March 12, 2006

British Virgin Islands

Earlier this winter, during the middle of January, we had the wonderful opportunity to visit the British Virgin Islands and spend twelve days sailing on a catamaran. Three of us had done something similar a few years ago, on a bareboat charter out of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. So, we jumped at the chance to do it again, in new waters. I mean, steady wind, warm air, warm water, and going barefoot for days at a time? A no-brainer.

The British Virgin Islands are a collection of mostly volcanic islands, just east of the U. S. Virgin Islands (St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix), at the point where the Caribbean archipelago begins to arc southward. They are an overseas territory of the United Kingdom, but are administered independently. They, conveniently, use the U. S. Dollar. With the steady winds, the many islands and harbors, the deep waters, and coral reefs, they are a wonderful cruising ground.

There were five of us: the Captain, the Librarian, the Professor, the Dancer, and me. Sadly, the Captain's mate was unable to accompany us, as her mother took seriously ill just before we left. We thought of her -- and her mother --? frequently. Still, we couldn'?t help ourselves: we had a great time.

The Captain has sailed since he was ten and is the best I'?ve sailed under -- calm and confident. There was more than enough sailing competence on board that we were never under pressure.
The Captain, the Librarian and I flew from SeaTac through Dallas and San Juan, Puerto Rico to Beef Island, BVI, arriving late in the evening. Immigration and customs was simple enough. The taxi driver who usually serves our charter company's customers wasn'?t available (all the other drivers there knew who he was and that he wasn'?t available), so we found a guy who was willing to go that far that late.

We all crammed ourselves and our gear into the van and we headed out on the narrow and surprisingly busy roads. First, over the bridge onto Tortola Island, then through the capital, Road Town (where we dropped off one of the passengers), and continued along the coast to Soper'?s Hole, at the far western end of the island. There was a little confusion about the hotel, as everything was closed, it was dark, and there was no signage. We found it by the note on the door from the Professor and the Dancer, who had arrived earlier from Portland. They very graciously awoke and let us in, where we chattered excitedly about the coming days.

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