Sailing and Diving in the British Virgin Islands

Sailing and Diving in the British Virgin Islands

Media and trip report from Sailing and Scuba Diving in the British Virgin Islands

THE PHOTOS!. (Out of over 500 pics I took on the trip.)

-Exploring the RMS Rhone Shipwreck…Great classic wreck dive. We went down in about 70 feet of water and found the Rhone. Its the classic wreck dive in the western hemisphere, and i can see why. Swiming through the hull was incredible, and seeing the intact crows nest on the mast was pretty cool too.

VIDEO Captains tour of the Jorvik
-Indeed. Our feareless captain sean gives you a tour around our ship, the Jorvik. Although we all slept on deck every night, Zac and Jesse were in the starboard aft, Sean and I were port aft, and Dyana and Stephanie were in the bow. I shot it on our last day of the trip, as we were cleaning up in port etc….

VIDEO Sailing along…
-Making adjustments to the sails to tack our boat in reasonably strong winds.. its intense, especially on a close haul because the ship heels over a ton.

VIDEO Stephanie exploring The Baths
-Yes, the baths were beautiful. After exploring the rock formations, we made our way out to the beach and swam in the turquoise water for a while.

VIDEO Scuba Diving at night
-Video shot during a dive at about 11pm at night in the British Virgin Islands. The lights on our tanks are those “snap to activate” rave-style chemical light sticks.. great to have since you don’t have to worry about them failing in the middle of a dive, where having a light is absolutely critical.. even for knowing which way is up…. since its like being weightless underwater, without having a point of reference (the ground, surface, bubbles floating up), its easy to get disoriented and not know which way to swim to the surface… scary. But the night diving is super cool.. saw some fun stuff down there at night, including weird worms that explode every few seconds.

VIDEO Diving on twin shipwrecks
-Exploring two shipwrecks side by side lying in about 80 -90 feet of water…

Maple Longarms, the Travelbug Sean and I found in the Geocache we located on Anegada

Finally, Sean posted a great trip report on …. a great travel site. I’m just copying and pasting the text from his report into my blog, but you can check out the actual thread on the site HERE, complete with user comments.

Seans trip report:

For this trip we chartered a Moorings 473. Really enjoyed some of the features on this boat in comparison to what we’ve had in the past. In particular, the front-loading fridge, and the shore power A/C was a nice luxury that we haven’t had in the past (although we only used it for our evening start in Road Town and one other night at Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor).
Despite the otherwise excellent condition of the boat, we did run into a problem towards the end of our charter when the alternator died on us. Turns out a leaky fitting in the engine compartment had allowed saltwater to enter the alternator, coroding it over time. The leak was observable only when the engine was running, so I didn’t notice it despite my daily checks of the engine compartment. In the future I think I will be certain to open the compartment from all sides a few times with the engine running just to be certain there are no leaks or other obvious problems, something that I have not felt obligated to do on chartered boats in the past.
The alternator failure caused us to change around our plans for one day, but Moorings customer service was quick to respond to the problem and brought a new alternator out to our boat early the next morning, getting us back on our way.

Other than the alternator issue, we had an awesome and pretty much flawless trip. We visited The Bight, Savannah Bay, Bitter End, Anegada, Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, Cane Garden Bay, Little Harbor on Jost (had planned on going to Great Harbor, but this is where the alternator died and nobody felt like trying to manually operate the anchor windlass), and Key Bay on Peter Island (maybe my favorite anchorage in the BVI except for Anegada). We usually arrived late (5 or 6 pm) after a late start and a full day of sailing and diving, and we never had a problem getting a mooring ball or finding a spot to anchor. I really enjoy sailing this time of year. Nothing is too crowded, but most places also haven’t closed down for the season just yet. Yes it is hot, but by no means unbearable when you’re on the water, and the water itself was incredibly warm (between 86 and 88 degrees everywhere!). Best of all, you can get some great deals this time of year. For us, 6 people in our early and mid 20s, we would have been hard pressed to afford this trip at most other times of the year.

With the 6 of us all being scuba divers, this is the first year we decided to ditch the rendezvous diving and rent our own tanks instead. This worked perfectly, and we will definitly be doing it again in the future. UBS delivered our tanks and gear to the Moorings, helped us set up the tank racks, and gave us a very handy list of GPS coordinates for dive site mooring balls. With our own tanks on board we were able to dive almost every day, and we saved a ton of money considering the fact that tank fills only cost between $3 and $8 at most places. Diving highlights were the Rhone (never gets old), the Marie L and Pat, and a surprisingly interesting night dive right under the boat in Savannah Bay. We didn’t make it out to the Chikuzen (my favorite dive in the BVI) on this trip because of weather concerns on that day, but we dove the Visibles instead (off one of the Dogs, can’t remember which) and found this to be an interesting dive as well (although there was a LOT of current near the surface). Diving off a monohull is a bit of a challenge to begin with, particularly with so many people all trying to gear up at once in the cockpit, but it wasn’t so bad once we got used to it, and the freedom definitly made it worth it. Check out this video of our swimthrough of the Rhone bow shot by my buddy Jeff.

A few other notable items. Purchased the Garmin Bluecharts before our trip and enjoyed playing around with these on my handheld GPS, although we found that in places (particularly the Anegada entrance channel) the Bluecharts were entirely inaccurate and would have landed us in some trouble if we’d followed them directly. They are a nice tool, but always cross reference paper charts and your own observations if you are trying to do serious navigation. On the up side, we were able to use my GPS to locate Walker’s geocache along the north shore of Anegada (a short walk from Loblolly). This was my first experience with geocaching and it was actually a lot of fun. Will have to try it again next time down.

Also, the condition of NPT as well as overnight mooring balls seems to have improved overall since our last trip. I don’t know if we just got lucky this time around or an effort has actually been made to address this problem. Some are still in very sorry shape.

We did not provision in advance and instead walked in to Road Town on our first night to purchase provisions from Bobby’s. This worked well, and by asking around in the store we were able to get a discount as well as a free ride back to the Moorings base.

That’s about all I’ve got for now. I’ll try and post again with some more thoughts soon. Already planning our next adventure…we can’t wait to get back!

Listening to: The Sea and Cake – One Bedroom