(I asked my wife, Nadine, who is a faithful TTOLer to write this on my behalf).

Sunday March 26:

After spending two days in St. Thomas at Hotel 1829 (which I enjoyed and highly recommend), Ian and I set out to catch the 10:45 ferry to West End. It was quiet at the ferry terminal at this time. We started out okay and then for some strange reason, we arrived in Red Hook to transfer to another ferry. After that was sorted out we were on our way. It was a brilliant day Ė sunny and very hot. Had to endure a painfully slow immigration line (40 minutes). It looked like the gentleman doing the processing was re-writing every form that people had filled out. Luckily, the residents line quickly finished an another (thankfully faster) officer sped up the process.

Ian left me to guard the luggage while he headed to Hertz to pick up the rental. I spent my time drinking in the view of Soperís Hole. He wasnít too long but by this time we were hot and thirsty. So we packed up the Suzuki and headed to the Jolly Roger. Two beers later, we decided to order food and the time just melted away. Ian warns me not to be alarmed at the chicken running around in the bathtub when I go to use the washroom. Yes, we are in the BVIs now.

We head to Sugar Mill and get checked in very quickly, get our bags to the room and collapse on the bed for a two-hour nap. Unpack and then head to the pool to revive ourselves. The Sugar Mill is very pretty and I really like our room (with its own little library Ė bonus). That night, being tired, we have an excellent dinner at the Sugar Mill. The food and service were very good throughout the week. Ian has his usual cigar on our deck and we listen to the rolling waves. There was a hefty swell all week on that side of the island.

Wake up slowly and amble down for breakfast at the Sugar Mill. Guests fight for the choicest tables. Well, maybe ďfightĒ isnít the word but pounce. The Sugar Mill serves up tasty, hearty breakfasts. After breakfast, we make our way to Roadtown to do some errands (banking, shopping etc.). We note two ships are in and the town is busy. Safari taxis everywhere. We go in to Ianís favourite store Ė Pussers and even though itís not even noon, the place is packed with cruise ship passengers. We do some more poking around and Ian is tickled to see a Best of Brit grocery store (being an ex Brit himself, he promptly goes and buys himself some crisps and chocolate. By this time, I am tired and hot and want to get out of Roadtown so we head to Soperís Hole, to our second favourite store Ė Pussers. As Ian is parking we note empty safari taxis and realize that this spot has become a cruise ship excursion. Pussers busy, people milling about. What happened to the laid back spot? During a lull in groups, we grab a painkiller and snack and head out just as the next shift appears. Get some supplies at Big Ben Superette and head back to Sugar Mill in time to make the managerís cocktail party. Met Patrick Conway, Jeff and Jinx Morgan and some other guests, many of whom have been coming to Tortola for over 20 years! Tonight we opt to try Coco Plumís and we get there but itís closed for a few days. We look in a the BVI Steak and Chop House next door, but Ian is dubious, so we walk over to Sebastianís. Busy, busy. So we wait briefly for a table and have a good dinner. The ladies at Sebastianís are great.

Our big adventure day. We wake up and head out to catch the 10 am ferry to JVD. We plan to spend the night on Jost and we have called Gertrude to reserve one of her rooms. Arrive in Great Harbour and amble over to Foxyís. I canít believe I am drinking a beer a 11 am!! Foxy is there holding court with a table of early drinkers. Ian is determined to get to Foxyís Taboo in time for lunch so after our drinks we search for a taxi and find Bunís taxi stand. His wife calls him and he says if we can wait a few minutes, he will take us to Taboo. He drops another passenger off at Little Harbour and we make the bumpy ride in Bunís beat-up van. We arrange for him to pick us up at 2 pm, thinking that this will give us lots of time. Anyway we get to Taboo, just after 12 noon and the place is crowded. We have a long lunch but feel a bit underwhelmed by Taboo. I am sure itís a nice lunch spot for sailors and itís certainly remote but itís ďjust okayĒ. Still, we are happy to be there and chill. Bun comes back and takes us over to White Bay where we check in a Gertrudeís. When I first see the ďbungalowĒ I am nervous. Then I see inside Ė itís fine. Itís like someoneís home. There is a bed-sitting room and a nice bathroom. Okay, this is going to be all right. We dump our stuff and take a stroll along White Bay. Itís overcast today which is okay because I get sunstroke if I am not careful. Ian starts his bar hop of White Bay, starting at Seddyís One Love. Have a couple of beers and then collapse in some loungers in front of Gertrudes. By now itís between 4 and 5 and you can see the numbers of people dwindling. After the money we spent on Bunís taxi earlier, Ian decides he wants to walk to Foxyís for dinner. I say as long as we go while itís light out. Itís a fresh evening and the walk is pleasant. Foxyís is jumping. Because itís Regatta Week, the restaurant is hosting teams who are having celebration events. Even with this extra confusion, the service is quick and efficient. We enjoy our dinner and the live music and head back around 9:30. We stop at Bunís for a ride back and he gets his ďUncleĒ (who I am sure is younger than Bun) to take us back. We have a drink at Gertrudeís and sit on the beach. At 10:30, Gertrude tells us she is turning in and will leave the light on for us, but we tell her itís okay.

