Once Around Tortola Page 2

We get our first glimpse of delights to come as our plane makes a wide circle on its approach to Tortola’s Beef Island airport. Spread out below us are turquoise seas and a flotilla of boats sailing up and down the Sir Francis Drake Channel. We land, and the warm tropical breezes of February greet us as we walk across the tarmac. Clearly, nothing important has changed in the British Virgin
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A blustery wind the next morning persuades us to skip the passage to Anegada, some 15 miles to the north, so we head instead around Great Camanoe and over the top of Guana Island, which promises fine snorkeling in its lee at Monkey Point. We hang the boat on one of the National Park Trust moorings and spend hours dazzled by the displays of brightly colored fish that come within an inch of our masks and dart around us as we swim over the reef. Pelicans, too, seem to be enjoying the fish; they swoop down from a great height to plunge below the surface, reappearing a moment later with their bills bulging. We are amazed that in this magical spot, in this most popular of cruising destinations, it is still possible to find solitude and peace—and not another boat in the anchorage.

Since the Monkey Point moorings are for day use only, we ride a tailwind to Little Harbour on Jost Van Dyke for the night. The anchorage is easy to enter, and although overnight moorings are available for $20, we drop the hook and choose dinner onboard over the restaurants ashore. By morning the wind has dropped to a zephyr. I take a trek ashore and return to find the crew up and about and ready to move on. We go no farther than the couple of miles to White Bay, home of the Soggy Dollar Bar, birthplace of the Painkiller. The entry is through a marked channel between two reefs, and anchor behind one and relax on the superb sandy beach.

At day’s end we sprint back across to Tortola and the fleshpots of Soper’s Hole—specifically Pusser’s Landing and dinner. Soper’s Hole is an attractive spot with brightly colored shops, but it’s not the kind of peaceful place we most enjoy.

So the next day, our final full day aboard, we get up early and sail over to the Bight on Norman Island for a snorkel before heading to Peter Island for snorkeling, swimming, and generally soaking up the island life in peaceful Deadman’s Bay. Rita and I savor the feel of the warm sand between our toes and every last drop of sunshine (after all, it’s still February back home in New England).

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