Tuesday 5 Mar, BVIs day 1: Virgin Gorda – check in, walk to Spanish Town and anchor in Savannah Bay.
Very peaceful night in Gorda Sound. No rolling for once. We needed the good sleep after the long day yesterday. When we emerge in the cockpit most charter yachts are gone. I guess they start their days earlier than we do!
While finishing our coffees Glen calls customs office in Spanish Town to check on their opening times, and once off the phone we have a plan for the day. For the morning at least. We need to sail around Mosquito Island to get to Spanish Town for check in formalities. At 10:30am we lift the anchor and we sail the 6nm. It’s very windy so we have genoa only.
On the lee side of Virgin Gorda there are several bays with small beaches. The wind is very gusty off the land so we temporarily furl away genoa to be able to motor close to the shoreline. Most of these bays are protected by reefs so we can’t get too close and certainly can’t anchor. And what surprises us is that there are no people on the beaches. We do notice that most places are still under reconstruction since Irma’s destruction (if any works are taking place at all) but there must be some tourists on this island somewhere?
We pass Long Bay, Trunk Bay, Tetor Bay, each with a few small developments. Then Pound Bay and Savanna Bay which have pristine white beaches, backed by sand dunes.
Little Dix Bay has lots of what must have been villas and resorts. But now all under reconstruction with most roofs still of blue plastic sheets. Apparently this bay was the site of the first hotel in Virgin Gorda in the 1960s, built by the Rothschilds.
Then some nice villas perched above Casey Bay, stone and wood design with floor to ceiling windows. Not sure this design fits here, it’s more of a mountain villas look, but I like some of them anyway.
And as we round Colison Point we see quite a few boats off of Spanish Town. Looks like this is where all the boats anchor for the town. Most of them are on mooring buoys but we do manage to find a good spot near the ferry terminal and drop anchor in 5m of clear turquoise water among few other anchored boats, all giving us a variety of looks which say “not happy you are anchored here”.
When Glen checks the anchor he declares it’s the clearest water we have been in for ages. From the stern of the boat he can see right to the anchor 30m ahead of us. Assured we are secure, we dinghy ashore into Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour where the only dinghy dock is. The buildings in the marina are also under reconstruction. Then a short walk through the dusty boat yard where few catamarans are stored. They are all damaged, a couple probably write-offs.
The customs & immigration offices are just outside the boat yard, next to the ferry dock. And we immediately learn that some of the officials here have an attitude, as one of them gives us a lecture why we haven’t come to check in early morning as they open at 8am. We spend a fair bit of time in there going from one counter to the other and overhearing how other crews are being talked to. So it wasn’t us being in the wrong, it’s just unhappy officials. Such a change from the very pleasant officials in Anguilla.
Despite being excessively hot, we decide to walk to the town, thinking it’s just few minutes away. Under the intense sun it felt like a very long walk. Either side of the road we see the signs of hurricane destruction and very little sign of reconstruction. And nothing else really. It would be hard to call it a town.
We do come across a rent-a-wreck place, in somebody’s garden, and the admin office is in the back of a wrecked van! The rate will be 58$/day. Hmm, is this island really worth a drive? We’ll consider it later in the evening.
The supermarket is further along, and if there ever was a town here we don’t see much left of it. As in there is one cafe under reconstruction, a petrol station, this supermarket and a couple of houses. Maybe there is more beyond this, but we are too hot to walk further. So with few tomatoes and cucumbers in our bag we start walking back.
A beach hotel, which from the road looks completely destroyed, advertises rooms available on a freshly painted board. Thinking maybe they are indeed open for business we walk through what used to be the garden and indeed find a beach restaurant. Perfect, we’ll have a hydrating stop in the shade and discuss the plan for the afternoon.
Back to the dinghy Glen is determined to move in a less rolly anchorage, thinking The Baths would be the nearest suitable one. He dinghies over there to investigate, but the rules are: no overnight moorings, only for day use. And we can’t even dinghy to the beach, all dinghies are tied to a line then people swim to the shore. And on top of that, there is a big swell coming in and all the moored boats are rolling badly. Cloudy Bay would be in her element here, showing all the others how a boat can really roll!
So with the Baths out of the question we turn in the opposite direction. The nearest anchorage is back around the corner in Savannah Bay. It’s quite sheltered from the swell so we will remain here overnight.
Crystal clear blue water, we can see from the transom all the way to where the anchor dug in. And under the propeller Glen meets face to face with a large barracuda. Which he chases playfully but the barracuda doesn’t seem too bothered. This is the 3rd day in a row that he has seen a large barracuda just hanging around in the shade under the boat. Or is it the same one, following us?! Or maybe I’ll have to snorkel myself tomorrow to see if it’s all just in Glen’s imagination!
This really is a beautiful bay and all to ourselves. So I catch the last rays of the sun on the aft deck while Glen continues his battle with the barnacles below. Then a catamaran comes in and anchors quite close to us. Hmmm this bay is huge, do they really have to be that close? Then, a few minutes later an even bigger cat arrives and places it’s anchor just a few meters off our port side. Really? Are they serious? Even as they drop back on anchor they are still ridiculously close. Oooph. That’s our peaceful anchorage gone. It’s so true that yachts seem to attract one another. I’m sure if we hadn’t anchored in this bay, it would still be empty.
We have our lunch just before sunset and as dusk sets in we do a bit of reading through the Virgin Islands brochures we picked up from customs office. It all sounds good and advertised with beautiful pictures. But we know most places are not there anymore. So why publish tourist guides with such out of date information?
After lunch we make contact with Christian & Eva on board s/v Gale, a Swan 66 from New England. We met them in Bermuda while we were waiting on weather to Antigua. They left the same day as us, but their destination was the BVIs, and have been here ever since arriving in early December. Tomorrow we will sail west to meet them in Lee Bay
The rest of the evening we potter below. Looking at pilot books for our next islands and attempt to finish the Eustatius video. It’s been so long since I last edited a video – I really don’t have the desire to do them these days.