Trip Report, Stargazer, June 2 to June 10, 2022.
I want to start off this report by saying this was a perfect, flawless, and overall great trip on Stargazer, a Leopard 45 in Captain’s Compass’s fleet.
This being my fifth trip down in the past year. It was refreshing landing in St Thomas on the 2nd and not having to do the portal “check-in” routine anymore. The one thing that is still missing is the free shots of run at the airport. But the airport experience had the feel and ease as in years past.
The only negative on this trip was Road Town Fast Ferry. Our flight was delayed 20 minutes which caused us to miss our 2:30 ferry with Road Town Fast Ferry. I was amazed they actually left 5 minutes early and wouldn’t give us our pre-paid tickets at 2:15 pm and let us board. They were rude and uncaring. Something I have never seen in them in the past 8 years. They basically said we were out of luck and the tickets weren’t refundable. After showing I did pay the $5 insurance for all our tickets, they finally agreed to “transfer” our tickets to Native Son’s 5 pm ferry for a “small” transfer fee. We appreciated that Native Son was willing to step in. We headed up to the restaurant above the ferry dock for drinks and a bite while we waited for the 5 pm ferry.
Arriving in Road Town, we still encountered the “check-in” of showing our vaccine cards and negative covid tests. Since we have half our meals on board, we always bring a cooler with frozen meats like salmon, bison steaks and hamburger, chicken, cheese, cold cuts and items like smoked oysters. I always declare the items we bring and have never had to pay taxes on them. George, our “go-to” cab was waiting to take us to Manuel Bay.
Capt. Brent, owner of Captains’ Compass had Stargazer ready for us at the dock. Clean, ready to sail, full water and fuel and nicely cool with the AC running. Stargazer is a Leopard 45, very low hours on the engines, virtually new sails. A total joy to sail and enjoy the stay in the BVI. We stowed our gear and got a “few” necessities such as ice and beer at the grocery store in Manuel Bay and settled in for the evening after a long day of travel.
Our cab driver George picked to two of our crew at 7 AM for a trip to Rightway for most or our supplies. We have found this works much better than wondering when they will deliver. (one time we waited until 11:30 for a delivery requested at 9 am). While they were gone, we stocked up on other supplies from the grocery store in Manuel Bay and got ready to shove off.. By 9:30 AM we were off the dock and headed for Cooper Island. We had no problem finding the “perfect” mooring ball. Close enough to the shore that we snorkeled around for a bit, enjoying the turtles and fish. We swam ashore for a few drinks and eventually snorkeled back to Stargazer. We tied a 50’ length of line to the boat and enjoyed what I call “being at the end of my rope”, lounging in inner tubes while enjoying a beer. That night we grilled salmon on the boat and later watched the stars from the bow of Stargazer.
At 6:30 AM we headed off to the Baths. At 8:30 there were only 3 boats at the Baths including us. Since they only allow one way traffic through the baths, starting at Devil’s Bay, we grabbed a mooring ball about halfway between Devil’s Bay and The Baths. You can snorkel to the Baths and hike up to the restaurant and then hike the trail to Devil’s Bay to enter the rocks. However our crew of seven snorkeled over to Devil’s Bay from the boat and had the journey through the Baths completely to ourselves. Some of our crew had never been there before and it was wonderful spending an hour all to ourselves climbing, swimming and picture taking. Once through the Baths, we snorkeled back out to Stargazer enjoying some underwater rocks most people miss out on.
As there were still plenty of empty mooring balls so no need to give up our mooring ball just yet, we had a quick brunch and then headed over to North Sound. We grabbed a mooring ball at Saba Rock. They give you a free bag of ice and up to 250 gallons of water. In our case, not needing water, we got 2 free bags of ice. If not using a boatyball, you pay the mooring fee in the gift shop and show the receipt to the dock crew for the free ice. We had a couple rounds of drinks at the upstairs bar. Great friendly service. I’ve had dinner at Saba Rock 3 times before and always had a great meal and friendly service. This time however, we decided to have dinner at Bitter End and check out their new restaurant. Bitter End is looking great and our dinner was wonderful. Besides the restaurant, they have a nice grocery store and some cabins available. It’s been a slow process but they are doing a great job getting Bitter End back to pre-Irma days.
