Click below to purchase
Download our free app! Download our app from the App StoreDownload our app from the Google Play store
Our eBooks

Sea Dog Blog

CGP Top 5 Things to do with kids on a BVI charter vacation

At the helm in the BVI

1. Unique Caribbean Attractions

National Parks, Museums, Botanical Gardens, Full Moon Parties…  

Tortola alone has the Joseph Reynold O’Neal Botanic Gardens, a shell museum in Carrot Bay,Sage Mountain National ParkMount Healthyold rum distilleries. 

Full Moon Party at Trellis Bay

Once a month, Trellis Bay has a full-moon party for families (unlike Bomba’s) that includes a family-friendly beach party with a West Indian buffet, local music, Moko Jumbi dancers and Aragorn’s fire sculptures. including Callwood’s Distillery in Cane Garden Bay, and a prison that is now a museumThe Baths has two trails to Devil’s Bay (one that is more like an obstacle course, the other is a nature trail), but each (inhabited) island generally has trails and some kind of historical items from shipwrecks, old family heritage, and distilleries.

 2. Watersports

Kids Kayaking

Most charter companies offer kayaks, inner tubes, and snorkeling fins and masks and more watersportsitems to rent when you’re at anchor and the kids want to play. 

There are several places to obtain lessons for your children in the BVI for windsurfing, stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) and sailing among other things. Places like Bitter End Resort in North Sound, Virgin Gorda have great programs for kids that can be really fun. Many resorts have amenities that extend to marina guests and include pools, beach bars, beaches, etc.

3. Caribbean Arts And Crafts

Fishwatchers Field GuideSailing trips are a great time to leave electronic devices behind and to get back to the basics. Books, drawing, crafts and games are all great things to think about collecting before you leave. Pick out a couple books that the kids don’t get until the trip. Think coloring books, how-to-draw books, colored pencils, (washable) markers, crayons, friendship bracelets, puzzles, and origami. Kids can draw fish, coral, flora and fauna they saw swimming or ashore, and identify them on waterproof ID cards—an excellent way to learn about the islands. 

 

 

4. Sandcastles And Ice Cream In Cane Garden Bay 

Little girl on Bitter End beach

Get the kids off the boat to stretch their legs and go exploring, play on the beach or grab an ice cream. It’s a great time to do this if you have some provisioning to do or need to get some water and fuel. Bring walkie-talkies you can keep in touch with your kids and arrange to meet at a mutually agreed upon time and place, or you can drop them off in the dinghy until they radio you for pick-up. 

Spend the day at the beach! Supply your kids with tools for building sand castles or water toys like paddle boards and snorkels. You can purchase waterproof bags for towels, sunscreen, bug spray, dry t-shirts, books, and anything else that needs to stay dry. My sister and I spent hours exploring! Just a dinghy ride around to another anchorage or walks down the beach can scratch the itch for adventure or exercise.

5. Family Fun Time And Learning

Finger painting aboard

Living all together on a boat for a week (or more) is an excellent chance for learning activities. Play word games,card games, make up stories, read pirate lore aloud or discuss family history while underway. Books such asAlphabet of Boats and ABC of Boat Bits can help teach the whole family to identify the difference between a ketch and a yawl, or identify the clew on a sail or the boom and the mast, allowing you to quiz each other. I loved family sailing trips as a kid because our parents had the time to play with us. 

See more of:

Halloween

Halloween Sale

The First Time BVI Charter

10 Tips For Planning The Perfect First Time Sailing Adventure

 

Planning the trip

It has often been said that planning the trip is half the fun. From deciding which charter company to use, the type of vessel, sail or power, the process should be fun and the entire crew should participate. If possible get the crew together for a Painkiller party that gets everyone in the island frame of mind. Talk about expectations, activities, provisioning options, and meal planning.

The crewThe Pussers Painkiller

Make sure everyone is compatible and expectations of the trip are aligned. What is everyone’s appetite for enthusiastic sailing versus spending more time ashore hiking or beaching? If you have not sailed together before think about discussing the following points:

  • Sharing the cost of food and fuel
  • Keeping the boat tidy at all times and cleaning the head area after use
  • sharing cooking duties
  • respecting each other’s need for privacy and personal quiet time
  • use of the dinghy
  • participating in the running of the boat

 

Communications in the islands

Staying connected in the islands can be an expensive proposition, however there are a few tips that can helpSailing the channel you save money. If you take your cell phone with you the first thing to do is to turn data roaming off as it can cost up to $20 per megabyte in the BVI. If you have an unlocked GSM phone (ATT/ T-Mobile) then we suggest purchasing a SIM card which is available from Mr.SIM or direct through the local carrier LIME or Digicel. This will allow you to call home for less than 30 cents per minute. Phones can be rented on the island, although this option is expensive. You can also purchase a pay-as-you-go phone for around $40-$50 dollars.

