want to start...
US to get on board or discuss dates/locations which are still in planning.
Trip will be one week, likely in the second half of the month. Probable
locations: either Procida (off the Golfo di Napoli) or Sicily!
trip logs from prior passages in paradise are on our Facebook page, and
written up with pics and clips in our E-news. Want a copy? Contact
To subscribe, contact
view of our yacht, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, from our January 2010
trip. We had this little island (foreground, not background) and
anchorage entirely to ourselves!
-fishing boats and charter boats. Mustique, St. Vincent
& The Grenadines, from our January trip. S. Card, photo.
sail the BVI (British Virgin Islands) in January, but we occasionally visit
other locations for variety. St. Vincent & the Grenadines are
spectacular and readily accessible, and we went there from January 16-24,
We also went
to the BVI in April with two boats.
-non descript shark, about six feet long, with remoras attached.
Probably a lemon shark. S. Card, video/still frame.
reefs in the Tobago Cays are healthy (as are many others), and it's not
uncommon to see a shark or barracuda. The Sailing Center's Director,
Captain Steve Card, shot some video of the guy you see above, and saw later
that there was another that passed "port to port" with the first one!
We see the occasional shark in the BVI too. Don't worry, they're
not large "maneaters."
for yourself on YouTube.
Read on for
general trip information, watch some video clips, and get a great sense
of how we do our instructional sailing vacations!
prices average out at around $1600 per person, and are all-inclusive except
for airfare, transfers, and a few dinners ashore. Each boat has a
USCG licensed Captain with ASA or US Sailing Instructor certification.
one level of ASA cruising or navigation certification, as relevant and
earned. You cannot earn Basic Keelboat on these trips. Why?
Because it's not appropriate to learn to sail on a large cruising boat!
clear of schools and trips that propose
to teach you Basic through Bareboat, or Basic on a large boat (usually
that means both). You get three pieces of paper, and an experience,
but not a proper foundation and education.
(Dolphin & ray videos further
down. All other photos and videos by Steve Card unless otherwise noted.)
sailing from Virgin Gorda to Anegada on our January '09 trip, the school's
Director (literally and figuratively, in this case), filmed this view from
the cabin and then continued on deck. To see this video either on
our site or on YouTube:
Site (Opens with Quicktime);
(Brings up all our YouTube videos).
of dolphins playing in our bow wake!
Video of large ray!
taken by one of our students, Scott Schedivy, on our January '09 BVI trip.
Click either link above. Video screen opens on left and choice of
videos is on right.
video of reef fish taken by the Sailing Center's Director, Steve Card
in YouTube: click the HQ button on the bottom right to switch to High Quality.)
on, and see some pictures and video,
learn about taking an instructional sailing vacation in an exotic setting!
"21 Sexiest Beach Bars" aired
on the Travel Channel recently.
Two of their top 21, from
around the world, were in the BVI.
which two! Get
it right, get a $25 gift certificate.
|The British Virgin Islands
one of the best places to get started, and it's hard to outgrow them: many
serious bluewater cruisers make ocean passages to return year after year.
A large percentage of students taking Bareboat Charter courses, such as
course, seek to cruise in the Virgin Islands. This is a great way
to get started.
We offer special trips where
you can not only get training while you sail and handle the vessel in all
aspects, but also enjoy a proper vacation at the same time. There's
plenty to do besides sail. Food and drink are excellent ashore, and
preparing meals on board is surprisingly easy and satisfying. Watersports
abound down here: you can try board sailing ('Windsurfing'), snorkeling
(equipment provided), beachcombing, hiking & exploring, zipping around
in the yacht's dinghy tender, bird watching, even fishing. There
are some very interesting spots scattered around for nightlife, too, such
as Bomba's Shack on Tortola, Foxy's and Sydney's Peace & Love on Jost
Van Dyke, and others.
For relaxation time on board,
the vessels are all spacious and well appointed. We use yachts ranging
from 34 to over 50 feet, depending on group size. We never overcrowd
a boat beyond its realistic capacity to accommodate everyone. Each
vessel has hot and cold running water & shower in the heads (marine
bathrooms with toilet), refrigeration, proper electronics and instruments,
electric anchor windlass, bimini shade for the cockpit, rigid bottom inflatable
(RIB) dinghy with outboard engine, etc, etc...
When you're done, you'll
probably wind up with Basic Cruising or Bareboat Charter certification,
depending on your prior experience and how much you pursue it on the trip.
In some cases, you might pursue Coastal Navigation certification instead.
Here's the whole gang from our January
'08 trip. Captain Steve Card, the school's Director, is third from left
and shot this in bad light with the self-timer. This is at Foxy's
in Jost Van Dyke, a lively and legendary night spot with great table fare.
Below: a representative sample of wildlife.
ray, Norman Island, right off the dock (you can snorkel with these
pelican, Marina Cay.
Typical scene at Loblolly Bay, Anegada - one of the finest beaches
you'll find anywhere with great swimming, snorkeling, food and drink.
