It was 5 o’clock somewhere; so we took a deep breath and poured our afternoon sundowners. We wouldn’t allow the unhappy mooring experience to ruin any more of our time in these incredibly beautiful islands. It just meant we would have to look a little harder to find spots where we could safely anchor away from the moored charter boats and still enjoy all there is to see and do. The islands are the same, but times have surely changed, and many of what used to be quiet, secluded, anchorages, are no more. In The Bight there is a large anchored barge posing as a pirate ship and serving as a daily hangout for noisy, boisterous, small boat parties with drinking contests accompanied by loud music. On shore is a similar waterfront bar. Not exactly what you might expect to find in these idyllic British Virgin Islands. We knew that one night here would be more than enough.
Brief afternoon squalls are not uncommon in the summer, much the same as back home; in fact, the daily weather reports sound just like summer reports back in southwest Florida, other than having a bit more wind. As long as we were safely anchored, we welcomed the squalls because they cool the air down quite a bit and make the rest of the afternoon and evening comfortable. Plus, we get the boat washed for free! Not a scrub and polish, mind you, but all the salt goes back where it belongs, and the topsides shine nicely.
In the photo above, this stately three-mast schooner anchored off to starboard in about 60 feet of water appeared to be a crewed charter vessel as many guests came and went during the day on all sorts of small boats, kayaks and so on. On board, the crew was always scrubbing and polishing the decks. We saw her several more times over the course of the next two weeks, and the large yacht always seemed to depart very early, long before my usual 0600 rise and shine call.
For the next night I’d chosen to snuggle up tight to Buck Island, a small cay just to the northeast of Maya Cove, as it looked to be protected from just about any wind we might experience at this time of year. Our cruising guides describe this spot as a quiet, seldom visited anchorage that is calm in the prevailing conditions. Well, the prevailing 15 knot southeast wind was blocked by the high cay, but the swell managed to work its way around the end of the island and back up into the small cove where we were anchored in 15 feet.
Thirty years ago, Joy and I, along with another couple chartered a center cockpit O-Day 37 from a company operating out of Maya Cove on the southeast shore of Tortola. I remember riding in a jitney down a bumpy, dusty, dirt road to reach the cove where we found a small building sitting on the water with a single dock poking into the bay, and charter boats med-moored to the dock. Look right – How times change.
Although the wind was howling and the waves building, Joy made sure I took the dinghy over to Maya Cove for a few photos of the spot that became one of the turning points in our lives. Back in 1981, we’d purposely chosen a smaller charter company favoring the personal touch over the many amenities and services that outfits like the Moorings and Sunsail offered. We had a one-on-one chart briefing while sipping – you might have guessed- Pina Coladas- at their tiki bar. Maybe that event is what started Joy’s search. Come to think of it, that’s a Pina colada we never forgot.
Perched on the point behind us is a Bed and Breakfast that’s for sale. This is our kind of place; it has a deep water dock off to one side, a stunning view of Sir Francis Drake channel, and it fits nicely into the landscape, unlike so many of its gaudy competitors. We avoid those ostentatious places like the plague.
We rolled uncomfortably all night, so in spite of the extraordinary location we decided to move on the next morning. One really nice feature about sailing in the BVI is that even when the wind is whistling at 20 knots or so, the waves are smaller than you’d expect. Ocean Angel slices through these waves barely noticing their presence, and we knew we would be far more comfortable sailing on to some other place rather than staying here for the day..