We sailed (actually motored as we have a damaged mast) from St. Thomas to Christmas Cove on St. John’s, with free, new park mooring balls. There we met the lively girls who run the Pizza PI boat on Opening Day of Season #4. After sharing a pie with Sea Star, we continued to the BVIs. We always check into the country at Jost van Dyke, home of the world-famous FOXY’S. We made it there a day ahead of the famous New Year’s Eve Party (locally called Old Year’s Night) and secured a mooring ball. Let the fun begin. This was a wonderful way to kick off our 2018 BVI return tour. We even were so lucky as to snap a selfie with Foxy. What an icon and what an accomplished man he is. In 2018, Foxy will turn 80 and the restaurant will celebrate its 40th anniversary….sounds like another epic party on the horizon. It was interesting to learn that in his 20’s, Foxy raised cattle and took them by sailboat to Sopers Hole on Tortola. After inspection, he would sail them to St. Thomas to be sold. Thank you, Foxy, for checking off one of our bucket list items – a very memorable New Year’s Eve!
After recovering from the wonderful party at Foxy’s we motored to North Sound to see for ourselves the destruction caused by hurricane IRMA at the Bitter End Yacht Club. We posted a full photo essay on our facebook page here. It is really heartbreaking to see the power of this storm and all that is destroyed. One cannot fully grasp this until you see it for yourself.
After the tour around North Sound, we moved down to Leverick Bay where we enjoyed the Michael Beans pirate show, after all its a PARrrrrrr-Tay and really a good time. Michael lost his beautiful boat in Spanish Town and he is now working on repairing another boat so he can move back aboard. For now, he is performing his outstanding show from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mon, Tue, Wed at Leverick Bay, and we feel it is a must-attend event.
From there we motored past Spanish Town and observed the many yachts laid over on their sides, still 4 months after the storm. We hear that the insurance adjusters and insurance companies are not moving too fast on all these damages and people are still waiting to hear about settlements. Onward to THE BATHS where we have been 10 times before, but this was the first time we ever saw a RED flag hoisted. There was a large north swell running of maybe 3 to 4 feet and that was enough to make it nearly impossible to swim into the beach. The waves were crashing onto the rock and running 20 feet up the beach and into the trees. We decided not to body surf those conditions and sadly we moved.
Next up was Peter Island, one of our favorite places to simply hang out in beautiful blue, blue water. Then to Norman Island where we really enjoyed PIRATES BIGHT beach and happy hour. This owner really went out of his way to rebuild and make the place even better than it was last year. Well, guess what? The boats were there. Many many charter boats filled the harbor and the bar and the restaurant because so many other places are still closed. Cooper Island Beach Club shows nearly zero damages to their buildings with damages to their boardwalks. Yes, their docks are gone, but the site looks like it could be opened. It is closed until April. So, Norman Island and PIRATES BIGHT is THE PLACE to go.
With the many snorkeling sites around Norman’s Island ,we enjoyed a couple of days here. Yes, the poor WILLY T ended up on the beach and she will RIP there forever more. (We fondly remember the first Willy T, a wooden sailboat which sank in the harbor years ago. In 1984, we sat at the bar, with our feet dangling over the hold and ate warm chocolate cake under the stars.) I wish the owners were required to remove it, but who knows how that works. Imagine if someone crashed their car or truck onto your front lawn and then just walked away, leaving it there. Oh, sorry, it crashed here, and here it will stay. I have a problem with that. So many boats are wrecked on the beaches and their owners seem to be absent. Who should pay for this clean up is the question? Maybe, it just takes time.
From Norman’s Island, we motored over to Sopers Hole because we heard that OMARS Coffee shop cafe was open. YES, IT WAS, but everything else around it was destroyed and/or gone. The Dive Shop is gone. The Latitude 18 boutique is gone. Gone, as in the buildings no longer exist. Pussers bar is obliterated, they are open upstairs. The customs building is leveled and replaced with an open tent. The marina and charter docks are gone. This was one of the hardest hit areas we toured. With the customs building gone, the ferries from the US no long stop here. Only private yachts can check in here. No water, no fuel, no Pusser’s Landing. But, I will say, OMARS IS GREAT, and it is well worth the stop for coffee or for breakfast or lunch. Congrats to them for opening up and serving great food. I also posted a photo essay of Sopers Hole on our Facebook Page here
With one loop now completed around the British Virgin Islands, it was time to loop again and see places we missed. No trip to the BVIs would be complete without a Painkiller at the SOGGY DOLLAR BAR on Jost van Dyke. Here we go again, let’s motor over there and swim into the beach and enjoy some painkillers. Why not? WOW, does this place ever look different. no more trees and a new Soggy Dollar Bar was built. The only thing left was the sign and the bar and the concrete slabs, Everything else was leveled! The good news is the beach is still spectacular and the drinks are great. Thank you, SOGGY DOLLAR BAR, you and your ring toss game are legendary!