It's all about the sailing, after all! En route to Virgin Gorda
on our first sail of the trip. Julia has the helm.
More pictures, some video, and a trip
log from the January '08 trip will follow shortly.
of our new friends waves hello to your left from our January '07
BVI trip. See below or
Click Here for more
details on this adventure.
the best trip I've taken in a very long time!"
Turchi, New York, NY.
repeated on the Jan. '08 trip)
Steve Card, photo
|Dining al fresco in the cockpit of our
Beneteau 43, April 2007, BVI. It doesn't get better than this!
Fabi and Julio, to the left, joined us
from Minnesota. Eric, Monika and Brittany are local (NY, not BVI...).
Eric took our Start Sailing course, and Monika is now enrolled as well.
Bryn Will, photo.
go to GREECE!
taste is seen to your left. We were approaching Epidavros, a small
port along the Peloponnisos, not far from Athens.
our GREECE PAGE.
the article about this trip on-line in the American Sailing Association's
(ASA) summer newsletter magazine! There's a link from our Greece
Steve Card, photo
for the best vacation we've ever had.
The trip left
us feeling enriched, productive, and most important, relaxed. Sounds
like an impossible combination.
our lives. Hope to join you again,"
Dale & Shobha,
New York, NY (Jan '06 trip)
Sunrise at Brandywine
Bay, Tortola, BVI. January '06. (Steve Card, photo)
was probably the best vacation I've ever taken."
- John Gugliotta, New York, NY.
March '06 trip.
"I had some of
the best moments of my life on our sailing vessel "Near Enough"
- from the best night's sleep (I slept through a squall), to sitting on
the bow of the boat in contemplation, while gazing at the stunning horizon
lines and the distant islands. While snorkeling, I experienced amazing
underwater biodiversity, renewing my appreciation and respect for
nature. I enjoyed the trip immensely as well as the company of my shipmates
who really added to the pleasure of the whole trip. I can't wait to visit
this area again next year and hopefully take more trips with Captain Steve
to other parts of the world."
- Lydia Furuta, New York, NY.
March '06 BVI trip.
TRIP: Virgin Islands
(BVI), April 3-10, 2010. Contact us asap
for general info, trip logs, pictures and video of prior trips.
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
Here are some videos from the first full
day of our January 2003 trip to the BVI. This one day really captures
so much of the tropical bareboating experience that instead of making one
montage, we made three different movies. After that, you can take
a tour of The Bath's, one of the most famous and popular spots in the BVI.
See us clowning around at dockside, then
getting down to some serious chart briefing. Then, departure
under power and setting sails one by one. We finish with our first
tack, and and obviously tired Captain Jim Pinno, "Head Bozo" of this trip,
taking a breather. Jim's "Able Bodied Seaman" assistant on this trip
(okay, Co-Captain) was Steve Card, director of the Sailing Center.
Opens with: Windows
Media Player and RealPlayer (click
on either one to download if needed)
File Size: 2.5 MB
Movie length: 1 minute,
Shot & edited by:
BVI: PLAYING AT
This one show us playing at Little
Harbor, Peter Island, our first destination. This was shortly
after the Departure scenes from the video above. Great footage of
us relaxing in the water (literally, as you'll see), dinghying, and snorkeling.
After the sailing, this is what it's all about!
Opens with: Windows
Media Player and RealPlayer (click
on either one to download if needed)
File Size: 3.8 MB
Movie length: around
1 and one-half minutes
Shot & edited by:
BVI: FIRST NIGHT AT ANCHOR
Dusk and dinner. A very scenic
sunset with numerous volcanic Virgin Island peaks, and Peter Island's Little
Harbor at dusk. We discuss dinner, observe jumping fish, and settle
down for the actual spread in the cockpit with music. A proper end
to a complete day.
Opens with: Windows
Media Player and RealPlayer (click
on either one to download if needed)
File Size: around
Movie length: a little
over one minute
Shot & edited by:
One of the true "must see" spots in the
Virgin Islands. This spot features several groups of huge boulders
along the beach at the western end of Virgin Gorda. Walk through
clear shallow pools of water surrounding by cave-like formations.
Snorkel around the perimeter or through the smooth boulders. Climb
on and around the boulders for spectacular panoramas. Here's a preview...
Opens with: Windows
Media Player and RealPlayer (click
on either one to download if needed)
File Size: 3.3 MB
Movie length: around
Shot & edited by:
JANUARY '07 BVI TRIP
(for our January '06 trip, click
This was from the 20th to the 27th, with
some people arriving early and/or staying later. Wonderful trip;
moderate winds, comfortably warm to hot daytime temperatures, almost no
rain (and brief when we had it). There were four participants plus
the Dockmaster. Here's where we went and what we did there!
