British Virgin Islands
Creek Village

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7 travelers at this place

  • Day47

    Virgin Gorda, BVI

    December 3, 2016 in British Virgin Islands ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Once close to becoming the capital of the BVIs, Virgin Gorda is both idyllic and functional. Creeping up to the western end in some form of motor/sail (light winds for a change!), we were welcomed by golden sandy beaches, seperated intermittently by giant broken boulders. Boats dotted the waterline and littered snorkelers all the way to shore. 'The Caves' is one of the BVIs must-dos, and it's apparent popularity proved so. Further exploration came in the form of snorkeling, wading, and climbing as we worked our way along the shoreline, over, under and around the granite monstrosities. Boys being boys, we had to climb the biggest boulder. Not an easy feat given the size and smoothness of the boulders. Perseverance paid off and we topped out on our fourth attempt to witness a spectacular view! Motivated only by the impending fall of the hot day's sun, we splashed back into the sea and swam back to the boat. Our next night's anchorage was just off Spanishtown, where we learnt our lesson on anchoring next to a busy channel.

    After a rocky night's sleep (lesson learned), Spanishtown fulfilled our food, compressed air and wifi needs. But only just in the nick of time as we raced back to the mothership to beat the approaching onslaught of tropical rain.

    Our next destination was just around the point. Savanna Bay is a beautiful series of golden bays tucked inside a subtle and dangerously shallow outer reef. Navigating with caution under a gloomy sky, we found the unmarked channel  (read: missed the reef) and dropped anchor on a sandy sea floor in the rain.

    The kindles came out in force as the boys prepared to hunker down for the afternoon. Little did we know what was brewing. The boys have stopped growing and haven't stopped eating. So the energy surplus on offer after a day couped up could be measured in Megawatts. Jools offered a proposal to balance the situation which sounded candid. Sprint endurance training on the beach. Once an avid decathlete, now a dwindling twenty-something has-been, Jools has a lot to offer on the subject of keeping fit. Naively, we headed ashore.

    An extensive warm up should have raised warning flags for what was to come. Before we knew it, we were hurtling down the beach at a competitive pace, set after set. The short breaks felt shorter and shorter as our bodies screamed for oxygen and rammed lactic acid down our fast twich fibres. What a scene. Rolling about in the shallows, moving only for relief from mosquitos and biting ants, the recovery wouldn't come fast enough. When the dust settled, there wasn't a man standing. Lolling about in the shallows, gasping for air I was struggling to remember the last time the body hurt so much. Jools' work outs are not for the feint hearted. Lesson learned. The man himself could hardly get back to the boat so I don't feel that bad.

    Savanna bay proved to be out calmest anchorage yet. Given the privacy of the whole beach to ourselves and a splendid nights sleep, we have our sights set on returning - when the wind blows us that way.

    Waking to blue skies and 15 knot easterlies, the day was there to be seized. Conveniently our boat is equipped with numerous guides for the surrounding areas, including a dive guide which contains more dives than you could poke a stick at! Scott has been maticulously selecting dives based on proximity, and has yet to miss a mark. Although, we came close. Leaving Savanna bay for the Dog Islands, I made a slight navigational error. As we sailed to, and around the Seal Dog Islands, under a cloud of confusion, we failed to get our bearings. A correction from the crew and mile or two later we found our spot between the Dogs. Another spectacular dive teeming with life and the ever elusive lobster!

    This dive however, we discovered the down side of diving sans wetsuit. Getting down and dirty with the ocean floor, and tucking into cracks and swim-throughs, we enevitably had some contact with our surroundings. New to coral reefs and unseasoned in the naked dive, we surfaced in a little pain. Stained fingers, cuts, grazes and burns were discovered post dive and treated appropriately (thanks Pauline!). Amazing that after all the diving I have done I never considered the protective qualities of the wetsuit and booties.

    The afternoon held time for a few more activities. Another fantasic sandwich (baking our own bread now!), a read, another long snorkel and a mosy past Richard Branson's Island into the tranquil beauty of the Gorda Sound. Spoilt for choice on anchorages, we hooked in just east of Saba rock for the night. Jools dropped anchor and Scott descended to a hefty 60 feet for his regular anchor check. I sat relaxed at the helm. All important jobs.

