- April 1st, 2008
- in Yachting
On Charters and Toys – A world of wonder and adventure awaits those who choose to spend a week or two sailing in the British Virgin Islands. My initial emotions about coming to the islands were a mix of anticipation and excitement at the thought of all the things I wanted to do. My exhaustive “to do” list was easy to formulate as I sat by a fire in a cabin up a frosted mountainside on the south-west coast of Ireland. The list had a backdrop of sun, water and a grin befitting that of Batman’s Joker singing Steve Miller’s hit song.
When bringing the family, there is always the question of will there be enough for everyone to do? In groups, everyone is going to need pleasing. I see some charter boats leaving the dock with a caravan of extra toys—kayaks, windsurfers, surfboards, fishing rods and spare ribs—all just in case. Imagine every water-related activity weekend in which you have ever participated and then imagine trying to cram it into a single weekend. Ask yourself if that’s probable. Without forgetting to sail, eat, anchor and relax, you may be a little pressed for time. Many boats return to shore with the toys on the boat in the same position that they were in when it departed.
Let weather be your guide. If you are intending to surf, research the season and the likelihood of your 50-foot catamaran anchoring off one of the BVI breaks. Consider the eight people on board who don’t mind chill axing whilst you enjoy a bit of surf sans wetsuit. Winds will determine to what degree you might want to be indulging in wind-related activities, as they follow seasonal patterns (see www.bviyg.com, December issue). Weather forecasts are easy to obtain these days, with most Internet sites providing accurate 10-day outlooks. With that in mind, book your watersports toys realistically considering how much enjoyment you realistically see yourself getting out of them.
It is highly unlikely that you will be bored sailing through Francis Drake Channel. On the contrary, my dear Wats gwaan, it is highly likely that you will want to partake in some group activities whilst under way. Kayaks are great alternative mode of transport for sightseeing and a second dinghy. If you’re one of those who can multitask without difficulty, apart from lunch and sailing the boat you might want to drop a line over the back and catch your meal. Make sure you have a fishing permit and be sure to keep an eye on your line. A windsurfer who would like to remain nameless enjoyed a minute or two of free tows courtesy of a fishing hook in his ankle from a passing charter boat a few years back. He sailed behind the yacht a good 200 metres and, once snagged, found himself wondering what kind of pirates were going to reel him on board. He laughs hard about it today, but he also generally turns around on sight of a charter boat—tick-tock goes the alligator for Captain Hook!
There are many resorts all over the islands that will accommodate your watersports within your designated mooring or anchorage. However, there is nothing like the freedom of throwing your preferred toy over the boat and getting on with it. Often, your weekly rate with a rental company will equate to a day or two of renting from a fixed location. In your stern lockers on your charter you will have snorkelling equipment; there’s nothing better than discovering your first turtle with your loved ones, knowing that experiences shared are going to stay with you forever.
Have fun! If you don’t know how to do that on your trip, remember you are sailing in paradise and that’s sufficient in and of itself. With the boat under sail you are already poolside, Caribbean Sea style, and you’re already here, so let the sun soak you in. Plan as much as you like and when you arrive, hit the ground running and mellow it down to a gentle swagger. From all at A Looking Glass, have a great week—you should! Everybody you meet out here has the same glow you have, or they did once… which is why they are still here!