Has anyone noticed Gertrudeís t-shirts? Her slogan is No bull and features a picture of a bull squatting doing you know what. I think just the bull or even the bullís head would have given us the picture. We have a good laugh about it. White Bay is silent by 11 pm. Everyone has turned in. I hear no music, no voices, just the surf. Now Ian and I get into bed and itís one of these doubles that sink in the middle and itís against the wall with the fridge at the foot of the bed so once I am in I am trapped. Being a woman, I know I will have to get up at least once in the night so Ian agrees if nature calls, I will wake him up and he will get out of bed. He doesnít want me trying anything crazy in the dark. He also doesnít want to the fan on because itís blowing directly on him. So I am laying awake convinced I wonít sleep. But we do and not too badly.

I wake up at 8, get my bathing suit on and head straight for the beach for a dip. What a great way to wake up. Ian and I ask Tina at the Sandcastle if we can have some breakfast. She checks with the ladies in the kitchen first and they say okay. After breakfast we continue our walk down White Bay to ďWhite Bay EastĒ. Itís a lovely day, already hot in the morning but a nice sun/cloud mix. We make it to Ivanís Stress Free Bar. Itís not even 10:30 am and I am about to drink!! Ian convinces me that a Painkiller would be okay because itís made with juice. I agree to that. We see Ivan going about his business and itís very quiet and peaceful. We walk back and collapse in front of Gertrudeís. She asks us how we slept and if we are okay. She is a woman of few words but very warm and caring. We spent a hour or so on the beach and watch as it gets busier. Then some commotion ďNauti NymphĒ has run aground trying to deliver its occupants to the beach. The two men in the group can get it unstuck and the swell keeps pushing the boat on top of them. Finally a fit group of young people manage to get it turned around and back into the water. A dramatic rescue.

Itís noon and itís time to say goodbye to Gertrude and we walk back to Great Harbour. By now the sun is beating down and itís hot. I look down and my hands and they are starting to form little blisters from the heat. I am thinking that if Ian insists on going back to Foxyís I will scream. Fortunately, he suggests Corsairs and we stumble there for a few beers. Corsairs is nice and quiet. Again, I drink in the view of Great Harbour and then we say goodbye to JVD and catch the 2 pm ferry.

We arrive back in West End and I am hot, grubby, tired. Ian is raring to go. He wants to go back to Roadtown but I say I can do it. So he drops me back at Sugar Mill and I collapse. He comes back and he is still raring. I am groggy from my nap but I have to rouse myself so we take walk to Bombaís to watch the surfers. Bombaís is a bust in my opinion (if you pardon the pun). We have a painkiller and watch the surfers. Bomba is lurking in the background. Okay, I have had my visit to Bombaís and now I donít have to come back or wonder anymore. It seems more of place for the Spring Break crowd.

Tonight we decide to eat at Coco Plumís and again, itís BUSY. But the food is good and it is very reasonable. I donít remember the rest of the evening so I think I must have turned in early while Ian has his cigar on the deck. I sleep like a log at Sugar Mill. The roosters donít bother me. I donít hear them.

A chill day. We get up and have a late breakfast at Sugar Mill. Itís not busy so we get our choice of table. No fighting with the other guests. (Just joking). We decide to take a drive to Smugglerís but we change our plan when it starts to rain. We head to the east end to Lambertís. That corkscrew switchback between Carrot Bay and Cane Garden Bay is slick and Ian canít make it up the first turn. I shut my eyes tight, lean forward and try not to freak out but he makes it. I should mention during this time that we are passing many many safari taxis filled with cruise ship passengers on their morning tours. Cane Garden Bay is busy, so we keep driving. I am determined this time to find Lambertís. Eventually we do, and the the place is pretty, but the surf is violent. We have a quick beer and then head ďnext doorĒ to see Josiahís Beach. We think itís a nicer place. Even though the surf is strong, it stays shallow, so there are people (even kids) in the water. We have a drink at the Grape Tree bar and then we are on our way.

Ian wants to back to Roadtown. You can probably guess by now that Ian holds the shopping gene in the family. I need to go to the drugstore anyway so we go about our business and meet up where else? In front of Pussers. We drive to Smugglers for a dip. Smugglers is much busier from the last time we were there. There is now a bar and a couple of vendors renting chairs and selling cold drinks. Itís still a lovely spot. But itís choppy today, even for Smugglers.

