Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Exploring the Virgins

We spent several weeks exploring the British, American and Spanish Virgin Islands.  We arrived at the BVIs first and after checking in Virgin Gorda, we visited the Bitter End Yacht club that we last enjoyed with my mother back in 2009 for mother’s day.  It had changed very little and the harbor was crowded with boats. 

Virgin Gorda is the third-largest and second most populous of the BVIs. Christopher Columbus is said to have named the island "The Fat Virgin", because the island's profile on the horizon looks like a fat woman lying on her side. The main town is Spanish Town on the southwestern part of the island.

After a few days, we moved around the island to visit the Baths again at the southwestern tip of Virgin Gorda, The Baths is a collection of massive granite boulders as large as 40 feet in diameter, with white sand beaches and secret rock pools. The cavernous surroundings are a result of the molten rock seeping up into the existing volcanic rock layers; because the molten rock did not reach the surface it cooled slowly and formed the hard crystalline granite layer. Further shrinkage and cracking formed blocks, which were exposed when the softer volcanic rock above eroded away. 

Weathering rounded the corners of the boulders to what they are today. We followed a series of steps and rope handrails to guide us along a trail through the boulders from the beach at The Baths to the sandy expanse that is Devil's Bay.

We slowly moved around visiting Spanish Town, Norman Island, Tortola before heading to the American Virgin Islands.  Almost every day, Kim and Emily snorkeled around after home school while dad worked on the boat, read and planned the navigation for the next leg.   


We all enjoyed the white sand beaches and watching the beautiful boats sailing by.  

We enjoyed St Johns visiting Cruz and Caneel Bays and we rented a car from the St Thomas yacht club to explore some of that island.  We were anchored in Christmas Bay and learned that it was named after Christopher Columbus anchored in this bay once on Christmas Eve.  It was nice to know that he can pick a good anchorage too!

We had a starting problem with the dingy motor and decided to make a quick stop in Culebra (Spanish Virgin Islands) before booking into a Puerto Rico marina to locate a service technician to fix the motor.  Cruising is impossible without a working dingy, so we were happy to discover that the problem was corrosion in the electrical harness that was replaced quickly with an in-stock part. This was yet another reminder that we are not cruising in Indonesia any more.   

We had an American-flagged power boat reunion at the dock of the largest marina in the Caribbean.  Bodacious, a 39’ Krogen, Aries Too, a 55’ Nordhavn and Iriana, a 47’ Nordhavn were all in attendance.   There is an interesting old pirate ship here that apparently is being readied for an upcoming "Pirates of the Caribbean" film.  Keep a lookout for the distinctive figurehead in an upcoming film and remember you saw it here first!


We will also rent a car here to enjoy some American store shopping and food provisioning before making a 3 ½ day passage directly to the Bahamas. We decided to bypass the Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos since we have seen them before and we voted to maximize our time enjoying the blue water and white sand of the Bahamas.