Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda
We have just finished a week in the British Virgin Islands, and they are as beautiful as we remembered—but maybe even more full of boats. What can you expect, really? It is easy to get to the BVI from the US and Canada, they are warm when most of North America is cold, the winds blow reliably from the east in the winter, and with all the islands, the rough water from the open sea is blocked. We have never seen so many charter boats in one place anywhere else in the world. When we were sailing or anchored, they seemed to be everywhere, but when we went into the capital, Road Town on Tortola, to check out, there was an entire marina completely full of charter boats which were NOT out on charter. We can't imagine what it would be like if they were all rented, but the economy must be having a real impact on these businesses. In a very smart move, the government and individual businesses and marinas have put mooring balls in almost every nice anchorage area. One of the big problems with charterers has always been that they usually don't have good anchoring skills (we are being nice—most anchor with far too little scope, don't set the anchor, or anchor too close to other boats) so we full time cruisers try to stay clear. With the moorings, all they have to do is pick up a line floating from a ball, pass a rope through it and remember to tie both ends of the rope to their boat. At $25-30 per night, this is an expensive option for a cruiser, but for someone on a charter vacation it is peace of mind. The very best part of the BVI is that it is illegal to use a jet ski, AND it is illegal to smoke anywhere at all unless it is marked smoking! Our idea of good benevolent dictatorship.
Evening view from the cockpit
In our 10 nights in the BVI, we managed to find wonderful, free, spots to anchor for 8 of them. For one of the paid nights we went to a marina to do the wash in a machine (heaven!). For the other, we took a spot at the Bitter End Yacht Club because we wanted to go back to a place we had loved. As you see in the photo, the place is wonderful, but the mooring ball keep beating against our hull all night so we couldn't sleep, and some heavy drinkers playing loud country music on the big charter cat next door kept going late. The next morning we went about 2 miles away to a much prettier place, where we could relax at anchor. We stayed 3 days.
Monday we arrived back in Saint John, USVI, at Caneel Bay, to fix the leaks in our dinghy and clear off our spare berth (normally the "garage") for Mary Ellen who will arrive Wednesday. We'll do some relaxing, some hiking, and some snorkeling for sure.