|The Virgin Islands are perhaps the most popular of all sailing vacation areas. While the U.S. islands to the west have their bright spots, the British chain has it all: quiet bays, steel drum bands, great snorkeling, smooth sailing and relaxed local atmosphere. We have been to the British Virgin Islands more than any other destination and offer stories and pictures from three trips that occured in 2009, 2005 and 1997. The most recent two are presented in text and photos while the 1999 trip includes a typical itinerary we like to follow:
2009: "Samantha's 50th Birthday Sail--Explore Dream Discover" on board a Bahia 46 catamaran appropriately called "Touch of Grey." David treated his wife and 5 of her dearest friends to ten days in British Virgin Islands paradise, some who had never been sailing or snorkeling ever before! A fun bunch of "eyes wide open" ladies who could all sing like Nightingales, they ate like queens and snorkeled like dolphins! Sam's lobster and champagne birthday dinner (see menu below) was a private affair on the beach at the Bitter End Yacht Club as the sun set in the light breeze on Virgin Gorda. At dessert, the girls sang "You've Got a Friend" to the teary eyed Sam. The theme of the cruise soon became "Soooooo, How's Your Captain?" as bragging rights began at the bar with other charter guests! Jost Van Dyke at Green Cay was a nice quiet scenic anchorage and the Indians, Caves and Monkey Point continued to be favorite snorkeling places.
2005: "Five Families, One Sea"
Captain Mark here, reporting on the latest greatest sailing adventure to the British Virgin Islands in late June! It was a huge success with incredible sailing, snorkeling, kayaks, dinghy racing, food, drink and of course T shirts! The Fab Five Flotilla, as our theme as called, left Beef Island on three nearly new yachts, a 38' catamaran, a 43' sloop and a 45' sloop. Twenty six people, 13 kids ages 7-15, from five really special families had the sailing adventure of their lives.
Brought together by the five wives, all of whom were sorority sisters at UC Berkeley not too long ago....the trip's slogan: "Five Families, One Sea " says it all. (See OBT Tie dyed T shirt below.) When they weren't feeding their hungry and extremely active kids, they were kayaking, hiking, snorkeling or just hanging out in the trampoline reading a novel. And the husbands enjoyed the same when they weren't consuming mass quantities of adult beverages (though the ladies had their share as well!) This group had a togetherness and camaraderie that was clear and overwhelming, even the kids were the best of friends spanning all age groups.
Really excellent weather, a steady 12-16 knots of wind from the ESE during the day, and a refreshing two minute rain shower every other night, provided a comfortable, though hot, environment for summertime sailing in the Caribbean . From the first day when we sailed to The Baths (See photo) and everyone snorkeled and hiked the giant boulders hovering precariously above the hidden caves and their emerald tidal pools, to the last when the older kids accepted the challenge of jumping off the roof of the infamous floating boat bar, the Willie T, this group never missed an opportunity to go crazy! They hiked through the rain forest of the tallest mountain, Mt. Sage , they snorkelled with giant tarpon and sea turtles, and they discovered not one but two underwater tunnels to test their breath-holding skills.
Upscale living was also in the mix as The Fab Five dined at the Peter Island Yacht Club, the Bitter End Yacht Club and a place called Pirates, (twice). Some marvelous home cooking was enjoyed aboard the yachts as well with grilled mahi mahi, snapper, flank steak and 25lbs of cold cuts among the meals. An amazing amount of water, soda, beer and ice was consumed along the way. By the end of the trip, the OBT food and beverage consumption record was easily shattered!
Here are a few comments from the guests after they returned home:
"We can't thank you enough for making our trip wonderful! The kids absolutely loved the snorkeling, especially at the Indians and at the caves at Pirates Bight. We felt like we had dropped into our own private aquarium."
"Your knowledge of the area and knack for being in the right place at the right time (Willy T's with the sun up) were invaluable. There is no doubt that even an old lady with hemorrhoids would have fun on one of your charters."
"The shirts were a surprise and brought tears to more than just my eyes. Great touch, great memory and souvenir. "
"I have to imagine that the dynamics of 5 families and 3 boats are a bit different than one boat. You did very well in accommodating such a large herd."