In the morning we set sail for Anegada for a 2 day stay. Arriving around 10:45, we picked up the Safari truck we reserved from Anegada Reef Hotel and headed out to the Big Bamboo for our first round of drinks and some snorkeling. Next, we headed over to Ann’s new place Tipsy over at Cow Wreck Beach for drinks and lunch. Food was wonderful and Ann was keeping super busy. Her new place is great. We also stopped for drinks at Cow Wreck, sadly, it’s not quite the same as when Ann was there. After that, we retuned to Stargazer and had dinner on the boat.
The next morning we meet up with Sherwin to visit the flamingos, grab a few conchs and snare some lobsters. This makes our fourth sea adventure with Sherwin all all have been wonderful. Sherwin’s new crew member, “Oreo” (his pup) is a fun addition. Sherwin makes the best Conch Ceviche from what you catch. We also managed to catch 3 large lobsters plus a sweet slipper lobster. That night for dinner we grilled the lobsters on the boat and made a great batch of conch stew. Just as good if not better than the lobster at any of the restaurants, although we do normally get lobster at one of the restaurants. Before dinner, we went to Anegada Reef for drinks while we took out convid tests using their wi-fi to get them out of the way.
We set sail at 6:30 am for Great Harbor. Once moored on a white mooring ball, 5 of us took the dingy over to White Bay while two of us walked over. Did some snorkeling, enjoyed the beach and had a great lunch at Hendo’s Hideout. We have always had great food there. Once back on Stargazer, we ate dinner aboard and again enjoyed stargazing that night.
After breakfast we headed over to Norman Island. Our timing was perfect as we stopped at the caves and had them all to ourselves. Finally motored into the mooring field and had our pick of balls. That afternoon we snorkeled more and enjoyed our inner tube happy hour. We grilled bison burgers and chicken for dinner.
We headed out to the Indians at 7 am and had our pick of mooring balls. Snorkeling was fantastic! Water was clear, lots and lots of fish. I did my usual swim through the tunnel. After a light breakfast, we headed for Sopers Hole and had lunch at Pussers and did a little last minute shopping. While on a ball, we started to tidy up Stargazer getting ready to turn her back over to Capt. Brent at Captain’s Compass. Before returning to Manuel Reef, we stopped to take on fuel next door at Nanny Cay. Once back at the dock, we packed up our gear, cooked our last meal – chicken quesadillas and generally soaked in all the great memories of the past week.
Took the 7:30 am ferry back to St Thomas. The ferry staff had to see our vaccine cards and proof of negative convid test to get our ferry tickets. Once at St Thomas, no one was there to confirm tests.
Overall, It was one of the best trips we every had to the BVI. The weather was perfect. Stargazer is virtually a new boat in great condition with everything working including cold air if and when you want it. Captain’s Compass is doing a super job keeping Stargazer in tip-top shape. What a dream to sail. This was a boatyball free trip. Even though most of our mooring fields were near full by 4 pm, there seemed to be empty white $30 balls available ever nigh. That included Cooper and Great Harbor.
We did encounter a few (for lack of better words) credit card captains. On Anegada, one boat moving too fast, made a 180 degree turn and hit the side of another cat. Not sure about damage but the captains did exchange info. I heard of another cat that wrapped a mooring line around a prop and needed help getting free. At Great Harbor, as we were tying to a mooring ball, a cat came flying in through the shallow part of the bay and sailed by us no more than 2 feet away having no concerns whatsoever. We also saw a Mooring’s power cat get replaced and towed away because the captain destroyed the transmissions by coming in fast and slamming into reverse to stop too many times. Seems to be a common reason for transmission failure in the BVI. Glad most captains are very responsible.
On a final note, the people on the islands are indeed wonderful and excited to see the boats returning. They make the visiting experience all that much more perfect and worthwhile. The BVI is indeed paradise and I’m grateful for their enthusiasm to share their paradise with us. As I said before, this was a great and perfect trip and I’m excited to return in November knowing Brent will have Stargazer ready and perfect for a new adventure.