Thursday, May 17, 2012

Boat Guests and the BVIs

Tuesday, February 21 - Sunday, March 18, 2012
We know we sound like a broken record, but we absolutely LOVE the BVIs! The scenery and easy sailing never gets old, and we even manage to see some new sights now and then. This time, we dropped the hook in White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, to visit the infamous Soggy Dollar Bar (the alleged birthplace of the Pussers Painkiller). Rumor has it the bar's name came from the state of your money after swimming from the boat to the beach bar (there's no dock at the bar). These days, most people land their dinghies on the beach and walk along the surf to the bar. (Granted, the old way definitely offers better bragging rights!) We managed to find an anchoring spot between the reef and the beach, but Storyville couldn't find a spot they liked and decided to go the half-mile back to Great Harbor. Little did any of us know that they'd have the better deal. We went into the Soggy Dollar for a Painkiller (or three), and watched Pipe rock and roll as the swells came over (and seemed to become enhanced by) the reef "protecting" the bay. Rene set a swell bridle, but the chain going over the rocks reverberated through the boat all night. The swell bridle came loose around 6am, and the side-to-side action really kicked in. Note to cruisers/charterers who come here: anchor or grab a mooring ball in Great Harbor and dinghy to the Soggy Dollar Bar!

The next day, we introduced Storyville to one of our favorite non-touristy anchorages, White Bay at Peter Island. Peter Island may be most famous for its exclusive resort that pampers its guests with gourmet meals, spa treatments, and breathtaking views of the surrounding Virgin Islands. But at $500+ per night, it's a little out of our price range! Fortunately for us, Peter Island also offers one of the better-kept secrets in the charter-heavy BVIs: White Bay is one of the few anchorages without mooring balls, so at most you get a few adventurous charter boats and a couple of mega-yachts. Island Dream came over from St. John, and we all sat out some rough weather for the next few days. We enjoyed some down-time (read "swimming and happy hours") at Peter Island's gorgeous beach, and found a beautiful snorkeling spot around the point from our anchorage.

The small-craft advisory was finally cancelled on Friday, so we decided to move up to Gorda Sound. Seas in the channel were still rough, and we were lucky to make 4 knots. En route to the Sound, we got to see some incredible J-series Maxi's (the design once used for America's Cup race boats) practicing for an upcoming regatta. Some of the boats were heeled over enough for us to see their teak decks as they passed alongside. What a sight! We did our best to stay out of their way, and managed to get to the Prickly Pear anchorage in time for happy hour at Saba Rock. The next few days were spent in Gorda Sound preparing Pipe for our boat guests. You remember how we were supposed to get to St. Maarten in time to pick up our friends on March 8th? Unfortunately weather guru Chris Parker had nothing but bad news of 10-14' seas and high winds in the Anegada Passage for the next 2-3 weeks. Noooo! There was just no way we could risk our boat (and ourselves) to make the trip in those conditions, so Geoie and Sarah were ultimately able to change their plane tickets to come into Tortola. Best of all? March 8th just happened to coincide with Trellis Bay's Fireball Full Moon Party. Welcome to the BVIs, guys!

You've got to love the Beef Island (Tortola) airport. It's situated on a small island right next to Tortola, and the dinghy dock at Trellis Bay is a 5-minute walk from the terminal. There are plenty of shops and restaurants at Trellis Bay, which has become an unofficial departure lounge of sorts. We arrived in Trellis Bay a day early, and Rene met Geoie and Sarah at the airport. We spent a few minutes on the boat - long enough for hugs, a welcome drink, and a change into shorts - before taking them over to Island Dream to meet the gang. We'd planned a Mexican potluck before the big full moon party, and Pat and Darnell were kind enough to host. After that, it was fireball time! The party was as good as we remembered, and Geoie and Sarah were real troopers considering they'd been awake and traveling since 2am. After the party, we decided to spend an extra day to give them (and us) some time to recover, but soon began the BVI shuffle:

--Foxy's Taboo on Jost Van Dyke for Rene's big 5-0 birthday dinner, plus an after-dinner piercing party on Island Dream (notice Rene's new shackle earring? Pat's got one to match!)
--A beach day at picture-perfect Sandy Cay and a visit to the original Foxy's in Great Harbor for Deana's birthday (not to mention a celebratory Zaya toast on Storyville afterward)
--A chill-out day in White Bay at Peter Island
--Another beach day and party night at Pirate's Bight and Willy T's on Norman Island
--A run to Gorda Sound via a stop to explore the Baths
--Happy hour and internet at Saba Rock
--And finally...a night at Leverick Bay for some beach time and Michael Beans's pirate show

Tired yet? We have no idea how charter boats do this all the time. They must need a vacation from their vacations once they get home! All in all, we had a terrific time with Geoie and Sarah. We're really trying to convince them to visit us in the Dominican Republic this summer, especially if it coincides with our week of all-inclusive luxury at the Lifestyles resort. Let the arm-twisting begin!

What's that phrase about "no rest for the wicked"? We had just enough time to hug Geoie and Sarah goodbye at Beef Island on Friday before running back up to Virgin Gorda Sound to get ready for a Sunday departure to St. Maarten. The weather looks as good as it can get on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, but we have to be there before the swells pick up on Tuesday. We'll have a couple of weeks in St. Maartin to get some boat work done before Rene's mom joins us for a visit. Cheers!

P.S. I have to include some HUGE thank you's to Deana on Storyville and Darnell on Island Dream. Darnell supplied the liquid courage for Rene's and Pat's piercings, and Deana did the actual hole-poking. Phenomenal job, ladies! I've also included a few of their gorgeous pictures in the link. Why rely on one camera when you can have three?! "-)

If you like these pics, there are plenty more when you click here.

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