(All photos by Steve Card unless otherwise
Friday, 19th. Early arrivals,
Hodges Creek Marina, Tortola. Dockmaster arrives early, and enjoys
the following scenery.
|One big behemoth of a stratocruiser approaches
another on a T-bone course. The Dockmaster was eating lunch on the
balcony of Calamaya, the restaurant at the base. It has surprisingly
good food, especially considering that it really has a captive patronage.
These guys got the cat turned around and eventually backed it in, parallel
parking fashion, to the wharf, end to end with the one whose stern we see
to the bottom right.
Want to drive one of these bad boys?
Our own Peter Schorr has added Cruising Multihull to his list of ASA instructor
Lunch and a sideshow. These
two guys showed up right at the base.
|Just enough moist clouds for a mid-afternoon
Rain is not uncommon at this time of the
year, but is mostly a nighttime phenomenon. Sometimes we get
a bit in the mid to late afternoon. Either way, it's always brief
showers, not a steady downpour. And it can be quite refreshing in
(It wasn't this dark in real life; contrast
boosted to bring out the rainbow.)
The waitress, Nikki, pointed them out,
and the Dockmaster took off, promising to come back to finish his
coffee and pay the tab.
Dolphins are probably most commonly seen
in the winter months in the BVI.
These shots were all taken from Sunsail
boats at the end of the "A" (departure) dock.
The smaller one kept playing with a stick,
and the other just hung around (probably an older sibling or parent).
The coffee got cold, but Nikki was kind
enough to give him a fresh cup
for the price of a glimpse of the pictures.
Saturday, 20th. Arrive at Sunsail's
base, Hodges Creek Marina, Tortola. Some of got in a night or
more before, and stayed at the hotel of the same name or on St. Thomas.
Dockmaster fished that afternoon while the others did provisioning. (They'd
all done it before, more than once, including Greece for John and Lydia,
so don't guilt him for squeezing in some fishing.) Dockmaster landed
his first bonefish without a guide. That was pretty special.
This was our home for the week - welcome
She's a Beneteau Oceanis 423, with three
cabins and three heads, and can accommodate six or seven people nicely.
More than that is pushing it, but can be done. We don't do.
That's a large swim platform at the transom,
with a convertible walk-through seat. The locker on the bottom left
is ideal for snorkelling gear, or as a fish box if we're lucky while trolling.
(Mixed luck this time around.) To the right is a fold away swim ladder
with teak steps. The cleats to either side are very handy for using
the dinghy; nice touch compared to other vessels we've used.
The steering wheel is not broken: it actually
revolves 90 degress out of the way, allowing easier access through the
cockpit. The instrument pod houses a combo GPS chartplotter and sounder,
with a daylight viewable color screen.
Let's go below:
|View from the companionway stairs of the
saloon. (Salon? Thought they used to call this a salon back in the
day, but now everyone calls it a saloon.)
Left to right:
The Dockmaster slept on the dinette, and after
the first night, didn't even bother converting it. It's more comfortable
and roomy than this picture shows.
refrigerator with fridge/freezer sections
oven and two burner range (propane fueled)
double sink, with cutting boards fitted over
partial view of luxurious forward suite (cabin)
dinette, which converts to a double berth
|STARBOARD: Here's a cockeyed
view of the forward suite. Both sides have step-up platforms for
the large double berth (bed), which is larger than the wide-angle picture
suggests. Around the corner to the right is a large head area with
separate shower stall. For a boat of this size, it's a luxury.
You have to sign up early to get these digs!
BELOW: one of two identical aft
cabins, roomy for this size vessel. The berths wrap around
toward the centerline, giving a little more room. This is the starboard
cabin, which has its own private (en suite) head. The port side cabin's
head is also accessible from the saloon. Occupant can lock both doors.
This concludes our tour.
We loaded up the boat, had drinks, then
dinner at Fat Hog Bob's. This is a misnomer as it's located in Hodges
Creek, and Fat Hogs Bay is one over to the east. Still, it's a great
handle for a steak and rib joint, and they have lighter fare too.
(Meat dishes are side-dished with a nice assortment of fresh vegetables.)
Moon, masts and Venus (barely visible below
moon). View is along the Sunsail wharf. Goodnight!
|Sunday: depart for Virgin Gorda.
This is usually an upwind sail, so we get our tacking practice out of the
way. The prevailing winds are east, with northeast and southeast
fairly common too. Here's John and Lydia enjoying the ride.
They've been on a BVI trip and also to Greece with us, so they're not virgin
to the Virgin Islands.
Tortola to Virgin Gorda can take as little
as three hours or over five. It depends on the wind, the boat, how
carefully the boat is steered upwind, and whether we take any scenic detours
from the shortest possible route.
