We just finished a week of glorious sailing in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). If you are unfamiliar with BVI, it is a collection of islands just east of Puerto Rico. The smallest islands are big rocks and the largest have small towns and roads; many are uninhabited. The scenery is beautiful: hilly islands covered in verdant growth, white sand beaches, and sparking blue waters. The water is clear so visibility is quite good, which makes for excellent snorkeling and diving. BVI is a popular place for sailing due to the warm weather, steady cooling trade winds, and close proximity of the islands (you can get to the next island in an hour and to the farthest island in a short day). We chartered a 38 foot catamaran for a week with our friends, Sven and Eva.
Here are a few highlights from our week:
– Despite her propensity for motion sickness, Megan didn’t get sea sick the entire time. Yay!
– Being on a boat provides a tremendous amount of freedom. We had the ability to see an interesting place, read in the cruising guide to see if it was a safe place to anchor, and drop in to visit. Multiple times, we did this and then swam to the shore and explored the beach. One time, we found a half dozen gorgeous large conch shells. Another time, we found an old salt pond and a path that led to the other side of the island. With a willing suspension of disbelief, we became explorers in a new land.
– Snorkeling. We swam every day and slipped on the snorkeling mask to see what we could see. The best snorkeling was in a sheltered bay where we didn’t have to navigate waves nor other snorkelers as we were the only ones in the water. Large coral heads held a wealth of life: territorial fish, bright red crabs, a reef shark, fish in all shapes and colors, giant purple coral fans, black and red sea urchins, and so much more. Before climbing back onto the boat, we found a small school of large pelagic fish lazily circling deep under the shadow of the boat.
– Time with Sven and Eva. We shared good conversation, many jokes, meal preparation, storytelling, and taking each others’ pictures.
– Before leaving Portland, multiple people told us “you have to go to The Baths!” It did not disappoint. The Baths is a spot on the shore with giant (up to 40 foot) round boulders dotting the sand. You can clamber in and around the boulders, which resemble slot canyons and caves at times. You can also snorkel among them and get the experience of a wall as a snorkeler. The best part for us was the view from the hill above the baths. We enjoyed breakfast one morning in a restaurant perched on top of a boulder pile, overflowing with many-colored bougainvillea, and looking out over the blue sea and islands with many white sails.
– Settling into this new phase of life where the time of day doesn’t matter, an afternoon nap can be the norm, and fleece layers are a distant memory.