Sailing the British Virgin Islands, Day 3 (Part II)

The Baths

Monday, 13 April 2009

    • The Baths, a collection of huge rocks and boulders on the south end of Virgin Gorda, is a popular place for hiking, swimming and snorkeling. Popular with cruise ship tours, it can get crowded, so we’ve planned our visit for late in the day. Rather than take the dinghy and wade to shore, (not something I relished doing with my camera gear), we opt to arrive by land, taking a 10-minute taxi ride from Spanish Town.
    • The island night life is getting started early. Loud music is playing everywhere, as we happen to be in the BVIs on a holiday weekend (Easter Monday). Our taxi has to make a bit of a detour to avoid a slow-moving parade.
  • The cab drops us off and the driver agrees to return at six to pick us up.
  • A short walk down through boulders to the beach and The Baths. Unfortunately, we’ve arrived too late to walk through the Caves, which close after 4:30, so we content ourselves with the beautiful beach.
  • Rick, Karen, Anne and Jenny snorkel around the rocks while Mary walks down the beach and I take photos. It’s a perfect time to be here, very few people and great light at the end of the day.
  • We return to the yacht club to make good use of the shower facilities and then enjoy dinner on board, delicious grilled chicken.
  • Unfortunately, Spanish Town is party central this weekend and we’re serenaded by the dueling sound systems of two outdoor bars. Non-stop reggae blaring until midnight. A complete opposite from the tranquility of our quiet anchorage the night before. We all make a note to scratch Spanish Town off our list of repeat visits.
Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor

Sailing the British Virgin Islands, Day 3 (Part I)

Monday, 13 April 2009

Sail from Peter Island to Spanish Harbor, Virgin Gorda

    • The sun and the crew are up at 6:30 a.m. Coffee and breakfast topside.
    • From the boat, wildlife spotted on Peter Island include wild goats and brown pelicans.
    • Anne, Jenny and Rick familiarize themselves with the workings of the cockpit GPS, something we’re not used to sailing with at home. They plot our course to Virgin Gorda, with a stopover at Cooper Island for lunch.
    • By 8:30, we’ve got the boat stowed and we’re underway.

House on the Hill

    • A nice sail through the Sir Francis Drake Channel, past Dead Chest and Salt Island, over to Cooper Island where we pick up a mooring ball and have lunch. The view of a rocky outcropping between Cooper and Salt Island behind us is absolutely spectacular. Shimmering blue green water, bright blue sky and puffy white clouds. To the north, rainstorms look to be heading down the channel toward us, but no one minds. We chill out on deck, waiting out the weather.
    • After a couple of hours, we head off again, chasing continuing bands of rain clouds, but up ahead the sun is shining on our destination, the island of Virgin Gorda.
    • We pop up the sail and the jib, the crew beginning to fall into a rhythm on the new boat. With Rick at the helm, Jenny mans the sail up on the foredeck while Anne raises the mainsail. I tail and take over for her to get the sail all the way up. (This is a much larger sail than we’re used to and none of us has the greatest upper-body strength.) Then Anne and Jenny let out the jib. We’re flying now.
    • We sail in the best wind we’ve had so far. The sky clears, the temperature returns to a balmy warmth and we’re jetting past Ginger Island and Fallen Jerusalem.
Round Rock
  • All eyes out for “traffic” on the water (not much to speak of) including lobster traps bobbing on the surface. The GPS keeps us on course.
  • Coming in to Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor is a bit of a trick, with its narrow entry around a shallow reef right at the mouth of the harbor.
  • Though we’ve called ahead for a slip, it’s not clear which one is ours so we just take the first one we see. Our entry is less than picture-perfect and we employ all the bumpers one after the other to keep the boat from hitting the corner of the dock. Yikes.
  • After paying for our slip and picking up the key to the bathroom/showers, we top off our water tanks and arrange for a cab to take us the the island’s premier attraction, The Baths.