Sailing in the British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin islands are one of those places where if you get the chance you have to visit at least once. I got that chance in February of this year. Good friends of ours Dave and Cal Johnson wanted a hand sailing their moody 44 Shearwater from St Maarten to the BVI. So for an over night sail you then get the reward of 10 days of cruising in one of the exotic places of the world. It did not take me long to book some flights up. I say this trying to find a flight that was of a reasonable price proved a bit of a headache. In the end i had to fly air France via Paris and then on to St Maarten and the same on the return Journey. This way it saved nearly 300 pound on the air ticket.

a picture of a moody 44 anchored in a cove in the british virgin islands.
Shearwater and one other boat anchored stern to the shore in one of best coves in the BVI

Dave met me at the exit of the airport in St Maarten and the plan was to sail across to the BVI the next evening. So after a windy night at anchor we left the lagoon and anchored for the day in the cove just outside. When hoisting the anchor though as it got to the bow roller it then fell off back in to sea. We presumed the shackle had given way. We were in a depth of about 18 feet the water though was quite murky and it must of taken me about 15 attempts of duck diving. Before i found it and managed to get a rope on it. Once we got it back on board though we realised it was not the shackle that had given way. It was the end of the anchor had actually snapped where the shackle attaches to it. Dave,s trusty cqr that he had used literally 100s of times during his time in the med with Shearwater was given a sacrificial burial at sea just before we arrived in the British Virgin islands the next day.

another boat project
Dave doing what he does on a regular basis a project on Shearwater. A job a day keeps the gremlins away.

We checked in to the BVI at spanish town on virgin Gorda. A process that sometimes can prove a bit of a nightmare. Luckily with the BVI it passed pretty easily. Over the next ten days i had a great time cruising around the British Virgin islands with Dave and Cal. Which in itself is a relatively small cruising area. You can sail from one end to the other with a day sail with ease.

a picture of one of the wind star cruise ships at sunset.
One of the wind star cruise ships at the north end of Virgin Gorda.

While on virgin Gorda we anchored on the north end of the island just off the shore of Prickly pear island. The cruise ship you can see in the picture above. Is one of the wind star cruise ships. Of which we bumped in to on a regular basis when we were cruising in the med. The island you can see behind the wind star is Richard Branson,s new acquisition that he has been working on. Mosquito island. An island that he has been turning in to an eco tourist resort. We sailed past and it looks like it is going to be a very low key affair. Mosquito island is only a few miles away from Richard Branson,s more famous Necker island.

a picture of a turtle swimming next to a sailing boat
A turtle swimming up close to shearwater in a cove on Norman island.

My favourite place that we stopped in on the BVI was a cove on the north east end of Norman island. We were going to stop in Bight bay and have a drink at Willy T,s. This bay however was full of mooring buoys and full of boats. So we looked for an alternative and found a gem. The bay was virtually deserted. Probably because the water is quite deep until fairly close to the beach. So the best way to anchor is with a line ashore. Something that always puts alot of people off. Unless you are cruising Greece or Turkey. There anchoring tied to a rock or a tree is the norm.

a picture of probably a turmite nest.
Some serious nest building from some kind of insect of which i am not sure.

Did you get the pun there norm Norman island. We stayed here for a couple of nights and swam with the reident turtles on several occasions. Watched Pelicans feeding on the fish fry only about 50 feet from the boat. We also explored the inner of the island which at some time must of been ear marked for development. As tracks had been cut out of the hill sides so walking all over Norman island is easy. Everything must of been shelved though as all the work was slowly disappearing back in to the wilderness.

 a picture of cal buying a piece of glass wear in the bvi.
Cal choosing a piece of glass wear

The main island of the British Virgin islands is Tortola and that is where Dave and Cal left Shearwater for the hurricane season at Nanny quay. Tortola is also where the airport is. My return journey back to the uk. was of 3 flights. A short hop from Tortola back to St Maarten then back to Paris and on to London.

a picture of the british virgin islands.
A typical view in the British Virgin islands.

So to sum up the BVI. You get crystal clear warm water. Which has an abundance of wild life in it.  Almost perfect temperatures,You can get away from the crowds in almost deserted coves and the bvi are a paradise for any cruising sailor. Somewhere that has to be on the bucket list.


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