Month: June 2019

Sailing in the BVI

Carlisle Bay on the Caribbean island Grenada

British Virgin Islands

The British Virgin Islands are absolutely the jewels of the Caribbean.
This necklace of volcanic islands consisting of the main islands, Tortola and Virgin Gorda are encircled by the smaller and enchantingly named islands Fallen Jerusalem,  Dead Chest,  Salt Island Peter, Cooper and Ginger Island. These smaller islands conjure up tales of treasure maps and piracy offering a unique sailing experience throughout the Island group.  These extraordinary names hark back to the days of explorers and pirates, made accessible by sailing across the aptly named Sir Frances Drake Channel named after the Queen’s favourite Privateer and Westcountry hero, Frances Drake.  What better way to immerse yourself in RL Stevenson’s inspiration for Treasure Island.  Who knows what treasure you will find.

Today, we can enjoy these protected waters under sail enjoying every aspect of what these gems have to offer.  With a steady warm wind of 15-50 knots, the climate makes for a lot of sunshine for the perfect sailing holiday.  Getting away from the bare-boat charter,  Schooner Twister, or Eye of the Wind offers a more authentic way to discover paradise and a lot more comfortable than Jack Sparrow’s Black Pearl! For those looking for total luxury, classic yachts Chronos and Rhea glide effortlessly around these crystal clear Caribbean seas.

After a night under the stars, the perfect way to start the day “island style” is with a swim, diving over the side into balmy crystal waters.  A breakfast gleaming with fresh tropical fruits start the day in anticipation of sailing to our next destination.  

These islands provide some of the best and easier diving and snorkelling encounters anywhere in the Caribbean.  With underwater national parks,  spectacular reefs and historic shipwrecks, an underwater world teeming with fish and coral all the colours of the rainbow awaits.

 Of course, the absolute favourite has to be the Baths on the island of Virgin Gorda.  Here, amongst the white coral sands, giant boulders known as Batholiths form wonderful caves and glistening blue pools.  A day spent here is never enough, lazing in the sun or  drifting through the waves uncovering the wonderful world beneath.

Away from the bustling commercial centre of Road Town on the island of Tortola is the quieter “Sopers Hole”.  This wonderful anchorage, gently watched over by pelicans is a great place to explore the island.  Sage Mountain National Park is a great climb through some unique rainforest and is home to vast mahogany trees and boasting extraordinary views over the archipelago.  If it’s a quiet day you are after, then you can’t get more perfect than Smugglers cove to the north of Tortola.

Historically, the British Virgin Islands strategic geographical location and climate started important industries growing cotton and sugar.  Back in 1750, plantations of sea island cotton were exporting over a million pounds of cotton to the Lancashire mills.  As the cotton trade declined, sugar plantations took their place exporting cane and molasses. And yes, you guessed it,  from sugar you get Rum which is the drink of the Islands.  So make sure, as the sun goes down you head to Pusser’s Landing for their famous Rum Punch, known as a Painkiller!!

Wildlife in the Caribbean is also a real treat. Spot graceful Green and Loggerhead Sea Turtles gliding effortlessly through the water and Bottlenose Dolphins swimming with the wake of the bow. Whales also frequent the Caribbean sea, with the warm water providing the perfect breeding grounds at this time of year for the humpback whale. Birdlife in the Caribbean is an incredibly beautiful sight. Keep your binoculars at the ready to spot these colourful delights. With species only native to the Caribbean, these are once in a lifetime encounters! Pink Flamingoes are also a common bird across the Caribbean islands; these sociable creatures inhabit the blue lagoons, mudflats and lakes, living in colonies that can contain thousands of individuals.

Before you leave the islands, after a good day sailing,  you must try the local lobster, and the best way to do that is at Foxy’s Bar on Jost van Dyke.  Since the 60’s Foxy has been entertaining sailors with amazing BBQ’s on the beach, rum punches and great live music.  As a finale to your treasured isle holiday, what could be better?!