We have been really pleasantly surprised by how
beautiful the BVI’s are. The water is so clear and warm, the sails are
sweet and short, and the views stunning. Every island is so different with
something new to discover. Our only complaint is the thousands of
American’s chartering … its like the Solent
in the May Bank Holiday! However, we have found secluded and beautiful
anchorages, and most charter boats disappear at night!!
On Friday 19th we dinghied out from North
Sound (Virgin Gorda) to Saba Rock and Eustatia Sound, anchored the dinghy and
snorkelled for hours, discovering little untouched bays, and watching stingray,
beautifully coloured coral, tarpon and a fantastic assortment of fish ….
The snorkelling up here in the BVI’s has been spectacular, and the water
the clearest we’ve seen.
The following day we sailed, along with
“Castafiore”, to Anegada (“The Drowned Island”) 15
miles north of Virgin Gorda. In contrast to the other Virgin
Islands, Anegada is comprised of coral and limestone, and at its
highest point is 28 ft above sea level. The island is 11 miles long and
fringed with mile after mile of empty sandy beaches. Horseshoe Reef extends 10
miles to the SE and has claimed over 300 known wrecks. The numerous coral
heads and difficult currents that surround it make it an interesting approach
…. We saw more than 3 boats go aground on their approach! On Sunday we
hired a jeep, with Jean-Luc and Dany, (most roads on the island requires 4WD),
and went off exploring. Of course within 2 hours the jeep broke down, so
Jean-Luc and Shane had their heads stuck in the bonnet for a few hours, cursing
the day they both took off from boat maintenance! However, we did make it Lolbolly Bay,
another (empty!) spectacular snorkelling area, and Cowreck Bay, again a
deserted and stunning beach with clear, blue water, and full of the biggest
live conch we have seen. This gets Shane very excited. He has a thing for
conch. The live ones. Though he also is known for his fondness of lambi water
(a sort of conch stew down south). We drove past the salt ponds in the middle
of the island hoping, so hoping, to see the flock of 100 flamingoes. We caught
a glimpse of a hundred or so pink feet in the distance, and that was it. But
apparently, according to the locals, we were lucky. They are shy. We also
visited the iguana “head-start” facility where they are trying to
re-introduce iguanas back to the island. A little disappointing as we have
been spoilt by the many larger, greener variety wandering (and hunted and
eaten) the islands in the south of the Caribbean.
On Monday a.m. Shane and I had to make a very hasty
exit as we were suddenly dragging anchor at an alarming speed in the strong
winds. This was NOT the place to drag, surrounded by reefs and sandbanks, so
off we sailed to the SW of Virgin Gorda. After a fantastic sail in 28 knots,
we anchored at The Baths, an unusual formation of large granite boulders,
forming big pools inbetween. It reminded us a bit of the sandstone rocks in Sussex. We
anchored overnight. This is not advised for the charter boats, which is heaven
for us because at around 3pm the anchorage empties, and we are left in peace.
The following day we spent hours kayaking around, through the rocks and pools,
and around the reefs.
A quick sail back to Tortola
on Tuesday, for a Reception at Government House (hosted by David, the Governor,
and Sue) for the Queen’s Baton Relay. O joy, we had frocks and shoes
it is surreal and bizarre to be jumping into a new world of suits and
cocktails! The Queen’s Baton Relay is a time-honoured tradition that
highlights the start of the XIX Commonwealth Games in Delhi in October 2010. The baton will travel
to over 70 commonwealth nations in 340 days, covering almost 120,000 miles
before arriving at its final destination in India. The baton itself is
decorated with pure gold and carries a small jewelled box with the
Queen’s message. It captures images and sound and holds a GPS system,
text messaging and LED lighting …. And this was its arrival in the
BVI’s … and below is a photo of Shane and myself actually holding
the beast!! (Bodyguard out of sight).
We spent a couple of nights in Government House,
where David and Sue also put on a dinner party for us. It was a great evening
meeting many locals and “belongers” (born and bred here) and
learning more about life on land. On Thursday it was time to bid our friends
farewell and set sail for the Bight on Norman Island (“Treasure
Island” – the island is resplendent with stories of buried treasure…
remember the book by Robert Louis Stevenson?) where we met up with Castafiore
again. The anchorage is so well protected we had our first night of not
rolling in months. The following day we all jumped into Hula (our dinghy) and
set off for a day of exploring deserted islands – Pelican and the Indians
– and some fantastic snorkelling around the caves, where the water is so
clear you can see up to 10 meters below (or above!) you.
Today we have sailed 3 hours to Virign Gorda
(where we have just anchored outside) and tonight we are meeting old friends,
if we can find our way ashore. We received a message yesterday from Will &
Frog, our good friends from Sussex,
to say they are stalking us (last seen in Portugal) … and are in the
BVI’s… what a surprise!!
Time for a smile while researching the next anchorage.
The view from the anchorage before the anchor dragged
off Anegada Island. Maximum height above sea level:
28 feet. Maximum depth of water below keel: 3 feet.
Even the lumps of coral know the score…. Making
sculpture on the beach…
Try and take a picture like this in Brighton!
Stopping to look at the flamingos on the side of the
road. Well, we believe they’re flamingos, but in reality they were just
tiny pink dots in the distance. Anegada.
“So did you see anything interesting while you
were down there?” just finished snorkelling among plenty of conch and
reefs in Cow Wreck Beach,
Gin clear water and granite boulders as big as houses
at “The Baths”, Virgin Gorda.
Another beautiful sunset as the sun sets over the
Shane kayaking through “The Baths”.
Beautiful, just beautiful!
Glamming it up as we get to hold the Queens Baton at
Government House. The Baton is like the Olympic torch except this one is for
the Commonwealth Games
Ali, with Sue and David (the Governor of the
BVI’s) at Government House, relaxing after a little soiree they held in
Not a bad place to spend the winter! Norman Island,
BVI’s with the US Virgin Islands in the background.