Virgin Gorda is a tall, mountainous island
with Gorda Sound to the northeast. We often spend two nights here
to do everything, inlcuding a day-trip to the famous Baths at the south
end of the island via taxi-tour over the mountains with breathtaking views
over Gorda Sound and various other parts of the island. There's great
snorkeling off small adjacent islands, fishing, and the world famous Bitter
End Yacht Club where you can rent all kinds of sailing dinghies, catamarans,
sailboards, and small Boston Whalers if you want to explore on your own.
|Looking for submarines. View from
the port topside ports (hull windows) looking down while heeled over on
starboard tack. The Dockmaster was probably making some sandwhiches
at the time, but there's always time to grab the camera.
|Starboard:: Approaching Biras Hill
and the Bitter end. Karin and John are on the foredeck. Bitter
End offers moorings, fuel & water, limited provisions, and shoreside
accommodations in addition to the rental/charter fleet. There's a
restaurant and bar, an "English" pub, gift shop, etc. Guests at the
hotel can enjoy daily racing activities. (The Dockmaster is a former
daily Laser champion, which means nothing more than the fact that someone
had to win the hand-made model Laser fashioned from parts of a palm tree
A small wire-mesh enclosure at the dinghy
dock used to house small sharks but might not any longer - a quick glance
revealed nothing this time.
Below: Prickly Pear Island, en route
to a mooring at Saba Rock, which is just out of our view to port in the
picture to the right (and 90 degrees relative from our view below).
Prickly pear has small but very nice beaches.
Anchoring along Prickly Pear is relatively easy and a no-brainer in calm
weather. In a blow, a mooring makes sleeping at night much easier!
|This time, as most of us had been to the
Baths at least once, we decided to stay only one night in Gorda Sound,
and opted for a mooring at Saba Rock.
Saba is a tiny island which now houses
a restaurant/bar and some hotel rooms. it also has docks and is convenient
for taking on water and ice (included in the mooring fee).
We went snorkeling off Eustatia Island,
where there are two reefs you can anchor the dinghy in between and snorkel
back and forth.
Some of us had Sunset drinks at Saba Rock's
upstairs gazebo, affording gorgeous shaded views of much of the Sound.
and a view east over Eustatia reef into the open Caribbean sea (the view
seen here). Then, an excellent dinner back at Saba, and a dinghy
excursion for some later to socialize at the Bitter End and back at Saba.
Monday: Marina Cay. We postponed
original intention, Anegada, indefinitely due to uncertainty over the weather.
It's nice to have clear or partially clear skies approaching Anegada due
to the reefs, but it's not absolutely necessary. No matter, we could
go later in the trip. So, we docked up for ice and water and then
headed off to Marina Cay.
|Sailing "wing & wing" en route from
Gorda Sound to Marina Cay (heading is roughly west here). Lydia and
Karin are not merely eye candy here - they did their fair share of steering
wing and wing, too. They are, however, more photogenic than John,
Dave and the Dockmaster...:-)
For you beginners out there, "wing &
wing" means sailing directly away from the wind. To get the front
sail to fill, it has to be brought out from behind the rear sail so wind
reaches it. So, we flop it over, and call it wing & wing (or
wing on wing).
Pringles are in evidence here. They're
almost a shadow currency, more availalabe in more places in the BVI than
almost anything else you care to imagine. (Haven't decided if that's
scary, or a relief.)
Our dink in tow, Virgin Gorda in the background.
|Marina Cay is a small island with a very
nice restaurant/bar. It has great snorkeling a short dinghy ride
away at the Coral Gardens, and sometimes right off the beach, as there's
a large fringing reef surrounding much of the island. Great views
from the restaurant and up the foot paths, especially at the top of the
island which is one big landscaped hill essentially. There's a very
loud happy hour on top of the hill where a one-man accordian/vocal/drum
band performs and everyone really gets into it. Marina Cay also has
a fuel dock with water, and a store for provisions, clothing, and gifts.
The pictue to starboard is a link to a video taken last year at Marina
Cay, giving a great idea of the scenery here.
More scenic pictures from this trip to come, when they're snagged from
other people's cameras...
- Dave and John watering our Oceanis 423 at Marina Cay. That's
an English style phone booth right on the dock!
Lydia Furuta, photo.
We did the Coral Gardens, had drinks ashore,
and ate on board via the barbecue kettle. Three grown men scratching
our heads and thumping our chests barely got the damn thing to stay lit,
but we improved each time we used it subsequently. (It's not as easy
on a boat.) Dave and John took the dinghy over to Trellis Bay, at
Beef Island, for an excursion and also to re-fill the coffers (ATM) before
-happy camper at Marina Cay. John Gugliotta, photo
- convenient swim steps from the beach at Marina Cay. Lydia Furuta,
The Dockmaster had the best snorkeling
experience of his life, and he's had many. After a typical grid-pattern
tour of the area, he settled into a brisk-paced crawl for some exercise
and to warm up a bit. Immediately, a school of foot-long yellowtails
joined in, surrounding him below and to the sides. They seemed to
keep looking at him. More kept joining from the side: he could see
them approach at 90 degrees, turn and fall in line. It was as if
they sensed he was a predator getting ready to make a kill and they were
anticipating some scraps. After awhile, he made a U-turn to see if
they stayed with him. As soon as he finished turning and resumed
his crawl, they were back. The school had to be around 30 fish at
that point. And after one more U-turn, they were still there! They
followed him to the dinghy and it was over.
