Salt Island British Virgin Islands

…Salt crystals forming in the pond…
Salt Island is one of the islands in the the British Virgin Islands that is now uninhabited and presents an interesting history with the two salt ponds and Her Majesty’s Royal Mail Ship, The Rhone, off the southwest shore. Back in the days before refrigeration, salt was a prized commodity used to preserve fish and meats. At the height of Salt Island, 100 people lived on this island managing the salt ponds and harvesting the salt in the spring, when the flats would dry out. The last person left the island in 2004 and today, the few homes and outbuildings along with the stone walls and graves of the Rhone shipmates are all that remains. The government of the BVI’s has restored the tradition of giving the Queen of England a one pound bag of salt on her birthday as payment for the use of Salt Island. Radeen and I have been here three times. We anchored our boat right off the dock in 25-30 feet of water, then dinghied ashore and walked around the salt ponds. With the goats and a few birds, and the interesting old buildings, Salt Island provides a wonderful photographic location. Don’t forget to take a bag and a strong spoon to chip off some fine sea salt crystals to take back to your boat. Enjoy these photos from Salt Island….

This interesting building has 4 equal rooms, with an exterior door leading outside from every room. there are two large windows in each room. Inside, there are doorways leading between every room. We are left wondering why the owner went to such great expense and effort to install so many doors. The next 4 photos are all of the same house.

The moderate ESE winds were gusting around both sides of the high hills, making for a somewhat rolling night on anchor. Only two boats were anchored with us overnight and several boats came for a day stop. The anchorage is very deep so we dropped 150 feet of chain to anchor in sand.

Its Happy Arrr with Michael Beans

What fun we all had at the Michael Beans “It’s Happy Arrr” Show at Leverick Bay! Michael is a great musician who draws in the crowd and then never lets them go. It is a fun filled night of singing, dancing and just having a good old time for pirates of all ages.  Oh, yes, at the end of the show, there was a conch horn contest. Team Six Knots was well represented. Meloney of Fezywig won the women’s division and was given a 6 pack of beer and a T-shirt. Hayden won the men’s section and for that was awarded a bottle of signature rum. Team Six Knots did not waste any time on that bottle, as we worked it down and partied on. What a fun time!

These photos and the video at the bottom show the good time we all had. Thanks to Meloney for the video footage. Great show, Michael Beans. Thank you!

Check out this VIDEO of the night,,,

BEYC Hiking Guy’s Trail

Guy’s Trail is a two-mile tour that climbs the 455-foot hill behind The Bitter End Yacht Club from north to south. Hike along with us!

This trail is steeper than it looks!

Saba Rock was truly a rock when we were first here in 1986. It was the site of Bert Kilbride’s famous dive shop.
Now it is a classy spot with hotel rooms and lovely outdoor spaces and a great dinghy dock for happy hour.

Looking east across the reefs

View from the trail left to right, Prickly Pear Is., Eustacia Is., Necker Island, with Saba Rock in the foreground.

Video: Easter Parade Virgin Gorda BVIs

Don and Meloney, our fun buddy boat team on Lagoon 380 called FEZYWIG, created this very cool video of the great time we all had at the Virgin Gorda 50th anniversary Easter Monday Parade. Please enjoy this three minute video. Meloney is a great photographer and Don is a master with Adobe Premier and video editing. GREAT JOB Team FEZYWIG! Thank you very much for this effort.

Easter Parade Virgin Gorda

The newly crowned Ms.Virgin Gorda

Thanks to “The Welcome” (a glossy magazine-sized monthly guide to the BVI’s) we made plans to attend the 50th Anniversary Grand Easter Parade which was celebrated in Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda, on Easter Monday. Our travels included dinghying to the Bitter End, riding The North Sound Express 11 a.m. ferry to the Gun Creek Customs and Immigration dock across and finding a substitute taxi to replace the one who did not materialize. Our new driver was very informative and helpful. He was also a good driver, which we appreciated on those incredibly steep mountain roads. We learned that the parade would probably not start on time at 1:00 p.m., that it would move very slowly. and that we would be welcome to walk along with the participants. He was correct on all points. He also told us that the parade would form again around 10 p.m. and repeat the entire route. We did not stay to find out. When we arrived in Spanish Town, we listened to a local band at The Yacht Harbor, walked through the parade staging area and enjoyed lunch. The parade started around 2 p.m. and was still moving along in fits and starts at 5:00 when we called for our cab. There was a great sense of celebration and family involvement. We were outsiders and spectators yet we felt very welcome. After going to the parade grounds, we walked back through the parade to meet our cab and saw many more of the floats, bands, dancers and ethnic groups represented, which included local residents originally from the Philippines and from Dominica. The 6:30 ferry took us back to The Bitter End, after a long and very interesting day!

