Virgin Islands revisited

Our sail back into the USVI was upwind, something we hadn’t done for a long time. So instead of usual downwind sailing-set and almost forget the sails, we actually had to tack our way back to St Thomas, entering the bay followed by a cruise ship.


We had a few days of shopping while anchored in the huge calm bay of Charlotte Amalie close to the cruise ships and superyachts. Apparently this one has 60 staff, 2 teams of 30!



Francis Bay was a wonderful base for walks, with beautiful views over Cinnamon, Maho and Francis Bays.



Ian had been keen to get to the Soggy Dollar bar, so we left Sea Cloud at anchor in Great Harbour



gr-harb-viewand walked around to the beautiful White Beach,


white-boats2where we (as one does) drank our painkillers in the water.

soggy-drink-waterthen relaxed on the beach – something we never do

soggy-ussoggy-dollarBenures Bay on Norman Island was beautiful, close to ‘the Indians’ for a morning snorkel.

benuresAfter an anniversary dinner on Cooper Island (where it all began), we sailed to Anegada, the northernmost island in the BVI. We had hesitated about coming here as it is shallow! As the conditions were so calm we decided to try as it made a logical spot from which to sail to St Maarten. With a maximum height of only about 6metres, from a distance all you can see is a long spit of sand, beautiful blue water and a few trees.

aneg-scBy the look of the charts, with Sea Cloud’s draft of 2.35m, we should have been able to get into the anchorage (just). But as the depth gauge read 2.1m, we made a hasty retreat, fortunately without touching bottom. aneg

The anchorage at Pomato Point was a little rolly, but not too far to head into town for Anegada’s famous lobster. Excitement during our dinghy ride – a stingray launched itself into the air in front of us…. amazing site!


I had vowed never to get on a scooter with Ian – he’s not great even on a pushbike. But Anegada is so flat, there are almost no cars, just the odd goat and cow on the road and I really wanted to snorkel on the other side of the island.



Cow Wreck Bay


Loblolly Bay


Spanish Virgin Islands

We had heard that the Spanish Virgin Islands were well worth visiting, lovely uncrowded bays, and towns a little like the other Virgin Islands 30 years ago. The thought of some Spanish food and culture was also enticing. What we hadn’t realised before we arrived, was that the islands were actually part of Puerto Rico and has been under American control since the 1890’s. So although Spanish was widely spoken, the food was good, but far more American than we’d expected.

Culebra, the northern island was a pleasant downwind sail from Jost Van Dyke. Navigating through the tricky shoals at the entrance to Ensanada Honda, the main bay, we were surprised at how many cruising yachts have discovered the place. Many were anchored in the Dikity anchorage, just behind the reef at the entrance to the bay.

dikity-anchorAs we’d had gusts of 30knots just outside, anchoring further into the bay was a better option for us.


We’d read the information on formalities in the pilot books and on Noonsite, but hadn’t realised it is mandatory to call before your arrival. The very pleasant Customs officer at the airport helped us through the process and provided us with a 12 month cruising permit for US waters. We ended up spending the morning at the airport – great wifi and coffee, difficult to find in the Virgin Islands. Flamingo Bay on the north of the island was well worth the walk.


Culebra town is small, with friendly inhabitants,


iguanaand a good sense of humour.


Cruisers centre around the appropriately named Dinghy Dock restaurant, a good place for happy hour.


dinghy-dockBahia de Tortuga on Culebrita island was a picture perfect Caribbean anchorage. You would not want to be here in northerly swells. Although the bay was calm overnight the relatively small breaking swell on the way out through the gap in the reef was nasty. It would be treacherous in big seas.


We sailed down to the southern island, Vieques, and were pleased to find a mooring buoy off Esperanza, its southern town where we could leave Sea Cloud for a few hours to explore the island. On the local public (van) we met Luis, who was born on the island but has spent most of his life in Puerto Rico. He walked us around Isabela, the capital and gave us potted history of the islands. Vieques had been used as a target for naval and aerial bombardment for many decades, sucking the life out of the island. Although the bombing stopped in 2003, many land and sea areas still remain off limits.