Lydia shot this one, and titled it: "One Too Many Painkillers."
My rebuttal: I had one, and as you can see, it ain't finished...
Tuesday: head out to Anegada, the
'Sunken Island.' Trolled up a large Kingfish (mackerel) soon after
leaving the main island chain. It was huge, and kept jumping,
long enough for everyone to see it. Then, it shook the hook and was
free. Dockmaster was almost glad, as it would have been a little
large to handle off the transom, and they have sharp teeth.
Lying north of the main chain and mostly
surrounded by large coral reefs, Anegada has its own atmosphere and magic,
with spectacular swimming, snorkeling and diving on the north side of the
island. It's somewhat weather dependant, and It requires careful
navigation to get to a safe staging area to make the final approach through
the reefs - cool! It's flat as a pancake except for trees, and with
a maximum elevation only 28 feet, it can't be seen when at sea level in
the rest of the Virgin Islands. Large population of pink flamingos,
too - around 200. Good bonefishing, as well as reef fishing for a
variety of species.
We took the shuttle bus to Loblolly Bay
on the north side to take advantage of the snorkeling. Not very good
this time around: there was a fair heave on from the north, and due to
the wave action on the barrier reef, the inner reefs had poor visibility
and a bit of an undertow. We cut that short and had drinks - very
good ones - at the Big Bamboo, one of the oldest restaurant/bars on the
Island. Their frozen Pina Colada is spectacular, and their Painkillers
don't suck. (The Painkiller is the unofficial "official" drink of
he BVI, invented at Jost Van Dyke. Pussers International, which operates
Marina Cay, likes to suggest that it's their drink, especially if it's
made with Pussers Rum. Nah.)
Rode back, cleaned up, and had dinner at
the Anegada Reef Hotel, which organizes the shuttle buses and can also
arrange for private taxis. Slightly pricey lobster, fresh and properly
(not overly) cooked yet unspectacular, but excellent barbecued lamb chops.
The side dishes of rice and pidgeon peas, and sauteed lima beans, were
so good we all had seconds. Who eats lima beans? Please!
But they were that good.
On Anegada, all restaurants require not
just reservations for dinner, but your specific order. They require
this by 3 or 4 pm! You stop by, or radio in your order.
Anegada, the 'Drowned Land.'
No, that wasn't an error. We spent two nights there! And, it
has two nicknames. According to one cruising guide, Anegada means
drowned or inundated. We all go off on our own. Dave and the
Dockmaster kicked off the lazy day by shooting pool on the crappiest coin-operated
table you ever saw, but it was so uniformly ****ed up that it evened out.
Then, Dave fished along the shore and from the dinghy, and Dockmaster booked
one of the bonefish guides. He wound up with three and saw many more,
as well as catching a few jacks and barracuda. The others went to
Cow Neck beach, and reported it to be at least as nice as Loblolly, which
is spectacular even when it's hard to swim and snorkel. (When it's
rough, you can still do this close to the beach, and shelling improves
due to the extra water motion. Dockmaster found a perfect sand-dollar
shell, intact, and was able to get it home in one piece.)
Dinner aboard via the barebecue.
Long moonlit walk on Anegada's fine sand beach for the Dockmaster; all
else stayed aboard.
- The Dockmaster, apparently stupified by the glorious sunset at Anegada.
John Gugliotta, photo.
Thursday: Cooper Island. First,
we stopped back at Marina Cay to top off our water tanks, pick up some
staples, etc. Got to Manchioneel Bay at Cooper early enough to have
our pick of moorings, close to our favorite snorkeling spot.
Hint: it's not the main spot, and it's priviledged info so you have to
come along to experience it. The main spot is excellent, too.
We snorkelled, fished, spent some time ashore in the shade, and then relaxed
on the boat before dinner aboard.
A digression is in order here to thank
Karin for her outstanding help in meal planning, provisioning, and marinating.
She even pre-packaged several amazing spice combinations to use for the
meals, where the Dockmaster merely brought sea-salt, black pepper and Heat
Wave (multi-spice) grinders. A self-described "foodie," Karin took
our on-boad dinners from passable boat food to restaurant quality fare.
All we grunts had to do was not ruin it on the barbecue grill.
Friday: Norman Island. Home
of the famous Caves, and the Willie T, Norman Island has a large, protected
anchorage called The Bight, or Pirates Bight. It boasts exceptionally
clear waters and consequently very good snorkeling. The caves, just
around the south headland, are fun to explore and are prefaced with deep
vertical walls. If you slow down and get close, you get an amazing
display of small fish, creatures and coral along the wall. Dockmaster
saw a small moray eel, which came out, swam in the open briefly, and disappeared
into a new crevice. It's very rare to see them in their entirety.
(Dockmaster and Karin also saw small ones at Cooper on separate outings.
