Saturday, February 5, 2011

Exploring the Virgin Islands

Nanny Cay Marina
We are using Nanny Cay as our home base in the BVI. It is the end stop for the Caribbean 1500 Rally and the starting point for the Atlantic Cup Rally in the Spring. It is a quiet harbor with a little village of 40 shops and restaurants, marine services, pool, beach and lots of "island time" relaxation. Road Town, the "big" city on Tortola is a short cab ride away. There are lovely hotel rooms and condo at Nanny Cay as well as marina slips with the best ever marina showers! (I never thought showers could matter so much until I started frequenting marinas!)

We have family and friends joining us for some fun and exploration. We have been in the area before, but mostly stayed on the water - as in on the boat or swimming, but not exploring on land. This time we will go ashore and experience the famous (or is it infamous) watering holes and restaurants that sailors proclaim to be among the best! I think they mean for fun, not necessarily for the food! Hopefully the meet the expectations set.

On a trip around the "outside" of the British Virgin Islands several years ago, we went around the north side of Tortola, past the Dogs, down to Marina Cay and over to the Baths on Virgin Gorda. Then we circled around the southern shore of St. John, USVI before sailing to Red Hook, St. Thomas, USVI.

Cooper Island Beach Club Restaurant
In November 2010 after completing the Caribbean 1500 Rally, we rested up in Nanny Cay for a few days before exploring a couple of anchorages. We sailed to Round Island, Ginger Island and Cooper Island. The winds were squirrelly with a lot of chop so we did not go ashore at any of these. After a few attempts at grabbing a mooring ball in the wild wind, we did anchor overnight at Manchioneel Bay in front of the Cooper Island Beach Club, which claims to have a great restaurant. This means a return to Cooper Island to check it out. Lucky for us a boat comes out to collect the mooring fee so we did not have to bounce around in the dingy to pay.

Then we continued exploring by circumnavigating Salt and Peter Islands looking for more anchorages. It is extremely important to know your charts in these waters as there are rocks and reefs everywhere. We passed between Peter and Norman Islands and went around the south side of Norman Island into the Bight on the west end. The Bight is one the best anchorages - with lots of company - as it is protected from the Trade Winds. It is a very popular spot with two places for fun: Willie T's (William Thorton - The Bight), which is a casual dining establishment which was originally on an anchored pirate boat (replaced some years back) and Pirate's Bight, a beach bar and grill. Many stories have been told about the happenings at Willie T's! We will have to see for ourselves.

While many places on the maps look like good places in which to anchor, the charts tell you otherwise. The goal, of course, is to get out of the direct wind so your anchor will hold while you sleep. Many of the bays are not accessible due to the reefs. And you sure do not want to put yourself in a situation where you could get blown ashore or onto one of the reefs.

Another beautiful sunrise in the islands
 There are so many places to visit and experience. Our goal this year is to get to know the Virgins -Islands, that is. Both British and US. There are places like Foxy's on Jost Van Dyke, Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda, Caneel and Trunk Bays on St. John, and Magen's Bay on St. Thomas. An overnight sail to St. Croix is also in the plan. We will take you along through photos as we explore the islands.

There are such beautiful sunrises and sunsets, clear blue skies, turquoise waters all begging to be photographed. Day after day, but they never get boring! I will try not to bore you with too many photos of them. Let us know if you do want to see something in particular and we will try to capture it for you.

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