Exploring the Virgin Islands Part I: Sailing to Anegada

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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.


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.


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


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