Not the same one, as we hit them at different spots.) While Norman
Island is famous for sea turtles, we saw none this time. (Lydia saw
one at the Coral Gardens, however.)
Lunch ashore. Excellent. There's
one beach restaurant/bar, so it's hard to miss. Roti, conch fritters
with a proper little salad bed, etc. Can't remember if we lunched
or snorkeled first - no matter.
The Willie T was a bit more subdued than
usual. It's a restaurant and bar on an old sailing vessel that is
semi-permanently moored in The Bight. Its claim to fame?
Women who jump off the top naked get a free T-shirt to commemorate the
event. Men? Bupkus. No sightings on this trip, and the overall
noise level was mid-range. (We moor or anchor on the far side of
The Bight so that it's background noise and not in our faces.) Another
fine meal on board, and I helped! This time, it was a stew of rice,
veggies, and marinated chicken.
Home. Returned to base at
10am, off boat at 11. John, Lydia and Karin ferry over to Marina
Cay for the Day, then back for one more night at the Hodges Creek Hotel,
before taking the ferry to St. Thomas and their flights to the Metro NY
Dave and the Dockmaster were booked on
the same American flight in the evening, so we had time for some bonefishing.
We spooked lots of fish that we couldn't see until they took off, and flubbed
some casts at tailing fish. This was Dave's first experience sight
fishing on a flat, and he had a good eye for it. Eventually, while
untangling a bird's nest (kinked and coiled line), a fish took off with
his bucktail jib the second he started pulling it back in. Dockmaster
heard the line sizzling off and saw the fish streak across the flat.
However, the jig was up - literally - when the line parted from some prior
Thus concludes the January 07 trip log!
British Virgin Islands, April 4-11,
2009. Contact us!
FAQ's about our BVI trips...
Everything except your airfare, any meals
snacks or drinks ashore, alcohol, and any windsurfing/diving equipment
you might wish to partake of. We will probably have at least one
sailboard ('windsurfer') along for the ride, with the cost split amongst
participants expressing an interest in using it - probably $50 to $75 per
person for the week. (yes, the whole week - that's pretty good!).
And, instruction from The Dockmaster is free!
Snorkeling gear is provided, although
I strongly recommend bringing your own mask and snorkel, and if you have
room in your luggage, fins. Again, we can teach you how and guide
Transfers to/from airport are usually
not included; depends on local logistics. We'll let you know in advance.
(Don't worry, it's cheap.)
Also: one level of ASA certification,
relevant and if earned during the course of the trip. If you have
Basic Keelboat, you'll be pursuing Basic Coastal Cruising. If you
have BCC, you'll be pursuing Bareboat Charter. If you have Bareboat,
you can earn Coastal Navigation. If you don't already have Basic
Keelboat or comparable experience, you can't earn certification on this
trip, although you can participate fully with the others and still learn
plenty. Unlike too many schools these days, we won't sell you an
unrealistic or impossible goal: learning to sail in a week on a large cruising
Provisioning of the boat is included:
breakfast, lunch, a few dinners, water, juice, soft drinks, snacks.
We accommodate special requests and diets within reason and availability
(the latter of which is pretty good). We're not cheap - expect extra
virgin olive oil, spring water, leaf lettuce, real salt/pepper grinders
- the good stuff. No caviar, but no Chef Boyardee. No Pellegrino,
but no Acme Cola. You can buy whatever you want to supplement provisions.
We don't supply alcohol, although participants can buy and consume in reasonable
quantities at the discretion of the Captain/Instructor. In other
words, enjoy responsibly.
What do flights
Expect to pay around $450 if booking reasonably
early and flying to San Juan, transferring to the Beef Island airport
in Tortola (price includes connecting flight). Tortola is
one of the largest of the British Virgin Islands, and Beef Island is adjacent
over a short bridge. Another way to fly is to go straight to St.
Thomas in the US Virgin Islands and take a ferry over to Tortola,
clearing customs there. The flight is cheaper - around $300 - and
after adding in the ferry and taxi tansfers ($75-$100), still costs less
than flying to San Juan. However, the whole thing takes longer.
Airport codes: for Beef Island: EIS. For St. Thomas: STB or STT -
double check with your carrier.
For our April trips, expect significantly
What if I'm coming
We'll help you pair up with someone else
to share a cabin. Some people like to sleep outside in the cockpit,
although there's no guarantee that strong gusts and occasional light showers
won't interrupt your sleep. The bimini cover takes care of light
rain if there's little or no wind. If we have an odd number of people,
you might get lucky and get a private cabin at the double-occupancy rate
- no promises. For smaller groups, we use smaller boats and you might
not need to share.
What if I'm alone
and want a private cabin?
Depends on the particulars of a given
trip. Sometimes it's a given, sometimes you pay a premium, and sometimes
it's not possible. You'll know before you book.
Feel free to call Steve with any questions
at 718 885 0335, or just write back.
else do you go besides BVI?
We've gone to Greece twice now, once on
the Aegean side and once in the Ionian. We hope that this will be
an annual event.
