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Posted by: nauticalchronicles | January 3, 2012

YOU NEED A VACATION: part one

Dedicated to those who think staying at Holiday Inns is “roughing it”…see what you’re missing!

NAUTICAL CHRONICLES

YOU NEED A VACATION (Part One)

I know; it’s a miserable, really sloppy day outside. It’s overcast, icy, misty, and there’s a chance of snow. Not the white, fluffy, great-to-be-alive, happy kind of snow; the miserable have-to-commute-in kind. The kind that needs to be shoveled & plowed in the dark because it gets dark at 5:00 when you get home from work, and it’s dark at 5:00 when you get up to go to work.

Well, if you can, picture this and try to use this picture as a temporary diversion…

You and your best friend and two other close friends have just touched down in San Juan, Puerto Rico. You have flown from Boston Logan where you’ve left that foul weather behind, and are bound for the British Virgin Islands. You board a puddle-jumper, bound for Tortolla, BVI and taxi onto the runway, only to be detained and then returned to the terminal. The captain of the plane (whom you are sitting next to in this puddle-jumper) informs you that “someone” has forgotten to re-fuel the plane; your flight is delayed pending fueling. The captain says this occasionally happens “here in the islands”.

Re-fueled, a little nervous but again underway, you have a front row seat on the flight; a clear view of everything beneath and in front of you. It is warm, sunny and exactly the opposite of what you’ve left behind. You can see Cuba through the windshield. The water and island views are spectacular, especially the varied blue-greens and aquamarine colors of the sea. You fly over the American Virgin Islands in their Caribbean splendor and touch down on the runway at Beef Island, BVI. You quickly de-plane and proceed through customs. You immediately order cocktails (drinking in public is strongly promoted in the islands) and board the special bus taking you to The Moorings, your charter boat rental company.

You have left behind the real world and have entered this fantasy world of bare boat chartering.  You immediately realize that this fantasy world can become addictive. Your 1-hour drive takes you past small villages, various sites and wonders, all located in the most beautiful sea you’ve ever seen, the existence of which you have only imagined; the crystal clear Caribbean. There is nothing quite as exciting as this 1st- time island adventure. It is the first time you’ve been to this part of the world and it is outstanding. The bus trip ends in Roadtown, Tortola, a well populated, bustling town with a history rich in pirating. This is home to the Moorings fleet of power and sail catamarans.

You check in, receive your briefing, pile aboard “Southern Composure” (your 37’ power cat) with your duffels, plug in your favorite Marley CD and begin the inventory of supplies you’ve ordered for the voyage. After the short briefing, you are handed the keys to half-a-million dollars worth of boat, you are wished a safe and enjoyable journey with the parting remark, “see you in a week; enjoy”. You’ve ordered supplies which are to be “easy on the chef”; you’ll be eating out a lot and only cooking on board two nights. Breakfasts and some lunches will also be made on board.  And then there is the liquor. You’ve been conservative in estimating your requirements (after all, you will be ordering quite a few drinks ashore, especially the reputed  “Painkillers”); you’ve stocked: 6 bottles of Stoli, 6 bottles of Absolut, 2 bottles of rum and a bottle of Baileys and think this should suffice; you have also stocked the appropriate mixes… and a case of beer.

You have done some homework, so you know you are going to head first to Cane Garden Bay on the other side of Tortola, or to the island of Jost Van Dyke just around the western tip of Tortola, through Thatch Island Cut. The sea, however, says “no you’re not”; as you leave Road Harbour, you find the weather disagrees with your plans; your first stop is going to be Norman Island, a “mere” 4.5 miles directly across from the mouth of Road Harbour (a little over 1 hour of powering through wind and rough sea). You are surprised at how well the cat handles in the wind and water even though you can only make 4 knots (you have been told that in a suitable sea, the cat will do 12-14 knots).

