Back in February, when coronavirus was barely a blip on the radar, we were still in the BVIs, after finally making our annual escape from SXM. We love St. Martin but it seems to have a magnetic pull that keeps us from exploring further afield, so when we finally leave we wonder what the heck took us so long (it’s hard to leave great friends and $1 happy-hour beers).
When we left off in the Virgin Islands, we were looking for a place to hunker down for a week-long windy patch. After scoping out several anchorages, we finally dropped the hook in Trellis Bay. We hoped this anchorage on Beef Island, on the north-east side of Tortola, would offer some protection from the howling easterly wind.
The nice thing about this anchorage was that it had a small, well-stocked grocery store, a few beach bars and restaurants, and an airport, which meant easy access to rental cars.
As we discovered, Tortola doesn’t really have a public transit system, and taxis charge their rate per person, making transportation difficult and expensive. So we opted to rent a car to explore the island. Whenever we rent a car, it usually means that we have chores to do, and this time was no exception. We had to replace the raw water pump in our engine, which had begun to leak quite badly, and luckily one of the chandleries in Road Town carried the exact one we needed (a miracle in itself). Besides checking out all the chandleries, we took the opportunity to provision at the larger (i.e. better stocked and less expensive) grocery stores, while exploring a bit more of the island than we would see from the boat.
Sunday, February 9 was the night of the highly anticipated Trellis Bay Full Moon Party, a monthly happening for cruisers and locals alike, with Painkillers, delicious barbecues, awe-inspiring wrought-iron fireballs, giant hammocks, local musicians, artists, acrobats, and moko jumbie dancers. A good time was had by all.
We ended up staying a week in Trellis Bay, getting jobs done, making new friends and re-connecting with old ones. Mel’s mom also flew in for a week, and we rented a car again to visit spots on the island that were more difficult to get to by boat (read: the hardware store in Road Town for more boat parts).
One highlight of mom’s visit was finding a quiet anchorage around the corner from Trellis Bay on the south side of Beef Island. Surrounded by a large protective reef, Bluff Bay was tiny and quite shallow, with room for only one or two boats, so most nights we had it all to ourselves. The water was so clear we could see the rays swimming under our boat, and at night bioluminescent shrimp-like creatures came up to the surface. It was one of those truly awe-inspiring places.
When you look up the BVIs on TripAdvisor, the top-rated activity is The Baths. This national park on Virgin Gorda was the one thing that absolutely everyone recommended, so we had waited for mom’s visit to go. It did not disappoint.
With mom’s flight home leaving from the US Virgin Islands, we cleared out of the BVIs and made our way to Cruz Bay on the island of St. John. Once mom was safely on the ferry to the airport in St. Thomas, we motored around the corner to meet up with friends in Francis Bay, a lovely, large bay.
We were very impressed with St. John – most of its bays were part of the National Park where anchoring was strictly forbidden. The National Park Office has installed several mooring balls available for $26/night, which is paid at an honour-system pay station on a floating dock in each anchorage. The water there is so clear, and the diversity of marine wildlife absolutely astounding (i.e. lots of turtles!). It’s truly amazing how quickly the marine ecosystem recovers when anchoring—which can destroy coral and the marine floor if not done properly—is forbidden. We spent the next few days in a forced digital detox, since our Caribbean phone plan apparently did not include the USVIs. We chilled out, snorkeled, hiked, crossed some boat projects of our list like fixing our regulator/alternator, had a daily happy hour with our friends from Haven and Joli, played dominoes, and planned our next move, as all of our plans slowly came unraveled.
Stay tuned to see where the wind would take us next!