What can be better than cruising in the British Virgin Islands? Not much! While all of the islands of the Caribbean are beautiful, there just isn’t another spot that quite equals the beauty of the BVI. The islands are near each other, making cruising a breeze, the weather is warm and the water temperature matches the air, the reefs that surround the islands are healthy and loaded with coral and fish, the water is crystal clear and gorgeous, and there is a spark of whimsy that surrounds everyone who is nearby. But there is one thing that has made this part of the adventure even better: that is having dear friends arrive in Tortola with almost no notice at all to share the days of fun.
When we figured out on Monday, the 23rd, that we would be able to arrive in Virgin Gorda in the BVI on Wednesday, we called Chris and Sam to see if there was any chance they could hop a flight to join us for a few days of boating. We knew they hadn’t been to these islands before and, as they had met us in Canada and in Grenada, we thought it would be great fun to have them experience our favorite cruising grounds with us as well. By the end of the next day, reservations were made and we were all excitedly awaiting their arrival on Friday, January 27th.Entering the BVI we passed Richard Branson’s home where the Obamas were relaxing after the Inauguration.Back in the BVI
Our trip to Virgin Gorda, once again, was flawless. We had gentle winds and calm seas and our twelve-hour ride just flew by. We picked up a mooring and decided to stay there for two nights while we waited for Friday to come. Thursday was spent doing what little preparation we could for our guests, but the truth is, with such a spur of the moment visit, there was not much we could do! We had plenty in the freezer, the shelves were stocked with goods, and we knew that with Chris and Sam we could just be completely informal and relaxed. As long as we had some wine, some rum, and some gin and tonics, we were good to go!Traveling to Soper’s Hole. I love the BVI!Chris and Sam’s ferry arrived!
Friday morning we moved to Soper’s Hole, which is on the west end of Tortola, and picked up a mooring. Chris and Sam flew into St. Thomas and took a ferry to Tortola, arriving around 3:15 PM. John took the dinghy in and met them after they passed through Customs and Immigration and from that time on the fun never ended. Chris loves to load up her huge red canvas bag with treats for us and we couldn’t have been happier to see goodies that we haven’t seen in a very long time. Thomas’ English Muffins, Cheez Itz, and steaks had been sorely missed over the past year, and they appeared in the bag along with gifts, banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, popcorn, quinoa, coffee, pretzels, dog treats for Kirby, and so much more. It was like Christmas!
Chris made it to Foxy’sThis crazy sign is new even since we were here last summer.Strolling the main street on Jost Van DykeFor $5 a person Rena took us to the Soggy Dollar.This bar is called the Soggy Dollar because there is no where to take a dinghy to shore so, if you come by boat, you swim in and therefore have soggy dollars.Going back to Great Harbour by taxi we spotted AfterMath and asked to stop and take a picture.Sam got the little hammock.John got the big one!At the barbeque.
We started off Saturday morning for Jost Van Dyke, one of my favorite islands in the BVI. We needed to arrive early enough to get a mooring in Great Harbour, the nicest anchorage there, and the one that would allow us access to Foxy’s. Foxy’s has been a favorite place for us on all of our trips to the BVI. The first time we went there was over 30 years ago. It has changed over the years, and this time we didn’t get to see the star of the bar, Foxy himself, but we did get to attend the delicious barbeque on Saturday night. During the day, though, we took a fun cab ride to the Soggy Dollar Bar, a well-known spot on the island. After going back to Great Harbour the guys climbed in hammocks while Chris and I swam at the beach. We had fun meeting other boaters and chatting about their adventures as well. All in all, our day on Jost Van Dyke was perfect.
Sam on the path up to the top of the hill at Marina Cay.That’s a potato chip tower. A tower of chips covered with blue cheese dressing, lettuce and tomatoes. Amazing!An ingenious way to hand us a dessert menu. Of course we all had to look through it!And another day ends on Marina Cay.