Wi-Fi is generally available throughout the islands but you will need to seek out a local marina or restaurant and get a password for access. Speeds are minimal but usually enough to place a Skype call.

Currency & credit cards

The U.S. dollar is the local currency in both the U.S and British Virgin Islands. Major credit cards are widely accepted at the larger restaurants and marinas but not at the smaller establishments. Therefore you will need to bring adequate cash to cover these purchases and for nightly mooring fees that run around $30. ATMs are available at key locations but not everywhere so do not rely on them to replenish dwindling cash supplies. Inform your credit card company of your trip before you leave so they don’t shut down your card due to strange and exotic ATM location withdrawals.

Navigation in the islands

The Virgin Islands offer an ideal setting for a first time charter. The islands are close in proximity, the passagesEast of Jost Van Dyke are largely protected by the formation of the island chain and anchorages are abundant and protected. Most charter vessels are equipped with GPS plotters, however since the islands are closely situated, you will be navigating with a chart and Cruising Guide. You will find a chart of the area aboard upon arrival and you will receive a thorough chart orientation before departure. For a list of island waypoints check the Cruising Guide or click here. Spend a little time getting to know water color and relative depths as this will prove more useful than a GPS.

Provisioning

Fruit marketWhen planning a charter in the BVI there are a couple of options available to you. Allow the charter company to provision you from a pre-selected plan. This saves a lot of time but limits your personal choices. Different companies have different plans so ask for sample menus.

Provision yourself from one of the local markets like Riteway or Bobby’s Market. Riteway has a complete provisioning list and they will deliver it to your boat. This is a good option if you have special dietary needs or are looking for particular foods.

Food is generally speaking expensive in the islands and we highly recommend stocking up before the charter as food and drink items become increasingly more expensive on the smaller islands due to logistics.

For beer, wine, alcohol and soft-drinks, we suggest contacting one of the larger distributors like TICO who will deliver to the boat thereby saving you some precious charter time. Check the Cruising Guide Provisioning section for detailed listings of places to re-stock along the way. Don’t forget to order plenty of drinking water (at least a liter per day per person).

What to bring 

For a week’s charter you should try and fit everything into a soft sided duffle bag under 50lbs.You will spend your time in shorts, t-shirts and bathing suits so don’t overdo the wardrobe and leave all your good jewelry at home. Your charter company will supply most of the items you require but here are a few items that you should consider: medications & toiletries, sunburn cream, wicking sportswear with SPF protection, polarized sunglasses, camera and batteries, bug spray / mosquito repellent, a dry-sack for taking items ashore, books (electronic e-books if possible), Fish ID book or cards, baby wipes, LED head-lamp for reading, games, spices in plastic bags, nutmeg grinder (for Painkillers), and personal water bottles. Snorkel gear is supplied by most companies but if you have special needs, like a prescription mask etc. then consider bringing your own mask and snorkel and using the fins supplied.

The sailing itinerary

When planning your Virgin Island sailing trip it is important to determine the right balance between sailing activity, snorkeling, diving or shore-side exploration. How experienced are the crew? What is the general appetite for trade-wind sailing? Do you and the crew want to eat ashore every night? All of these factors will determine how you plan your itinerary. Whether you sail around the islands clockwise or counter clockwise doesn’t matter, I always seem to work my way clockwise, the important aspect is to rough out a plan on a Virgin Island planning chart and then modify it as you go along based upon weather and crew requirements. Flexibility is the keyword. Sample BVI itinerary

Island etiquette

Virgin Islanders are often rather conservative at heart and quite particular about dress. It is frowned upon toBright Scarf wear beach-wear or bathing suits into town or supermarkets. Topless sunbathing should be confined to the boat.

Great importance is set on greetings throughout the Virgins such as “good morning” or “good afternoon.” It is considered rude to approach people with a question or to transact business without beginning with the appropriate greeting.

Garbage disposal & overboard discharge in anchorages is a concern and your charter company will direct you in this regard.

