British Virgin Islands: Let the trade winds fill your sails

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The purpose of this report, compiled at the end of last season was twofold: to live a week of charter and share this experience, but also to take stock of the British Virgin Islands as a destination after Hurricane Irma struck in September 2017. Sailors familiar with the Caribbean know these heavenly islands. Earthlings, less so... Whether you're talking about the British Virgin Islands or the BVI, most of your friends will raise an eyebrow: "Where’s that?" In the Caribbean, between Puerto Rico in the west and Saint Maarten in the east. Your flight necessarily stops in one of these two islands, before taking a small prop-plane that barely rises above the little cumulus clouds. Already this is a whole adventure... The main airport of the BVI archipelago is located on Beef Island, on the edge of a quiet anchorage - transformed into a boat cemetery since the hurricane passed. Barely 200 meters (600’) to the dock: go on foot, a taxi driver asked us $20 for this ridiculous trip... A pontoon lost in the darkness of the tropical night, a warm trade wind rustling in the coconut trees – we’re already getting into the atmosphere of the islands! Every hour, a free shuttle takes you to Scrub Island, after a stop at Marina Cay. This islet, with its famous red-roofed gas station and its bar, the Robb White House, appears to have fared the best here. Even the Dream Yacht Charter base left from the main island of Tortola after the passage of Irma, to take up residence in a hotel/marina complex here.

One hull each: the ultimate in luxury!

We quickly spot our Bali 4.0, and are looking forward to getting some sleep aboard... There’s only two of us - my brother Paul and myself. One hull each! When we wake up, we discover imposing buildings but a pleasant and practical setting - shops, swimming pools, a small beach, there are worse things to see while waiting for the skipper's briefing. The handover of a charter catamaran is done in three stages: first of all, the various formalities are settled at the DYC office, the weather and navigation briefing is next, and finally the operation of all the catamaran's equipment is reviewed. Engines, winches, tender, windlass, electric circuits, tanks, watermaker: nothing’s left out of the imposing checklist, which allows you to get by afterwards. A good tip? Take a picture - or mini video - of key elements such as the location of the windlass fuse, it might be useful! We have chosen to have the boat fully provisioned in advance. Prices charged are high - about $400 for two people - but ultimately cheaper than those charged by the small convenience store in the resort. And shopping from a boat is not easy in the BVI - unless you take a taxi. Our Bali, at the far end of the harbor, promises a complicated maneuver to get out. Very kindly, a DYC technician offers to take the controls. He jumps into his dinghy as soon as we’re clear of the jetties. "Enjoy!” So, where are we going?

50 islands to discover

On the chart, ...

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