Cay de Cay

14 May 2020 | Francis Bay, St John, USVI
05 January 2020 | British Virgin Islands
28 December 2019 | Anegada Island, BVI
02 December 2019 | Sopers Hole, West End, BVI
24 November 2019 | Christmas Cove
30 June 2019 | The British Virgin Islands
22 May 2019 | US Virgin Islands
05 April 2019 | Puerto del Rey Marina
23 March 2019 | Boqueron, Puerto Rico
21 March 2019 | Mona Island and Puerto Real, Puerto Rico
18 March 2019 | Cap Cana Marina, Dominican Rebuplic
11 March 2019 | Samana, Dominican Republic
05 March 2019 | Ocean World Marina, Puerto Plata, DR
04 March 2019 | Cambiaso, Dominican Republic
02 March 2019 | Big Sand Cay. TCI
17 February 2019 | Leeward Going Through, Provo, TCI
29 January 2019 | Turtle Cove Marina, Provo, TCI
16 January 2019 | Cooper Jack Bight, Provo, TCI
11 January 2019 | Abraham's Bay, Mayaguana Island
01 January 2019 | Conception Island

“At Home” on the Boat

14 May 2020 | Francis Bay, St John, USVI
Douglas Kisling | Healthy
The holiday season had drawn to a close. All of our visitors had returned home. For the next three months, Karrie and I had the British Virgin Islands to ourselves. To celebrate the New Year 2020 we headed to Norman Island for Sunday night dinner on the Willie T. Turns out Sunday is “local’s” day on the Willie T! Speedboats were tied up four deep, the place was packed and crazy! Note to self; stay away from the Willie T on Sundays!

From Norman Island we headed back to Virgin Gorda, and we basically hopped from one bay to the other for all of January and February: Long Bay, Leverick Bay, Trellis Bay, Prickly Pear, and Deadman Bay (on Peter Island). We snorkeled, stand-up paddle boarded, kayaked, fished, and stargazed at night on the trampoline.

Karrie snorkeling at the Indians

In mid January (17th), a few days after the full moon we were in Long Bay and witnessed an awesome display of glow worms just after sundown. The boat was surrounded by the explosive green burst of bioluminescence from thousands of the mating worms. We had seen this phenomenon before but never the abundance of this night. It was truly incredible!

Another night time sighting occurred Jan 29th while star gazing on the trampoline. We saw an enormous fireball meteor streak across the sky! Then a few nights later on Feb 1, we had a repeat event! Both meteors were big, bright, with long thick fiery tails, covering a large arc of sky!

I had promised Karrie lobster for Valentine’s Day, but the weather did not cooperate, as it was too windy and rough to sail to Anegada that week. We also had to extend our Immigration paperwork on the 18th, so we delayed that celebration. On the 21st, we caught a taxi from Leverick Bay Marina to the top of the hill and the Hog Heaven barbecue restaurant. Good BBQ with an amazing view overlooking Gorda Sound was on the menu.

View of Gorda Sound from Hog Heaven

By Feb 22nd the weather had settled down and we set sail for Anegada and our delayed Valentine celebration. Along the way we had an encounter with a lone Right Whale! We had sailed toward the eastern end of Anegada in hopes of catching fish along the bank. As we turned and sailed west off the southern coast of the island we came upon the endangered Right Whale swimming along the same route. We watched it for a long time surfacing to blow occasionally as we both tracked the same course. Finally, the whale started to veer closer to our boat, slowed, crossed behind us, and headed more northerly toward the island. What an amazing encounter!

After anchoring we headed to Neptune’s Treasure to purchase lobster, but alas, because of the prior bad weather they did not have any for sale! Denied again!

As February was ending we were anticipating a visit from Amy in early March. Our original plan was for her to meet us in the BVI. But it was about this time that Covid started in the news and travel restrictions were starting. So we decided to head back to the USVI. On February 27th we had a departure lunch at the Road Town Pusser’s Pub and then checked out of the country with Customs and Immigration. Little did we know that it might be for the last time!

Returning to the USVI, we cleared in using the ROAM mobile app and headed for Benner Bay to provision for Amy’s visit. There is a good grocery store there named simply “The Food Center” and a great little taco stand, “Taco Chelles” where we had lunch. Amply supplied, we cruised to Christmas Cove at St James Island where we found a free mooring ball while we awaited Amy’s arrival.