Safety and security

The British Virgin Islands are consider a very safe area to cruise and there have been very few incidents over Snorkelingthe years. Normal precautions should be taken when leaving valuables aboard the boat. Sun protection is perhaps the greatest concern and the easiest to prevent. Always apply cream in the morning and throughout the day, wear sun-glasses and hats.

In the water, be careful not to touch coral, sea urchins or lion fish and don’t swim alone or at night. When using the dinghy at night, operate at low speeds and make sure you have a light visible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

See more of:

Exploring the Virgin Islands Part I: Sailing to Anegada

 

Sailing to Anegada

Cow Bones, Shipwrecks & Lobster at Sunset

FlamingosIn contrast to the mountainous volcanic formation of the remainder of the Virgin Islands, Anegada is comprised of coral and limestone. At its highest point the island is 28 feet above sea level. Created by seismic activity to the northeast of the island where the Caribbean and Atlantic tectonic plates meet, Anegada is 11 miles long and fringed with mile after mile of white sandy beaches. Named Anegada or the “Drowned Island” by the Spanish, Anegada is famous for its horseshoe reef that extends 10 miles to the southeast and has claimed over 200 known shipwrecks and provides excitement and adventure for scuba diving enthusiasts who descend on them to discover their secrets. The reef also provides a home for some of the largest fish in the area, as well as lobster and conch. The numerous coral heads and tricky currents that surround the island, along with difficulty in identifying landmarks and subsequent reef areas, have in the past made Anegada off limits for many charter companies, in fact it was once advertised as the “Forbidden Cruise”. Today there is a well-marked channel into Setting Point and with some careful route planning, good weather a pair of polarized sunglasses and a vigilant crew, the trip to Anegada is a delightful 11 mile close reach from North Sound, Virgin Gorda that can, if necessary, be squeezed into a 7 day charter itinerary.

Navigation

Anegada Chart

Because of the low profile and surrounding coral heads, Anegada should be approached only in good weather conditions and with the sun overhead in order to see the bottom. Plan on a departure from North Sound, Virgin Gorda by 08.30am in order to get into the Setting Point anchorage by 11.00am. This should coincide with the departure of yachts from the anchorage, leaving available moorings. The distance is 11.2 miles and you should be on a close or beam reach.

Departing from Mosquito Rock, North Sound, lay a course of 008°m which will take you to a waypoint (BV410) situated just to the southwest of the channel entrance and south of Pomato Point. You can also steer a course to the west end of the island which will take you to the same position. Do not lay a course from North Sound that takes you directly to the first set of channel markers.Dinghy on the beach

“A current of 1-2 knots will set you down to the west, so some compensation will be required as you approach the island”

 This will take you very close to some shoal water known as Prawny Shoal and over some shallow coral heads known as the Two Sisters, just southeast of the channel entrance. A current of 1-2 knots will set you down to the west, so some compensation will be required as you approach the island. Do not get further east than the rhumb line which will keep you clear of any coral heads and you should be in 20 feet of water or more until you reach the channel markers. If you are north of 18°43.00N you have gone too far so turn Anegada Chartaround and head south until you can establish the waypoint or identify the channel markers into the anchorage.

Owing to the low elevation of the island the palm trees and Australian pines will be sighted before the land somewhere between 4-6 miles out. Do not turn off course until you have identified both Pomato Point and Setting Point or verified your  waypoint (BV410) 18°42.40N 64°24.50W. From waypoint BV410 to Setting Point the course is 076°m which will lead you to the outer set of channel markers a distance of approximately 0.9 miles. The center of the channel between the first markers is located at waypoint (BV411) 18°42.80N 64°23.65W. Depending upon weather conditions you should be able to visually identify the outer red buoy from waypoint BV410, but the buoys are small and if conditions are a little choppy they can be difficult to see. The roof of Neptune’s Treasure restaurant should be visible at approximately 060°m surrounded by palm trees.

Continue through the channel past the second set of markers and onto the last green channel marker (0.6miles) at 18°43.069N 64°23.062W. From here the channel turns northwest and is marked by a further set of red and green markers that lead to the mooring field off the docks of the Anegada Reef Hotel.

