- June 30th, 2012
- in Yachting
Summer in the Virgin Islands emerges as a time when many residents decide to combat claustrophobia and desert this otherwise inviting location.
Residents and visitors of our utopia may not realise, but there are many people, including tourists, long-stay visitors and residents, who fail to explore the luxury adventures this island offers in the slower tourist months; I know this from experience.
“So you’ve never been sailing before?” customers would question as I served up cocktails at Myett’s Restaurant in Cane Garden Bay.
“No,” I nervously replied.
“And you’ve never dived or snorkelled?” tourists would query. My shame was unveiled with a hasty shake of the head.
“You’ve got to get over to White Bay,” others would say in reference to BVI Jost Van Dyke; I would stare from Cane Garden Bay toward the enigmatic Jost, speculating on the amusement I was missing.
There are residents and tourists alike who for their various reasons have not experienced a day sail, a tropical dive, a simple snorkel, or a visit to a sister island.
So, it was with great pride and some anticipation that, on a flawless day in April, I accepted an invitation on my first charter.
At dawn, I met up with Captain Jamie Roberts and First Mate/Hostess Lynn Boisvert of Power Boat Charters at H. R. Penn Marina. Sailing a Sea Ray Sundancer 53ft, passionately named Viva, we sped for Virgin Gorda to meet the passengers—Rosewood Little Dix staff and Frankly Fitness Movement Therapists—who were chartering the boat for their team outing. A crew of 13 boarded altogether; a group with ages ranging from 20s to 40s. Jamie and Lynn’s charisma immediately struck a happy cord with everyone as they attempted to ascertain the leader of the pack. Jamie, who advised me that the itinerary was decided by the crew, made a course for one of the BVI’s famous snorkelling spots, The Caves.
Arriving at our first destination, everyone instantly dived into the water. There were no amateurs here. Whether it was their second time or twenty-second, their enthusiasm illuminated the sea as they swam toward The Caves.
I glared at the gentle, turquoise waves and was sure that all the sea creatures beneath returned a frown. I could not lie; I was slightly anxious; fearful that my rear would become breakfast for an audacious, little fish, or worse, a school of them—revenge for thoroughly enjoying consumption of their species.
As the boat sped from The Caves toward our second destination, The Indians, Lynn provided snacks and drinks for the passengers, attracting the attention of an airborne invader—known as a laughing gull.
The Little Dix crew threw peanuts into the air to its delight, as it dived and caught the snacks. One gull turned to three, transforming to six. The laughing gulls, whether they were laughing with you or at you, would depend on the situation.
Reaching The Indians, I glared at the jagged, looming rock formation and asked Jamie the obvious question: “Why are they called the Indians?”
“The person who discovered them thought they looked like tapering feathers of an Indian chief’s headdress,” he replied.
This Indian chief’s headdress would be a personal landmark location for me. I intended to snorkel for the first time.
As the crew dived off the boat again and commenced a competitive swim toward the rocks, I slid in sequentially, gear affixed and slipped my head under. The sensation was instant.
“Stephen, take your time to breathe!” I could hear Jaime saying, in reaction to my erratic inhalations that sounded like a man with grave respiratory issues; regardless, the beauty of the ocean was incomprehensible—I was grateful to finally see it.
At our next stop, Jost Van Dyke’s White Bay, I jumped straight into the water to claim a necessary Cheeseburger fix. The view of the white sand—a testament to its name—the glistening, azure water and sparkling boats are a powerful image. It certainly provides a solid argument that you have unwittingly transcended into the afterlife.
We settled at the Soggy Dollar Bar where we enjoyed lunch and drinks. Socialising across the beach, I was impressed by the diversity that White Bay attracts. Lawyers and doctors relished absence from the courthouse and operating theatre with a famous Soggy Dollar Painkiller; police officers from their respective precincts enjoyed a cold one; and hardcore hedonists saught their next adrenaline rush through One Love’s bushwackers.
Making the journey to the last destination, everyone was ready for the relentless joy that the pirate boat Willy-T embodies.
I bumped into a work colleague, who shall remain nameless, and our inebriated states allowed our discussion to travel years into our pasts and talk of Nintendos, Segas, Ataris, Street Fighters and Mortal Combatants.
On the boat journey back, music blared with the distinct vocals of hip-hop artist Lil Jon screaming at us to do shots. By this point, every person on the boat was ecstatic; an enjoyment so unique, boat trips have to be done repeatedly.
I know there are people on this island that are not taking advantage of these luxuries—travelling to other islands, boat trips, snorkelling, surfing, windsurfing and kite boarding. I have lived here for two years without attempting some of them, but I highly recommend it—I know I could not partake in these activities in London.