Posted by: beachchairandabook | September 8, 2016

Why We Keep Going Back to the British Virgin Islands

Late on the night of August 3,  I had just drifted off to sleep in preparation for a 2:00 am wake up call. When my phone chimed at 11;30 pm  with a  text from American Airlines, all hope of sleep was lost.  August 4 was not a hurry-up and wait day – it was hurry up and run all the way day.  After four gate changes,  a dash from the St. Thomas airport and a skin-of-our-teeth check-in at the Charlotte Amalie dock, a fellow traveler and I finally boarded the Native Son ferry to Tortola’s West End. I had never been on the water between St. Thomas and Tortola so late in the afternoon. The blue, gold and silver streaked sunset from the vessel’s top deck was Mother Nature’s spectacular welcome to the BVI. It was after 6:00 when we pulled into West End. And in case you’ve every wondered, Customs and Immigration officers can be courteous and welcoming even after a long day of correcting errors on immigration forms,  stamping passports and inspecting luggage.

Our final stop was “home” to cozy and colorful Sopers Hole  and Voyage Yacht Charters.  I have loved  this Caribbean-colored marina since my first visit in 2006. After the customary first meal of conch fritters and a Number 2 Painkiller, we greeted our crew mates, and the  long day ended in a welcome night’s sleep.


Sopers Hole and Voyage Yacht Charters

For the next week, every single day was the best answer  to the question: “why do you keep going back?”

Rain fell on our first day out. It was  not the quick shower, followed by a blaze of sun that defines the Caribbean’s rainy season. This was a relentless, all day downpour. But there is no whining in No Drama. Plan B quickly fell into place. Instead of fish sandwiches and a round of Painkillers at Seddy’s One Love Bar on White Bay, we rafted up for an impromptu welcome party under the cover of Moonshadow’s cockpit. With raised glasses of Dark and Stormys, we toasted the great beginning of No Drama Vacations 2016.

The next morning on Cane Garden Bay a few early risers shared cups of coffee, tea and morning conversation on deck. Although the sun was out in full force, a brief shower fell.  We watched in awe as the column of rain made its way across the mountain and through the sun, blessing us with a perfectly arched rainbow over paradise.


Rainbow over the BVI

The Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor was our next stop. In the pool at the island’s famous Top of the Baths, a spirited soul train line took the place of swimming. If more confirmation is needed that NDV is a portable party, that celebration of  love, peace and soul is proof. Meanwhile, I was determined to track down a bowl of a local delicacy.  Bullfoot soup had been  sold out of the Spanish Town dockside restaurant by the time we arrived last year. This year the Caribbean food gods were on my side. Thanks to one of our local captains, a container awaited me at the bar. Bullfoot you say? It’s a Caribbean thing – you wouldn’t understand.:)  Local was the way to go that day; at a produce vendor’s stand we purchased ripe plantains for frying and sweet pineapple for snacking.

Later that afternoon, the beautiful  Grand Cru from Aventura Florida sailed into the slip across from Moonshadow.  Not too long after tying her up, one of the crew of three set a table and served  food and wine to the yacht’s owners.The casually elegant couple could have graced the cover of Yachts International. Sheila E’s “Glamorous Life” played in my head.


Gran Cru



Virgin Gorda Seventh Day Adventist Youth Band


Gran Cru and Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor at Sunset

Later that afternoon the sound of drumming floated down the dock, but not the Afro-Caribbean drumming we might have expected. This was Drumline, Grambling, Florida A&M rhythm. We ran down to catch up with the band as they marched from the street to their final stop. We were on  Virgin Gorda, but in musical sound and style, those kids could have been members of the Largo High School Marching Machine (shout-out to the Prince George’s County band and its Eastern Shore director). From a woman in the crowd, we learned that the talented youth were members of a Seventh Day Adventist Youth Group..

On every BVI sailing trip there is that one day when the gods of wind and water join forces to show us Nature’s Little Secret in all its glory. This year for me it was our sail to Anegada The sun shone on water rippling with shades of aquamarine,  turquoise, teal and sapphire. Our true sailors clocked the wind at 8.7 knots. I imagined Oya, ruler of the winds, guiding us on our way.  On arrival, we were met by the dockmaster and three of his young helpers. The boys lived in Florida but were “home” for the summer;  the Caribbean version  of going down South as soon as school let out in June. At the outdoor bar of the Anegada Reef Hotel, we put in our order for the night’s lobster dinner. On our way to the beach, we caught a glimpse of the islands’s flamingos and salt ponds.  And who knew that tiny Anegada had an airport? Two of our fellow taxi passengers, a father and daughter,  were headed there to board a plane for Tortola. I’ve heard that the flight takes only ten minutes. And  I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he  was the also the puddle jumper’s pilot.