What To Do AshoreGrilling Lobster

Anegada is a unique island that is different from the other islands. It is a fun place to visit and the time spent there should definitely not be spent on the boat. Go ashore, make a dinner reservation, rent a car or scooter or arrange a taxi trip through Anegada Reef Hotel, grab your snorkel gear and head for the one of the fabulous north coast beaches. You should plan on spending at least two days there to explore this relaxed island culture, enjoy the beaches and eat some of the famous Anegada Lobster. One of your first decisions will be where to eat dinner and make a reservation by 4pm. The Anegada Reef Hotel specializes in fresh lobster on the grill, served under the stars on the beach in a very casual environment. Vivian or Lorraine will help you with trips, taxi, rentals and anything else you might need.

“The first thing you should do is to decide where to eat dinner and make a reservation”

Mark & Dean from Neptune’s Treasure supply fish to numerous restaurants around the BVI and their first stop at the end of the day is home to Neptune’s Treasure so you know the evening menu at Neptune’s will feature fresh swordfish and conch served outside when weather permits. The Lobster Pot, Potter’s-by-the-Sea and Pomato Point Restaurant are also close by. In short, there is little likely hood of starving to death and now that dinner is organized you will need to focus on activities and transportation.

Beaches & Reefs

Glenora from Neptunes TreasureHorseshoe Reef is the Eastern Caribbean’s third largest continuous reef and Anegada’s proximity to the major north-south shipping lanes along with the steady westerly flow of the Antilles current account for the numerous wrecks that have been recorded over the years the earliest of which was recorded in 1523. The north shore beaches are secluded, natural and perfectly protected by the sheltering barrier reef. Visit Loblolly Bay where the snorkeling is spectacular, Bones Bay, Flash of Beauty or Windless Bight. Lunch at the Cow Wreck Beach Bar is a great plan; order your lunch, take a swim and they will let you know when lunch is ready!

 

Cow Wreck Beach was so named when a ship, in the late 1800’s, carrying a cargo of cow bones, used for button and chalk making, foundered on a north shore reef. The bizarre cargo started to appear along the beach and from that time on it has been known as Cow Wreck Beach.

Dive & Snorkeling

You won't find a dive center on the island so you'll have toPutting traps out organize your trip from North Sound or a neighboring island. Sunchaser Scuba operate from Bitter End and Dive BVI from Leverick Bay and Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour. There are a couple of great wrecks off Anegada, including the Parmatta and the Rokus. The sites are well worth visiting but if you cannot arrange a tour you can always snorkel. Head to Loblolly Bay or the less busy areas of Big Bamboo in the west or Flash of Beauty to the east. There is a gorgeous reef at East Loblolly Bay with some parts of a wreck, this site will delight all levels of divers.

Whether you're diving or snorkeling you will enjoy the very healthy reef replete with colorful hard and soft corals, many mazes, tunnels and outcrops plus the occasional nurse shark, rays, turtles, barracuda, huge groupers and schools of tropical fish.

Heritage & Culture

Sunset at the barDiscover the islands history through a maze of stonewalls built around The Settlement, or through the Arawak’s ancient conch burial mounds in the east end. The salt ponds in the center of the island are the habitat for many migrating birds and also the home of a flock of Caribbean Flamingoes, reintroduced to the island in 2002 from the Bermuda Zoo. Further to the west look for the fields of wild orchids and also the endangered Anegada Rock Iguana, sometimes seen around the Bones Bight area.

 

“Even a one night stay is worth the trip. Anegada is one of those special places”

After a day of limin’ (Caribbean slang for hanging around) on Anegada, stop by the Anegada Beach Hotel bar for a sundowner, try their famous “Smoodie" while the sun sets across the harbor. This is a local gathering spot so there is usually a good crowd. After dinner, work your way along the beach one bar at a time and enjoy the laid back character of this special place.

The 7 Day Sailing ItineraryDusk Anegada

Fitting in a trip to Anegada on a week’s charter is a squeeze, but very do-able providing you plan the itinerary and stick to the schedule. Sandwich the trip in between Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke or Marina Cay depending on your route. Leave North Sound early and arrive at the Setting Point anchorage by 11am. If you can book a car in advance through Anegada Reef Hotel, DW Rentals or S&K Amazing Rentals so much the better, or alternatively arrange a taxi to one of the North shore beaches. Grab your snorkel gear and head off on an Anegada adventure, taking care to book dinner reservations before you leave. Dine on Anegada Lobster under the stars and later wander along the beach for a nightcap.

Next morning a visit to Pam’s Bakery and breakfast at Neptune’s Treasure will start your day off right, leaving some time to pick up some supplies at Lil’BitTaz, purchase a souvenir or two at one of the numerous boutiques and gift stores near the hotel or head off to the beach again for a morning snorkel. An early afternoon departure will get you back to North Sound, Marina Cay or Cooper Island in time for a Painkiller at sundown.

