Monthly Archives: April 2015

On to St. Martin/St. Maarten and the Leeward Islands – by Theresa

R&R, Biras Creek, BVI

R&R, Biras Creek, Gorda Sound, BVI

After spending over a month enjoying the British Virgin Islands, it was finally time for us to move on. We staged for our 80 + nautical mile trip to St. Martin by spending our last night in the BVI in Gorda Sound on Virgin Gorda. At first light on April 25th, we were underway for St. Martin. Our first waypoint put us just offshore of Richard Branson’s private Necker Island.

Marina Fort-Louis, St. Martin

Marina Fort-Louis, St. Martin

From there we had very mild seas and sunny skies all the way into Marigot Bay, St. Martin. By the time we were securely anchored with Pilot’s Discretion’s tired crew ready to go ashore, customs and immigration had closed for the evening. As a result, we hoisted the quarantine flag and settled in for an evening aboard. I would go ashore first thing the next morning and deal with the immigration formalities.

Hoisting the French courtesy flag in St. Martin

Hoisting the French courtesy flag in St. Martin

On April 26th we cleared in at the Marina Fort Louis. The clear in procedure could not have gone more smoothly. Once the formalities had been taken care of we set out to explore by dinghy. The island is divided French from Dutch by a waterway and bay. If you transit by dinghy, there is no requirement to clear from the French (St. Martin) side into the Dutch (St. Maarten) side. There are rows and rows of waterfront restaraunts, all with dinghy docks and all very pet friendly.

Marigot, St. Martin

Marigot, St. Martin

The entire island has much to offer, so much so that we will not have as much time as we would like to explore, given our insurance induced requirement to be in Grenada by the end of this month. With that said, we are making the most of our time here. In addition to our dinghy exploration, we rented a car and drove around the island, scoping out the various beaches, bays and marinas.

Maho Beach, St. Martin

Maho Beach, St. Martin

Maho Beach, St. Martin

Maho Beach, St. Martin

First, we stopped in Maho Bay, on the Dutch side of the island, where the runway is only steps from the bay. The boys watched, in awe, the planes  landing just over the beach, a route that Randy has flown many times previously.

After lunch on the Dutch side of the island in Oyster Pond, we walked around
“the pond.”  Oyster Pond is actually a well protected inlet and home to Sunsail and Moorings charter companies. There are many mooring balls available in the pond.

Returning to the French side of the island, we visited the famous Orient, Anse Marcel, and Grand Case beaches.

imageAfter daylong beach hopping, and indulging in French and Dutch culinary cuisine, we hiked up to Fort Louis, overlooking Marigot Bay. The boys enjoyed running around exploring the fort, as we all enjoyed another glorious sunset and spectacular views of boats in the harbor below.

We will very definitely spend more time here when we return north up the Caribbean chain of islands after the next hurricane season passes.

For now, we are spending most of our time on the French side of the island. This weekend, we will cast off our lines once again. Our next stops will be St. Barts and Statia, until then, au revoir.

Ryan docking the dinghy

Developing the Boys’ Mariner Skills – by Theresa

It has been truly amazing watching the boys develop and hone their mariner skills, and what better place than the BVIs to sharpen their mooring abilities. In the British Virgin Islands, many, if not most bays have mooring balls as the preferred method of securing your boat. Capturing a mooring ball and securing a 50′ boat to it require close coordination between the helmsman and the deck crew. Since we have been in the BVIs for over  a month now the boys have become quite proficient at line handling and getting us on and off the moorings.

They are equally adept tying up in the marinas. Both boys have become fastidious about keeping their lines neat on the docks!

They are developing great situational awareness driving the dinghy and glide into the dock with ease.

It is all hands on deck at all times and we are fortunate to have such willing and capable crew.

We have thoroughly enjoyed cruising the British Virgin Islands, and are grateful for the maritime lesson opportunities they have provided for the boys.  Alas, weather, time and immigration restrictions have us pressing on. At the next appropriate weather window we will be continuing our Caribbean journey and heading on to St. Martin where we will post additional updates.

Patton, Randy, Ryan, Ronan, Cow Wreck Beach, BVI

The British Virgin Islands – by Theresa

Anegada

Anegada departure

Six months into our journey finds us in the British Virgin Islands (BVIs). We have so enjoyed cruising around the BVIs that we applied for, and received, an extension from immigration to lengthen our stay here.

The BVIs are a veritable paradise for cruising yachtsmen. Since most of the islands are within eyesight of each other, one can easily motor (or sail) from one island, or adventure, to another, with each island serving up a different flavor of local culture and quaintness. Below are a few highlights from our adventures in these beautiful islands thus far:

ANEGADA:

Randy and I have visited Anegada on two prior occasions in bareboat chartered vessels and on both occasions were in awe of its clear blue waters and pristine white sandy beaches. On our last trip chartering in the BVIs, Randy purchased the Anegada Approach chart, which we then had framed and hung in the Pilot’s Discretion galley. We have looked upon that framed chart for the past several years dreaming of returning in the  Pilot’s Discretion. We experienced yet another surreal moment in our journey when we arrived at the Anegada Approach in our own boat!

In terms of seamanship, Anegada is the furthest island away from all of the others and requires more time on open waters to reach. The island is completely surrounded by reefs (home to the 3rd largest barrier reef in the world), however, with careful navigation, and GPS, the approach is easily manageable. The beachside dining at the  Anegada Reef Hotel and the snorkeling at Cow Wreck Beach and Loblolly Bay make it well worth the trip.

Cow Wreck Beach

Loblolly Bay

Departing Anegada

 

JOST VAN DYKE:

Jost Van Dyke has several harbors on the south side, all offering good anchorage, mooring fields, protection, restaurants and amenities. While moored in Little Harbor, we hiked the trail behind Sidneys’ Peace & Love to the top of the island and were rewarded with spectacular vista views.

During our stay in Manchioneel Bay, we hiked the trail behind Fox’s Taboo to the infamous “Bubbly Pool.” At The Bubbly Pool, the Atlantic Ocean presses through a crevice in the rocks creating a natural bubbly whirl pool.

After a long day’s hike, we availed ourselves of the various restaurants on the island. While on Jost Van Dyke, the boys declared the pizza at Corsairs beachfront pizzeria in Great Harbor, the best in the world. Although I thought the pizza was excellent, I found it improbable to note the pizza and ignore the fresh lobsters that they serve that are the size of a small pony.

VIRGIN GORDA:

Virgin Gorda, BVI

Virgin Gorda, BVI

In Virgin Gorda, we picked up a mooring ball at Biras Creek in North Gorda Sound (aka Gorda Sound). Biras Creek has fewer mooring balls than other parts of Gorda Sound. As such it tends to be lower key, all the while providing easy access to all that the Sound has to offer.

Our top three favorites in Gorda Sound:

Hiking the Biras Creek Resort trails

The Rotti (a Caribbean curry dish) at the fat Virgin Café

The Bushwackers at Saba Rock

TORTOLA:

Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVI

Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVI

Tortola is is where most people begin their visit to the BVIs since the main airport is located here and the largest town, Road Harbor is also on the island. One of our favorite places on Tortola is Cane Garden Bay, a beautiful harbor with lots of dog friendly beach front restaurants and shops. It is very family friendly location, and as this past week was spring break for many schools, the mooring balls filled up quickly.

We are currently staying at the Nanny Cay marina both because it is a very well kept marina with several very good restaurants, a pool and beach as well as easy access to good provisioning. In addition, Nanny Cay has a full service boat yard, and marine vendors of every description. It is here that we are attending to our open maintenance issues before departing for St. Martin, the next leg of our journey.