The stilt walkers are known as mocko jumbies.

We enjoyed the steel drum band!

Costumed participants are called masqueraders and groups of marchers and dancers are known as troupes.

Miss British Virgin Islands, from Tortola, was crowned in August 2016 and competed in the Miss Universe Pageant
 in January in The Philippines. A bake sale was held recently to raise money for the local pageant.
We did not learn the details of Mr. G.Q.’s future plans.

Each troupe or band would stop periodically to give a performance and then resume marching.

Many participants were wearing this shirt. We finally asked what it says and what it means…..
“Don’t Ass Me Up” means “Don’t mess with me and my goals.”

After marching the length of the parade, these enthusiastic and well-trained percussion
students from Tortola performed at the parade grounds, too.

Total concentration from this young musician.

Events earlier in April that were part of the Easter Festival included the Prince and Princess Show, the Ms.Virgin Gorda Pageant, the Calypso Monarch Competition, the Fisherman’s Jamboree, and the Cultural Food Fair. We are so glad we could be part of the 50th Anniversary Grand Easter Parade, the largest event of the year in Virgin Gorda!

Bitter End Yacht Club Photo Essay

The best way to show off the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands is via this photo essay. This is our 9th visit to the BEYC and we love it here. Take a look at these photos and I am sure you will see why we enjoy this location which is only accessible by boat. Enjoy….

Jost to Dogs to BEYC

…Radeen and our BVI permit…

With our mission completed of acquiring boat permits from the National Trust of the British Virgin Islands, over in Road Town, it was now time to move into the BVIs and snorkel. After a very very rolling night and very little sleep off Sandy Spit due to the North Swell wrapping around and rocking our boat from gunwale to gunwale, we headed east for Guana Island and Monkey Point. Our $150 permit allows us to use the many mooring balls placed through out the BVIs at all the key snorkeling and diving locations. You are allowed to take a RED mooring ball and secure your yacht to this for 90 minutes while you jump in the water and check out the beautiful fish and coral reefs. Our first mooring we used was at Monkey Point and our stern was only about one boat length off the rock with the waves breaking on the rocks. The swell was rolling us back and forth here as well and we were at first concerned about being so close to the rocks. But we lowered the dinghy, our diving platform and we jumped into the water. What a great feeling snorkeling right off your boat onto a beautiful coral reef in crystal clear water, and it is only 10 am in the morning. Sooooooo many reefs and so little time. Radeen and I love to snorkel. Check out these GoPro photos…

After some fantastic snorkeling at Monkey Point and after a bit of boat emergency repair of clearing the seawater intake hose and seacock from some plugged up seaweed we moved onto our second snorkeling point, at the Dogs where we picked up another mooring off Great Dog. Dropping into 30+ feet of water always give me a feeling of height and it makes me feel like I am looking off the roof edge of a very tall building. After this shock of the clarity and the depth is over, we headed over to the reef and enjoyed some large stag-horn coral formations and beautiful reefs. After this second snorkeling stop for the morning, it was time to continue on EAST, again, and move to North Sound where we all would take a break from moving our boats. Destination, the Bitter End Yacht Club….BEYC,
Team Island Spirit has been to the Bitter End Yacht Club 9 times and we have taken land based Christmas vacations here. We have sailed here on bareboat charters and on captained crewed yachts. We met good friends here on IP40 RELATIONSHIP in 1996 to crew with Chuck and Jeannie to cross the Anagada Passage to St. Martin . In 2006, we chartered a catamaran with Jeff, Sharon, Dan and Claire to celebrate “When Two Boys Turn 50.” Then just two years,ago we were here with our AZ family, Mark, Tammy, Taelor and Tanner on a Mooring 49 foot power cat. We spent two days sailing and playing here with the Hobie Cats and we discovered Taelor is a great sailor!. This place, to us, is one of our happy places and we always love to stop here. It is the end of the BVI chain of islands and from here, you can sail back to all the other great islands or you can use this as a jumping off point to head down island. We will do that next season, for now, it is time to enjoy the BEYC and the BVIs. Here are some photos of the grounds and this area….