Taco Chelles

As the travel situation was quickly changing we were in constant communication with Amy and at the last minute her travel approval was cancelled. At about this time the BVI also closed their borders. We were lucky that we had already left and were back in US territory! We started to hear that other Caribbean islands were also shutting down. Even Puerto Rico was refusing to allow transient cruisers to anchor out! We heard of one cruiser who was chased out of PR and had to continue on thru the night until he arrived at St Thomas in the USVI.

Not knowing where to go or even where we could go, we decided to get a National Park Service (NPS) mooring ball in Francis Bay on the north coast of St John. Francis and Maho Bays together make a large protected mooring field and anchorage that generally only hosts a few boats. When we arrived there were less than ten boats moored. In a couple of weeks, the mooring field was completely full with cruisers seeking refuge (maybe 75 boats).

Francis Bay on March 3rd, few boats and empty mooring balls

Francis Bay on March 27th, no empty mooring balls

We would spend the next eight weeks (March 1 to April 28) in Francis Bay attached to that mooring ball.

Cay de Cay on our Francis Bay mooring, viewed from the dinghy

We started to pay more attention to the news and to cruisers’ social media group pages for local information that directly affected us. Soon the NPS closed the park. The beach was closed to swimming, the food stand and bar at the beach shut down, bathrooms were locked, and trash was not being collected. Park Rangers were telling boaters not to jog on the island, not to walk their dogs, not to paddle board or kayak in the bay, etc. Every one was confused and concerned. So the boaters started a “cruiser’s net”. Every day at 8am on VHF channel 68 we would talk about the most recent rule changes, but also if someone needed help or supplies, and of course the weather forecast. It was a great community effort. When the need for face masks developed, one boater found a local shop in Cruz Bay to make masks out of tropical patterned cloth. The NPS Bay Host participated on the net and she was a great direct communication link to the NPS. This helped clarify some of the confusion and misunderstanding of the new NPS rules.

Entrepreneurial opportunities abounded. Some locals came by in their boats to pick up trash for a fee, bring ice, deliver groceries, do laundry, etc. There was a pizza night where a local restaurant delivered a group purchase of pizzas. Kids organized a scavenger hunt. Kids on one boat started a boat bottom scrubbing service.

For six weeks the NPS waived the normal $26 a night mooring ball fee ($13 with a NPS Senior Pass), but during the second week of April the NPS announced that everyone would have to register their mooring ball and pay the full fare. To register, every boater had to go to the NPS Office in Cruz Bay on a date assigned by your bay and mooring ball number. Our assigned date was April 11th. Not wanting to risk loosing our mooring ball to someone else (every NPS ball was occupied and boats kept arriving in the USVI), we left the Cay de Cay on the ball and took our dinghy into Cruz Bay, which is a LONG dinghy ride! The NPS had tents set up outside their office building, kept everyone socially distanced, we all wore our new custom made masks. We paid for two weeks (at the Senior rate), and collected our identifying buoy that showed proof of our registration. It all went smoothly after much anxiety about the process.

So what do you do for eight weeks when you have to “stay at home” on a boat? Karrie has a reading addiction, so she adapted easily. She stated that we had been in “quarantine practice” for the prior five seasons on the boat! But there are only so many boat chores, cleaning, polishing, bottom scrubbing, etc to do, and I soon ran out of “to do’s”. As I was wandering aimlessly about the boat looking for something, anything, to do, Karrie downloaded the Robert Jordan “Wheel of Time” series, handed me the iPad and said, “Read this, you’ll like it”. I guess I did because in eight weeks I finished the first seven (out of 15) books, and I am not a reader! (Editorial note: I hold this book series mostly responsible for me not writing this blog when I had an infinite amount of time to do so and why it took me a year to get around to it!)

Caught in the act!

After a while, it was time to empty our waste water (toilet) holding tanks. To do this (legally) we had to sail three miles offshore. We attached a paddle board to our mooring ball to stake claim on it and headed out between the islands of the USVI and BVI to get three miles offshore. Under sail, our route crossed into BVI waters and we were promptly intercepted by BVI Border Patrol in a fast center console boat. They were armed with automatic weapons and flack jackets told us to leave immediately and head back to the USVI by the most direct route. As we turned toward the nearest USVI island, they started to motor behind us when Karrie asked them to kindly not to run over our fishing lines! Some nerve! But they all laughed.

We were fortunate that they were lenient on us because six months later, boaters were fined $20,000 and put in jail for entering BVI waters!

We certainly realized that our situation (warm weather, sunny skies, crystal blue water, lush green hills, brilliant sunsets) was better than most people back in the States trapped in their homes in winter. But our (and every other cruiser there) anxiety became how and when can we get home? All the Caribbean Islands, the Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos had closed their boarders to boating. The only way to get back to the USA was to sail all day and night for a week or more, avoiding the Bahamas and land somewhere in the US that would allow you to enter (and even that was becoming questionable!).

Francis Bay sunset

And everyone wanted to get home. The islands were shut down because they lacked medical facilities. If they had even a small outbreak their facilities would be quickly overwhelmed. Luckily, the case numbers remained in the single digits until we left.

We had a deposit at Puerto del Rey Marina in Puerto Rico for hurricane season haul out. And hurricane season was just a month away. But PR had the most restrictive policy of any of the 50 states; strict curfew, essential shopping only on specific days, no recreational activities (especially boating), and a long list of prohibited activities. Boaters (even US citizens) were not allowed to enter the territory. PR had the second highest case numbers in the Caribbean after the Dominican Republic. We had no idea whether we would ever be allowed back. Or would we have to sail the boat back to the US?

A cruiser organization, The Salty Dawg, started forming flotillas for boats wanting to return to the US. Boats would form up and sail as a group back to the States. The bay started to thin out as boaters left in April.

Miraculously, at the end of April, PR Department of Natural Resources eased their rules and would allow boats with a PR home port and a prior haul out contract to enter the territory for hurricane haul out after a 14 day quarantine in the marina. I quickly called PDR Marina had our haul out day moved up to May 14th and provided insurance paperwork showing our home port as PDR. We were approved!

April 28th we surrendered our mooring ball registration buoy to the Bay Host, un-hooked our bridle from the mooring ball painter and sailed out of Francis Bay. We stopped at the Food Center to stock up for our upcoming 14 day quarantine and moved to Flamingo Bay at Water Island, just off St Thomas.

We pulled anchor early on April 29th to leave the USVI as we had to make it to PDR Marina without our normal halfway stop at Culebra, which was strictly not allowed. Before we left the territory we had a USCG cruiser off our starboard quarter, but they did not hail us or approach us. We left the USVI with the sunrise in our wake.

USCG Cruiser

Leaving the sunrise and USVI in our wake

Sailing west we had the trade winds on our stern, so we made good speed toward Puerto Rico. When we arrived at PDR Marina we were assigned the T-head (end of the dock) of pier 4. The marina dock hands helped secure the lines, connect water, and electricity. Security attached a red “Quarantine” tag to our pedestal and told us not to leave the boat. We were only allowed on our half the dock immediately next to the boat, no further. Marina staff would check on us every day, ask how we were feeling, and collect trash (put on the dock).

Book 7 of the Wheel of Time was done and there would be no time to start another. The next 14 days were spent hurricane prepping the boat. I needed every day. Basically the boat gets dis-assembled. All the sails and canvas must be removed. Anything loose has to be stored below decks. The grill has to come off. All the lines secured (lots of lines on a sailboat). Its a lot of work. And then in our free time, polish the stainless all over the boat so it survives the dusty salt air environment of the boatyard. In the evening, start packing to come home (for how long?).

We previously only stored the boat for the four months of hurricane season, but now we were hauling out early and we had already decided to spend Christmas at home. Karrie deserves this after spending the last six holiday seasons on the boat! We were looking at eight months at home. We needed to pack a LOT of stuff!

There was another Puerto Rican couple on our dock a few slips in. They decided to ride out the shutdown on their boat instead of their house. They quickly introduced themselves as Jose and Mayra and asked if we needed anything at the grocery store. They were very friendly and helpful. Several nights they brought us appetizers or even complete dinners of delicious Puerto Rican food. We had enough food to carry us thru, but we could not refuse because everything they cooked was so good!

Every night at 6PM everyone’s cell phone blared announcing the nightly curfew. To us it signaled time for happy hour.

On the morning of the fourteenth day security paid us a visit to declare that we were free to leave the boat and move about the marina. They cut the red tag off and our quarantine was over!

The next day Cay de Cay was hauled out of the water by the travel lift, moved to the hurricane tie down area of the boatyard, blocked up, supported with jack stands, and strapped down to the concrete foundation. We locked her up and handed the keys to Samuel, our boat tender.

