Saturday 16 Mar, BVI day 12, Tortola: Road trip around the east side of Tortola.
What an extraordinary peaceful night! So calm and quiet. Just what we needed. We wake up completely refreshed, ready for another day hitting the road.
Today we drive anti clockwise, up the east shore. And first stop is not far, just on the other shore opposite the marina where a pile of damaged boats caught our attention. Completely destroyed and lying there abandoned. There are some small print legal notices glued to each boat, stating that “if the owners do not remove the boats within 60 days from this notice it will be deemed abandoned and property of the BVIs and disposed of….”. But the notices were not dated. So 60 days count started when? Last year?
We think it would be a good idea to have a clean up for wrecked abandoned cars too! Caribbean islands suffer from that too, maybe just as much as from washed ashore or sunken boats. And just as we comment about that, we see a barge loaded with rusty cars and a lot more crushed cars piled ashore waiting to be loaded. That’s good to see. St. Martin could certainly do with a similar exercise!
The south road, Waterside Road, runs along the water’s edge, just 3m from the water. And it has clearly been redone after the hurricanes as the tarmac is new in most places. We pass an industrial area and then arrive to Nanny Cay Marina and Resort. Not a big or busy place, but it will probably get busy in the coming days with the boats arriving for the BVI Spring Regatta. We pay a visit to the chandlery, where for once Glen buys nothing! The chandlery is very well stocked (and priced!) but Glen declares there is absolutely nothing there we might need for Cloudy Bay. Well, there is a first!
Back on our track we continue on Waterside Road towards Road Town. Lots of demolished houses along the road, some with a small kiosk opened at ground floor and anything above looks like still untouched since the hurricane.
Very clear day, the visibility is very good. We can see the USVIs and on the horizon St. Croix 40 miles away. And try to figure out which island is which.
Road Town looks much better today than it did yesterday evening, in this bright light and without the rush hour. Once they will clean up their act it will be quite a pretty town. We don’t stop anywhere, as we have only few hours till we have to return the car.
We next come across Paraquita Bay where the Moorings charter catamaran fleet of hundreds of yachts got decimated by Irma. Now the bay is fairly cleared, only few sunken boats are left and mooring buoys are relaid ready for the next hurricane season. Most of the cats that were sunk in this bay we previously saw in North Bay, Antigua, where the wrecks had all been shipped to by barge. Good for Moorings to have cleaned up their wrecks so efficiently. Or should we say, good for their insurance company?
After that we cross Parham Town which seems to be the less affluent part of Tortola, looking a bit rough and with the usual debris dumped randomly. Everywhere we drive we see lots of chickens freely running around. And here in Parham we even see them in dumpsters, on top of the garbage bags. Glen jokes that chickens here are like cats in other countries, they seem to be everywhere. Clearly there are no foxes on this island!
A small bridge takes us onto Beef Island where we stop in Trellis Bay which is right next to the airport. It isn’t exactly a pretty bay, but several boats are anchored here. Dotted along the beach, right next to the airport terminal, there are few beach bars each one with a jetty. All very convenient for boat guest pick up and drop off to the airport. And around the bay, like all bays in Tortola, there are washed away boats on the beach. If it’s still like this 18 months after the hurricane, we realize the islands are going to show such scars for many years to come.
We continue to drive in the heart of Beef Island hoping to find a nice beach or great views at the end of the dirt road. But what we find is dumped cars along the way and a nursery at the very end. No beach, no view. So we u-turn and regroup.
Back on Tortola we continue up the north-east coast, the road on the outer side just along the coast. Good call, as we get rewarded with an amazing view over Guana Island which is surrounded by beautiful blue water. There are a few boats anchored off the very pretty leeward beach. It is a private island (the couple whom we met on Nevis, managing Golden Rock Inn used to be the managers of Guana Island). So maybe the boats are just enjoying the look of the white beach from the distance and not actually stepping on it. Looking closely, they all seem to be rocking, so we wouldn’t sail Cloudy Bay to here in a hurry. We’ve had enough of rolly restless nights.
From the top of the hill we have clear view over the horizon, and we see Necker island, Spanish Town and even the low Anegada. Very clear visibility today.
Further down the road we have a nice view down onto Little Bay and along the north coast. Inspiring us to take out the drone and fly it, the camera of which rewards us with the view of next bay along too. Wouldn’t rave about them, but they are nice enough bays. Swell rolling in, of course, same as it does along this entire north coast.
Next objective is to see the two bays which were praised to us, Rogues Bay and Trunk Bay. A bit of a challenging drive to both of them, down very steep roads which end in dirt tracks. We couldn’t drive all the way down to either of them, and we imagine neither could other people, as there are only 2 surfers on the first beach and not a soul on the second one. But nice beaches otherwise, backed by the green hills. In Trunk Bay there are some fancy villas on the hill side, all up and running, with nice infinity pools overlooking the beach. And some new villas being built, the road to them under construction too. In general we are very impressed by the road system across Tortola. Not in the best condition but they do cross some challenging terrain on the steep sides hills. It would be amazing to ride a motorcycle here, a powerful enough one to manage the steepness of the hills. Our car was really struggling at some points.
From here we don‘t really have any other objective to tick, and with only an hour to spare before returning the hire car we decide to have a drive down to Brewers Bay and see it from close (yesterday we saw it from up the hill). A nice enough beach, long, golden sand, and with Jennie’s bar at the west end of it. But it’s very quiet with just a few people walking on it and a couple of cars anchored at the north end. It’s Saturday…why aren’t more people on the beaches?
We conclude that while Tortola is interesting to drive around, with the exception of Cane Garden Bay, it cannot be rebounded for its beaches or pretty bays. Those all belong to the islands. Particularly Virgin Gorda and Anegada.
Time to head off back towards Soper’s Hole, and we take the flat and fast Waterside Road again. The north road might be more scenic, but it would take much longer to drive all the way back. And we return the Suzuki undamaged (phew). Well, maybe few more scratches (added to the many other older ones) from the friendly side road bushes on Beef Island.
Soper’s Hole is as calm as we left it, and we are looking forward to a quiet afternoon onboard. These road trips are good fun, but sometimes we feel a bit tired after them when we overdo the driving.
Sitting around and do nothing doesn’t suit us, so we soon start looking up travel options for our trip to Europe this summer. It’s been a while since we managed to book a flight 3 months ahead of time and we are surprised at the low price we managed to get. Just $540 Philadelphia to Manchester, return.
So it’s decided, we will leave Cloudy Bay for her summer holiday ashore in Herrington, Maryland, USA. It maybe a bit of a trek back up to the Chesapeake but it’s a safe place, out of the hurricane zone, way inland and relatively cheap at $450 per month stored on land. Plus, the main bonus is that we have our friend Ray there, who will keep an eye on her. Bless you Ray!
We then start to look at other aspects of our summer break and start to get excited about all the things we will do. I can see the 4 months going by very quickly. And not much rest!
Tomorrow we will check out of the BVIs and move over to the USVIs, St.John. We could for sure spend more time exploring BVIs but we feel we have seen the highlights and it’s time to move on if we are to cover the Spanish Greater Antilles before we have to head north in May.