Oof, I hate these 5:30 departures from ABIA. in order to get to the airport 2 hours before my flight I had to leave Ripple @ 2:45am. Caught up with Eric in St. Thomas and had a wonderful stuffed lobster at the Green House and won $3 at the slot machines! Lori met us at the ferry landing and we took the 4:15 to Road Town.
We arrived at the Sunsail base at 6 and walked straight onto Ananda, a Jenneau Sun Odyssey 479 (47′ monohull sailboat) that will be our home for the duration.
After putting our luggage away, we wandered over to the Rite Way to provision the boat. That took about 2 hours to shop and stow all the groceries securely.
Once the boat was shipshape we made our obligatory trip to Pussers for a painkiller. Sleep came early and deep!
My duffle bag is filled to capacity with SCUBA gear and supplies for PAWS, the local BVI Animal Rescue group. With the exception of a tropical wave off the coast of Africa near the Cape Verde Islands all of the weather seems to be moving away from the BVI. We’re hoping this means that we will have some optimal weather for sailing, SCUBA, and snorkeling next week! Going to try to catch a few hours of sleep before I leave for the airport at 2:45am.
We have been watching the weather closely, and current indications show all of the storms moving away from the Virgin Islands, so it looks like this trip is a go! It’s time to load up the suitcase and find a ride to the airport. I’m filling all of the extra space in my suitcase with carriers for the local animal shelter, PAWS. They use these carriers to transport animals back to the States for adoption.
My heart it’s what everyone in the Bahamas and also In Harm’s Way that are being devastated by Hurricane Dorian. Please do what you can to help these people recover.
Dorian passed over the Virgin Islands stronger than expected as a Category 1 hurricane. While every storm presents danger, this was relatively mild by hurricane standards, and the Virgin Islands made it through with minor damage.
My thoughts are with anyone in harms way of this now MAJOR storm. If you are in the path of Hurricane Dorian EVACUATE NOW before it’s too late!
The concerns to our trip at present are:
1> Hurricane Dorian causing the Miami airport to close preventing us from travelling to the BVI
2> the disturbance forming off the coast of Africa in the Eastern Atlantic
We will be watching both of these events closely before we board an airplane and head south to the islands.
For more weather related information please check out the NOAA National Hurricane Center www site.
Dorian has become a hurricane today, blasting the BVI with sustained winds of 85mph, and gusts to 110mph. Our current plan is to wait until things settle down in the BVI and see how bad the conditions are on Thursday or Friday before making any decisions on our upcoming travel plans. At present it appears that the eye of Hurricanee Dorian has passed over to the north side of Puerto Rico and the weather should begin easing soon. This is still a very dangerous time and I suspect that there will be damage My only hope is that there will be no loss of life and that damage to property will be minimal. My thoughts are with anyone in harms way during this stressful and dangerous time.
Both the US and British Virgin Islands were devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in September of 2017. After the storms had passed, a considerable amount of work was needed to infrastructure such as the docks and roads BEFORE the monumental task of restoring power and rebuilding the islands could begin.
Here’s what we saw while we were down there:
Progress is happening much faster on the larger islands. It appears that the supply path is Puerto Rico > St. Thomas > Tortola > outlying islands such as Anegada, Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda, Peter, Cooper, Norman….. As a result supplies are slowly making way down the chain if at all. I met a man on Jost Van Dyke that gave up on waiting and made his own doors in order to reopen the first of his bed and breakfast rooms. Many people are still living in tents, and storm damage is still evident EVERYWHERE.
Having said that, rebuilding IS occurring, the cruise ship dock is back in service in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas and the Road Town, Tortola cruise ship dock is expected to welcome their first ship in November or December of 2018.
On Tortola, the yacht charter business was booming, with boats being brought back into service as we watched. Masts were being stepped, rigging and lifelines were being replaced, vessels were being either restored or scrapped for parts in a push to get things back in gear.
Many of the major resorts are 1-2-5 years out from reopening (if at all.) This impacts everyone on the islands as so much of the work is related to the service industry.
The people that we met were as friendly as we could have expected, everyone was happy to see us on the Islands knowing how vital the tourist dollars are to the economy.
What it boils down to is that spirits are up and the people of the Virgin Islands are working hard to rebuild. If you have ever thought about visiting the Virgins, book your trip NOW. Things are looking better every day, and more than ever before, they could REALLY use your business!
I’m already plotting my next visit to the BVI’s!
Morning found us wandering around Main Street in Charlotte Amalie window shopping diamonds, gold, platinum, precious stones and expensive watches. Lots of pretty shiny things which were all WAY over our price range.
Back to the hotel for more packing and a cab ride to the airport for our flights back to the mainland.
Lots of packing and a quick trip to the ferry landing, since we were early we hopped into a taxi and took a ride around the island and up into the hills. It was really nice to see the views from the tops of the mountains, and all of the rebuilding that was in progress.
A quick ~45 minute ferry ride later, we were in Charlotte Amalie and walked over to the Bunker Hill Hotel. Since it was Sunday most everything was closed so we hit the street market then the Green House for some Bang Bang Calamari for lunch. While there we popped into the back room where they have ~12 slot machines. 30 minutes later, I was the big winner with a $32 jackpot. This put us up $7.50 and we decided that it was time to quit while we were still winners.
Dinner was at the Pie Hole again, good Belgian ales and a great linguine alfredo with shrimp.
Ferry-Road Town>Charlotte Amalie
Early departure from Peter Island so that we could reach SunSail before our 11am deadline. Once we arrived we packed up and did a quick clean up on the Lady Meta. In the debriefing we learned that we were supposed to be dumping the wastewater into the ocean and needed to head back out of the harbor to empty the septic tank or pay a $100 fee. We opted for the former and were rewarded with another ~45 minutes out on the water.
Once ashore we spent the day lounging around the pool at the Hummingbird House before making our way to the Virgin Queen for a meal with the locals, this was definitely not a tourist spot, the food and atmosphere were wonderful, and the prices were a bit more reasonable than our other meals.
We wandered off to the cruise ship pier and chatted with some of the locals, where we were informed that they expected to reopen the pier and entertain cruise ships as soon as November or December.
We then decided that one last visit to Pussers was in order for another painkiller!
We took the SCUBA tanks ashore for refill and wandered around town while they were handling it. One of the tanks has a stripped valve and was problematic, with the tools at the shop we were able to get it working well enough for one more dive. Paul at Jost Van Dyke SCUBA was very helpful and pointed us to the Playground, a dive site that I had looked at but thought would be too deep for a new diver.
With the local information, we headed to the Green Cay on the eastern end of JVD for a fantastic dive. LOTS of sea life, and no one else anywhere near us. Near the end of the dive we found big schools of minnows and a handful of barracuda chilling about 20′ below the surface.
Then we set the sails for a route through the Thatch Island Cut on the way to Pelican Island and the Indians again.
The Indians were even better than Rainbow Canyons and it was nice to finish with a last dive only a few feet from the first dive of the trip. This marked a complete circumnavigation of Tortola. I was able to get the 360° camera working for this dive lots of pics were taken.
We cast off the ball and headed to Peter Island and the Willy T for one last night. And, YES, we jumped off upper deck of the Willy T in the proper attire.
Jost Van Dyke>Peter