Resources

Cruising Guide Publications www.cruisingguides.comAnchorage through the pines

Anegada Reef Hotel www.anegadareef.com

Neptune’s Treasure www.neptunestreasure.com

DW Rentals dwjeep@hotmail.com

S&K Rentals www.snkamazingrentals.com

Sunchaser Scuba www.sunchaserscuba.com

Dive BVI www.divebvi.com

BVI Pirate www.bvipirate.com

 

Copyright Cruising Guide Publications 2014, all rights reserved

See more of:

Five New Years Resolutions for 2014

Explore new Caribbean destinations

Sail safe in the Caribbean sun

Get to know the cultures of the islands

Take care of Mother Nature

Read a good sailing book

 

Explore new Caribbean destinations……  

Mero in Dominica

Take the family on a new adventure this year and discover a new destination, make new friends and experience the unique character of each of the island groups that comprise the Caribbean Chain. From the Virgin Islands in the north, the islands curve southward through the Leeward Islands to Dominica and on to the Windward Islands that start in Martiniqueand end at Grenada. Each group is unique in both character and temperament offering the sailor distinctly different sailing experiences.

The Virgins remain a premier sailing destination, where large charter fleets offer a wide range of  vessels. The island groups provide natural protection and therefore relatively easy sailing conditions ideal for the first timers, but challenging enough to keep sailors returning year after year.

The Leeward Islands span some 200 miles and include ten main islands that embrace Anguilla to the north and west, then gently curving south to Dominica. The islands are rich in their respective history as well as diverse in both culture and language. The sailing conditions throughout the Leewards vary somewhat. Up in the northeast from Anguilla to St. Martin and onto St. Barts, passages are short. Further south the passages become longer, allowing full exposure to the trade winds and swells, making for exhilarating sailing from island to island.

The Windward Islands, from Martinique to Grenada, lie almost across the easterly trade winds which makes for easy passages north and south and are just far enough apart to allow for some wild romps in the open ocean before tucking into the calm of the next lee shore.

Our Guides

 

Wise up to the latest trends in sun protective clothing…

OwlWhen it's winter up north, there is nothing like a Caribbean sailing charter. The sky is blue, the water transparent and the white sand irresistible--not to forget the sun shining every day. Magic! But how do you soak up all that the Caribbean has to offer without exposing yourself to the potentially dangerous UV exposure and a bad case of sunburn?

We are always looking for new products for our Caribbean cruisers and we are just about to introduce a new line of sailing wear that allows you to look good, keep cool and keep you covered. This line of clothing is thin and breathable and yet provides the maximum UV protection available. All of the products in the line comply with the USA - AATCC 183-2010 standards. Wear them for sun protection while sailing, wear them while snorkeling, when you climb out of the water they will wick dry before you know it.

Check back in our store or sign up for our newsletter for more information on this upcoming product line.

Get to know the culture of the islands….

The Cruising Guide to the Leeward Islands 2014-2015Moses in his Rastaraunt

To fully appreciate the richness of the Caribbean, it is necessary to get off the beaten path and sometimes this is best accomplished with the help of a local guide. In Dominica, anchored off Roseau, Dominica’s capital, you can recruit the services of a local guide who will lead you on a hike to one of the  many waterfalls. Victoria Falls is a vigorous enough hike to keep you away from the crowds. You cross the White River about five times. This is the highest falls in Dominica, with an impressive volume of water from the Boiling Lake. Dive in for a swim, the water is whitish with a high sulfur content which is considered therapeutic for many aches and pains. Our guide coaxed us under a slight shelter of a rock on the edge of the falls where we were treated to a really awesome view of the cascading water. 

Read more about this area in the latest Leeward Island Guide now in stock at the bookstore.

At the beginning of the trail to Victoria Falls our guide, Sea Cat arranged for us to eat with Moses and his family at their “Rastaurant”. A traditional Caribbean kitchen and a roofed dining area, you will eat out of a calabash bowl with a coconut spoon - the food is great! 