Cay de Cay Blocked and Strapped Down

On May 15th we flew from San Juan to Newark, NJ. The airports were freakishly empty, like a scene out of the “Twilight Zone”. I really didn’t want to fly into Newark because NYC was an epicenter of the virus at that time. Philadelphia would be closer to the Jersey shore where we were going to spend time with Kate Carter, Erik, and the grandkids. But Kate did not want us renting a car and offered to get a driver for the trip from Newark to the shore. Lucky we made that choice because Jet Blue stopped flying into Philly two days before our trip!

We spent two great weeks with the grandkids before we drove home to Florida to become land lubbers!

New Years with Patti and Tasha

05 January 2020 | British Virgin Islands
Douglas Kisling | Wonderful
Our friend Patti and daughter Tasha (visiting from Australia) managed to get last minute plane tickets to St Thomas, USVI, arriving on New Years Eve. We had already planned to leave Anegada on Saturday, December 28th, but now we had a renewed purpose. We spent the next few days grocery shopping for our guests, doing laundry, and topping up on fuel.

Christmas and New Years weeks are very popular in the BVI and everywhere we went was inundated with charter boaters. The most popular event is the New Year’s party at Foxy’s on Jost van Dyke. Naturally we all wanted to be part of the celebration.

On December 30th we sailed to every harbor on Jost van Dyke and could not find any room to anchor. The harbors were so full, boats were anchoring well outside the harbors. Even the harbors that seldom have any boats were jam packed. As it was getting dark, we finally anchored of the Sand Spit, well east of Jost. This location is somewhat open, protected only by a low lying island and sand bar. It was a rolly night.

Patti and Tasha arrived on New Years Eve in St Thomas and caught a ferry to Road Town, Tortola. We cruised SW from the Sand Spit around the west end of Tortola into Soper’s Hole anchorage. Patti and Tasha caught a taxi to meet us at the West End Pusser’s for a late lunch. They were thrilled to be in the BVI!

Over lunch we discussed a game plan for their visit and concluded that Foxy’s NYE party was probably not happening for us. (Them having been awake the whole night before had a small influence in deciding.) The new plan was to maximize time in the water! After lunch and after waiting for a drenching rain storm to pass, we set sail for Norman Island. At Norman, We secured one of the last two mooring balls just outside the Bight, away from the crowned harbor and a distance from the celebration on the raucous Willy T.

We had a light dinner of appetizers (after our late lunch) and island beverages and then everyone turned in well before midnight. I was awaken by fireworks and horns blaring at midnight only to roll over and go back to sleep. Happy New Year!

The next morning we were up early for a short hop to the Indians, just north of our mooring. This is an extremely popular snorkel spot with a limited number of National Park mooring balls. We wanted to be sure we got one on this busy holiday. We arrived with another boat from the Norman Island anchorage and hooked to a mooring ball close to the reef. As expected the NP moorings filled up quickly.

Patti and Tasha were in the water before I knew it. I finished my coffee and joined them. As I have described before, the Indians are a set of tall “teepee” shaped rocks rising out of 50 feet of water on their west side with a shallow reef on their east side. This spot might be the best snorkeling in the BVI with live coral and abundant tropical fishes. After a long snorkel, we returned to the boat for lunch.

The next stop was the Wreck of the Rhone off Salt Island, a few miles to the east. The Royal Mail Ship Rhone sank there during a hurricane in 1867. The 310 foot long ship broke into two pieces. The stern (with its giant propeller) is in about 30 feet of water near the island and the remainder of the ship is in deeper water. While diving there we saw turtles and sharks.

The title picture is a photo of Tasha free diving on the Wreck of the Rhone.

From Salt Island we sailed NE to Virgin Gorda, where we planned to visit the Baths the following day. Since you are not allowed to spend the night on the National Park mooring balls, we continued past the Baths to Long Bay, a beautiful anchorage a few miles north. Long Bay is protected from the trade winds by the tall hills of Virgin Gorda and is a good spot to paddle board and kayak. But we arrived too late for that.

Early the next morning we pulled anchor and headed south to the Baths. Even arriving early, most of the NP moorings were taken, but we found one empty and secured it. There was a long line at the entrance to the trail through the giant boulders that are the Baths due to several cruise ship excursions. We had to wait about an hour to finally enter. The bottle neck was one steep ladder near the beginning of the trail and then it was fairly clear to wander through and take photos at our leisure.

