Island Life

Wow it seemed surreal to finally be in the BVIs! We sailed into the Bittter End Yacht Club, and called in via VHF to determine where to tie up and ask about customs. We grabbed a mooring ball, and looked around to find many boats from the rally tied up around us. Al headed into the dock to see what he could find out about customs and returned right away. We determined it best that he and I would head down to Gun Creek and do the Customs and Immigration entry while Wayne and Ken hung out on the boat.

Customs - BVIs
Customs – BVIs
Congratulatory Drinks on Arrival
Congratulatory Drinks on Arrival
Chatting it up
Chatting it up
Oy the heat!
Oy the heat!
On the dock with the Salty Dawgs.
On the dock with the Salty Dawgs.

Gun creek was a 5 minute dinghy ride away and with papers in hand we headed for the Customs office. As with most things in BVIs, it was less official then I had imagined it would be, just a small dock in front of a few small buildings. We headed inside and were given forms to fill out which we did. After waiting for about 20 mins, as there were several people in front of us, all who turned out to be Salty Dawgs who had arrived around the same time we did, we managed to get the official stamps we needed. The officials were funny and very welcoming, making it overall very easy. So with a 30-day permit for cruising we headed back to the boat but made a stop for some ice, something we had not had since our departure.

We had a celebratory drink, and quickly went for our first swim in the blue warm water. Afterwards we headed into the dock for our first night, compliments of BEYC, where many other boats in the rally had tied up for a night or two. We got to use their showers, fill up the water tanks, empty our trash, wash the boat and explore the Bitter End which offers several amenities such as a small food shop and liquor store, pub, restaurant, and water sport rentals. The atmosphere on the dock was quite jovial and it was nice to see many of the boats that we had heard over the radio while on the way down. That evening we headed over to Saba Rock for a happy hour with many of the other sailors who had arrived within the past few days. We all shared our stories about the sail from Hampton to BVIS. Everyone had a story to tell! While on the dock we also tended to a couple of fixes for the boat and Ken went up the mast again to fix our lights.

Filly was relieved to be tied to a dock and able to kick back without any movement. The heat is a struggle for all of us and particularly our little fur buddy who is shedding copiously. My hope is to get him swimming so he can cool off but in the meantime he sleeps most of the day and has fun run of the deck at night. We took a bunch of pics during super moon at night but sadly they were too dark.

Wayne in his element
Wayne in his element
Ken relaxing on deck
Ken relaxing on deck
Dinghy potluck
Dinghy potluck
Me, Bill and Zoe
Me, Bill and Zoe
Pretty water
Pretty water
Bitter End at night
Bitter End at night

We hung out in the Bitter End for a couple of days, participating in Salty Dawg events. One of the more fun things was a potluck dinghy tie-up which involved everyone meeting out in the middle of the harbour in our dinghies and tying up to each other. You bring an appie and your own bevvie and pass the food around in circles, so plates keep coming your way and you never know whats coming next. It’s a nice way to meet other sailors and get to know each other. The event was cut short very quickly however when the skies opened up and huge rain pellets started coming down with force. Having left our windows open we raced back to the boat to take some cover with a few laughs along the way.

We had heard about the Full Moon Party over in Trellis Bay and decided to take it in. The ‘super moon’ was happening that night as well and as we arrived in the mooring field it was clear that many others had the same idea as we did. The place was packed with boats and we had arrived too late for a mooring ball so we put the anchor down instead. The boys went into shore to scout out the place and I stayed on the boat, having had a little too much sun that day. It was 30 degrees every day since we’d arrived and the sun was hot! We hung out on board having a few drinks and watching the activity around us. There was definitely a party atmosphere in the air and a great deal of activity with dinghies heading into shore or people partying on their yachts. We headed into shore shortly after the moon had risen and sought our a place at the crowded dinghy dock to tie up. The full moon festival happens every month in BVIs and there are three locations around the island. Trellis Bay is the best known and has large fire balls in the water filled with material that are set on fire and burn through the night. The party in Cane Garden Bay is also well known and is popular for serving mushroom tea, which is OK in the BVIs! At Trellis there were three venues that were serving food and had their own music set-ups, which made it a little disjointed. Wayne had attended the Cane Garden Bay party several years before where they had only one band and he said it was a more cohesive atmosphere. We managed to find a place to eat and sat down to a buffet style menu with jerk chicken, ribs, beans and rice, conch and coleslaw. The food was decent but the flies were pure agony. Sand flies at night will drive you crazy but the restaurant had placed several cans of bug spray around which we quickly utilized.

Fireball
Fireball
Fireball at Full moon party
Fireball at Full moon party
Stilt dancers
Stilt dancers
Headed to Road Town
Headed to Road Town
Filly new perch
Filly new perch
Sailing to Road Town.
Sailing to Road Town.
Big ship.
Big ship.

The next day we set sail for Road Town as I needed a SIM card for my phone. Road Town is the capital of the BVIs, and is a busy harbour. We pulled into the harbour at noon, where several cruise ships were tied up and there were yachts everywhere from the chartering companies who operate out of here. I had only driven through Roadtown before and I have to say it looks much cleaner and more pleasant from the water. We tied up to a mooring ball, dinghied into town, managed to find a data place and I got a card in no time at all. For about $50 I have enough data for the month which I can top up as I need to. I may have to do this for every island we visit from here on in because its not entirely clear to me if St Martin and the other islands will have the same service I bought in the BVIs. We stopped for a quick lunch before leaving Road Town in a large open bar area with the requisite chickens and roosters walking about. They are everywhere down here!