From time to time we schedule trips in
other locations for variety. Here are some places we're considering
for future trips to supplement our destinations::
Australia: Whitsunday Islands
Mediterranean: Greek Isles of course Turkey,
South Pacific: Polynesia
Caribbean: Belize, Antigua, Grenadines
Let us know if you're interested in
one of these locations, or some other idyllic setting. We can make
In addition to photos, we have several video clips below
from our January '06 trip, with more to follow. (To see videos from a previous
trip, visit our
video page here, and look through
our British Virgin Island series.)
1997 Optimist Pram Caribbean Championships, St. Thomas,
USVI. S. Card, photo
for our January '06 trip log!
(to see our March '06
trip click here)
All photos & videos by Director
and "Dockmaster," Cap'n Card, unless otherwise noted.
Above: some of the Sunsail fleet, Tortola base.
|Day 1. Fly in, meet up at
base, get acquainted with the boat and each other, and finish provisioning.
The Dockmaster, Steve (author) goes bonefishing; breaks off a fish or two,
which start running much sooner than the stronger but stupider false albacore
he's more familiar with. Local dinner at Fat Hog Bob's, which tastes
a lot better than it sounds, named after the bay around the corner (Fat
Hog Bay). It looks out over the flat and reef, and in '03, we saw
small sharks feeding on the flat in the lights. Fat Hog's often has
live music; it was the night before in this case. We sleep aboard
at the base.
Below: tropical flat meets fringing reef,
then Sir Frances Drake Channel with Virgins in the background
Day 2. Dockmaster loses another
bonefish while Captain Peter Schorr and crew get boat and chart briefings.
The base location is beautiful enough to trap you into hanging around too
long, and the restaraunt/bar probably cleans up as a result. (It's expensive,
and a little slow, but friendly and quite good.) This view is from
the dinghy, anchored at the drop off from the flat, right at the base.
||Left: the 3 stages of boat life development - prostration, contemplation,
and active participation.
After the last few details are attended
to, we depart at noon, heading for Virgin Gorda. Winds are east by
northeast, so we're beating, but the boat handles beautifully and we make
quick work of the trip through Sir Francis Drake Channel, around the Dog
Islands, and then into the north entrance to Gorda Sound.
||Dockmaster trolls off the back of the
boat, under intense pressure from the crew to provide a fresh fish meal
for the stern mounted barbecue grill. He hooks up at the worst possible
time: the entrance to the channel, with a serious reef on one side, not
much room on the other, and a sailboat overtaking. Somehow, he manages
to get the Spanish mackerel in on his trusty spinning rod, and fillets
it on the swim platform.
||Left: looking north over Gorda Sound from the Bitter End.
Below: Karin and Peter taking in the scenery from the cockpit.
||Day 3 Breakfast aboard on
the mooring at Virgin Gorda. Karin carved up a fresh pineapple from
our provisions; Peter made eggs platters with his special home fries.
Steve, center, helped eat it all. The rest of the crew is off digesting
or preparing for our run to Anegada.
(Yes, that's a Pop Tart on the plate in
the foreground. Even without a microwave to heat them up, they can
make a convenient snack. We try to accommodate everyone!)
||This view is from the "land ferry" (taxi)
en route to The Baths. You're looking roughly southeast down at the
Bitter End. Saba Rock is just visible to the left, and Eustatia Reef
marks the boundary between sound and sea.
Our vessel is moored down there somewhere...
This was early in the taxi ride, and just
one example of many spectacular open-air views we were treated to there
||At The Baths. Karin, Shobha and
Dale are dwarfed by some of the gargantuan boulders that were naturally
formed and deposited here during some volcanic episode of old. They
are standing in a shallow pool that runs back past where the photographer
The Baths are a delightful day trip. There
are myriad caves and tidal pools to explore on foot, and you can often
find a spot to sit right down in the gentle pools and relax. For
the more adventurous, there is excellent snorkeling around and through
the pools and boulders, with plenty of exotic fish to see.
Shobha had never snorkeled and was afraid
of the water, but the Dockmaster was able to get her comfortable in the
gentle pools of The Baths. After an hour, Shobha almost had to be
restrained from venturing off on her own after fish in shoulder deep water.
|We got back from the Baths in time to
catch a full-scale squall on the ferry, and the ferry captain killed time
by giving us a tour of the southeast corner of Gorda Sound. The captain
tried to coax some drinks from the bar at Saba Rock, to no avail.
(I presume he would not have actually accepted a painkiller himself while
running the boat, but maybe we could have drowned our soggy sorrows...).
Made dinner aboard that night: Peter's
Most Excellent Beef Goulash. It's surprisingly fun and especially
satisfying to cook on a boat. Everything seems to taste better aboard.
Here's a little video clip for you - mostly
candid, with the exception of a culinary interview of Peter and his pot
of goulash. This sums up the experience of relaxing with a drink
and some converstion while eagerly awaiting a meal from the galley...