The next day took us to Marina Cay, another lovely spot. There we walked around the island, took a look in the Pussers Gift shop and stopped for the famous Pussers Rum Painkillers and a potato chip tower in the restaurant. It was a relaxing and wonderful day aboard AfterMath and onshore.
Dramatic clouds started our morning.The first view of The Baths after swimming to shore.The trail going up to the restaurant.AfterMath at a mooring near The Baths
Monday morning looked cloudy at first, but quickly cleared as we traveled to the famous Baths, again on Virgin Gorda. The Baths is a national park in the BVI and they are breathtaking. To get to the main attraction from a boat, you pick up a mooring and then dinghy in to the roped off swimming area. From there it is a good swim until you meet the beach. At the beach, boulders as large as 40 feet in diameter are scattered together in such a way that pools are formed inside what seem to be huge rooms of granite. To pass through the boulders, there are places you need to duck, turn sideways, use a rope to climb, and traverse ladders both up and down. It really is not difficult at all, and it is just spectacular. After passing through the rooms and pools you end up at Devil’s Bay, a gorgeous beach. To get back to your starting point, however, you must either once again go through the boulders or take the path up the hill to the overlooking restaurant and then take the stairs back down to the beach. There were quite a few cruise boat passengers when we were there and they slowed down progress in the caves, so we chose the hill route. Once again, we had to swim back to the dinghy before getting back on AfterMath, so we all felt as though we had gotten some exercise for the morning.Snorkeling near our boat at Norman IslandThat colorful fish is John Daigle!Do you see the cute puffer fish above?The next stop, still on Monday, was Norman Island. This island is uninhabited, peaceful and beautiful, and really only available to boaters. There was a beautiful reef only a short distance from AfterMath so we all donned snorkeling gear and hopped off the swim platform. I was so happy to see such colorful coral of so many different types there. Much of the Caribbean coral has been dying off, but here we saw countless varieties in a rainbow of colors. Of course the fish were the best part of the show. The underwater world never ceases to amaze me.The Indians near Norman IslandAn entrance to a cave at Norman IslandThat’s SamA school of blue tangs. I’ve never seen anything like this before.And that’s Chris!
We decided to stay another night at Norman Island as we wanted to go out to see the rock formations known as The Indians and also we wanted to snorkel at the caves along the wall of the island. The Indians can be snorkeled, but there was a swell that none of us wanted to take on, so we just checked them out from the dinghy before motoring on in to the caves. Here the water was calm and clear and the fish were happy for our company. They just swarmed around us and it truly was like swimming in an aquarium. Again, the corals and the fish were spectacular.Willy T’s boat bar.They did eventually jump, but we had tied up Tangent by then.Painkillers all around at Willy T’sLater in the afternoon we took Tangent, the dinghy, to Willy T’s, a boat that has been made into a bar in the harbor. Willy T’s is a peppy place with a typical bar crowd enjoying Painkillers and every other type of drink imaginable. It has an upstairs area as well and from there those that are brave jump into the water below. It is a fun place for all! And, no, we didn’t jump.When evening came we went to the calmer and more elegant restaurant on the beach of Norman Island. There we had a delicious dinner of seafood and we sat and reminisced about what a wonderful visit we had with our dear friends from way back.
Wednesday morning came too soon and we had to return to Soper’s Hole so Chris and Sam could catch their ferry back to St. Thomas. We went to shore with them to bid them goodbye and to check out of the BVI ourselves, as we were headed to St. John, a US Virgin Island, that afternoon. To say that their visit added to our pleasure would be an understatement. We will always remember the dinners, the laughs, the adventures and the fun of our time together in the BVI.
John and I moved the boat to St. John’s that day, then to St. Thomas on Friday. Saturday brought us to Culebra and Sunday found us in Puerto Rico at the Puerto del Rey Marina. Our adventure continues here, as we will do a little touring and some boat maintenance before moving along the southern coast of this island. We still have 1200 miles to go before we are back on the United States mainland and we are keeping our April 1st goal in mind. But for now, we are living our dream everyday and we thank Chris and Sam for helping make our trip even better.
This is where we are today: