Relaxing in the BVIs

On Monday, I endured the first rainy day since I arriving in the Virgin Islands three weeks ago. Beating my way to Virgin Gorda, named by Columbus because he thought the island resembled a fat woman, the island is famous for The Baths, a collection of giant boulders strewn along a section of the shoreline. Due to the crowd of boats moored near the The Baths, I decided to proceed to the less populated Drake Anchorage on the north tip of the island. This proved to be yet another peaceful anchorage with only two other boats anchored within a mile.

From my anchorage, I had a good view of Necker Island, which is a private island owned by Richard Branson. With beautiful Balinese guest houses standing high on the hill, this is where the Royal Family comes to vacation. Since there were no Scotland Yard boats patrolling the water, I assume that the Royal’s were back in England, doing whatever it is that they do.

To briefly escape from the peaceful isolation of Drake’s Anchorage, there were several very nice resorts in the area. One of these resorts, owned by the people who bring you Pusser’s Rum, offered free warm showers to visiting yachties. This provided a welcome relief from my normal routine of lathering up with soap, diving into the salt water, then using a single wine bottle full of fresh water to rinse off.

On Thursday, I decided to go ashore at the Bitter End Yacht Club & Resort to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day and to try to find a TV showing NCAA tournament basketball games. Apparently, in the British Virgin Islands, no one celebrates St. Patty’s Day or cares about college basketball. After a single $8 Painkiller – the most popular drink in the islands made of two parts rum, one part orange juice, four parts pineapple juice, one part coconut cream, and a sprinkle of nutmeg and cinnamon – I decided to cut my losses and return to the boat. Whether the Painkiller was extra strong or I was celebrating St. Patty’s Day in my own world, I accidentally let the line slip out of my hand while I was securing the dinghy. As I watched the dinghy slowly float away, I quickly stripped down to my boxers and dove in to swim after it, losing my boxers in the process. The few neighbors didn’t bat an eye as I rode back to boat in the nude.

After spending four days in Virgin Gorda, I decided to move on to Peter Island. Having gained confidence from another uneventful sail, upon arriving in Little Harbor I decided to set a Bahamian mooring. A Bahamian mooring entails using the normal anchor on the bow to hold the boat away from shore and setting another anchor from the stern on land. This type of anchoring is normally used to control the boat from swinging when the harbor is crowded – in this case, I did it mainly because I thought it looked cool and would be something good to try.

After setting the bow anchor as usual, I then retrieved the second anchor from the cockpit locker, tied it off to the stern, and began rowing ashore. Unfortunately, the line attached to the anchor did not come close to reaching land. I proceeded to paddle back to the boat, tie together five separate lines, and then wade through the sharp rocks and coral to drop the hook on the shore. Although this arrangement served its purpose, I spent a restless night checking that the rocks and coral jutting out of the water less than 20 feet from the boat were not getting closer.

Envisioning myself waking to the uninsured boat hitting rocks, the next morning I decided to head back to the safe waters of Jost Van Dyke. Once again, the wind was light and the sail was uneventful. Locals have been complaining about the lack of wind over the past couple of weeks. As a result, the anchorages have been invaded by what sailors down here are referring to as the “Puerto Rican Navy,” an armada of powerboats from San Juan that have taken advantage of the calm seas to motor over to the Virgin Islands.

After arriving back in Jost Van Dyke and taking in some live blues music at Foxy’s, I met Ron Thompson of Chattanooga, Tennessee and his three daughters who are spending a long weekend chartering a sailboat in the islands (Full disclosure: I met the family as a result of hitting on his lovely daughter Rachel, a pre-med student at the University of Georgia). As usual, I let the beautiful girl get away and spent several hours talking about running and triathalons with her father. As agreed late last night, we met for a run this morning at 7:15 and proceeded to run/hike for an hour and a half, covering most of the small, hilly island. The remainder of the day was spent reading and watching families arrive on charter boats. It is always interesting to seeing the families scrambling and screaming at each other while trying to set the anchor, only to later see them happy together enjoying dinner as a family. Although I am privileged to be able to enjoy these surroundings every day, I am envious of the men who can share this experience with his wife and kids. Hopefully, someday I will be able to return with a family – I’ll take care of setting the anchor.

Tomorrow, I plan to clear out of the British Virgin Islands and return to St. Thomas, where I will meet three-quarters of the Gerbetz’ family. My Aunt Nancy and cousins Chris and Andrew will be visiting during their spring break to join me in cruising the islands. They will be followed by the fourth member of the family, Uncle Larry, who will be arriving a week later. I am looking forward to the company and hope that they enjoy the islands as I much as I have.

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