Closing the Loop

Today we finished our second circumnavigation of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.  We made our first clockwise tour in November, just after Jeff and Felipe brought the boat down from the Chesapeake, and before we started our stint as Bay Hosts for the Virgin Island National Park Service (USVI).  On our initial trip we hit up anchorages on Jost Van Dyke, Trellis Bay, the Dogs, Virgin Gorda, Peter Island, and the West End. 

First Tortola circumnavigation. We left from Nanny Cay (red X) and checked out at Soper’s Hole (green x).
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Back to being tourists.

After two months of Bay Hosting for the Virgin Islands National Park, we are now officially just plain-ole tourists again.  Our time living in Leinster Bay was not only rewarding and fulfilling, but also just flat out fun. From making new friends and hosting the morning broadcasts of the Leinster Bay Radio Net to epic snorkel runs right off the back of our boat, we felt a real connection to this place. We both have said, in separate conversations and together, that we hope to return to “our bay” as Bay Hosts again soon. 

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In Memoriam: Bill Trayfors, s/v Born Free

While Margaret and I were using some of the free internet today at Pirate’s Bight, she turned and said, “I just got some sad news.” And, while telling me about the passing of our friend, Bill Trayfors of s/v Born Free, she turned her computer towards me, which had Bill’s ever-smiling face adorning a Facebook remembrance. He had passed “unexpectedly” on February 15th. Even writing it now, my tears are just at bay.

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Heading West

Over the last couple weeks, Margaret and I have been talking about where we might go after our stint as bay hosts with the National Park Service is over on February 15th. 

People we have met in the bay have already headed down island to Antigua and Grenada. And we had some new and dear friends leave for St. Marten the other day. Thoughts of cheese in St. Marten, hiking in Dominica, and island hopping in the Grenadines have us dreaming of sailing the Lesser Antilles. 

Our last day hanging out with the crew of SV Contigo.
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Provisioning: Lessons Learned

Provisioning: Lessons Learned

We have now been away from the continental US for 3 months, enjoying the British and US Virgin Islands.  While we stocked up on a what we thought was a ton of food before we set sail for the Caribbean, we are now able to better assess our eating habits while cruising.  There are several factors that have made provisioning different this season – each of which has affected our stores and consequently, our meal selection.

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The Government Shutdown and Our Bay Host Duties

With the government shutdown, the National Park Service suspended the bay host program, temporarily releasing us from our role. Consequently, we no longer need to be in Leinster Bay. And, when we are, we are not supposed to engage in any of our normal activities as bay hosts.

When the shutdown first began, we headed to Red Hook to take care of some boat chores. We stayed at American Yacht Harbor marina to top off our batteries and fresh water, provision, and get a few other jobs completed. While there, we ate some tasty nachos and burritos at MeLT.
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Seven Days on St. John, USVI

Our friends, Sasha and David, will be our first visitors down here in the Virgins. Some of you may remember them from our Abacos charter before we even purchased Bear. In anticipation of their visit, we put together a list of places to see and things to do in Leinster Bay, on St. John, and in the nearby area. We figured we would share the list here on the blog.

To put the list into perspective, Sasha and David are staying at an inn in Cruz Bay, and we do not know whether they will spend a night aboard. So we are not contemplating going far into the BVI should we go at all. And we do not know if they will want to or can come all the way out to Leinster every day. Likewise, Sasha and David are divers who may or may not be diving while they are here, but have already indicated that they are interested in doing a lot of snorkeling.
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Virgin Islands National Park Bay Hosts

Last night at 5pm, Margaret and I started our new “job.” We are now volunteer bay hosts for Virgin Islands National Park. For the next two months – at a minimum – we will be living on a mooring in beautiful Leinster Bay on the northeast corner of St. John.

As bay hosts, our duties include greeting boaters, tending to the moorings, and making sure folks know the park rules. We are expected to give forty hours every week. That will still leave us lots of time to continue to explore the BVI and start to get to know the rest of the USVI. But Leinster Bay has some of the best snorkeling on St. John and trails and ruins line the shoreline, so we might just spend most of our time exploring and relaxing here.

beautiful variegated blue waters, ringed by tall island, and a sailboat on a mooring in the middle

Looking out from the ruins of the former big house of the Murphy plantation. Bear is on a mooring just off Watermelon Cay.

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Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke post-Hurricane Irma Update

As we continue our posts on the British Virgin Islands in the wake of the 2018 storms (see our last one on Trellis Bay), we turn our attention to Great Harbour post-Hurricane Irma. With Foxy’s drawing in cruisers, charterers, and other visitors from around the world, nearly everyone makes it over to the well-protected anchorage in Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke during a visit to the BVI. While Jost took a major hit from Hurricane Irma, Foxy’s and some of the other stalwarts that line the beach, like Ali Baba’s and Corsairs, have already reopened. And you can still clear customs right off the government dock in the center of it all, as we did after our passage down.

Great Harbour with extensive damage to the buildings and denuded vegetation

Great Harbour post-Hurricane Irma on September 11, 2018. From Flickr user DFIG – UK Department for International Development, used under the CC BY 2.0 license.

There was certainly no shortage of damage on Jost. And quite a bit of destruction is still evident. But compared to a lot of places in the BVI, Great Harbour and the rest of Jost are making large strides and some new – rather than just replacement – construction is even occurring.
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Trellis Bay post-Hurricane Irma Update

We are going to start highlighting the major anchorages of the BVI, describing some of the damage from Hurricane Irma and giving a rundown of the current state of the bars, restaurants, and other businesses. We start this little series with Trellis Bay.

Before Hurricane Irma, Trellis Bay was well known to cruisers with its easy access to the Beef Island airport, family-friendly full moon party, community of artists centered on Aragorn’s Studio, and well-loved bars, including De Loose Mongoose and The Last Resort. Like a lot of the BVI, Irma pummeled Trellis, destroying a good deal of the infrastructure of the community. The damage is extensive, but a few stalwarts have reopened and the full moon parties are still going strong.

chart of Trellis Bay

Chart of Trellis Bay from NV Charts chartkit 12.1.

In Trellis Bay, the wind and surge from Hurricane Irma, which was damaging enough, was exacerbated by the few dozen boats that went ashore in this supposed hurricane hole. About thirty-five yachts line the beach, mainly – though far from only – in the area of the De Loose Mongoose. These are obviously an impediment to rebuilding some properties, and the boats surely acted as additional wrecking balls in a storm full of them, wreaking havoc on the docks and buildings along Trellis.
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