Well we're back in the States and thought I would round this off with a quick re-cap of our trip. Most of the advice here was spot on so we certainly appreciate it.
1) Charter Company
As I mentioned above, we used Conch Charters in Road Town - They were really great. We had a checklist of items to make sure they covered during the boat orientation and they covered each one of them without us having to bring it up. Also they do a good itinerary briefing as well, although we found a few things they told us to be inaccurate. Nothing big.
The boat while being a little older was well maintained. Everything worked well and we didn't have any issues with systems or any other maintenance
. One possible exception, the dingy painter had severe chafe on it that we didn't notice till we had left the dock
. We used a spare line they had in the cockpit
locker as a back up. The dingy motor
started with one pull every time, but it didn't sound fantastic. I could probably swim faster. It did turn out to be reliable though.
They gave us a local phone
to call them for anything that came up. We used it once or twice to verify weather
forecasts and general info. They were very responsive.
We went to Norman the first day since you really just have a few hours to get somewhere after you get off the dock mid/late morning. This was an easy sail to get us started. We found a ball at Soldier Bay which is right next to The Bight. There was just us one other boat with us and it was an easy dingy ride over to The Bight. This was absolutely perfect. We had the place to ourselves with an easy jump off to The Indians the next morning and easy ride over to all the chaos in The Bight.
Next day we got up early and dingy'd over to The Indians for some snorkeling. Great snorkel, but the coral
is definitely bleached out. Decent amount of fish
to see (yellow snapper, parrot fish
and angel fish mostly). Then we headed back to the boat.
We were originally going to head
to Jost Van Dyke from here for the Super Bowl, but the winds were very light ENE and checking boatyball the only mooring available was at Cooper Island. We ditched the Jost plan (we wanted to avoid larger crowds anyway) and took advantage of the lighter winds to get upwind.
This turned out excellent. We really enjoyed Cooper (Manchioneel Bay). Great hangout at the beach club and wasn't over flowing with people. One of the other boats brought out a projector and we were able to watch the Super Bowl outside the Rum
Bar with maybe 10 other people after an excellent dinner at the beach club.
The Baths, Virgin Gorda
Next day we got up early and shot over to The Baths. We were able to snag a ball super close to the beach. We lashed the dingy to the line demarcating the swimming area and swam into the beach. This was a spectacular place UNTIL THE TOURS STARTING SHOWING UP! Get there early and get on your way.
We left and still had pretty light winds so we made our way to Leverick Bay. We ended up anchoring at Leverick with all the balls being full, but I'm glad that we did. The holding there was excellent and we saved a few bucks. This was busy as I guess many people probably use it as a launching point for Anegada. Our plan too.
Leverick has a nice restaurant, small grocery, diesel
and beach bar. We were told that the other side of the bay (Bitter End) is still under construction so we didn't venture that way. We enjoyed it here, but it was more strategic for us than scenic.
We left the next morning with the sun to go to Anegada. Mithril Bahm (above) said he would skip Anegada and I don't know exactly why, but given the same circumstances (small boat, little experience) I wouldn't make that sail again although I am glad in many ways we did do it.
on the sail to Anegada was about perfect. We had 15 kts on the beam out of East. The only negative is there was a decent sea state up to 1.5 meters also on our beam. This made things a little uncomfortable, but not bad. It took us 5 hours to get there which really surprised me.
When we got to the channel it was very well marked, but it is much closer to shore than we anticipated. This had us a little concerned that we were in no man’s land with the reef being so prevalent around the island. Oh and the tablet that had navionics
on it died sooo…that didn’t provide much confidence.
Ultimately, we got into the anchorage no problem, however, it’s very shallow. Thank god the tides are nonexistent here. We got the last remaining ball and were in 6 feet of water. As we roamed through the anchorage looking for a ball I had readings under 5 feet. Our draft
was 5 feet!
Anegada is a beautiful place with unspoiled beaches on the north side that are stunning! The hype about Flamingo’s was really just hype. Yes they have Flamingo’s, but you have to peer through a telescope to see them on the far side of the salt
marsh. Let down there, but we enjoyed the rest of the island.
Next time we’ll take a ferry
to Anegada so we have more time to spend there and less stress between the anchorage and the entrance. Although now that I know the entrance the next time will be a breeze.
We returned to Leverick the next day and again we anchored there. This turned out to not be a great decision as the winds had been picking up out of the east all day. We thought we would get some protection here, but there is a valley on the east side of the bay between two mountains that really funneled the winds into the bay. We didn’t sleep at all that night from the wind noise
, the boat rocking and the chop slapping the hull
. It was like trying to sleep at a rock concert. Anchor
held great though!
Next we headed to Trellis, because the wind and sea state had both gained traction. We were desperate for some peace and Trellis was the most protected place we could find. Going into Trellis between Beef Island and Scrub Island the sea was easily 2 meters and on our aft beam. This made for a very rolly ride on our 32 foot boat, but as we got closer it calmed down.
I have to say that just about every anchorage was in really great shape. Trellis still has some work
to do. The channel nearly runs right through the anchorage and there are several derelict balls right in the middle of the channel. A number of derelict boats also remain there.
On shore there are three restaurants and a grocery. We had a nice meal, but decided we weren’t going to stay here any longer than we needed too. It just wasn’t up to par with everywhere else we had been.
We actually decided given the wind direction the next 48 hours (20-25kts Easterly) that getting to Jost would be relatively easy, but getting back around Tortola to Road Town would not. So we took the boat back to the base 1 day early (boo).
Cane Garden Bay
We then took a taxi over to Cane Garden Bay for the day. There weren’t any cruise
ships in town so the place was nearly deserted. We had a great time here swimming and hanging out at Quito’s. At the end of the day we went back to Road Town for dinner at Cappricio di Mare which was excellent!
We left the boat on Saturday morning and went to our hotel
for that night, Icis Villas at Brewer’s Bay. The road down to Brewer’s is steep, but the place was spectacular! Again, no cruise ship
so the beach was absolutely empty. Icis is not on the beach, it’s about 3 minute walk through a banana grove. It was secluded and there couldn’t have been more than 1-2 other couples there. Again, a spectacular day on the beach and excellent meal at Icis that evening.
We left the next morning, catching the ferry
to Charlotte Amalie and plane back to the states.
3) The Boat
We had a 2007, Beneteau
32. As previously mentioned it was maintained well by the Conch crew and functioned well. I would say though that we felt the boat too small. I know there are people who sail around the world on smaller boats, but we are not them.
There was no room in the boat for much of anything. If we were both below decks we were constantly on top of each other. We couldn’t sleep in the same berth (we are not big people), because it was just not comfortable and the boat got tossed around easily by 1.5-2 meter waves. Next charter we’ll go bigger to add to the comfort level.
We used Road Town Fast Ferry to go from Charlotte Amalie to Road Town. Overall good experience, but a couple of things to know. Make sure you have plenty of time if you are flying out of STT the same day. The ferry back to Charlotte Amalie stops in Red Hook first so you can go through customs
. The customs
office at the dock in Charlotte Amalie is still under construction. Our Ferry back arrived about an hour later than expected.
We ended up just going to the Rite Way next to Conch (3 minute walk) the night before we left to get food
. Very easy and quick. Our boat did not have a generator
, so we used the fridge more like a cooler than a fridge. We spent a lot of money
in Ice. If cost matters to you don’t get ice and trash from the guys driving around the anchorages
. It will be double what it costs on shore.
We had a great time and will definitely be back.