10 February 2008

Breezing through the British Virgin Islands

February 10, 2008

When the vendors and hawkers on the streets of Charlotte Amalie start to recognize you and no longer attempt to lure you into their stores with promises of cheap diamonds and Rolex watches, you know you’ve been there for too long. So it was with great cheer that we weighed anchor and sailed out of Charlotte Amalie harbor, St. Thomas, USVI on Friday morning.

The highlight of the week there was a visit from friends Jerry & Laurie who were passing through St. Thomas on a cruise ship. We managed to get a message to them on the ship and we went sailing on Whisper last Saturday. It was a rather wet sail but fun nonetheless. Their ship left at 5PM so we said our hasty goodbyes around 4:30 in time for them to run down the dock to get onboard.

On Friday morning we sailed from St. Thomas to Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke, the northernmost of the British Virgin Islands. The scenery is spectacular; tall peaked islands plunging straight into the ocean with wooden houses perched on their banks. Most of the sailing is done in the lee of an island so the waves are minimal but the wind is usually blowing between 15-20 knots. Enough to have at least one reef in the main and the jib rolled up a little. Full speed ahead!

Sailing from Little Jost Van Dyke to Soper's Hole, Tortola

Another boat underway.

We were able to clear customs and immigration at Jost Van Dyke with no problem and we started a new tradition of a meal out upon arrival in a new country. Lunch was hamburgers and a jerk chicken sandwich complemented with a few “painkillers” at the Soggy Dollar Bar, probably one of the best beach bars we’ve even been to: white sand, reggae, hammocks, cold drinks with free souvenir cups, beach chairs, the ring toss game, and lots of boats anchoring off the beach to provide the entertainment. Surely someone will drag soon!

Not wanting to give up on the kite-surfing dream, we sailed over to Sandy Spit on Saturday morning which has a great beach for launching a kite. The Flexifoil 2008 team was shooting a promotional video off the beach so while we didn’t attempt to launch our kite, we were treated to some inspiration by some amazing kiters. In the afternoon we snorkeled off the beach and saw large coral heads, many different types of fish and a pair of spotted eagle rays. However after seeing a shark a couple weeks ago we both keep our eyes peeled all the time! Snorkeling now has an edge of panic all the time. Kristen jumped out of the water every time she saw the (harmless) 100 pound tarpon. She got in the dinghy even faster upon seeing the 40 pound barracuda patrolling the reef!

Sandy Spit just east of Jost Van Dyke

We sailed down to the Soper’s Hole anchorage on the west end of Tortola to spend the night with plans on making Norman’s Island our next stop. Unfortunately, Hans woke up this morning with a cold so we’re spending a day here relaxing and watching the charter boats negotiate the anchorage and the moorings, entertainment in itself!

The packed anchorage at Soper's Hole.