|First Mate, Sailor, and Dinghy Captain of the fine ship Pelican Pat|
I needn't have worried. The scopolamine worked, the crew put up with occasional mishaps, the winds were fair and the water warm. The BVIs delivered a perfect vacation.
We started a week ago Friday with a red-eye SFO to MIA. Here's a counter-intuitive fact: it takes longer to get to Tortola from San Francisco than it does to get to most any major city in Europe. Three flights will do that to you. But when you step off of a plane and down the steps to an island tarmac, the tropical breeze can't help but invigorate you. We found the Sunsail marina and swam the afternoon away at the pool while waiting for our boat, which you don't take possession of until 6pm. Since the required chart briefing is the following morning, this means the first night must be taken in the marina, where the winds are still and the boat can't swing around to catch them. In other words, it's beastly hot aboard. Isn't this fun, kids? It's like swimming while you sleep! In sweat ...
[Note to future self: some cruising yachts are air conditioned. Get one of those.]
|Heart shaped rocks of the Caribbean|
|Sarongs are cool|
Rumors of this floating restaurant and bar had reached even the pastoral land of Palo Alto. "Take the kids there," our friends Pam and Dennis had told us. "No one at the Willie T will care that they're under age." Well that sounded like a great idea! Traveling is all about adventure and new experiences. What better place to experience your very first bar than the Virgin Islands? Our dinghy captain (Will) brought the boat around and we set off to scar our children.
|A souvenir and so much more|
"When exactly did your life descend into despair, William?"
"It was that night at the Willie T, Doctor. When the bartender licked my Mom's shoulder."
Our night of revelry was effectively done, so we boarded our fair dinghy and navigated through the swaying galaxy of anchor lights back to our floating home.
|I'm ladder surfing!|
|Dinner in paradise|
One of the advantages of sailing around the BVIs in the off-season is that it's easy to pick up a mooring, but on that particular day we were lucky enough to get the very last one. Very lucky, because the Cooper Island Beach Club turned out to be our favorite spot in the BVIs, the quintessential beach club, with great drinks, fantastic food, a gorgeous beach, and a fabulous view. Paradise. We moored off of Cooper for two nights and enjoyed every minute. I dived the wreck of the Rhone (thanks to some heroic efforts by Dad, who went and got my dilapidated dive card and then spent a few hours on the phone with NAUI so that we could prove to the dive guys that I was in fact certified) while Ava and the kids read books and swam.
Early Wednesday morning we dropped off our anchor and motored to the Baths.
|Dinghy captain lets little sister drive|
|I think the North Sound is this way, Skipper.|
|Not such a bitter end.|
|S is for SCUBA|
|I'll show them fancy!!|
|Meat on the rail|
|Now we call her "9 toe"|
With the drama done, we enjoyed some fine snorkeling and sailed away to Marina Cay. This is where we made our only itinerary mistake. Marina Cay was nice, but we should have taken the longer sail to Jost Van Dyke instead. Oh well. We enjoyed a quiet afternoon watching squalls and swimming, and had a fun dinner where I entertained all with my dancing on the beach. The next morning the rain pounded down on us, and when it finally stopped we zipped in the dinghy over to the new resort on Scrub Island, that caters primarily to big yachts. Will was concerned that it was too
|Not bad for 50|
Then I turned 50, and the world didn't end. In fact the morning dawned sunny but quickly turned interesting, as we sat in the cockpit and watched the cloudbursts race over the hill and across Manchioneel Bay and our boat. We enjoyed the show for a while and then, when it looked like it was clearing, dropped the mooring and raised the sails for a nice final sail back to Road Town.
|Honey, I think there's a squall a brewin' out yonder.|
|In the moment|
So when we go again: remember the iPod charger, try to get better provisioning, air conditioned boat, practice mooring, salt water shampoo, bring kayak life jackets like we did this time, man sarong, great wine store right outside the marina, Jost van Dyke, skip Marina Cay, iPlay for the iPod, respect squalls, remember dive card (and book dives ahead of time). And, as always, live so completely in the moment that it lasts and lasts.