 Take care of Mother Nature 

Our oceans cover 71% of the planet and as sailors we are logically positioned to help save and protect this precious resource that has influenced and helped defined our lives. This year we all need to review how we can individually contribute to a global effort to help preserve the oceans of the world. Here are a few simple suggestions to help your green sailing footprint in 2014:Turtle face

  1. Know what is below before dropping your anchor. Never anchor in coral or seagrass and use a mooring wherever possible.
  2. Avoid fuel spills. Never top off your tanks and always keep absorbent rags available when fueling. Keep engine diapers in place at all times to absorb small oil leaks and dispose of them carefully.
  3. Before pumping the bilge, check to ensure that no oily residue is present. Never pump holding tanks near coral as the nutrients in the sewage promote algae growth that competes with the coral for space on the reef.
  4. Select biodegradable cleaning products that ultimately end up in the sea
  5. Reduce packaging when provisioning. Start off by taking your own reusable bags along and try and reduce the use of disposable plastic containers by the use of re-useable storage containers.
  6. Work clean. Always use ground tarps and vacuum bags when sanding and try to purchase smaller quantities in order to eliminate waste.
  7. Take only pictures and leave only bubbles.

 

 

Read a good sailing book

Pick up one of our many biographies, memoirs and novels for some armchair sailing or preparation for a trip! 

The Care and Feeding of Sailing Crew

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tony Snell and The Spitfire Troubadour

Cover of Spitfire TroubadoreIt is with great sadness to learn of Tony Snell's recent passing at the age of 91. What a man was he! Tony, and his wife Jackie (who passed in 2001) were the owners of the Last Resort Restaurant and Bar on Bellamy Cay in the British Virgin Islands.Yes, that Last Resort where Tony entertained with his guitar, harmonica and piano, writing his own music and words that kept the whole island in laughter! Who else would have thought to train their dogs to sing along with him? And, of course,there was the donkey that had its own open window to the restaurant so that the diners could give it a taste of what Jackie had prepared for their guests. He was an amazing man!

Tony and Jackie have a son, Jeremy, and a daughter, Jessica. Jessica and her husband Ben have been running The Last Resort for the last few years with Tony as the guest entertainer. They will continue to keep the restaurant open with delicious meals and drinks on the small island of Bellamay Cay.

Our condolences to the family. Tony will be forever in our thoughts.

In his book Spitfire Troubadour, Tony recounts, in his own irreverent style, his early years in RAF flying Spitfires during the second world war. He was shot down, captured, and put in front of a firing squad, but escaped to fly again. He went on to spend ten years as an actor in London, South Africa and the USA where he traveled around the country in an old bus that was later rented to Charles Manson. Needless to say they never saw the bus again. Back in the UK and anxious for more adventure, he set sail in a small catamaran for Spain. The following year he married Jackie and they sailed to the West Indies to start a charter fleet. When the boats were sold they started The Last Resort and the rest is history!

To read his fascinating obituary, click here.

 

The Boat Builders of The Virgin Islands

Boat Building sketch

Long before the emancipation of 1834, the Virgin Islands emerged as one of the major boat building centers in the Caribbean. Africans, both free and enslaved, honed the skills of boat building, unique skills no doubt learned from the 18th century Navy and passed on, not through any formal process but by word of mouth. By the mid 1800’s, largely as a result of the imposition of a controversial “Cattle Tax”, riots broke out across the islands, plantations were burned and many residents, including the administration, fled to other neighboring islands, leaving the inhabitants to fend for themselves.

Motivated to build a sustainable economy, the communities, utilizing natural skill sets, turned to charcoalHistoric photo sloop production, farming for ground provisions, cattle ranching and boatbuilding for economic survival. The need to transport cattle and produce for trade with other islands, drove the need and expansion of an expert boat building industry. Specializing in small light craft that were ideal for the sheltered waters of the Virgins the “Tortola Boat” as it was called, became the life-blood of the emerging economy. These sailing craft were purchased both by local farmers and businessmen, needing to transport goods to neighboring St. Thomas in order to supplement income, and by residents and farmers of other neighboring islands. The sloops enabled the BVI to become a major supplier of cattle and produce to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The typical Tortola Sloop was built of local white cedar (the BVI’s national tree) about 20’ in length with a moveable rock ballast, generous overhangs fore and aft and a mast and boom of about the same length as BVI stampthe boat with a “leg-of-mutton” sail-plan. These unique local craft transported cattle and ground produce until the need for fresh meat was gradually impacted by the introduction of refrigerated warehousing, after which their use continued mainly to ferry passengers between neighboring islands. The vessels, largely unchanged from their original design, were built and launched with regularity through the 1970’s when, as a consequence of economic development, the advent of small motorized craft and the need to respond to the growing demands of the tourist trade, the building of the original sloop came to an end. Local builders evolved the design to better accommodate a large outboard motor for use as fishing boats. The mast and rig disappeared and finally the hand-built hulls, often seen under construction beneath a crude tin roof by the water’s edge, were replaced with more cost-effective fiberglass hulls.

