A Month of Visitors – Part One!

We collected Jez’s parents from the airport at Beef Island after anchoring just outside Trellis Bay, unfortunately bad timing with the Full Moon party ashore and gusty rainy weather, all the moorings were full and many boats anchored outside the protection of the bay had been moved by the Coastguard as they were too close to the runway.   Luckily they had left us alone.

The walk to the airport terminal is less than 5 minutes from the dinghy dock, but unfortunately it wasn’t ‘Welcome to Paradise’ for them as we donned them in wet weather gear and covered their luggage with tarpaulin! As usual they came laden with spare parts and bits that are impossible to buy over here (thank you), but not waterproofs!  Their first night aboard was a choppy one made worse by the wake of the late night ferries careering past from Virgin Gorda.

The weather improved slightly over the next few days, lots of lovely anchorages and plenty of snorkelling.  We anchored and took an aft line ashore at Benures Bay on Norman Island to hold us close to the reef where we snorkelled with turtles and even saw a baby shark (he was more scared of us, thank god!)  We followed the narrow trail across the uninhabited island to the next bay, The Bight, where there is a restaurant at the beach.  After taking a wrong turn we ended up looking down over the bay with no footpath other than a very steep track running down from a communications tower, luckily it had a rope secured at the top of the hill so, reluctant to retrace our footsteps, we abseiled down the hill using the rope. Not easy in flip flops!  When we arrived, rather red faced, at the restaurant on the beach and looked back at the hill, the waitress was speechless when we pointed it out!  We asked her for a better way back and she said ‘by boat’!  We did manage to find the right track back, leading from behind the restaurant – no climbing gear required. The island is narrow so you get wonderful views of both the south and north shores.

m_Joy at Benures Bay

Joy anchored in Benures Bay, with aft line tied to a tree ashore

m_Benures Baym_South Shore Norman Island

We sailed around the west end of Tortola and up to Jos Van Dyke and headed to a bay called Little Harbour.  The holding here is poor with a rocky bottom and so getting a bite with the anchor does prove difficult. Mooring buoys have been placed around the edge of the bay, most were taken and the few that were left either had no pickup line or were in too shallow water for us.  So we attempted to anchor using both our bower anchors set at 45 degrees from each other.  The wind, which had been blowing a swift 20-25 knots all week, came shrieking down the hill side at 30knots+ sending boats all over the place.   Happy that we weren’t dragging the anchors for now, we went ashore to Sydney’s for dinner.   A strange chilled out establishment where you serve yourself behind the bar and write down your drinks on your tab. Luckily we weren’t expected to cook our own dinner as well!  When we returned to Joy the gusts had got stronger, we watched our position closely and decided that we had dragged a little and with a boat on a mooring behind us, and on a lee shore, we would be safer to up anchors and move despite it being late in the evening.

So we motored out of the bay, heading for a spot off Sandy Spit just a couple of miles away, we had a marker on the chart plotter where we had anchored last year, so we knew it was safe and good sand to get a hold.  At least we had a good night’s sleep!

The wind and rain continued for a couple of days (thank god for dominos!), we spent a whole afternoon tacking east to get a better angle to sail to Anegada, and ended up giving in at Guana Island (not far enough east as we had wanted) where we took a mooring buoy for the night as the bottom was rock and coral.  The following day we had a rather tough sail getting to Anegada, the sea was still a short chop but now the lack of  wind was not kind to us and Joy struggled going to windward.  It was however well worth the struggle, the Island is very different from the others as it is flat and sandy surrounded by a huge coral reef.  The waters are very shallow for miles out to sea, and there is a long buoyed channel to get in to the bay. We gingerly crept in as the depth meter went down to 2.4m in places (the same as our draft), a close shave!  There are numerous mooring buoys closer in to the shore, mainly used by charter boats, so we anchored in 3 metres just outside the mooring field.

When we went ashore it was like arriving in paradise.

m_Anchorage Anegadam_Anegada Reef Hotel

Anegada really reminds me of southern Bonaire, but with only 250 residents it is much quieter and remote. The beach at the anchorage is dotted with restaurants so there are lots of places to choose from.  Anegada Reef Hotel (pictured above) has a stunning outlook and friendly staff so we had lunch there which was superb.  The birds also agreed, as they helped me out with my fries.

m_Lunch at Anegada Reef Hotel

To sample the islands famous lobster, we had dinner at Neptune’s Treasure which was so good we went back again the following night after a day exploring the island by hire car.  We saw plenty of birdlife here, including my favourite American Kestrel who landed on a church roof after catching a lizard.

m_American Kestrel on Church Anegada.jpg

We had a much better sail back to Virgin Gorda, a lovely beam reach with 10 knots of wind and glorious sunshine. At last the weather had improved for Jane and Geoff’s stay.  We sailed around Necker Island to show them Richard Branson’s residence, and then anchored close to ‘The Baths’ just south of Spanish Town.  The Baths are a natural collection of massive granite boulders which form pools and caves along the shoreline.  The National Trust maintain a track leading down to the beach where you can enter the caves.  The sign at the entrance warns that you need to be able to crawl & climb ladders and they are not joking. They have installed ropes and ladders to help you climb through the boulders and caves, sometimes squeezing through narrow gaps whilst almost on your knees and then jumping down into natural pools.  It is a totally amazing place, despite the hundreds of cruise ship tourists all doing the same thing – and some coming the other way so there was often a jam up!  We had originally attempted to get there by dinghy as there is a line you can tie up to and swim ashore, but with a huge northerly swell pounding onto the beach surrounded by boulders there were a few people struggling to get back to their dinghies.  We wisely turned away and went to Spanish Town where we caught a taxi!

m_The Bathsm_The Baths2m_The Baths5m_The Baths8

That afternoon we headed back across to Beef Island and into Trellis Bay in readiness for our swap over of guests.  Trellis Bay was a different kettle of fish this time, half empty of boats and flat calm conditions so we took up a mooring buoy for the night. We couldn’t believe how quickly the last two weeks had gone. Despite the poor conditions early on we still had bags of fun and saw so much. The BVI’s are a fair way to come but such a great place for guests, from secluded anchorages to lovely restaurants and the very busy ‘Baths’, we had done it all!  Jane and Geoff caught their flights back to Gatwick the following lunch time, Jez and I hired a car from the airport to go and do some provisioning as my Mum and Sister were arriving that evening at the same airport.  What a turnaround!

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