From Jost van Dyke, we wanted to head up to Trellis Bay and see the LAST RESORT. When motoring on the north side of Tortola, you are mostly in the lee of the island. Even when you round (aptly named) “Rough Point” and head east, you are still protected by GUANA Island. Passing thru MONKEY POINT (where there is great snorkeling) you head towards the Beef Island Airport and into Trellis Bay. We have spent many, many vacations at this spot, including New Year’s Eve 1986 at The Last Resort. The harbor is very protected and with the wind 25 gusting 30, we decided to stay here 3 days until it settled down. Sadly, Hurricane IRMA hammered this harbor with a 20-foot tidal surge along with the high winds. People on Great Camanoe reported seeing this single massive wave/surge going over The Last Resort and into the bay. This wave took every boat in the harbor and drove them all up high and dry onto the beach. Some are 10 feet above the normal tide line and into the trees. I posted a full photo essay of the 35+ boats up on the beach and the scene on Trellis Bay and the Last Resort HERE.
While in Trellis, we took a taxi to Fat Hogs Bay to see the East End area. We enjoyed meeting the manager of Penn’s Landing Marina and shopping at a great marine chandlery and a small Rite-way market. The fabulous smell led us to a wonderful bakery, where we tried a coconut tart and a rock bun….it looks like a rock and is full of coconut and raisins. The next day, we took a taxi to Nanny Cay for lunch on the beach and to find our friends’ boat IP40 Bonavista, nearly unscathed amidst the terrible destruction.
After the high winds returned to normal, 15-20, we motored out of Trellis and around the corner to Road Town, as we needed to fill a propane tank. Taking one of the free town moorings in 3-foot waves, 20 feet off a rock wall to leeward always is a challenge. Then lowering the dinghy into the water with the bow going up and down 4 to 5 feet will nearly rip the dinghy right off the davits. This is always a problem at Road Town, but with the harbor full of sunken yachts it is about the only option. We waited for a calm in the wave train and got the dinghy unhooked and free without damages. Needless to say, it was NOT going back on the davits in this sea state, so we planned to tow her to Peter Island. Into the Moorings docks we tendered, where we were shocked at the number of damaged yachts, all with insurance claim numbers on their port bows. Hundreds of damaged yachts on every dock. Piles of masts and rigging stacked up at the entrance to The Moorings. With no trees and piles of debris, the entrance is nearly unrecognizable. Skids of new pulpits and ladders and rigging stacked up. I cannot imagine the amount of work it will take to rebuild this Moorings Fleet of yachts. OH MY GOSH! Simply heartbreaking. It was surreal to see.
Departing Road Town ASAP, we towed the dinghy across Sir Francis Drake Channel in 3-foot beam seas. That was NOT fun. It is not a good ride running a 17,000 lb sailboat with an 8,000 lb keel and NO SAILS hoisted. The boat swings like a large pendulum and rolls from side to side so strongly that most dishes and pots and pans and books go flying off the shelves and out of the cabinets. So after a simple 1 hr crossing of the channel, the boat is a wreck because we cannot put up a sail. This is what we have been doing as we wait for our ship to arrive Jan 26 to ship back to Mack Sails for a new mast and rigging. Yes, we could have motored home, but imagine 1,000 nm under motor with no sails, then imagine running into a Bahamian cut without sails. NO WAY. we will not take that risk. If all goes well, we will be offloaded in West Palm Beach on Jan 30 and at Mack Sails being fixed the beginning of February.
Back at Peter Island in Buttonwood Bay, Great Harbour we once again enjoyed the peace of a flat calm anchorage, 20 knots of wind and no worries. Life is good on a sailboat…..when all is working well….
From Peter Island, we departed the BVIs after 2 weeks of motoring around to review all the great places. We headed downwind back to Francis Bay on St. John’s where we have high-speed 4G internet (to post a blog like this) and we even receive NBC HD from St. Thomas on the TV. We shot thousands of photos and processed the best ones which we are sharing in this collection below. Each photo will blow up to a larger photo, but then you must back up to select another one.
Enjoy our photos….Thank you for sailing along.
Hayden and Radeen….Francis Bay, St. Johns