Our next stop was the island of Jost Van Dyke and the Soggy Dollar Bar, which is one of my all time favourite places in the BVIs. Essentially it is a beach that you pull up to in your boat, get as close to shore as possible and then make your way in to the various bars, restaurants and shops that lie behind the white sandy beach. The Soggy Dollar, has been here forever and is said to have created the first Painkiller, an amazing concoction of rum, coconut, fruit juices and nutmeg. It also gets its name from patrons swimming into the bar with money duly soaked to buy a bevvie. We were hanging out, enjoying the vibe people watching and getting to know people when Ken meets the son of a guy he knew from Ottawa! What are the chances?

Soggy Dollar Bar
Soggy Dollar Bar
Soggy Dollar Bar Beach
Soggy Dollar Bar Beach
We're here, finally!
We’re here, finally!
Chillaxin'
Chillaxin’
Ken and Jim
Ken and Jim
Painkillers in the surf
Painkillers in the surf
Dinner at Ivan's Stress Free Bar - all the stress is gone!
Dinner at Ivan’s Stress Free Bar – all the stress is gone!
Sopers Hole
Sopers Hole

Once again the sand flies were a major threat to our comfort so we headed out in the water to finish our drinks. With the sun setting and the surf rolling in it was a perfect place to soak up the great beach vibe and relax. We headed back to the boat for a rest before heading into Ivan’s Stress Free Bar (I kid you not) for a great dinner. Yeas, all the stress was gone.

The next day we headed over to Sopers Hole where the guys were catching a fast ferry over to St. Thomas, USVI where they would catch their flights back to Canada from there. Sad to see them go but we were happy to have had such a great crew for the past 2 weeks. Now it was back to the three of us, and getting used to island life.

Crew shot!
Crew shot!

Author: tess

A full-time adventurer, I am sailing our 37-foot Tartan with my husband and kitty, to the Caribbean from Newfoundland while documenting it on our blog, greatbigsail.com

14 thoughts on “Island Life”

  1. AFT,

    Well, it sounds like you’re making the best of the island life, daily swimming, new friends, dinghy potluck, love it, and the festivals.

    I laughed at the customs office, that’s a real treat. Usually customs is stressful, what a relief, everyone is relaxed, it seems, must be the heat, or the sand flies have driven everyone mad.

    With the extreme heat, I’d be mad as a wet cat, not my cup of tea, at all. What about getting Filly a tiny plastic pool? Would he dare to venture in, if there was a treat floating, at least get his feet wet?

    I’m happy that you guys are not kicking yourselves for leaving your jobs behind. Ha, ha. This life is definitely agreeing with you, you’re looking tanned and relaxed. Places like the Stress Free Bar helps.

    Love your photos, esp the selfie with you and Al on the beach, with the beautiful background. Life is good, eh?

    Love you.

    1. 😋 life is good and we’re pretty happy with our decision. It can take some adjusting and many get down here and realize it’s not for them. Not us!

      The pool is a good idea, might try it. He’s gotten much more comfy the past couple days, we all have!

      The Salty Dawgs have loads of events and we participate in them if in the vicinity. Nice group.

      ❤️ ya!

  2. “When the men on the chessboard get up and tell you where to go, And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom, and your mind is moving low.

    Go ask Alice, I think she’ll know”

    I attended a full moon party on Koh Phang Yang in Thailand..full disclosure, I may or may not have partaken of a mushroom drink of sorts. Actually I think it was an omelette. Interesting night!

    So here is what I think about Fillybear and the heat. Shave him, he will be embarrassed but cool. Leave enough fur so he doesn’t burn. Kinda like Murfs plucked chicken look. He will love you for it.

    A hard, cold rain is falling here again. So much so that I find myself eyeing wood in construction zones, and deciding which pairs I will choose animal, mineral…..

    As much as I am enjoying your word blogs, I find myself getting excited at months end for the video blog. It’s so lovely to hear your voice. Ha who would have thought we
    Would ever say that when we couldn’t shut you up as a child!

    xxoo from me and my familiar. Stay cool everybody!

    1. 😜yeah I thought you would have heard enough from me for a lifetime. Hopefully make s video work; wifi is a little problematic.

      The Full Moon party was probably tamer than the one you attended and we regretted not going to the mushroom one because hey that would have been interesting to have seen!

      Filly is doing so much better, stays on deck all night and wakes us around 5:30 for brekkie. Then heads off for snoozes for the rest of the day. He watches me when I swim from the stern but runs in the cockpit when I get back aboard. I think he’s afraid I’m going to make him swim. Id never do that!

      Loves back at you guys from all us Dawgs.

  3. Tess, Al and Filbert…..I love reading about and following along on your adventures, and must admit I am a little envious of your travels, however,
    after reading this blog and reading about the extreme heat and the sand flies, I can honestly say, I am so happy to be inside my house with the heat full blast while the wind whistles and the rain pours outside #coldoutside #cozyinside.
    Enjoy your time in the BVI’s and I look forward to your next post. Hugs to all.

    1. 😀 I know Glo, it ain’t for everyone. But all the same it is rather lovely here. It’s very hot but we swim a lot to stay cool and get exercise at same time. Home is where you make it!

  4. So love reading about your journey and adventure’s along the way. The picture’s make me want sun and heat even more as I sit here listening to the wind and rain…
    Enjoy every moment (as I’m sure you are) and keep those updates coming.
    Can’t wait to see where you’re going to put your Christmas tree… Lol
    Wiggle your toes in the sand for me whilst having a drink.
    Cheers to you, Al and Filbert!

    1. Hey Penny! Oops we forgot to bring a Xmas tree 🙂 Our big decision is where we’re going to spend Xmas but the options look pretty good. Wiggling away.

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