Friday 15 Mar, BVI day 11, Tortola: From rolly Cane Garden Bay to sheltered Soper’s Hole, and a road trip to Road Town.
Not much sleep, it was a very uncomfortable night. From the moment we anchored last evening the northerly swell started increasing. By the early hours a huge swell was rolling in the bay just at the perfect wavelength and height to really get Cloudy Bay rolling 🙁 So despite last evening’s plan to stay here for a day and enjoy the beach, we wake up with a new plan: to get the hell out of here!
Few phone calls later we have a hire car and a mooring buoy booked in Soper’s Hole, a tightly enclosed bay at the western end of Tortola which hopefully will give us the much desired shelter and peace tonight.
There is hardly any wind (only 5kts) and we motor the 5nm to Soper’s Hole. The coast looks very green, few nice beaches, and quite a few houses scattered on the hills. We wonder how many there were 20-30 years ago, and how soon Tortola will be looking like St.Barth’s or Mallorca – overdeveloped and overcrowded.
50 minutes later we are in Soper’s Hole where we pick a nicely spaced mooring buoy. At 15m, it’s really a bit too deep for us to anchor here. Not many boats around. Well, not many floating that is! Lots are still washed ashore by Irma and several on buoys with no masts. But the place is everything we had hoped with regards to tranquility. No swell, a gentle breeze, few boats and not much life on land. Pre-Irma, Soper’s Hole was a bustling little place, full of bars and night life. Part of the marina is back in use but most is still being repaired with huge work barges moored where pontoons had been. And the area behind the marina, once buzzing with life, is now mostly boarded up and abandoned buildings.
We decide to rent the car late in the afternoon so that we can have Friday evening in Road Town and explore the island tomorrow, all in a 24hr hire. So for once, we have 4-5 hours on board with nothing specific to do.
That changes when it starts to rain quite heavily for the first time in weeks. Hm, it always rains as soon as we book a hire car. We could almost set the weather forecast to it! Anyway, Glen goes out in the rain armed with sponge and squeegee and proceeds to give Cloudy a thorough rain bath, getting the salt off everything. And the only way I can stop him is to put his favorite food on the lunch table – Thai prawn curry.
At 3:30 we pick up the car. Yes, in the rain! We get drenched during the dinghy ride ashore. Clearly back in rent-a-wreck territory. A re-sprayed and mechanically questionable Suzuki Vitara. Visually it looks OK, but it drives like the wheels are about to fall off!
We decide to take the northern coast road to Road Town, the scenic route you might say. On google maps it shows a main road hugs the coast all the way around the western tip of the island. But what we find is Irma has changed all that. The road no longer exists! So we instead go over the hill on very small tracks and at one point find ourselves driving on a road that is in the middle of being constructed! Good job we have an SUV. No wonder it sounds like all the UJs are shot if these are Tortola’s road conditions.
But soon we meet back up with the actual coast road on the north side. It passes Long Bay and also Cane Garden Bay where we were anchored last night. And the swell is still coming in! Before and after the bays the road goes very steeply up the hillside, giving great views down into the bays and over to Jost Van Dyke island and Sandy Cay where we anchored for lunch yesterday. Along the low lying areas next to the shore, many buildings and housing developments are still lying abandoned in ruins, having suffered both wind and flooding by the storm surge. Those up the hillside seem to have fared better, or at least been rebuilt quicker.
Soon we are on the saddle of the island with views both north and south down into Road Town. As we drive down into the town it looks like any other Caribbean main town. Shabby and run down. And not all due to Irma we believe. As the approach the center the outgoing traffic is at a standstill. It’s rush hour on a Friday night. So we drive wherever there is no queue and find ourselves in the area where we were told the night life is.
First we check out the Dove bar and restaurant. Apparently an up market place but we could only tell that by the price of the drinks. $14 for a cocktail is double what we are used to.
So we head off to find Xtian’s cocktail bar, which is run by Christian himself. Very nice cocktails, very pleasant service and decently priced. Not crowded, just a few customers arriving for a cocktail after work. Relaxing time all around.
We then move onto the Rooftop bar, but find that it’s really more of a restaurant than a bar.
Then to The Watering Hole which is down to earth and quite lively. Lots of ex-pats in here, most of them very young. All knowing each other. We even see some faces we met last night in Cane Garden Bay. The bartender is from South Africa and he entices us to sample the South African apple cider and craft beer, which we gladly do.
We started the evening a bit early, so by 9pm we both feel we’ve had enough to drink, so head back to Soper’s Hole where we make the most of our tranquil and peaceful setting. Looking forward to a good night sleep. This will be the first night we have not been on anchor for 3 months now!