"Dylan says you might want to refrain from the seafood salad on future outings."
Favorite spots included: snorkeling Monkey Point, limbo at Foxy's, tunnel challenge at The Indians, hiking The Baths and exploring Gorda Sound. Foxy's sold the most T shirts with Norman Island a close second. My favorite moments were watching the excited faces of the youngsters while riding on the bow of the boat as we plunged through the waves, reminding me of when my father took us to Catalina Island when we were just kids on the first Lord Jim.
May your tide rise high, may your boat always float and may all of your vacations be compared with Ocean Breeze Tours!!
Click to see larger images
1997: "Two Boats, One Party"
|Day 1:||8:15 AM American Airlines flight from Ft Lauderdale to Beef Island, BVI (via San Juan) followed by a short taxi ride from the airport to the charter base arriving at approximately 2:00 PM. There will be cocktails and an introduction to the Bahia 46 Catamaran and its features. We should depart about 5:00pm sailing southeast to Cooper Island in about an hour and grab a mooring just off the beach in time for the sunset. Dinner will be on shore at the fine restaurant there. Sleep as the water gently laps on the hull by your head.|
|Day 2:||After breakfast and a morning snorkel, we will sail northeast to the Baths on Virgin Gorda (the "fat virgin," no jokes please) where we will explore the wondrous giant natural rock formations. Lunch on the yacht, then sail around Mosquito Island into Virgin Gorda Sound where we will anchor off of the Bitter End Yacht Club or the Biras Creek Resort. Dinner on board.|
|Day 3:||We will spend the entire day in the sound, exploring the island or renting windsurfers or going on dive trips. Lunch/snacks on board/ashore (open choice as guests may split up) and dinner ashore at the Bitter End Yacht Club, known for their ice cream drinks and fabulous fish dishes. Often they have live music at night for dancing, etc. This is where you will wear your nicest outfits.|
|Day 4:||Our longest sail of the trip sailing west along the entire north coast of Tortola anchoring late that afternoon in Canegarden Bay. While swinging on the tire swing at Stanley's Welcome Bar we will sip rum drinks and watch yet another beautiful sunset. All meals on board. (If the bay is uncomfortable we may anchor elsewhere.)|
|Day 5:||We will hire taxis and explore Mount Sage, the highest peak in the Virgin Island chain. The view of the entire string of islands is unbelievable. Then we will go down the other side of the mountain into Road Town, the capital city, where you can shop and have lunch at one of the yacht harbors or native restaurants. Upon returning to Canegarden, we will zip west to Jost Van Dyke to Sidney's Peace and Love for dinner (lobster is the specialty) and drinks. The famous Foxy's Bar is but a short walk over the small hill where we can also hang out and visit with other adventurous sailors.|
|Day 6:||We will sail southeast to The Bight on Norman Island where we anchor in an enclosed bay and have lunch. Then we will dinghy over to the caves and snorkel in and around them. Dinner on board. The sky is a stargazer's delight with no horizon lights whatsoever. Can you find the Big Dipper?|
|Day 7:||We will sail up the Sir Francis Drake Channel to Trellis Island and the Last Resort restaurant, where we will dine ashore and enjoy the song and comedy show by the proprietor and visit with his albino jackass, I kid you not. Last night on the boat, some of you will not want to go to sleep.|
|Day 8:||An early morning short sail leaving about 8am; (you don't have to get up, we will handle everything), returning to the charter base about 9:30am. Then a quick shower on shore then off to the airport and our midday flight to Ft. Lauderdale, (via San Juan) arriving about 6pm. Should I book another sailing trip or do you just want to stay here another week or two?|
***Of course the above itinerary is subject to weather, swells and other factors, like hangovers.***
There are four private staterooms, each with double berths on board the 46-ft yacht (24' beam), sleeping eight guests (with crew's quarters forward). There are four heads. Linens, pillows and bath towels are provided, but you must bring your own beach towel(s) and teddy bears. There is no electricity on board so please leave hair dryers and electric toothbrushes at home unless they will run on 12-volt system.