Today there are very few Tortola Sloops remaining and only two are still actively sailing. In an effort to preserve both the integrity of design and building heritage two distinctly different preservation initiatives are underway. The H. Lavity Stoutt Community College at East End, Tortola, control the two remaining sailing vessels and are active in bringing both funding and awareness to sloop heritage.

On Jost Van Dyke behind Foxy’s Beach Bar, the Jost Van Dykes Preservation Society is building a modernBoat Building Under Cover version of the Tortola Boat, the Endeavour II in an effort to advance environmental stewardship among the youth of the BVI. The Jost Van Dykes Preservation Society is a non-profit agency dedicated to the preservation of the history, culture and the natural environment of Jost Van Dyke. The immediate goal is to launch Endeavour II by December of 2013 and to accomplish this they need the support of fellow sailors to raise the estimated $45,000 needed to finish outfitting. Once launched, the Endeavour II will be used as a sail training program for the youth of the BVI and to support and house environmental education programs that the Preservation Society has offered since 2009.

Please take a minute to visit the JVDPS website to follow the progress of the building of Endeavour II and explore various projects under its stewardship. The program to date has largely been funded by charitable donations from visiting yachtsmen, local businesses and volunteers. If you wish to join us in the support of this project, the following link to the non-profit, tax-deductible site is noted below.

Links and downloads:

Jost Van Dykes Preservation Society - http://www.jvdps.org 

JVDPS.org seal

Read the Article by Executive Director Susan Zaluski - A Mighty Endeavour (Something old becomes something new on Jost Van Dyke).

For further information on this project or information regarding donations, call Bruce Donath at 617-974-1368 or email bruce@jvdps.org 

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

Visit www.jvdps.org and sign-up for the Preservation Society newsletter and learn more about the scope of the programs to educate the youth and protect the local environment for future generations

DONATE NOW

With your help, the Preservation Society is mobilizing sailing advocates to complete the Jost Van Dyke Endeavour project and support ongoing environmental educational programs  (Jvdps.org/support)

Sketch, Tortola Sloop

 

 

 

 

Cruising Guides in the age of Google. Still Relevant?

Over the last 12 months or so, numerous sailors, planning a Caribbean charter, have called or emailed us to ask if a Cruising Guide is still necessary considering there would be a chart plotter aboard the boat. This in turn got us to thinking about the role that cruising guides play in the current environment of the Web, cruising blogs, chart plotters, GPS and electronic charting. There are three distinct phases to consider in this regard:

Planning the Cruise

Customer research tells us that the typical Caribbean charter party, consider the planning and preparation of the cruise to be 50% of the overall enjoyment. Getting the crew together to research and discuss potential charter / cruising destinations, boat selection, sailing itinerary and general familiarization with the cruising area, not to mention the seasonal variations in weather and the inherent flavor of the location is a major part of the planning process. Many of them purchase several cruising guides and send them to their various crew members in anticipation of some social research and cruise planning sessions. Although some of this information can be researched on-line from cruising blogs etc. it should be considered that the perspective of a writer of any established cruising guide is usually honed over many years verses the perspective of a cruiser/blogger who likely is visiting the area for the first time and may or may not be lucky with weather, access to local facilities and supplies, all of which may influence the experience.

Island Navigation and Harbor approaches:

Electronic chart plotters are wonderful, but they should never be relied upon as the sole instrument of navigation and although convenient for plotting a course,  developing waypoints and routing, once close to shore, the prudent sailor will start using additional tools to confirm his/her location and routing. On many occasions, when entering a narrow passage or approaching an anchorage, I have seen skippers zoom the plotter in for larger scale viewing of the area, a practice that can be fraught with gremlins! Given the fact that in many instances, electronic charts are digitized versions of standard DMA and NOAA paper charts, some of which were surveyed many years ago, it is easy to get lured into a false sense of security. In addition, we have observed that among several boats located in the same anchorage but utilizing different charting software, the boats appear on the respective plotter screens in different locations relative to their actual proximity within the anchorage. So although the actual GPS position is known, the charting software used can be inconsistent even with the WGS84 datum correction.