On entering the Bight of Norman Island, you find a vacant mooring and settle in for the night (you will only be using moorings and anchorages during your voyage; there are no plans for stopping at marinas as there is no need to stop at one). You read your guidebook to familiarize yourself with this island. You are delighted to find that the Bight is home to The William Thornton, nicknamed “Willie T”. The guidebook says that “stories abound about many wild nights of partying aboard; the ambiance is casual and often riotously fun!” It is also home to the famous “Body Shot” (a drink which, after imbibing, causes you to jump, topless from the deck to the water, an activity which may earn you a free T-shirt…if you are a female pirate.  You, of course, find this out after jumping and not receiving the T-shirt). You, your best friend and your two close friends find that all of the claims made by the guidebook and the “Willie T” are true; your assessment of this stop is that it has been as memorable as any stops, ever made, anywhere…bar none.

The next morning, you find it difficult to get moving, but your next port is calling. The sun is out, it is warm with calm seas and only subtle winds; and seeing the five naked, showering men on the deck of the sailing yacht next to yours nudges you into action. You stop at “The Indians” for some snorkeling on your way to Frenchman’s Cay and Soper’s Hole. Schools of tropical fish abound, and you also notice a large, rather skinny fish under the boat between the pontoons cooling itself in the shade. After conferring with your crew, it is determined to be a BARRACUDA; you are very glad you kept your distance. After a brief lunch, you’re on your way to Soper’s Hole for some shopping and touristy stuff. You pick up a bottle of World Famous Pusser’s Rum and head for White Bay on Jost Van Dyke, home to a beautiful white sand beach, The Soggy Dollar and Sidney’s One Love. You anchor offshore and swim into the beach; this is how the Soggy Dollar got its name, and you see many dollar bills hanging by clothespins from a clothesline…drying.  This is possibly the most relaxed beach you have visited; Sidney’s One Love with its soft couches and self-serve bar epitomizes the concept of relaxation. Of course, “Painkillers” and several orders of conch fritters help to relax you even more.

You hoist anchor and take a short cruise to Great Harbor (also on Jost Van Dyke), where you spend your 2nd night (and your first night on anchor; no moorings available). You call in your reservations, by VHF radio on channel 16, to the World Famous Foxy’s Tamarind Beach Bar; you make early reservations so you can see Foxy, himself, playing his Calypso ballads. It is definitely a relaxed atmosphere with sand floors beneath various types of table-clothed seating areas. You begin with Foxy’s famous Fire Water Rum, and enjoy a delectable seafood meal. You dinghy back to the boat, go directly to your berth and fall into a deep, deep sleep; until 2 AM when you find you have broken anchor and drifted into the nearest moored boat. It’s OK though; by 3 AM, you’re all squared away…these things happen in the islands.

You learn that Foxy has opened a new establishment in Diamond Cay, just around the corner from Great Harbor. Your crew helps you decide that an additional day and night on Jost Van Dyke is an extremely good idea. Your 3rd day and night are spent in Diamond Cay, swimming, snorkeling, hiking to the Bubbling Pool, taking pictures of breath-taking  views…and partying at Foxy’s Taboo.

TO BE CONTINUED

Captain Robert Brown

First Mate Louise

the little man

                  

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Responses

  1. Amazing pictures .. Beautiful.. cant wait for more of this story.. 🙂

  2. Another great adventure and beautiful pictures. Can’t wait to hear “the rest of the story.”

  3. When are we going again Captain Bob????

  4. I WANNA GO BACK~~!!! (insert whining voice!) Your descriptions are perfect….I can taste the nutmeg floating on a Pain Killer(s) !

  5. Thanks for sharing all of this! The opening is wounderful and the pictures only inhance the cut and pace for the first chapter; Yes, let’s all go, a flotiller documented by the ” Bard” of A dock with pictures and memories to last!

  6. Sailed 6 times to the BVI’s, and your stories bring me back there on a frigid January night. Thanks… I’d go back in a heartbeat!

  7. Jealous 🙂 Love, Betsy

  8. Norman Island, home of Pirates Bight Bar, Restaurant, and Gift Shop, is perhaps most famous for being the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, Treasure Island. However, Norman Island also has a rich documented history of acting as a hiding spot for Pirate booty.Documented history for the island dates back to the early 18th century when a Spanish galleon called Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe buried 55 chests of silver coins after the crew mutinied aboard the ship.

    • Hi Lucy,
      Thanks For Your Comments!!! Love that you saw the story and could respond. We visited Pirates Bight Bar when we were last there! And the next time we visit, we will ask for you…
      Captain Bob Brown


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