We have some high winds and high north swells (9-10 feet) forecasted for tomorrow so that is why we moved up to North Sound. We actually took a mooring ball with the Bitter End, thinking it would give us some access to services, but everything is an up charge: the pool, the showers, trash, etc, The only thing you get for your $35/night is the right to tie up to their mooring ball. So it is….we are still very happy to be right here one boat row off the shore and a very short dinghy ride to the beach and reefs. Matter of fact, this small dock with the pointed thatched roof was the location Radeen and I planned Mick and Dr. Deb’s weeding in 2001. Then the next day, I nearly killed Mick sailing him on the Hobie Cat which we flipped and Mick could NOT swim! OMG that was scary. I did not know….

So, welcome to the Bitter End Yacht Club, we will try to do a photo essay on this location as you can see, it is very special to us and we really love it here. Here is our happy Champagne and OJ toast “selfie” with the BEYC over our sholders.

For all you chart and map lovers, here is the current lay of the land and where we ran today.

The BVIs are only 35 miles long from end to end, so you can cover this area in a day.

Our first sunset as seen from the Bitter End
The Bitter End Logo, I have many stickers and T-shirts of this over the years

Our first visit here was in 1986!

The British Virgin Islands begin

We left St. Thomas on a calm day with 10 knots of southeast winds and continued to push east towards the British Virgin Islands. There are several places to check into the country, and we chose to sail to Jost Van Dyke, using Foxy’s dinghy dock and of course a Carib Beer at Foxy’s. The check in took about 45 minutes of paperwork and processing in a very relaxing manner and friendly manner. Our cost was based on the ship’s gross tonnage and for us at 17,500 pounds that was $21.  The maximum fee is $55.

We are very excited to be here and to finally reach what is considered to be one of the dream locations for cruising. We have been here eight times before on charters and land based vacations, but this time is is far better being on our own boat and our own schedule. Take a look at these photos and you will see why boaters love to sail in the British Virgin Islands. The scenery, water color and beaches……

Radeen began reviewing the British Virgin Islands cruising guide and was happy to study up on the harbors and anchorages we have used before. This time, the harbors are different as they are filled with moorings and there is very little space left to drop an anchor. We will figure it out as we go…..

Our first challenge was to buy the one year permit for private vessels that will allow us to use the daytime dive moorings in 70 different locations. When we checked in at Jost Van Dyke, the officials there are only allowed to sell the weekly permits for $50, and not the annual permits. The only place you can buy them is at the BVI National Parks office in Road Town. That would be on the other side of Tortola and we were on the Jost side. No problem, Mon….we moved over to Cane Garden Bay and headed into town where we hired a cab ($24 over and $24 back) and bought the permit at the National Trust Park office. Bill on buddy boat mv/SEA STAR ran along with us to keep us company and to help out. We bought three one year park permits, one for each boat: Fezywig, Sea Star and Island Spirit. This all took about 1.5 hours and we were back to our boats soon after noon……

We then dropped the mooring balls and we headed out to Sandy Spit where we could play on the beach, swim, snorkel and enjoy the beautiful waters. The winds were calm, 5-10 knots, but the north swell is building and it is a bit rolly here off the cay where we are spending the night, after watching a spectacular sunset over Jost Van Dyke.

One of the most interesting things that happened was when we left St. Thomas and headed out to the BVIs, we were passed by an incoming cruise ship. We actually had to divert and then take his stern as he was going 12 knots and we were going 6 knots. We could not cross his bow, so we let him cross us. Good idea, right? The ship was also on starboard, so he had the right of way. We were soooooo close, it was very interesting. We had fun waving to all the poeple standing on their balconies and waving back at us. Here are the photos of the crossing….

Now, lucky for us, the large cruise ships do not cruise into the BVIs and anchor off the small islands like Sandy Spit and Sandy Cay. The only way to get here is to hire a small boat or charter a boat or bring your own boat or book a very small cruise ship. Life is good in the BVIs…

Two more days of calm winds and snorkeling and then we will move into North Sound and base off the Bitter End Yacht Club. We may just stay there a few days for some windy and rainy weather….For now, it was a Sandy Spit kind of day….