Bottom line, it is always prudent to use several different methods and tools to locate and update your position and always keep a sharp lookout ahead. Electronics can fail, yacht electrical systems can go down. Keep your position updated, preferably on a paper chart. Your cruising guide is your local expert, a necessary part of your navigation equipment and can help you interpret the chart, cross reference any discrepancies and, most important, recommend safe routing to your destination.

Now you are safely anchored; what’s going on ashore?

After the long sail you’re ready for a hike, a snorkel or want to take a taxi to visit an island destination or simply find a local bar or restaurant. Turn the page of your cruising guide and the information will be there, referenced, often with commentary and recommendations. Today,  Cruising Guides remain as relevant as ever and add to the planning enjoyment and general safety of the cruise. Do your research, plan the cruise, take along updated charts, but don’t forget to take your cruising guide along.

On the road less traveled, go with the people who know the way!

Bahamian Artist Barefoot Contessa

Bahamian Artist Barefoot Contessa

Artist Marjolein Scott-van der Hek lives and produces her spectacular artwork on the Island of Abaco in the Bahamas.She was born on Borneo in Indonesia, of Dutch parents and grew up in Indonesia, East Africa, Hong Kong and Singapore, where she studied classical ballet and fine art.

Her paintings reflect the vibrant colours of a tropical paradise.

Marjolein's medium of choice is watercolor on silk, using techniques based on the Indonesian art of Batik. The richness and depth of her colours are a result of a palette of European silk paints that are layered onto each painting. Each painting can take weeks to produce the vibrant colours on natural silk.

Although her subjects and commissioned works vary, they all reflect the spectacular beauty of nature, her surroundings and graceful people.

Marjolein's company, Barefoot Contessas produces a line of products that incorporate reproductions of her work, and we will be selling her prints in 3 different sizes and beautiful printed t-shirts, both in Gifts & Gear.

 

 

 

Five Favorite Leeward Anchorages

Little Bay, Anguilla

For those addicted to undeveloped natural beauty, Little Bay is outstanding, even by Caribbean standards. Along the shore, 70-foot cliffs rise from turquoise water. They are multicolored, in reds, pinks, greys and whites, textured by holes, caves and grottos, which are home to tropic birds, pelicans and kingfishers. You cannot anchor here, but you can pick up one of the moorings during the day. Ashore, there are two small but delightfully secluded beaches.

Anse de Colombier, St. Barths

This secluded bay lies at the bottom of a steep, craggy hill. The village of Colombier peeks down from way on top. The bay has a perfect beach, backed by a smattering of palms. There is no road access and the only way to get here is by boat, or a mile-long trek over the hills. Anse de Colombier is part of the St. Barths Marine Reserve, since the marine park took over and put down yacht moorings, the grass beds have returned attracting many feeding turtles.

Indian Creek, Antigua

When the English Harbour social scene gets so much that you cannot stand another happy hour, set sail for Indian Creek, which lies less than 2 miles to the east. This perfectly charming little hideaway winds back between cactus hills and is currently so deserted that you will see more goats and birds than people. Eric Clapton owns the house on Indian Creek Point. Indian Creek is so protected that you have the feeling of being completely landlocked. It feels cozy enough to ride out a storm.

Pain de Sucre, Iles des Saintes

The Saintes. This is an irresistible group of islands with idyllic Gallic charm. They are small, dry, and steep with mountains that climb over 1,000 feet and where white beaches abound. Pan de Sucre is a 200-foot mini-piton. It is joined to the island by a low strip of land with exquisite beaches on both sides. There is one house surrounded by palms, and a track leading up to the main road, those in good shape can hike up to Le Chameau, to the old lookout tower at the top. In the other direction, past Le Bois Joli, is a small, secluded beach that is often used for nude bathing.

Prince Rupert Bay, Dominica

If Christopher Columbus came back today, Dominica is the only island he would recognize. This is because Dominica is the region's most unspoiled country and its most exciting destination for spectacular natural beauty. This magnificent protected bay is over 2 miles long and a mile deep. Under normal conditions, you can anchor almost anywhere off the coast, from the Coconut Beach Hotel on the south shore right around to the Purple Turtle Restaurant on the north. The harbor is so good that Portsmouth was picked to be the island's capital; however this never came to be. Elizabeth Pampo Israel, the oldest person in the world, lived here until her death at the age of 128!