Leaving the Baths to head north to Anegada, Tasha and Patti asked if we could stop at Long Bay to paddle board. So we did. They paddled around the bay for about an hour and then we had to leave for Anegada, 15 miles (3 hours) to the north.

We rented a car the next day to explore the island, starting with snorkeling at Cow Wreck beach and lunch at the Cow Wreck Bar. We then stopped at the Anegada Beach Club where there were several people kite boarding in the strong breeze. A few were taking lessons and we watched the technique of the beginners and the experienced kite boarders. The experienced would pop right out of the water and go skimming across the water, while the beginners were being dragged along by their kites and seldom getting up. One young fellow was performing 10 foot leaps off the waves and flipping in mid air. What a show. He would zoom past us standing at the water’s edge. One time he stopped to talk (Tasha was there, obviously). He was from England and was an instructor with the sport shop there. He gave Tasha his email, so she could send him pictures.

We saw the flamingos from the observation deck at Flamingo Pond and then went to Loblolly Bay for more snorkeling. Before we returned the car we stopped at Neptune’s Treasure to purchase lobster for dinner. Mark, the owner, remembered us. His son Matt took us to the dock to hoist the lobster cage and pick out our lobsters.

Prior to returning the rental car we stopped for gas, but the pumps were not working. We had to wait in a short line while they siphoned gas from barrels for their customers. Everyone took it in stride except for one tourist on a scooter with a thick Russian accent who cursed loudly “worse than f***ing Russia!”, (with his young son on the back of his scooter) and drove off when his wife and daughter showed up on their scooter dropping another series of f-bombs. Definitely not feeling the island vibe!

That evening we enjoyed a delicious lobster dinner.

From Anegada we sailed to Jost van Dyke. The crush of boaters had dissipated and we were able to get a mooring ball in Great Harbour near Foxy’s. From Foxy’s we took a taxi to the Soggy Dollar where we had an early dinner and, of course, Painkillers. Then a taxi back to Foxy’s. Soggy Dollar closes early and Foxy’s gets started late. We decided not to hang around Foxy’s and instead headed back to the boat for our final happy hour together.

The next day Patti and Tasha were leaving. We took them to Road Town, had a farewell lunch at Pusser’s and saw them off to the ferry with “come back soon” instead of “good-bye”.

Christmas at Anegada

28 December 2019 | Anegada Island, BVI
Douglas Kisling | Warm and Sunny
After Amy, Heather, and Misti left us, Karrie and I had some time to ourselves. We decided it was a good time to relax and to explore some new locations in the British Virgin Islands for the next three weeks. Our first destination was a small cove Amy and I spotted while cruising along the north coast of Tortola. The cove, named White Bay for its white beach, was actually on Guana Island north of Tortola. Guana is a private island originally inhabited by Quakers. Only a few other boats were moored or anchored there and it was a good place to relax for a few days and catch up on boat chores.

We next decided to explore Gorda (or North) Sound at the northern end of Virgin Gorda. We had never been there before. On the way we were going to stop at the Pusser’s on Marina Cay, but as we approached Marina Cay it looked somewhat desolate. I quickly pulled up the Pusser’s website and they stated that the restaurant had been destroyed in Hurricane Irma and they would not be reopening it. As a back up for lunch, we secured one of the mooring balls off Marina Cay and took our dinghy to the Scrub Island Resort. The resort was very upscale with a nice marina (mostly devoted to a charter boat operation), beautiful pool, and nice outdoor restaurant.

After lunch we continued on to Gorda Sound. The large sound is at the north end of Virgin Gorda and enclosed by Mosquito Island, Prickly Pear Island and a shallow reef between Mosquito and Prickly Pear. There is a shallow entrance from the west between Mosquito and Virgin Gorda that is not recommended by the charter companies, but was good for us and saved going all the way around Mosquito to the northern deeper and well marked entrance between the reef system. There are several good anchorages in Gorda Sound, but the guide book recommend the anchorage off Prickly Pear Island, and that is the one we chose. We found a sandy spot in 30 feet and dropped anchor.

Prickly Pear Island is a National Preserve and is uninhabited, with the exception of a small beach bar at the south end of the island still undergoing renovation from Hurricane Irma. Mosquito Island (and Necker Island further north off Gorda Sound) is owned by multi-millionaire Sir Richard Branson of Virgin Record, Virgin Airlines, etc fame. Some of Richard’s friends are building $30M homes there. Incredible!

