I’m recently back from 3+ weeks in the BVI, the first 20 days on board Sanctuary and the last three on shore at the Cane Garden Bay Cottages. It would take pages to recap the whole thing, so here is an abridged (believe it or not) version:

Dan Swanda (on his second trip) and I arrived via STT at 5:00 PM on Saturday, July 9. Conch had done their usual fine job of having the boat ready for us & in great shape.

We left the base midday Sunday and grabbed a mooring in the Bight after snorkeling the Indians. Late that afternoon we witnesses the stupidest and most dangerous thing I’ve seen on the water: two kids, about 12-13 years old, were hot-rodding in their dinghy about 150 yards away. Their favorite trick was to get the dinghy up to full speed and then the guy on the bow would jump out. After several such stunts the guy on the bow jumped out, and then the guy driving the dinghy jumped out! The dinghy went into tight circles at full throttle and the kids of course scrambled for the safety of their yacht. It was very scary, wondering if one of them was going to get clipped by the dinghy’s prop before he got away.

After a few minutes of the wild dinghy circling, two kind (and brave) souls from a nearby boat got into their dinghy and went to corral the run-away. It took them several attempts and a few times they had to swerve out of the way to keep themselves and their dinghy out of harm’s way. I only hope that the kid’s dinghy privileges were suspended for the rest of the trip. And frankly, where were the parents during the 10 minutes prior when they were jumping out of a moving power boat one at a time? They are very fortunate this didn’t result in a serious injury.

To continue the crotchety old man theme, that night we hit the Willie T and left right after dinner. I would say that I must be getting too old, but even Dan, who is 28, thought the scene there was way too much like a frat party. Lots of techno music (I think), and just too loud to enjoy ourselves.

Over the next few days we did lots of good sailing – the winds were consistently 15 – 20 knots - and with a fresh bottom job and two new sails, Sanctuary consistently did a knot or two over half the wind speed. We did lots of great snorkeling, especially at Mountain Pt. on VG. This was the first time I’d been there, and I will definitely be back. We had great meals at Saba Rock (Dan’s on a no-meat diet, so he was thrilled to discover fish tacos) and Corsair’s – Vinnie is a great host.

Just as we were finishing dinner at Corsair’s, on Wednesday, July 13, we got hit with the northern fringes of Emily. Lots of rain, winds must have gusted to 40 knots, and the waves in Great Harbour were 2’. As soon as it slacked up we jumped in the dinghy to check our set. Sanctuary was fine, but a monohull had dragged down on the boat 100’ in front of us. Luckily, it looked like both crews had been on board when it happened and put out the fenders and got the two boats rafted together. We heard a few anchors being raised, and the next morning we saw that a few boats had left during the night, presumably to grab balls at Little Harbour. As tenuous as the holding is at GH, I’m guessing this happens pretty often.

Thursday & Friday were the days for Dan to get his PADI card. Tony at UBS did a great job & took us on some really nice dives, Angelfish Reef and the Rhone especially. Saturday morning we picked up new crew members, Chris & Sam (second timers), at Trellis and the four of us did a nice dive at the Indians on our way to meet Joanna’s ferry at Soper’s Hole.

The next few days we did lots of diving, had some great meals. ARH lobster stands out, and Donovan’s Reef was outstanding. While taking an early evening swim in front of Donovan’s Reef, I was hailed by a couple in a dinghy saying, “Are you Tom Garvey?” Turns out it was TTOL’ers Gene & Cindy on “Rush”, who had been cruising the BVIs since May 17(!). They gave us some great recommendations for dinner selections when we got to Donovan’s. BTW, Jim (or Bob, the identical twins go by JimBob) at Donovan’s confirmed that the Scrub Island development is a reality; he said the first phase of construction starts in October.

We saw Quito acoustic Thursday night, and he was wonderful as ever. Ran into Malcolm & Glenn, too.

Saturday was crew change day, with Dan, Sam & Chris heading home and offspring Anna (second timer) and Paul (first trip), along with Bill & Nichole (first timers), arriving on the last ferry from STT. We arrived at the Bight about 7:30 PM, got what looked like the last ball - that’s a little closer than I like to cut it - and proceeded to the Willy T. Again, a bit too frat-party-like, but it’s a must for first-timers.

A couple days later we got to Anegada and anchored next to Aristocat II off of Neptune’s Treasure. No sign of life until an hour-and-half later when Mike, Jen, Tony & Kate pulled up in UBS’s “Reef Dancer” after a day-long dive trip/circumnavigation of Anegada. Of course, as charming as Jen is and as cute as Mike is, we wanted to see Lilly. As they pulled up to Sanctuary, Joanna said, “Where’s the baby?” On cue the four of them looked at each other and said “Oh s#@&!” A classic gotcha – she was with a sitter in the Settlement.

Tony & Kate came aboard, joined a bit later by Mike after he & Jen retrieved Lilly and brought her by to show off. What a cutie! Mike’s genes fortunately don’t seem to have dominated, other than the Irish red hair. After Jen came aboard to check out her former boat, she went onto Aristocat II to tend to her motherly duties. The rest of us partied on Sanctuary for a couple of hours, with Paul & Tony taking turns on the guitar. This was one of those spontaneous events that make a trip special!

Dinner that night was fabulous at Neptune’s Treasure. We arrived too late to reserve lobsters, but the shrimp and fish dishes were among the best we’ve had anywhere. And Randy is a really special guy.

On Wednesday from Anegada we headed to CGB where we spent two nights. On Thursday we made a day trip to JVD for some limin’ at the Soggy Dollar and then motored to Diamond Cay for a hike to the bubbly pool (not too active but worth the hike) on the way back to CGB. That night after dinner on board we caught Quito’s set – always a treat – and hung out with Malcolm & Glenn.

Friday we headed back to Conch so Bill & Nichole could catch the ferry to STT for their flight home. We rented a car and headed to CGB, where Paul & Anna spent one night at Rhymer’s before heading home, and Joanna & I settled in for three nights at the Cottages. We had the unexpected pleasure of having Val’s (from Myett’s) parents as our next door neighbors, so we got to spend some time with them, Val and Val’s beautiful kids, Karie & Lilliana. That really made us feel at home and added a lot to our time ashore.

Of course, Saturday was the TTOL bash at Malcolm’s. Joanna & I spent a bit more time in the kitchen cooking the jambalaya than we had planned to – Mal’s kitchen has the best view imaginable, but the breeze kept the pot from heating up – but we did get a chance to visit with some great people. Here are the folks I remember (my apologies to anyone I’ve left out):

Mike & Jen Kneafsey dinghied in from Aristo-cat II; Walker & Nancy contributed a delicious & powerful Painkiller cake; John & April from Spaghetti Junction were there and brought a pan of amazing pasta jambalaya; Charmaine, aka Sweetlassie, was there; we got to hear a short sample of Landcrab’s calypso singing, enough to want to hear lots more; Gene & Cindy were lamenting their imminent departure after two-and-a-half months on “Rush”; Onpond was remarking on how great it was to be on a cat for the first time (a better-late-than-never convert to Rev. Kneafsey’s Church of the Holy Multihull); Glenn showed us that is possible to swim and smoke a pipe at the same time.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip, made especially so by the great people we got to hang out with! Can’t wait til Oct. 18!

Tom Garvey