- August 1st, 2007
- in Yachting
Reaching Farther Afield – The nooks and crannies of the collection of coves, cays and rocks off the BVI’s beaten tracks are seldom explored. Taking a small RIB round these remote spots, most of them away from the more popular charter anchorages, adds an extra dimension to a typical boating holiday in the BVI. Checking out of Nanny Cay at sensible o’clock on a Monday morning, fully briefed on the workings if a 17ft RIB, armed with a camera, some snorkelling gear, a bunch of friends and a cooler full of drinks, we are off on an adventure. We have been briefed on all the local spots and the restaurants and bars surrounding them, but I am in search of something else… no tee shirts, no plastic cups and nobody else around. Like many others, for me it’s now the off season and time for me to reconnect with the Islands where I live and work. Many of us living here do not have time to enjoy some aspects of chartering a yacht for the week, so day trips are, well, a sample of fun – compact and direct.
There are two powerboat rental and charter companies based at Nanny Cay. Island Time and King Charters, whose businesses complement each other. A powerboat rental company is simply that, renting powerboats; whilst a charter company is essentially bareboat charter (a skipper can be provided if needed). Island Time runs a series of RIBS from 15ft up to its 18 foot Contender; King Charters has the bigger boats and, bigger yet, Sunseekers. Today, courtesy of Mark Wollner of Island Time, we are off on a 17’ft RIB and going to pack the fun in. There are smiles all round as he shouts off the dock, “Enjoy the BVI in a day!”
I am surprised at the speed of the RIB. It’s called My Pleasure and as I open up the throttle on its 60HP engine I am chuckling to myself in a strange British accent I thought I had left behind years ago, “No, No, No Sir! The pleasure is indeed mine!” I normally cruise the Channel in a different fashion, sailing or windsurfing, seldom with a powerboat unless I’m wakeboarding or surfing, but that’s another bad back story. Today I am passing Peter Island within 10 minutes of leaving the dock and heading up its south side, then east to a small cove Mark showed me years ago. It’s still there: a collection of rocks making up a little secret rock jumping cove with some excellent snorkelling. It’s flat enough to wakeboard and the rock jumping idea looks adrenalin filled enough but the rest of the guys want to snorkel and it wouldn’t hurt to take it easy for once.
We snorkel round the rocks, checking out stag coral, small fish and generally swim and lay out on our own mini Baths for an hour. Then the snorkelling and adventure bug stirs up again, so we start up and within 15 minutes are at the Caves. There doesn’t appear to be anyone else there… it’s the Caves rediscovered. The water is considerably deeper than at our Peter Island hideout, and the first view we get after jumping through the patterns of sunlight dancing on the water is of a large barracuda seeking the shade of the RIB. The girls on the boat swim past the barracuda without a care…it can have the shade, we’re going exploring.
The cacti clinging to the cliff walls of Norman Island are in full bloom, we notice, as we set off for the shade of the deeper cave. The slower we go, the more fish surround us. Within seconds the fish, used to humans, are practically dancing around all of us. Relatively current free, the swim in is easy. Sitting in the pitch dark on the rocks at the back of the north cave, whispering to each other, we are taken aback by its timeless quality. The Caves are not just a tourist site any more – we’ve rediscovered them, for us. We don’t need tales of treasure and pirates to make them worthwhile; they’re perfect as they are – simply caves. We are reminded of other places, other feelings, of freedom, discovery and innocence. I pick up a handful of sand and stones from the bottom and put it in my pocket.
As the sun is setting we cruise back to Tortola and it seems only fitting to slow down by the shallower waters of the Indians and jump in, again no one is around. Jumping in the water instils such a feeling of liberation; it seems to inspire confidence in our abilities to enjoy life outside the boundaries of work. We swim back to the RIB and head back to base.
On arrival the guys at Island Time greet us with smiles. We reciprocate; they nod, knowingly. They refuel, wash and lock the boat away for another day; we all head home, smiling, to do the same: refuel, wash and keep the memories locked as good times. Another day, another adventure. Maybe.