The only functioning facilities are at Leverick Bay on Virgin Gorda. There is a marina, restaurant, Pusser’s store, grocery, laundromat (with one working washing machine out of four), etc. The little grocery actually has a small deli where we can get sliced lunch meat and good cheese.

For the next two weeks we stayed generally in the Virgin Gorda area. We had to extend our immigration paperwork prior to Christmas and also obtain a temporary import license for the boat in order to stay for longer than one month. We had to go back to Road Town, Tortola for the import license, but were able to get the immigration extension in Spanish Town, Virgin Gorda. This time, all the paperwork generally went smoothly, except no one really seemed to understand the process and we did have to chase down some incorrect leads in Road Town before ending up back at the ferry dock for the customs paperwork. Luckily, no ferries arrived while we were there so we were not held up.

While in Spanish Town, we had lunch one day at a restaurant that Kelly recommended, CocoMayo. It is in a beautiful setting right on the beach north of the Baths. They serve an Asian Caribbean fusion menu that is really delicious. We will probably return with visitors!

Before leaving for Anegada we stayed at another new spot, Long Bay for the weekend. Long Bay is also a nice quiet anchorage with a beautiful white beach just south of the west entrance to Gorda Sound.

Anegada Island is 15 nautical miles due north of Long Bay. We left mid-morning Dec 23 and arrived in the early afternoon. Anegada is different than all the other Virgin Islands. It is a low island formed from coral reefs, like the Bahamas. And it is surrounded by a large reef system. The two main items of commerce are lobster and conch. Anegada is know for its large lobsters, and we intended to have some for Christmas Eve dinner!

Several restaurants line the harbor, and they all serve lobster. We selected Neptune’s Treasure, one of the older more established restaurants with a good reputation. After arriving in the harbor, I took the dinghy into their dock and talked to the owner, Mark, about reservations. As expected they would not be open for Christmas or the next day which the British Territory celebrates as Boxing Day. So we opted for lobster dinner on Christmas Eve, made our reservation and ordered two dinners of two pound lobsters.

Neptune’s Treasure Restaurant and Resort

Anegada lobster are typical split in half with a machete and roasted over an open fire in an repurposed 55 gallon drum. When we arrived for dinner, the owner recognized us showed us to our table outside along the waterfront, and took only our drink orders. Starters were home made bread, buttered and pressed and a small salad. The main course was a nice size two pound lobster with melted butter, caribbean style rice and peas, and stewed vegetables. It was fabulous!

Lobster Dinner for Christmas Eve

Since all the business were shut down for Christmas, we spent a quiet day on the boat in Anegada Harbour. The harbor is large, but very shallow and it was crowded with catamarans which have shallow draft. Deeper draft boats (like mono-hulls) were anchored just outside the harbor. We anchored at the west end (back end) of the mooring field. Our anchorage was conveniently close to Neptune’s Treasure.

Crowded Anchorage at Anegada

For Christmas, Karrie decorated the table for the occasion and we had a nice dinner of grilled steak and baked potato, complimented with Cabernet wine.

Christmas Dinner Table Setting

On Boxing Day, the day after Christmas, we wanted to explore the island, but a front moved in and it rained all day. So not a good day to be out. Probably all for the best because we were not sure any place would be open on this British holiday and we delayed our excursion for the next day.

Friday the 27th started out overcast, but the persistent rain had stopped. So we took a chance and went into town to rent a scooter from Stephanie to explore the island. After a refresher on the controls (don’t use the front brake!) and rules of the road (stay on the LEFT!) we were off.

Karrie and Doug on our flashy red scooter

First stop was the Flamingo pond. Flamingos were reintroduced to Anegada in the 1980s from Bermuda after being hunted to extinction. The population is now in the hundreds and expected to be 1000 in another ten years. The flamingoes live in several large salt ponds in the interior of the island. Access is restricted so as to not disturb their mating, so you view them from a distance on an elevated observation platform. This day we saw multiple hundreds of bright pink flamingoes!

Our next stop was for lunch at the Big Bamboo on Loblolly Bay on the north coast of the island. Loblolly Bay has a beautiful large beach protected by an offshore reef that offers good diving.

After lunch we drove our scooter through the Settlement (which is the name of the main town on the island). The Settlement is a small village and in general disrepair from the hurricanes. Some new construction and renovation is underway, but it is obvious that this is a poor island.

As we explored the island, we had to be careful to avoid the frequent goats, occasional donkeys, and a few cows roaming wild along the roadside. However we did not see any iguanas that are reported to live here.

