Bareboating the BVI
(Location: British Virgin Islands, Caribbean)
The idea was simple – “why don’t we just charter a sailboat and sail around to different dive spots?”
A few months later we were stepping off a plane in St. Thomas and taking the first ferry to the British Virgin Islands – this was an all day adventure.
We chartered the boat from Conch Charters in Road Town, Tortola. The boat, a Beneteau 432s (43′) was in excellent condition and had three cabins and two heads – “bathrooms” in layman’s terms 🙂 We met up with the other shipmates (Gio and Kris from Orlando and Howard and Susan from D.C.) and plotted our adventure over drinks at the Pub.
We arranged our provisions through the Ample Hamper. We filled out a form at their web site and the boat was stocked when we arrived. Wendy gave us an awesome orientation to the sailing area, specifically noting the good bars and shower locations. We ventured into town that night for last minute provisions and a cd adapter for the stereo – and would you believe we actually found one!
This is not a life of luxury cruising. We were the captain, crew, and cruise directors. We woke up early to get the best mooring at wherever we were headed. The plan was to take a counterclockwise route around the islands, stopping at Norman Island, Cooper Island, Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, North Sound, Trellis Bay, Jost Van Dyke, and Soper’s Hole.
For those who want the details can keep reading beyond the photos. Highlights of the trip include experiencing Juvee (Puerto Rican Easter), having the Baths on Virgin Gorda to ourselves for hours (since we got there at 7am), lounging on the beach at the Bitter End Yacht Club, eagerly paying $4 to use the showers there, dinner at Abe’s Lobster Shack, and the Soggy Dollar Bar at the Sand Castle Hotel on Jost Van Dyke.
- Friday morning we sailed to Norman Island. The hour and a half sail was perfect for the first day and we snagged a really good mooring. We snorkeled at The Caves, then had happy hour aboard the boat while a rain squall passed. We dinghied over to the Willie T (William Thornton) for dinner – great view of the stars from the roof.
- Saturday morning we grabbed a mooring at The Bight and I had my first open water dive. We had a mooring at Cooper Island by lunch and had our first of many bushwackers at the Cooper Island Beach Club. Had an afternoon snorkel, watched the sunset, and then went back to CIBC for dinner – awesome!
- Got up real early Sunday (Easter) morning and were the first boat to the Wreck of the Rhone. Absolutely awesome dive (once we found the wreck). Got a slip at Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor and had wonderful, long, warm showers. Had dinner at the Olde Yard Inn – great buffet and the cab ride there was an adventure.
- Juvee (we think it’s an Easter celebration) lasted all night – there was a bus that drove around the island with a band playing C&C Music Factory “Let’s get this party started right” ALL NIGHT LONG. As soon as it got light out, we headed for the Baths. We were the first ones there and it was amazing – like snorkeling in an aquarium. They have a neat restaurant with bushwackers, a great view, and freshwater pool. When the cruise ship passengers arrived, we headed back to the boat and sailed to North Sound. The Bitter End Yacht Club is fantastic and we spent the afternoon lounging on the beach – then paid $3 to use their showers. We took the ferry to Gun Creek and got a cab to the Pusser’s in Leverick Bay – our table had a view of the Hale-Bopp comet!
- Tuesday we got a late start and only made it to Trellis Bay. We stopped along the way to dive an airplane wreck, but couldn’t find it so we dove a site called The Chimneys. Moored near the Last Resort and got a pitcher of takeout bushwackers (after grounding the dinghy trying to make it over there). Had dinner at the Last Resort and stayed for the singing British owner’s show – quite entertaining.
- Wednesday we had a great sail to Jost Van Dyke. Had dinner at Abe’s Lobster Shack more lobster than we could finish, but we tried! A storm came through that night and it felt like the boat was going in circles all night.
- Thursday we headed for Great Harbor and dropped anchor. We hiked over the hill to White Bay and the Sandcastle Hotel and infamous Soggy Dollar Bar. What a perfect place. Stopped for a drink at Foxy’s before heading back to the boat and sailing to Soper’s Hole. Had dinner at the Jolly Roger – the dinghy ride in the rain was an adventure (note to self, next time bring rain gear).
- Friday we returned the boat to Conch, had a quick lunch at Pusser’s (we had to visit every Pusser’s to get a free Pusser’s flag), and caught the ferry back to St. Thomas. The Stouffer Renaissance is on the opposite side of the island from Charlotte Amalie – and very nice. I have never taken such a long, needed, shower in my life!
- Saturday we lounged around the hotel and realized our room was used for the filming of Weekend at Bernies 2 – we knew it looked familiar 🙂 We met a cool family from Maine and went to dinner at the Hotel 1829 in Charlotte Amalie – one of the best meals we’ve ever had!
- Sunday we headed for the airport, but were bumped from our flight so we had to stay an extra day (darn). Since all our clothes were damp and stinky, we went into town and bought new outfits from Pusser’s. Ahoy!