Sail the British Virgin Islands - 2016

The last week of January found Linda and I traveling to the British Virgin Islands for a catamaran sail with friends Dan and Laura Longacre. With winter being unpredictable - and our luck running a little short - we found ourselves with cancelled flights when the BIG storm of 2016 battered the middle south. In particular the Charlotte airport was completely shut down and we were forced to travel a day later than expected via Dallas and Miami before landing in St. Thomas. US Virgin Islands.

Luckily all flights we were on were on time and we only lost one day of 8 sailing days. We had an awesome time. This was my 2nd sailing trip. The first one with my friend Dan was in 2014 on a mono-hull this time on a catamaran. I eventually recalled what I had learned on the first trip with regard to getting in and out of the boat and raising and lowing sails. I even learned a few new things about the mechanics of hoisting the sail when the mail sail pulley broke while the sail was deployed. The breakdown forced us to manually pull down the sail. I pulled the first half and when I exhausted, Dan pulled the second half. We lost a few hours the next day getting it fixed (albeit a temporary fix). But it never gave us a problem again.

This was Linda's first sail trip and she tolerated it well. We did snorkel nearly every day. And we ate well on the boat for breakfast and lunch. We went ashore for dinners where we feasted on some fine food.

On this trip I took an underwater point and shoot camera - an Olympus TG4. It performed nicely. And I even made a few videos. A few might be included below.

Well, it appears I made 1698 images (including videos). But I've selected 304 (not including videos) for inclusion in this collection. I hope you enjoy this selection.

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Day 1 - a day of travel and then rest in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, USVI. But first when we arrived at the Columbus airport Beth DalPonte from WCMH was there wanting to interview someone. She kind of recognized me from previous interviews but I said "not this time!". Linda was then persuaded to be her interviewee about snowmageddon 2016. She shared our recent experience of cancellation and rebooking to get around the closed Charlotte airport.

Day 2 - After a short morning walk near our hotel we took a taxi to the ferry. Then we took an hour ferry from St. Thomas over to Roadtown, Tortola, BVI where we met our boat - MontyVideo. Once we checked in we visited the local grocery store where we stocked up on breakfast and lunches as well as a few snacks. We were able to depart for Norman Island early afternoon. We passed by Pelican Island and the Indians ending in The Bight where we moored for the night. Before the sun set we were off for our first snorkel near some sea caves ogling the sea life.

Day 3 - We left The Bight for the Indians where we had a light breakfast and did our second snorkel. Hard to deny the beauty of the place. We departed The Indians for Cooper Island. We picked up our mooring there early afternoon as it can be a busy place. Linda did some more snorkel and Dan and Laura did some paddle boarding around the mooring field. We went ashore for our first happy hour and some tasty painkiller drinks followed by a very filing and tasty dinner. Cooper Island is known for some awesome sunsets, and we were not disappointed. By the end of dinner it's dark so we have to find our way back to our boat in the dark - with flashlights blazing - in our little dinghy.

Day 4 - The plan was to sail to The Baths on Virgin Gorda for some awesome snorkeling. Unfortunately when we arrived early morning, the dreaded red flag was flying on the beaches. This flag means the surf is too strong and boats are not supposed to connect to mooring balls in their "parking lot". We hung around for a short while hoping maybe the warning would lift but that did not happen. We changed our plans and headed over to Great Dog Island and a different snorkel spot. While this location had only about 7 mooring balls it was not busy and the snorkel was very nice. Dan even spotting a sea turtle. I never did see it nor did I get any good images of any of the turtles we saw. We left Great Dog and ended in North Sound on Virgin Gorda for the night.

Day 5 - The sea continued to be choppy and the winds a bit high. We thought we'd try to moor at The Baths again. But that red flag was still out. So we went to plan B. We sailed over to the entrance to Spanishtown where we picked up a mooring ball outside the harbor. We all piled into our dinghy and motored into town. After a short walking tour of a few shops we hopped in a taxi that took us to The Baths. We hiked a little down to the beautiful beach and walked around the rock formations over to Devils Bay where we did some light snorkeling. The surf was still quite high. We played a little and had a great time. After our taxi ride back into town we had some ice cream. It was wonderful. Upon returning to MontyVideo we sailed over to Marina Cay. This is where we discovered or broken pulley. It took a while to drop the sail. Not sure what we would have done as it would have been nearly impossible to maneuver even on engine power with our mail sail deployed. After picking up our mooring ball we headed to shore for another nice happy hour - more painkillers with some live music. Following that a nice dinner.

Day 6 - We sailed to Trellis Bay for our repairs which took a couple hours. But in the mean time we wandered around the artists shops that hugged the shore. Upon departure we sailed to Monkey Point on Guana Island for an outstanding snorkel. Late in the afternoon we arrived at Great Harbor on Jost Van Dyke Island only to find all the mooring balls taken. So we undertook our first and only anchorage. It was a challenge. But luckily Dan's captain skill got us hooked in place after only a couple of tries. It was a very busy harbor. We went ashore and strolled the sand covered streets for a few minutes before settling into a nice dinner at Foxy's - a world known eatery. It was a buffet of grilled mahi mahi, port ribs, and chicken with all the accompaniments. Their painkillers tasted good too!

Day 7 - Was our last full day and it was a sailing day. We left Great Harbor and sailed by White Bay and looked at Ivans Stress Free Bar and the Soggy Dollar Bar. These are two places Dan and I visited on our last trip. We then sailed past Sandy Cay and Sandy Spit "on our way" to Soper Hole. Soper Hole is a quiet well protected harbor. Hardly any breeze so it was one of our hottest night. But the town is very colorful with shops and a couple eateries. We did find another ice cream place - and it tasted as good as the other place.

Day 8 - This was our last day of sailing and we cheated and motored form Soper Hole to Roadtown as it was all into the wind - and we wanted to be there by 8am when the yacht club opened. We needed to check in and get our taxi in time to make the 10am ferry back to St. Thomas. Turns out it was the only day where we had any rain hit us while sailing. All in all this was a great trip. Many thanks go to Dan for being our experienced captain. His leadership made this trip work.

And then it was time to go home!

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