Ottertude Under Sail

Another brief shower sent us for temporary shelter under the cover of the Big Bamboo Bar. I took the  opportunity to grab a glass of Chardonnay and toast what was already turning into a magical day.  It might have been the hour, the position of the sun  or some kind of secluded beach magic.  I stood on the sand of Loblolly Beach, contraband glass of wine in hand and stared at the beautiful blue and white perfection of the water, sky and sand. I’ve always been interested in the history and culture of the Diaspora; those customs and practices that survived and thrived. On that beautiful blue and white day on the island of Anegada, I was reminded of the orisha Yemaya,  the mother of waters, and ruler of the seas whose  colors, coincidentally, are also  blue and white.


A Toast to Anegada!

Further down the beach, I saw a man enter the water. I thought he was going  in for a late afternoon swim until I saw him drag a full lobster trap from the water. We talked briefly, and as is my way, I asked to take a picture. This time the picture taking tables were turned.  I turned into  the subject as he handed me a big, wriggling Anegada lobster for my own snapshot of the famed island delicacy. Later that night we ate grilled lobster under the stars on the Anegada Reef Hotel sand.  C’est Magnifique was my mental musical inspiration for the night.


Anegada Lobster Harvest

The next day we set out for the sailing paradise that is the Bitter End Yacht Club. One of my favorite sights in the entire BVI is the sign over the red-roofed lobby building : Welcome to the Bitter End.  As usual, we headed for the pool for afternoon drinks and a swim. That evening I fried those soft, ripe Virgin Gorda plantains and  made barbequed chicken as my contribution to the community meal  of fried chicken, yellow rice and potato salad. And our NDV breakfasts of salmon cakes, fried apples, potatoes, grits and turkey bacon? We’ve made a lot of culinary magic in those galleys over the years.


Welcome to the Bitter End!

Tuesday was our White Bay make-up day. This time the weather was perfect for a walk up and down the beach, a fish sandwich and the usual fake tarantula drop from the ceiling of Magic Man Seddy’s One Love Bar. Two new establishments were on our radar – Hendo’s Hideaway and Manjack Ice Cream. It was a resounding yes for the creamy, sweet soursoup. In 2017 I’ll go for the  the coconut and strawberry Tiger’s Blood. My internal music machine played the Beach Boys Kokomo the whole time we were there.


Walking Down White Bay

After a short stop in the renovated, very lovely Norman Island we headed for Nanny Cay, the last sailing stop for No Drama 2016. More than a marina, Nanny Cay could be considered  a small beach town within a town. The marina holds  a 40 room hotel, cottages and separate private villas perched over their own waterway. Guests can shop for groceries, cigars and fine wines, dive gear and “island attire” (including a very beautiful, very glamorous, very expensive 250.00 swimsuit).  According to our server, Nanny Cay has “de best roti on de island, mon.” During our two days on land we took a taxi to the new Tortola Pier Park, lounged around the Nanny Cay Pool, had drinks by the bar, ate saltfish and johnny cake at the Moorings Marina, visited Captain Tonic’s  bar, bought a painting from a local artist at his studio, ate more local food and visited a cigar and martini bar in Road Town.


Nanny Cay Cottage

Following the tradition we began last year, the end of No Drama 2016 took place at St. Thomas’ Island Beachcomber Hotel.This year we experienced an unexpected treat. Kevin Campbell, our St Thomas connection, introduced us to Hook Line and Sinker, a seafood restaurant in the Frenchtown area of Charlotte Amalie. On a beautiful warm Saturday night near the water and lights over St. Thomas we feasted on seafood, toasted each other and the joy that was  No Drama Vacations 2016.


No Drama at Hook, Line and Sinker; Frenchtown, St. Thomas




  1. Wow! What a wonderful recap. Both written and visual. I felt like I was right there.

    As always, your photos are amazing!


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