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British Virgin Islands (BVI) May 11 - 16, 2005   5 slideshows
Overview: We spent our 5 nights in the British Virgin Islands on a 40' chartered crewed sailboat. The US Dollar is the official currency, in large part due to its proximity to the US Virgin Islands.

Underlying map is from Turquoise Net
Airport Arrival: Having changed planes in Antigua (without re-clearing immigration/customs there) into a nice LIAT Dash 8 with A/C and seat assignments taken seriously, and after making a brief stop in Dutch Sint Maarten, we landed at Beef Island Airport. This is the BVI's main airport; Beef Island is just off the east end of Tortola, connected by a bridge. The customs officer was at first a little suspicious of our relatively large amount of luggage for a yachting vacation. Our hosts Deb & John met us at arrivals for the 2 minute walk to the dinghy dock at the neighbouring Trellis Bay. We purchased an expensive underwater disposable camera and sunglass straps in the airport gift shop.

Topographical map is from Skyviews

Click here for BVI road maps from Skyviews
(note the links in the upper right corner of that page for more detailed maps).
The Yacht: We had a coffee at "D" Best Cup Cafe by the dock while we repacked our bags so that our large rolling backpacks could be stored at a little hotel on an island in the middle of the bay, and only smaller soft duffel bags could be taken and stowed aboard. John ferried the bags to the hotel, then us to their 40' Beneteau yacht Amicus, which looked sparkling in the tropical sun and blue waters. Designed for chartering in 2000, the centre cockpit and split en-suite cabins (guest cabin up front; Deb & John's in the stern) make for comfort and privacy. As sailing in the BVI is never cheap, this was the most expensive leg of our trip: US$2600 for 5 nights for the crewed yacht including all meals but 2 dinners, allowing the chance to eat at local restaurants onshore, most drinks, and two massage or fitness training sessions per person. Note that there is only one guest cabin, so it was essentially a private booking! It was one of few 2-person charters we found, and at a very reasonable rate.
Our hosts were skilled sailors, friendly, personable and gave us just the right amount of privacy, especially when skinny dipping (which they also liked to indulge in). Plus Deb was an excellent cook creating sumptuous meals! Not to mention daily warm freshly baked bread.
After our welcome lunch in their home anchorage and a quick dip to cool off, we set sail in the last of our real sunshine in the BVI. We experienced a lot of clouds and a fair bit of rain during our 5 days due to an "old stationary inverted elongated surface trough." Ironically, the weather had been great the week prior, which is when I originally wanted to be there, though more for flight logistical reasons (to avoid some backtracking flights). We still had a great time though; we just didn't experience much of the bright blue seas, nor moonlit nights, nor spectacular sunsets, nor terrific sailing winds. Yet we still loved it!
The Sailing: Essentially we sailed in a large clockwise loop around Tortola:
Wed:arrival at Beef Island - lunch, swim
to Cooper Island - snorkel
Thu:past Peter Island
to Norman Island - snorkel "Soldiers"
Fri:morning snorkel to caves at "The Bight"
stop at West End (Tortola) - Internet Cafe at Pisces Restaurant
to Jost Van Dyke - massage before dinner onshore at Foxy's
Sat:stops at Sandy Cay and Guana Island - snorkel "Monkey Point"
to Marina Cay - cocktails at Sunset Bar
Sun:stops at The Baths (Virgin Gorda) and The Dogs - snorkel each place
back to Beef Island - dinner onshore at De Loose Mongoose
Mon:departure after breakfast and massage
The Snorkeling: Despite the not so sunny days, we managed to do a fair bit of snorkeling (nude and otherwise). Besides the usual assortment of tropical fish and coral we saw crab and lobster (at Normal Island); stingray, brittlestars and octopus (at The Baths); and turtles and filefish (at The Dogs).
Departure: On the last morning, John ferried us and our luggage back to shore where we walked the 2 minutes back to the airport for our flight to St Lucia via Antigua. Unfortunately my backpack at the hotel storage had gotten wet with all the rain, causing wet clothes and my red toiletry bag to bleed colour over two white shirts -- yet another reason to use vacuum storage bags! There was no open restaurant at the airport, so we had a quick meaty meal from a van outside. It started raining and while our flight left on time, the rainy weather forced circling and ground delays (at St Maarten) totaling 1 hour which worried us about our connecting flight (especially when rain caused landing delays in Antigua too). But all the flights were delayed, so it worked out.
Next stop: St Lucia.

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