Having come from the peace and quiet of cruising in relatively quiet places where it is easy to find an empty anchorage and it is not uncommon to spend a day or two without seeing another boat it was rather a culture shock to arrive in the BVI’s. The relatively sheltered sailing area around Tortola makes this the busiest charter area in the Caribbean, almost as crazy as the Ionion in Greece. Adding to this the fact that the cruising guide book we have is likely to be the same book as every other boat. This means reading between the lines to find the quiet spots.
So translated :-
Difficult entry, local knowledge required – Charter boats not allowed as you may need to pay attention to what you are doing, turn off the auto pilot and tear your eyes from the chart plotter. Quiet anchorage, but still has crewed boats.
No moorings available – Keeps away the crowds too, people love to pay $25 not to pull up an anchor, even if they have an electric windlass.
Popular with cruisers – Free dinghy dock, book swap, free water tap and a laundry near by. Local bar has very long happy hour.
Hurricane hole – very sheltered bay full of derelict, hurricane damaged boats.
A bay not even in the guide book due to the lack of restaurants to pay for advertising – Empty, perfect.
The BVI’s does have reason to be popular, there are many beautiful anchorages within a very small area, many fine bars with great names, the Soggy Dollar, Fat Virgin, Foxys and the Bitter End yacht club, all had to be sampled and cocktails tested.
We had a lovely time with Iris, Dianes mother, exploring the quiet and busy spots. Even managed a beach BBQ in a one boat bay, we checked out the amazing boulders and caves of the Virgin Gourda baths, saw sailing boats of all shapes and sizes.
After a few 3 weeks it was time to leave. We headed to East End to fill up with propane, we heard of a place that would do it in a couple of hours. That took 2 days. In the meantime a large ferry at anchor bumped into us at night and damaged a back stay. That meant a visit to Road Town to buy a new one and fit it.
We needed to go to Road Town to check out too, so not much of a detour. After lunch and a haircut the strangest thing happened. The wind decided to blow from the North for a day instead of the constant East of the past few months and we used this to our best advantage and set sail for Anguilla, the end of the Thorny Path and the turn south.