Tortola, British Virgin Islands 18:23.9N 64:38.16W
of the reasons to get to the Virgin Islands by the New Year was to welcome in
Geoff Holt, a quadriplegic sailor who was crossing the Atlantic.
Although there were two others on board (a personal carer and a media
correspondent, Geoff was attempting to do all the sailing himself. The trip had
been plagued with difficulties and instead of the original e.t.a. of 27th
December it now looked like he would not arrive until 7th January,
so we had some time to cruise around the BVIs before his arrival. Colin Bramble
was organising the reception for Geoff in the BVIs and through him we met John Beardsley
and his delightful partner Gill. John is the Commodore of the Royal Southern
Yacht Club in Hamble, and was there to greet Geoff, a club member. A keen
sailor John jumped at the chance to come day sailing for a few days. He and
Gilly were fantastic company and we laughed a great deal over many classes of
red wine and several G&Ts. We also spent time with Geoff’s wife,
Elaine and their 7 year-old son, Tim. Again both great company.
John Beardsley, Commodore of the Royal Southern Yacht Club,
in ‘relaxed’ mode
took John and Gilly over to Green
Island, off Jost van Dyke
(great names these islands – later we sailed up Drakes Passage to Sopers
Hole!). The reef at Green island was fantastic with some wonderful snorkelling.
There were huge balls of literally millions of fish, which attracted in some
very large fish indeed. When you come face to face with a 7ft Tarpon, your
heart skips a beat, as it does when a pelican dives in three feet in front of
spent a few days moored at Sopers Hole at the west end of Tortola
from which John drove us all over the island, cooked a fabulous barbeque and
drank more red wine.
Holt finally arrived on Thursday 7th January to a tremendous
reception. That night on the quay there was a great party attended by the
Governor and the Deputy Premier of the BVIs. We were enjoying ourselves
immensely with lots of great company, including the lovely Susannah,
Geoff’s carer on the crossing. More drinks, though now mostly rum based:
rum and tonic, rum punch and a lethal cocktail called a painkiller.
Geoff Holt, sailing ‘Impossible Dream’ arriving
in the British Virgin Islands
A very happy Geoff Holt
The Governor of the British Virgin Islands with Digby, the media
man, and Susannah, Geoff’s personal carer, who both accompanied him on
the Atlantic Crossing
there is a degree of friendly rivalry between John’s club, the Royal
Southern Yacht Club and ours, the Royal Southampton Yacht Club, I did suggest
he could hoist his club burgee - but below that of the Royal Southampton.
This he resolutely refused to do. When we went out to greet Geoff I allowed him
to hoist his club burgee, but only on the condition that afterwards we would
raise our Royal Southampton burgee. John obviously realised that I would take
this opportunity to photograph the Commodore of the Royal Southern raising his
opposition’s flag so tried to hoist it upside down. Unfortunately he got
a fit of the giggles (so unbecoming for a club Commodore) and we spotted the
John Beardsley attempting to hoist the Royal Southampton YC
burgee upside down.
Having been caught in the act, John is now having to the job
day our friends Mike Browne and Martine arrived. Mike is the owner of the
catamaran ‘Impossible Dream’ that Geoff had sailed across the Atlantic. It was great to see them again. We were
planning to go through the Panama Canal and
across the Pacific later in the year in company with Mike and Martine, but, as
happens, various things have cropped up in their lives to make this unlikely,
although I’m still working on Mike.
day friends from Devon, Peter and Jean Arkwright flew in, albeit 3 hours late,
having missed a connection in San Juan, Puerto Rico (Thank you Colin for the use of your car).
Now we could start exploring more of the BVIs. The car registration plates
claim that the Virgin Islands are
‘natures little secret’ and they are delightful. The area is full
of boats, with the largest charter fleets in the world and there is nothing
like the cockpit theatre, watching bareboat charterers attempting to pick up a
mooring or, God forbid, trying to anchor.
Peter and Jean on board we once more headed of to Jost Van Dyke and spent the
night in a delightful, peaceful anchorage at Diamond Cay (there were only 6
boats in the anchorage so you can find quiet corners in the BVIs despite the
large number of boats. Dinner ashore at Foxy’s Taboo restaurant was
followed next morning with a stroll along the beach, around the lagoon to the
‘Bubble Bath’ a rock pool continually filled by breaking waves.
another excellent snorkel stop at Monkey Point on Guana Island (see what I mean
by great names), we anchored that night at Marina Cay followed next day by a
sail to Virgin Gorda and an excellent dinner at The Saba Rock restaurant.
a following breeze we decided to sail over to Anagada, a flat coral island
unlike all the other very hilly islands. Anagada is famous for their lobsters
and the ones we had barbequed for us that evening did not disappoint. The same
can we said of the mosquitoes and sand flies, so after dinner it was a hasty
retreat to the boat to stop being bitten.
to Nanny Quay, Tortola and a chance for Peter
and Jean to explore the island. Unfortunately it poured with rain all day, but
to make up for it we were all invited to a cocktail party at the
Governor’s Residence to celebrate Geoff’s arrival, topped off with
the Governor’s chauffeur driving us back to Nanny Cay.