We go back to Sugar Mill and freshen up and to Bananaqueet for sunset drinks. Ian is blown away by the view and by the time we have finished, he has made reservations for dinner the following night. We have a nice dinner at Sugar Mill and then turn in after Ian has his cigar.

We get up early and head to Roadtown to catch the 9 am ferry to Virgin Gorda. Itís a gorgeous sunny day. We have arranged to rent a car from Mahogany and Verlynne is waiting for us with a spiffy white Suzuki. She tells us to leave the keys in the ash tray when we are finished (donít you love that?). Among his other traits, Ian is a breakfast fiend, so we go the Bath and Turtle on Verlynneís recommendation for breakfast. Then we start the exploring in earnest. We drive north along the main road, mesmerized by the views. We stop to do the walk to the Gorda Peak lookout. After 20 minutes of an uphill ascent, I am wondering just where is this lookout. The signs pop up every so often to reassure but we begin to lose faith and finally we find the lookout platform. What a view of the North Sound!! I can even see Anegeda. After the hike we drive to Leverick Bay for a drink and then head south. We stop at another look-out point and see Sound Sound. We take a peak at Little Dix Bay Ė idyllic. By now Ian has guessed that I am in love with Virgin Gorda. The colour of the water is incredible. We head to the Top of the Baths, where we have lunch and then we do the walk down to the Baths. Ian goes for a dip but I am uninclined besides, its very rough. Kids are being tossed like corks in the water. Ian is horrified when he sees said kids swimming to their boat. I say, theyíre used to it. Heís not buying it.

Before heading back to Spanishtown, we have a quick drink at the Sea Dog and then make it back in time to catch the last ferry to Roadtown. A big commotion is taking place on the beach by the ferry dock. A fuel truck has gotten stuck in the sand after fueling up a supply boat. A backhoe tries to pull it out. It doesnít budge. Our ferry leaves before the situation is resolved so if anyone knows what happened, let me know.

We get back and notice that our tire is flat. Ian tells me he filled up the tire the other day. Darn that Hertz! We drive to the nearest gas station Ė the air pump is broken. The next one in Sea Cowís Bay doesnít have any air. That means we have to drive to Big Benís before we can get air. Great. Cars are passing us and telling us our tire is flat. I get mad at Ian for driving with a flat tire. He tells me the spare tire is even worse! Anyway, we make to Big Ben and get the tire inflated.

After stopping to freshen up, we go out and have a nice dinner at Bananaqueet. The food is very good and the setting is great. When we get back to Sugar Mill, we finish up with a drink and then it starts pouring, really pouring. It canít last we say. No one is going anywhere. An hour later and itís getting even heavier. The gazebo has gotten completely wet. Everyone is stuck at the bar and the staff are laughing at the craziness. No one wants to make the walk up the hill. Finally, one of the staff drives the guests to their rooms. The rain lasts a good 2 hours more.

Another chill day. We skip breakfast and head out to Smugglers before it gets too busy. There is a bit of a swell, just enough for the kids to have fun on their boogie boards. Then we head over to Cane Garden Bay for lunch. I canít believe my eyes. Rows and rows of lounge chairs as far as they eye can see. This must be cruise ship central on a busy day. Fortunately, today itís not too busy. We have a great lunch at the Big Banana and then head back to Sugar Mill to start packing.

This evening we are going to Brandywine for dinner. It starts pouring at six and I am thinking ďgreatĒ. I have allowed Ian to have a night off from driving and we are going to take a taxi to Brandywine. We head off about 7:20 to get there for 8 but then we hit a major traffic tie-up in Roadtown. We donít know if it was an accident or a big puddle because by the time we start moving, there is nothing to see. We get to Brandywine about 20 minutes late but no problem, they take good care of us. Brandywine has clearly taken it up a notch with dťcor and food. We have a very good meal. We still think Sugar Mill is nice for traditional West Indian ambience. The group of rowdy inebriated sailors (wearing jeans and shorts Ė thought Brandywine had a dress code!!) celebrating the last night of the Regatta seems a bit out of place but what do I know? We see fireworks all the way from Nanny Cay and the rain has cleared up so itís a pleasant evening. Still, we know this is our last night so we are bit subdued.

After a quick breakfast and check out from Sugar Mill, Ian returns the car to Hertz, I get scooped up by Smithís Ferry and we head back to St. Thomas. This is the worst part. Clearing customs at the ferry terminal. Taking the taxi to the airport and then clearing customs again. We are stuck in that terminal for 3 hours until our flight with US Airways but everyone is in the same boat.

All in all a great trip. This was our third time to Tortola and itís still No. 1. We highly recommend the Sugar Mill. For restaurants, Brandywine, Banaqueet, and Coco Plums were great. Next time I get back to the BVIís, I am heading for Virgin Gorda!!