Peter Schorr, instructor and chef extraordinaire, cooking and mugging
for the camcorder while everone else converses and listens to music in
blissful ignorance. Opens with Windows Media Player. Large file;
use high speed. Or, see the lower
resolution version instead.
|Day 4 We visit Anegada, and
get a little visitor of our own. This guy (gal?) found us pretty
quickly and camped out on our barbecue grill. He would sometimes
accept a bread handout, but other times he got cranky and flew off, only
to reappear on a different part of the boat, or our dinghy. He brought
a friend once, too.
|Above is a rather crude panorama of the
horizon from Anegada, sunset on Day 4. The left picture looks out
toward the main islands, but due to the distance and the low light they
can't be seen. On the right is a view toward the anchorage and Setting
Point at the west end.
Dockmaster took these shots while sampling
the bonefish flats east of the anchorage. He got there by taxi, and
the driver did in fact come back at the designated time to bring the Dockmaster
back to meet the rest of the crew for dinner. He kept in touch with
Peter by handheld VHF and selected his dinner after Peter gave him the
evening's menu for Neptune's Treasures. Some restaurants, especially
on Anegada, require not only reservations, but that you specify your dish.
When this is required, 4pm is a typical deadline.
|At the dinner table, Neptune's Treasures,
Anegada. Dockmaster is shooting; Jimmy is awol. We loved this
joint. Randy, a manager and co-owner, made us feel taken care of
as friends or family. Plus, the food, drinks and atmoshphere were
excellent. Despite there being another large party and one small
one, we felt as if we had the run of the place. We were tempted all
night by the moonlit beach, and afterward, we all took a long walk on it
before heading back to the boat. Anegada has "navigable" sand beach
surrounding most of the island. You can walk from the anchorage west,
around the the north shore, go the length of the island, and only lose
access on the south east side. That's a lot of beach!
A row of isolated mangroves, off the beach at Anegada.
The camera is aimed at the main islands but they're not
Dockmaster squeezes in a little guided
bonefishing early in the morning. This was painful, as heíd stayed
up Ďtil quite late the night before enjoying the beautiful moonlit weather
with a cup of tea and others for company. Didnít get a hookup, although
the guide put him on fish, and he managed to spot one before the guide
did. Of course, the guide spotted all fish first.
The others did their own thing that morning.
We had a beautiful sail back to the main islands, with winds slightly abated
from the trip over. Looking back toward Anegada after it disappeared
from sight, we could make out a green tint to the underside of the clouds
over the island, a reflection of the foliage Ė something useful for classic
navigation. Ahead, we were treated to some rainbows, and from several
angles once we reached the islands and a brief shower. Ride along
Sail along with us as we finish the trip back from Anegada, from rainbow
astern to resumption of sunbathing. Opens with Windows Media Player.
Large file; use high speed. Or, ask us for a free
Some happy scenes just after a brief shower, returning from Anegada
(Steve, rainbow shot.)
Karin steering, Steve serving as jack' rack. (Jimmy Kravchenko
took this shot.)
|We put in to Marina Cay, grabbing one
of the few remaining moorings. Everyone went ashore soon after hooking
up but the Dockmaster, who opted for some board sailing, but had a less
than stellar outing. Marina Cay is gorgeous with spectacular views
down on its own large fringing reef, and the channel to Beef Island, and
onward to Virgin Gorda, Tortola, etc.
The restaurant there is fun, with excellent
food. Itís on an elevated porch with great views, and one can relax
on the beach under canopied tables as well or on beach chairs and lounges.
Guy goes off on a morning diving trip that
leaves right from the island, while several of us do a little snorkeling
before breakfast. Too rough for good visibility, so we can it early.
Enjoyed a leisurely breakfast ashore; enjoyed the spectacular view for
awhile more - you can too: check this out -
View from a hill on Marina Cay, panning across the island's large fringing
reef, from southeast to the west. Opens with Windows Media Player.
Short clip but large file; use high speed, or request a free
Otherwise, just relaxed.
Later, we waited to get to the fuel dock
to top off our water, but mis-timed it; a large cruising catamaran was
taking on 300 gallons of diesel as well as water, and that took awhile.
So, several students took turns jockeying our vessel around in a holding
pattern, and that was excellent practice. Then, one put us quite
gently on the dock.`
After provisioning, we headed the short
way over to Manchioneel (maní-chun-eel) Bay at Cooper Island. This
is an absolutely gorgeous spot, with deep but clear water, lots of palm
trees along the beach, and hills rising up sharply that play tricks with
the wind and often cause the fleet of moored vessels to swing in all directions,
or just point out 180 from the true prevailing winds. The island
is private except for the little toe hold on the beach, but thatís all
The restaurant serves fine fare here as
well and the service is exemplary and friendly. We had a stunning
waitress from Romania, of all places, but everyone there was nice and helpful.
There is a watersports center located at
Manchioneel Bay for those who stay for more than one quick night.
To be continued...
(to see our March '06 trip click