St Thomas USVI day 1

We officially arrived in the United States Virgin Islands when we dropped anchor off Water Island, near St. Thomas. We anchored next to Island Packet 38 ULLR, Cristine and James who alerted us to the fun Sunday afternoon on Honeymoon Beach. With this news our “Team Six Knots” pushed hard and we joined the party and enjoyed swimming, paddle boarding, beach walks and cold beers. What a blast, welcome to the USVI and we all needed this nice break after pushing 1,568nm from Florida to reach here. Now, we will spend 6 weeks exploring the USVI and the BVIs! What a treasure this will be. Here are some photos of pushing east from Puerto Rico to the Virgin Islands as we powered on past Sail Rock and Saba….

After a really fun time playing in the water, we returned to our boat and we were immediately boarded by a wild Pirate Boarding party of Lauren & Bill of SEA STAR and Meloney and Don of FEZYWIG. This crazy boarding party arrived via paddleboards and dinghies and NOW it was TIME for some more celebrations of our proud accomplishments. So, out came the cheese and crackers and the Champagne, and we all toasted our arrival to the USVI. After the bubbly we pan seared some fresh tuna that Hayden caught en route and we all savored this delicious fish with a nice bottle of red j.Lohr.  What a very very fun time with our team. We were so happy they boarded us….

The next morning we had the pleasure of visiting James and Cristine on ULLR as they have just completed their 4th year in the Caribbean doing the West and the East and they had some security items made to keep them and their boat safe. We really need to work on these items as we move south because the crime is increasing in the islands and we need be smart and secure as we cruise. Here is a photo of ULLR and Island Spirit next to each other with a full moon rising over Honeymoon Beach….
The next day, it was time to move on over to the harbor, re-anchor there and take Radeen into our favorite place, “The Greenhouse” and then shop for some jewelry as St Thomas is known for this and their duty free, tax free, great prices. What an overwhelming joy it was to drive our boat into the harbor of Charlotte Amelia, St. Thomas for the first time after we have been here eight times before. We have spent vacations here, chartered boats from here, and ran family and friends through here enroute to the BVIs and now, we are driving little 35 footer Island Spirit into the harbor that we have visited since 1986! This was really a highlight and a lifetime memory. Here is the route in…
NOW…..that we were in STT and anchored, it was time to go to town. Job #1, lets hit THE GREENHOUSE for lunch and overlook the harbor and reflect on the fact that we have finally sailed/motored 🙂 our boat to STT. The reflecting back on all the times we have been here and all the times we have said….some day….we will sail here, and NOW….here we are! This was one amazing feeling. Radeen and I count our blessing every day, and we appreciate every second. We are so thankful that we can do this. We never want to forget that. Here are some fun happy photos from our favorite spot in town…

With lunch over, it was time to hit the jewelry store and find something special for Radeen to commemorate this lifetime goal. We did not know what this would be, but we knew we would find something in St Thomas. We went directly to one store, that of GRAND JEWELERS, the highest rated shop on Google and Trip Advisor. We met the owner Navin and he found us the perfect gift. Diamond rings called jackets that frame Radeen’s wedding ring. These were not too large and not too loud, but looked beautiful with her current ring. SOLD, that is IT. It is something she can wear every day and she can look at it and recall the great accomplishment of running our sailboat to the Virgin Islands. I am so proud of  Radeen’s skills at running our boat. She runs it at night using radar going full speed ahead, she runs it on long passagesof 200-300+ nm, she handles high winds, sailing, and motoring. But most of all she is great at making this boat a home. These rings are a very small token of appreciation for all of this. Thank you Radeen….LOVE YOU sailor GrL. You make it all possible….

We NOW have sailed into St. Thomas and we are living a dream. Next it is onto St. Johns and then onto Jost Van Dyke and FOXY’s and then Soggy Dollar Bar, then Sandy Spit, then Cane Garden Bay, then North Sound and the Bitter End Yacht Club, then Virgin Gorda and The Baths, down to Cooper and Peter Island, the Wiliy T and the Pelicans. The British Virgin Islands we know from the many charters taken here, but this will be different on our own boat with no timeframe. We have many weeks to play here . We are really, really looking forward to this time. Thank you all for sharing in our adventures, it is great to have you along…..