From the Settlement we went back toward the harbor and continued on to the west end of the island. On the north west corner is Cow Wreck Beach, obviously named for a cattle transport that hit the reef off of this beach. This is another beautiful white sand beach with a small offshore reef and the obligatory beach bar.

Cow Wreck Beach

We met a young couple from Atlanta whose dream was to buy a catamaran and sail the Mediterranean. When we told them we were living on our cat, they had lots of detailed questions for us. They were staying at a nearby luxury resort, Anegada Beach Club.

Cow Wreck Bar

Some friends of Misti’s, Walker and Nancy, live near the beach and we stopped in to see them, chatted for a while and asked about life on Anegada. We wanted to buy some lobster to cook ourselves and Walker recommend Silvia at the gas station near where we rented the scooter.

When we left Walker and Nancy we scootered over to the Anegada Beach Club to check it out. The resort has normal motel style rooms and individual “tents” that are right on the beach. The tents are large cottage size raised structures with canvas walls. Very unusual. There was a nice gift shop and Karrie found a cute shirt that she just had to have!

By this time it was getting late, so we headed back to the harbor. We stopped to fill the scooter gas tank and asked Silva about lobster, but unfortunately she only had smaller lobster. She suggested we check with Stephanie at the scooter rental. So we came full circle and Stephie’s lobster guy took us out to the dock, pulled a large cage up out of the water that was chock full of lobster. We picked two nice sized bugs for dinner.

Lobster for dinner, again!

Prior to leaving Anegada on Saturday morning the 28th we went into Neptune’s Treasure for breakfast. Mark’s wife, Pam has a bakery and serves a nice breakfast. As we were leaving we asked Mark if he sold lobster which he did, even cheaper than we payed before. So we got two more lobster from Mark’s son Matt. Once again we walked out on their dock, Matt winched up the large cage breaming with large lobsters. We picked two to take with us.

While we were in Anegada we received a phone call from Patti that she and daughter Tasha could get airplane tickets to St Thomas on Dec 31st, if it was okay with us. Of course we said, come on down! So we needed to get back to Tortola to stock up on groceries before Patti and Tasha arrived on New Years Eve.

Thanksgiving in BVI with Amy, Heather, & Misti

02 December 2019 | Sopers Hole, West End, BVI
Douglas Kisling | Great!
Cay de Cay was ready for her first visitors of the season. Our daughter Amy, her high school friend Heather and Heather’s mom, Misti were on their way for Thanksgiving!

Amy flew into St Thomas on Tuesday, November 26th, so we moved the boat from Christmas Cove a short distance to Red Hook on the far eastern end of St Thomas Island. Amy caught a group taxi for the trip from the airport to Red Hook. While we waited for her, Karrie and I caught a “Safari” taxi to the Tutu Mall in the middle of the island. A Safari is a pickup truck with rows of open air seating in the bed. It cost a dollar to go anywhere from Red Hook to the mall and another dollar from the mall into Charlotte Amalie (the main city). There is a K-mart at the Tutu Mall which has the best price on Cruzan rum to be found. We figured our guests would probably be in the mood for some tropical adult beverages! And when in the islands, rum is the drink of choice!

We returned to Red Hook on another Safari and had a nice lunch by the harbor. After lunch we returned to the boat with all our goodies. By then Amy had landed and was on the taxi to Red Hook. I met her at the marina with the dinghy to transport her to Cay de Cay. After hugs and kisses all around we pulled up anchor and headed to St Francis Bay on the north side of St John Island for the night. There with the underwater lights on we were invaded by a school of large tarpon swarming under the boat. Amy was amazed at how close they would come. You could reach out and touch them!

Heather and Misti were arriving at West End Tortola in the BVI the next afternoon, so before we headed to the British territory we made a side trip to Trunk Bay were there is suppose to be a snorkeling trail. We secured a park mooring ball closest to Trunk Cay and snorkeled in. We never found the snorkel trail, but we ran into a lot of tourist, probably from a cruise ship excursion. The water was over crowded with inexperienced swimmers. But they all stayed close to the beach, so it was easy to get away from them.

