Our fourth visit to the “islands” was a combo land and sea trip. The first few days were spent at The Heritage Inn on Tortola, followed by a week aboard “Tootsie,” a 41’ Beneteau Oceanis.

Day 1 – We left Minneapolis on a 5:30 AM flight through Atlanta, arriving in St. Thomas at 1:30. We had lunch at the Petite Pump Room, hopped the ferry to Road Town, picked up our rental car and arrived at The Heritage Inn around 6 PM.

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We had an excellent dinner at the Bananakeet Restaurant on site. Crashed early.

Day 2 – Drove up to Sage Mountain for a beautiful hike through the lush foliage. The day was pretty overcast so the views from the top were partially obscured by cloud cover.

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That afternoon, we hung out at Long Bay Beach Resort and had painkillers at the swim up bar. Dinner was at Myett’s in Cane Garden Bay.

Day 3 – We had planned to spend the day on the beach at CGB but the weather didn’t cooperate. Since we had a car, we decided to drive into Road Town to pick up provisions for the sailing portion of our trip. We were also able to locate the BVI Yacht Charter base, which would save time the following day.

Day 4 – The very accommodating staff at BVI Yacht Charters told us that we could board “Tootsie” any time after 9 AM, so we woke early and headed back into Road Town. After our boat orientation, we had a quick lunch and then set sail for our first night’s destination – Cooper Island. As usual, Cooper was already quite crowded when we arrived. Fortunately, we snagged the last ball on the far northern end of the anchorage near Quart-A-Nancy point.

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We had drinks and dinner ashore. Just as we were ready to wrap up our evening, the sky lit up with lightening and we had a dicey dinghy ride back to the boat. It started pouring less than 10 minutes later.

For those of you who were monitoring the weather on May 10, this was the very wicked storm that came from the north. There were a few posts on TTOL about flooding and trees down on Tortola. There were also a few boats that washed up on the rocks along the western shore of Virgin Gorda. We didn’t know any of this at the time. We just spent a rocky night aboard “Tootsie,” occasionally looking out the portholes at the massive waves crashing towards our faces.

Day 5 – The storm resulted in a fitful night’s sleep, so we were up early and put Cooper behind us. This was a beautiful, breezy day and we were able to see how well “Tootsie” handled in the wind and waves. We’re fairly new to sailing and healing still makes me nervous, but even I could tell how solid she was in the water and how fast she was taking us to North Sound. I think we left around 8:00 AM and grabbed our mooring at Saba by 11, giving us a whole afternoon to explore Eustatia Sound.

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One of my favorite features of the 41’ Oceanis is the drop-down transom. This creates a large swimming platform and ladder, perfect for a quiet anchorage. I tied up a floating swim raft within easy access to my cocktail on the transom.

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Once again, we had dinner ashore. This time at Saba Rock. Once again, the lightening began just as dinner ended. This time, we didn’t even make it back to the boat before the storm started!

Day 6 – We wanted to go to Anegada on our last trip (October 2012 aboard a 37’ Island Packet) but we ditched our plans at the last minute. This time, we were determined to go.

This wasn’t the greatest sail as winds were only about 3 knots. We ended up motor sailing but I use that term loosely as the main was useless (we didn’t even try) and the jib kept backwinding. But it was pretty amazing to see completely flat turquoise water in all directions.

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Untitled by amy.erickson, on Flickr[/image]

Untitled by amy.erickson, on Flickr[/image]

As we got closer to Anegada, we could easily see the bottom at least 30 feet below. Once we got settled in the anchorage, we rented a very small scooter and spent the afternoon at Cow Wreck Beach.

Day 7 – Other TTOLers have wisely recommended staying in Anegada for at least two days. We took this advice, and we’re glad we did.

Yesterday’s small scooter was great for a few miles, but we rented a larger scooter for our second day.

We headed out towards Loblolly and stopped at Flash of Beauty for some snorkeling. Sadly, our first trip into the water was a disappointment. The coral was bleached and broken, and the only sea life we saw was a large barracuda and a dead eel on the beach. Our second trip into the water was more successful. We walked down the beach to the right and swam out near the breakers. The coral and sea life was much more abundant here – surprising because we weren’t far from our first location. On our way back, we stopped at the Big Bamboo for some refreshments.

Day 8 – We were up early and had a great sail back towards Tortola. Our destination for today was Trellis Bay. After wandering around Trellis, we took our dinghy over to Scrub Island for a happy hour swim and cocktail. Dinner that night was at the Last Resort and we loved it! Great food, great location and great entertainment. We will definitely be back.

Day 9 – We haven’t anchored as much as we’d hoped to on this trip because it’s so easy to pick up a mooring in the BVIs. So working on our anchoring skills and visiting Sandy Spit were on our agenda for the day.

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After lunch and a snorkel at Sandy Spit, we went into Great Harbor and picked up a mooring for the night. It was a bit overcast by this point, but we decided to risk it and took the dinghy over to White Bay for some famous Soggy Dollar painkillers.

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There were two open mooring balls in front of Ivan’s and we briefly considered moving the boat. But we put it on our list for next time instead.

Day 10 – This was our very best day of sailing! Once we got through the cut past Soper’s Hole, we merrily tacked back and forth on our way to Norman Island in winds of about 16 – 18 knots.

We found a perfect spot in the Bight and went ashore for a hike up into the hills. The path loops around with views of the bays on the south side of the island, and then above the Bight with the Willy T below.

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Our mooring was along the north side of the Bight and this looked like a decent place to explore. We spent about an hour in the water and saw schools of blue tang, an old tire and a very aggressive 3-foot fish that we haven’t been able to accurately identify. We shot some video of it, which I’ll share in a separate post.

No trip to Norman would be complete without a trip to the Willy T. It was crazy as always but we didn’t stay long as this was our last night.

Day 11 – We were up early and had another GREAT sail back to Road Town. We really pushed “Tootsie” on this leg. We got her up to 8 knots and were able to make it to the BVIYC base in slightly over an hour.

We sadly said goodbye to “Tootsie,” hopped on the ferry and started the long journey back to Minnesota.