Voyage of Traveler / Blog

February 14, 2010

Traveler Postcard From the BVIs

February 13, 2010

Hi, Everyone,

We just cleared out with Customs and Immigration for the British Virgin Islands after five fabulous days here.  Columbus discovered the archipelago, as with so many other islands in the Caribbean, on his second voyage in 1493.  He saw countless islands, all uninhabited, and named them “Las Once Mil Las Virgins” after the legendary St. Ursula and the 11,000 virgins. The Brits annexed the BVIs in 1672, and they’ve British ever since.

Virgin Gorda. The island was dubbed the ‘Fat Virgin’ by Columbus because of its shape.  We arrived at dawn and started out the day at 0700 by picking up a mooring at The Baths National Park for a couple of hours or so, but we liked it so much we spent the whole day there.  If you haven’t been there, imagine a tropical beach with huge rounded granite boulders piled high along the water’s edge, creating interesting caves and passages to explore and tide pools for swimming. We highly recommend The Baths for a memorable day at the beach.  The next day we motor sailed up to the north easterly tip of the island to the Bitter End Yacht Club, the yachting haven for the Virgins.  This yacht club has it all: fun bars and restaurants, live entertainment, dive shop, junior sailing program, dozens of moorings for visiting yachts, laundry services, a well-stocked market and a gift shop.  I bought a souvenir hat, of course (I have quite the hat collection going, from all over the world.)

Salt Island.  This island is famous for diving the wreck of the HMS Rhone, a modern (when she sank 142 years ago), luxury British mail ship powered by both steam and sail.  She blew a boiler trying to outrun a hurricane.  124 men drowned with only a few survivors, even though the ship went down just 100 yards from shore.  Dive magazines rank it as one of the top five or ten wreck dives in the world and the best in the Caribbean.  Kellie and I did a dive on our own, without a guide, using our own tanks and dive gear.  This is the wreck where the 1977 movie The Deep with Jacqueline Bisset and Nick Nolte was filmed.  It is now the home to many tropical fish, eels and lobster, and covered in gorgeous soft and hard corals.

Norman Island. At The Bight, a well-protected natural harbor, we picked up a mooring for the night then went ashore for a pirate-themed happy hour.  No worries, mate.  We had an $18 rum drink called a ‘painkiller’ served out of a bright orange child’s plastic beach bucket.  ARRRRGH! The highlight for this island was exploring the Pirate Caves by dinghy late in the afternoon, after all the day-trippers had left and we had the popular place to ourselves.  The two caves are quite deep, going back maybe 40 yards or so, and turn 90 degrees to the right after the entrance, so you need a flash light (which we had) to see the cave’s walls and ceiling.  And all the while the surge is gently pushing the dinghy around in the eerie darkness.  Double ARRRRRGH!

Tortola.  We stopped at Road Town, the capital of the BVIs, for lunch and a look around, then cruised on up to Cane Garden Bay.  We had a good time listening to some live entertainment as the sunset lit the sky with pink and purple colors, looking out at about 30 boats bobbing on their moorings in the bay. Brian and Kellie went back ashore after dinner, met some other yachties their age and had more fun until the wee hours.

Jost Van Dyke.  This is the only island I know of that is named after a pirate.  Van Dyke, based out of this strategically located island, was so successful raiding Spanish galleons on their way from Santo Domingo back to Spain that he founded a colony here.  The island today has only about 500 residents and no paved roads.  It does have one very popular bar: Foxy’s, on the beach at the island’s only village, Great Harbour.  We also spent some time exploring on the neighboring islet called Sandy Cay, and Brian and Yansen went surfing on a head-high north swell kicked up by a winter storm in the far away north Atlantic.

We loved the BVIs, and easily see how it got the reputation of being one of the best cruising destinations in the world.

Next stop, the US Virgin Islands, where Yansen gets to use his US visa.  He is pumped up.

Living the Dream,
Michael
with Kellie, Brian and Yansen

4 Comments »

  1. Great to see you by the baths in Virgin Gorda last week. I hope you have safe travels!

    Comment by Steve Carlton — February 16, 2010 @ 6:01 pm

  2. I have been there about 5 years ago for a holiday/english cruose in August. I have stayed close to St. Juliens; the area of St. Juliens was very lively with plenty of clubs for young people and language students but outside the main area it was all very quiet, in fact there was an horse in a field just opposite the house I was living in. That made it a bit unsafe because it was dark and my flatmate got the handbag snatched (so just be careful at night). The beaches were ok to get some sun and swim a bit but they weren’t the best. I have found a very good beach with christal clear waters and partially rocky called Paradise beach, and also in one of the islands i think it was Gozo there were no facilities at the beaches, just pure nature the islands are indeed pretty quiet. The temperature was very high, which I loved it, never seen a cloud, the water of the sea was very warm too and I didn’t need a towel after swimming as the sun dried me in 10 mins.The main colour of the landscapes was yellow and I thought the arabic influence was obvious pretty much everywhere. There will certainly be excursions to do, the hotel will be able to advise on that, or even offer and book. I remember I wanted to do an excursion on jeeps which unfortunately was fully booked, so I choosed a trip to Valletta and to another town (can’t remember the name), I didn’t have time to do an excursion to a cave in the sea which would have been interesting.I hope this helps!

    Comment by Serkan — October 2, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

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