Saving Sandy Spit & Green Cay

Caribbean sailors and locals alike—led by Jost Van Dyke musician and entrepreneur Foxy—have have spent 2003 raising funds to purchase and preserve the romantic islets of Sandy Spit and Green Cay, favored stopovers in the British Virgin Islands and easily the source of more Madison Avenue-fueled daydreams than any other outcropping of tropical sand and palm trees anywhere on the Blue Planet. When Sandy Spit and Green Cay went up for sale this year, alarms went off all over. But the pressure is off, apparently. Our correspondent in the BVI, Peter Muilenberg, reports that the government of BVI has announced plans to buy the islands and join them with the country’s national park system. That’s exactly the goal shared by Foxy and friends, so this is excellent news. The islands remain pristine, and they are important rookeries as well as a nesting ground for endangered sea turtles. According to a report in the BVI Beacon, the BVI parks expect to also acquire Sandy Cay, 4 miles off Tortola. That is expected to come as a gift from the Laurence Rockefeller Foundation.

The sale of Green Cay and Sandy Spit is being handled by the Hamburg, Germany firm of Vladi Private Islands which, yes, specializes in island properties. We spent some time drooling over the sumptuous offerings at Vladi Private Islands, but we’d love to see the good people of the BVI succeed in keeping these 16 acres pristine. Vladi’s listing carries this description: “Green Cay and Sandy Spit form part of the outer island group of Jost Van Dyke about four miles to the north-east of Tortola, the principal island of the British Virgin Islands. Green Cay and Sandy Spit lie at the eastern end of Little Jost Van Dyke. Sandy Cay, owned by Laurence Rockefeller, is a near neighbour of Green Cay and is renowned for its gorgeous beach. It is designated as a National Park. Green Cay and Sandy Spit offer most interesting opportunities for development. Green Cay, the larger, rises to about 100 feet above sea level and has an area of ca. 15 acres. On its north and east shore it has a rocky coastline while to the south west it slopes gently towards Sandy Spit and is covered partly by heavy vegetation and mature trees. Sandy Spit is the very image of a perfect tropical island with an area of less than an acre. It lies about 200 yards to the south of Green Cay to which it is connected by a bar of coral reef. It is rimmed on all sides by pure white sand beach. A number of coconut palms complete the picture. Almost enclosing both Green Cay and Sandy Spit are superb coral reefs set in clear turquoise waters and offering marvellous conditions for snorkeling and diving.” More on Sandy Spit below . . .

Peter Muilenberg filed this report for the August, 2003 issue of SAIL. It speaks to the sense of alarm felt by many people when the threat to the islets was announced—

Saving the daydream

Longevity is good. Les Anderson’s 35-foot schooner Penelope, a participant 29 years ago in the first-ever Foxy’s Wooden Boat Race, came up a winner in the 2003 version, which was dedicated to an even-greater exercise in longevity—preserving the exquisite, famed, loved and much-photographed Green Cay and Sandy Spit, hard by the British Virgin Islands stopovers of Jost Van Dyke.

Green Cay and Sandy Spit have appeared in countless commercials, in the memories of virtually everyone who has sailed the BVI, and in the dreams of millions. But now both are for sale and at risk of being developed.

If that strikes you as a shame, you’re not alone. A rescue effort is being led by Feliciano Callwood, aka Foxy, the local musician who perfected the island beach bar (and who is probably the most famous West Indian after Bob Marley and Fidel Castro). He and his friends are raising funds for the Jost Van Dyke Preservation Society, with hopes to merge picture-perfect Green Cay and Sandy Spit into a public marine park to benefit islanders, visiting sailors, and generations to come. They’re even willing to face cold water to do it, thus the first annual Foxy’s Wooden Boat Regatta-North, a fund-raiser coming to Corinthian YC in Marblehead, Massachusetts, August 30-31.

The terms are simple: “Wooden yachts of any size or shape, singlehanded or fully-crewed, mono or multi-hulled.” No ratings. Instead, boats will be grouped by size. You can reach the Corinthian YC at 781-631-0005.

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