew was previously briefed on how to properly throw a line and the usage of a spring line before departing Roadtown, so everything was in place for a successful night time docking maneuver. Once the dock was within range, Jose heaved the line to Pat who set the spring line on the dock. I motored against the spring line and brought the yacht to the dock for a soft, uneventful landing. Time for some more Pain Killers!


<MB comment: That was quite the sticky situation! Trying to maneuver in unfamiliar territory – in the dark – was not a trivial exercise. If they hadn’t found a dock, there weren’t a lot of good alternative solutions. Jeff texted me with their tale of woe late that night – and then I needed a Pain Killer!>

The last installment is next up …..

Grand BVI Sailing Adventure: Part 2

Jeff’s guest post continues!

The second day entailed diving the famous Royal Mail Ship (RMS) Rhone, after completing an upwind spirited sail in 15-20 knot winds to Salt Island. The RMS Rhone was wrecked off the western point of Salt Island during a hurricane in 1867, killing 123 people. Apparently, the practice at the time was to tie passengers to their beds to prevent injury during rough seas. This practice likely led to the high number of casualties. The ship broke in two after striking a reef, leaving large bow and stern sections. Only 25 people survived the wreck. The bow section is located in 80’ of water while the stern section is located in 30’ of water, which makes for a great dive profile provided you do the deeper bow section first. The sailing masts are still evident laying on the sea floor. The RMS Rhone was featured in the 1977 film, “The Deep” starring Jacqueline Bisset. Pat and James, two of our crew members, saw a rather large Barracuda, appropriately named Fang, inside the ship’s bow while diving. Both of us saw a 6’ Black-Tipped Reef Shark swimming about during our dives.

Night two and dinner was spent at Manchioneel Bay on Cooper Island. After a fine dinner, we visited a Rum Bar which featured multiple vertically-stacked rows of rare-aged rums, unique house infusions featuring flavored and spiced rums, and classic cocktails made with Caribbean rums. After imbibing various samplings at the Rum Bar, it was time make our way back in the dark to Jillsee, our yacht. MB’s repurposed night-running arm bands provided a flashing homing beacon to follow. Without some kind of homing beacon, it would have been much more difficult to discern our yacht from the other fifty yachts that peppered the dark bay.

Day 3 yielded another early start, departing around 7:00 a.m. from our comfortable night spot to the famous Baths. The Baths are one of those “must do” spots in the BVI, created from immense granite boulders un-neatly stacked in various ways and varying heights. The jumbled granite abruptly meets pristine white sandy beaches bordering the Baths. After attaching the dinghy to the dinghy line and swimming ashore, we proceeded into the well-marked pathway leading into the Baths. Progress through the maze is assisted by set ropes, steep stairs, and colored direction arrows painted on the granite. Ankle to waist-deep salt-water pools are dispersed in and around the granite maze.

After a short dinghy ride back to Jillsee, we sailed predominantly close-hauled in 15 knot winds to Leverick Bay located in the North Sound of Virgin Gorda Island, a journey of about 9 miles as the crow flies. The North Sound area is home to two of Sir Richard Branson’s islands, Mosquito Island and Necker Island. Both of these islands operate high-end resorts. Barack Obama visited Mosquito Island in 2017, where he learned how to kite surf. Another nearby island, Eustatia Island, is owned by the CEO of Google (Larry Page). All of these islands are within view of North Sound.

After piloting the boat into North Sound, the crew readied the yacht for docking at Leverick Bay Resort and Marina, which was our first planned slip location in the islands. The yacht was cautiously backed into the assigned slip so that shore power could be connected. After refilling our water tank, plugging in shore power, and turning on the air conditioning, we ventured over to the local bar for happy hour. Jumbies Beach Bar has the pirate show hosted by the legendary Michael Beans, which after 2 for 1 pain killers, was magically entertaining for his “Happy Arrrrr”.

“Happy Arrrr” doesn’t last forever, so afterwards a taxi ferried us up to Hog Heaven Restaurant for some heavenly ribs and chicken, and of course more pain killers. The view from the top of the mountain restaurant was spectacular and the food was extremely tasty.

The next morning we could not help but to notice the very high-technology boat next to us in the slip. This roughly 30 plus foot, fully-enclosed go fast boat, was equipped with all the most modern electronics. The dock hands informed us that this boat was owned by Larry Page who uses it for transportation and joy rides to and from his island. While leisurely sipping on our morning coffee we observed a Captain on a 45’ catamaran, who inadvertently forgot to untie a dock line, lose control and collide with the dock and the corner of a building. Ouch! After briefing our crew on the dock departure plan we left our slip without incident…..whew!

And the adventure continues on the next post ……

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 ……