    Saba rock is about as big as the the property at 51 Windmill. At low tide. It occupies a narrow gap between Prickly Pear Island and The Bitter End creating two shallow channels, through which the brave mariner can exit Gorda Sound into a shallow and coral-head studded Eustatia Sound. As any good rock should, Saba hosts a waterside bar, primed for dinghy entry, a boutique hotel and a few slips for the well-off shallow draft boat owner. Now I've never had much faith in my body clock, but the day's thirst had us pull up at that bar at the strike of happy hour. The cocktails flowed, the sun set, the fish were fed and then like flicking a switch we scrambled off the island to evade a relentless mosquito assault. Hopefully no Zika!!
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  • Day163

    The Bitter End Virgin Gorda

    March 1, 2016 in British Virgin Islands ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    It’s that time again. Full tanks, full propane, full water tanks, and laundry is all set. We chipped away at our seemingly endless list of boat chores and found victory in our accomplishments. St. Maarten struck us as a home away from home and we’d love to return to the island paradise but for now, we’ve made arrangements to pick up friends and sail around the VIs.

    The Virgin Islands are a cluster of islands with all forms of interesting dives, coves, caves, and anchorages for cruisers. The islands provide wind shadows and great barriers to the wild ocean seas making the Sir Francis Drake Channel a very enjoyable place to sail. It’s no wonder hundreds or sailors flock here each winter.
    Our overnight sail was beautiful, we flew the spinnaker for half of the trip and enjoyed a star-studded night. We passed several vessels and I watched a lightning storm pass at a safe distance. En route, I read that the US bought the Dutch portion of the Virgin Islands for $25 million in 1917… nicely done Uncle Sam…. At the time the Virgin Islands were in economic decline from the abolition of slavery. The main export was sugar which had been heavily dependent on slave labor. But far before that ugly period in time; Christopher Columbus discovered the Virgin Islands in 1493 and named the island chain the Virgin Islands after Saint Ursula and the 11,000 virgins. (Virgin Gorda -fat- received it’s name because the island resembled a reclining woman with a protruding belly from the seaside vantage point).

    Having never heard of this Saint Ursula or the 11,000 virgins, I did a little research, I mean, 11,000 virgins… that’s a lot of dames. Why 11,000? What happened to them? From what I’ve gathered from a few sources, Saint Ursula lived between 300-600 AD… (she lived 1500 years ago, & they narrowed it down to 300 years, way to go historians). Ursula was betrothed to marry a complete stranger higher in rank. To meet her soon-to-be husband, she boarded a ship with her hand maidens ranging anywhere between 11 to 11,000 in number. Oh, how stories are skewed sometimes. The long and arduous voyage was miraculously completed in a single day. Taking this to be a sign, Ursula declared she would make a panEuropean pilgrimage with all 11 or 11,000 handmaidens before the wedding (sounds like someones stalling to me). Their journey landed them in Cologne Germany, which, unfortunately was invaded by the Hun troops. The handmaidens refused to be with or marry the invading troops so they were tragically beheaded. Ursula was brought to death by the bow and arrow of the Hun soldiers. One of histories tragic tales, and in part, made immortal by Columbus giving respect to St. Ursula by way of the beautiful island chain we now call the Virgin Islands.

    Around 9 AM we passed Sir Richard Bransons famous Necker Island, we made our way through the narrow passage by Saba Rock and found a cozy little place to anchor in the lee of Prickly Pear Island – only a skip away from Saba, Bitter End Yacht Club, and Customs.

    When I was a kid my family and our good family friends, the Lainos, chartered a Beneteau throughout the Sir Francis Drake. It was at the beautiful Bitter End, I learned how to swim by myself. So, revisiting this place was one of nostalgia. Mike and I stayed here for a few days to recoup and play around with my brand new scuba setup! Mike had purchased his own scuba gear last year so it was about time I join him in exploring watery deep. In St. Martin we stumbled upon great gear on sale; new BCD, new regulator/octopus, new shorty wetsuits for both of us, and lightly used tank for $ 1,000. I’m sure if we had reliable internet and searched high and low there’s a better deal out there…. but for the ease of walking in and walking out in an hour or so… we were excited. We pulled off two beginner dives, testing our buddy breathing, clearing goggles 30 feet under water, hand signals, and buoyancy. Even on the overcast day, we had a blast and celebrated with cocktails at Saba Rock. We refilled our tanks, grabbed a cocktail and still had time to spare before we bore witness to the famous 5 pm tarpon feeding. It was my first time experiencing tarpon fish, 4 feet in length, duking it out for dinner bites cast out into the water. Tarpon are notorious for not being “tasty”, so for the most part, they appear to be slow and docile monsters. But toss a piece of shredded fish out to the water and they tear after the treat with furious speed and agility.

    As always I *really* enjoyed our new anchorage, the Bitter End this time, but we had a beautiful down wind sail to make to meet our friends flying in to St. Thomas the next day.
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Creek Village