After our snorkel adventure, we headed for Soper’s Hole anchorage at West End, Tortola. There we had to check in with Customs and Immigration. Thankfully, this experience was much easier and more pleasant than the last time when we checked in at Road Town. Heather and Misti were on the last ferry from St Thomas for the day. We watched the ferry come in and when it left the dock, I took the dinghy in. They were some of the first off the ferry and to clear through customs. We all squeezed into the dinghy with their luggage and eased out to Cay de Cay. It was too late to go anywhere, so we stayed that night in Soper’s Hole. Everyone was ready for some tropical sundowners to get their vacation started! We had appetizers and happy hour on the trampoline in front of the boat where there is always a welcome breeze.

For the next week we tried to hit all of the most popular tourist spots that make the BVI so famous. Starting Thanksgiving morning with snorkeling at the Indians, without a doubt the best snorkel spot in the BVI. Crystal clear water, healthy coral, lots of tropical fish and a dramatic landscape with the Indian “teepee” shaped rocks rising vertically from fifty foot depths on the outside and a shallow reef on the inside.

Lunch was at the Willy T, a floating restaurant and bar, in the Bight of Norman Island.

The Ladies at Lunch on the Willy T

After lunch we explored the Caves on Norman Island, said to be the inspiration for John Lewis Stevenson’s novel “Treasure Island”. See the lead photo taken by Heather inside one of the caves.

Amy and Tarpon in the Caves

Karrie fixed a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings while we were anchored in Great Harbour on Peter Island.

The following day was mostly spent exploring the giant boulders at the Baths on Virgin Gorda. We anchored for the night in Trellis Bay, once a popular cruiser destination that has sadly been destroyed by the Hurricane Irma. The famous Last Resort restaurant on Bellamy Cay (a small island in Trellis Bay only accessible by boat) is permanently closed. In its heyday the Last Resort was know for its owner’s comedy act and the live donkey that poked its head thru the door.

We were visited by Aragorn, a local artist, that was selling locally grown fruits, vegetables, and rum. Misti knew him and we chatted as we made purchases.

On the way to Jost van Dyke we stopped at Sandy Cay, also known as “Corona Island” as it has been the site for Corona beer commercials, with its iconic white beach and coconut palms. We decide to explore the reef on the north side of the island and wound up snorkeling entirely around the island!

We hitched to a mooring ball in Great Harbour, Jost van Dyke and after dinner went into Foxy’s for a drink and to watch the crazies attempting to dance! Hilarious.

Jost van Dyke beach scene

The next day we motored around the corner to White Sound Harbour and visited the Soggy Dollar for lunch and Painkiller’s, the official drink of the BVI, created at the Soggy Dollar. The bar is named for the fact that yachties would swim into the beach from their boats and all of their money was wet, thus the “Soggy Dollar”.

View from the Soggy Dollar

Sadly on Dec 2nd we had to return to Soper’s Hole for Misti and Heather to catch the noon ferry back to the USVI. Amy was leaving the next day, so we had lunch with her at Pusser’s which had just re-opened from damage caused by Irma in 2017. After lunch we went to Belmont Bay, known as Smuggler’s Cove, for a walk along the beach. Then took the boat out for a sail before returning to Soper’s Hole for the night. Amy caught the 8:30am ferry the next morning, ending a great visit.
Vessel Name: Cay de Cay
Vessel Make/Model: Leopard 40
Hailing Port: North Palm Beach, FL
Crew: Doug & Karrie
About: Doug and Karrie are enjoying retirement by first cruising the Bahamas and now the Caribbean. Karrie was a Middle and High School English Teacher. Doug was a Design Engineer.
Our first "Retirement" cruise was a life long dream. We spent our first winter in the upper Bahamas and Abacos. During our second winter we left Ft Lauderdale and headed for the Exumas, but continued on to Long Island, Cat Island, and Eleuthera (as well as other locations). For our third and [...]
Cay de Cay's Photos - Main
Our sixth season of cruising. This season we are in the Virgin Islands.
30 Photos
Created 16 December 2019
Adventures on our fifth winter season in the Bahamas and Beyond!
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Photos highlighting our fourth winter cruise.
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Photos from our walkabout in Spanish Wells
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Base of the Exumas Land and Sea Park
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Our first stop in the Exumas Land and Sea Park
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Created 30 December 2015
We anchored here for two days. There are white sand beaches almost the entire length of the cay.
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Created 27 December 2015
We stopped at Chub Cay on our way from Bimini to Nassau while heading to the Exumas.
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Created 20 December 2015
Our first retirement winter cruise to Abacos, Bahamas
29 Photos | 10 Sub-Albums
Created 28 November 2014