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British Virgin Islands Sailing Journal by Hannah, Nautilus Yachting

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

This was my second time sailing in the British Virgin Islands. The first was 5 years ago. This time I returned with a large group of friends (11 in total) and an even larger catamaran (Fountaine Pajot 47 “Island Nomad”) to a fully reopened BVI in the build up to just before Christmas for a special ‘Big BVI Birthday’ celebration with a capital ‘B’.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 1 - Nanny Cay Marina

Half the crew arrived by ferry into Road Town from the USVIs as they were travelling from Florida. The European contingent flew into Antigua the day before and caught an early connection to Tortola with Inter-Caribbean. The flight is only an hour but the propellor plane will always be a novelty.

With a large crew we made quick work of loading the pre-ordered provisioning from Riteway, securing the watersports Equipment provided by BVI SUP Co, and acquiring a quick take-out lunch from Omar’s Café in the marina. After a full briefing we departed Nanny Cay Marina promptly at 15:00 and headed to our first night’s stop.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 1 - Cooper Island - Sailing time approx. 1.5 hours

It was a rather wet and windy short stint heading into the wind to reach the soft sandy shores of Cooper Island Beach Club. It is the perfect combination of relaxed beach-side atmosphere and comfortable dining, the highlight being their rum bar with a collection of over 280 rums.

There is a combination of bookable and ‘first-come, first-serve’ available at Cooper Island but it is a popular first or last-nights stop you do need to be a little organised and pre-book a ball (USD$55) early if you know you will be arriving later in the day.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 2 - The Baths, Virgin Gorda - Sailing time approx. 1.5 hours

We set off early (upwind again!) to make the most of the day and get to Virgin Gorda early so we could explore the famous 'Baths' before the cruise ship crowds from Tortola arrived. A protected area of natural beauty with globally distinctive rock formations, only found elsewhere in the world in the Seychelles, this is a true highlight of the BVI. You can pick up a national park mooring buoy for free during the day (subject to availability) and it is possible to dinghy your crew ashore but you cannot leave vessels on the beach so some more adventurous crew do need to swim for it!

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 2 - Diamond Cay, Little Jost van Dyke - Sailing time approx. 2.5 hours

Finally on a relaxing point of sail, we enjoyed a relaxing lunch and afternoon sunbathing under the sails on a broad reach heading towards our pre-booked mooring ball for the night. After a long day exploring everyone was content to have a low-key BBQ dinner from B-Line Beach Grill, the only resident of Little Jost van Dyke. The food was fantastic and the homemade rum dangerously delicious.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 3 - Smuggler’s Cove, Tortola – Sailing time approx. 30 minutes

Dodging some early morning showers with beach Jenga at Foxy’s Taboo restaurant, we took a window of sunshine to scramble over to ‘Bubbly Pool’; nature’s answer to a jacuzzi. It turns out big kids enjoy giant beach games and a wave pool just as much as children.

Smuggler’s Cove, Tortola – Sailing time approx. 30 minutes

After a short sail back over to Tortola we spent the afternoon by the beach using our Kayak, SUPs and bobbing around the yacht in our Sunchill (the ultimate water hammock for your group to enjoy).

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 3 - Soper’s Hole, Tortola - approx. sailing 30 minutes

Almost mid-week and in need of water we decided to tuck into Soper’s Hole for a calm night of re- provisioning. Our pre-booked dock space at the wharf cost US $130 including power and water for the night. Stocking up on any provisions we were lacking (namely beer) was possible at the Riteway supermarket located conveniently opposite our yacht. We made the mandatory stop for sundowner cocktails at 'Pusser's landing' pub and were delighted to find another 'Omar's Fusion Cafe' for dinner which had great selection for everyone’s diverse tastes.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 4 - White Bay, Jost Van Dyke - approx. sailing time 1 hour

As the Tradewinds blow 24/7 in the Caribbean we were able to have a fantastic sail back over to Jost Van Dyke, even early in the morning, so that we could get a prime spot anchored off White Bay beach at breakfast. The wind was due to pick up a lot today so we decided to take it easy tucked away in this sheltered anchorage. This is one of our favourite spots and we spent the day swimming and snorkelling from the famous 'Soggy Dollar' beach bar with great cocktails and the best beach hut food.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 4 - Great Harbour, Jost van Dyke - approx. sailing time 30 minutes

There is a lot of space for a secure overnight buoy in the next bay, but to give ourselves maximum time at White Bay and still secure a shore-side location for minimal dinghy taxiing we pre-booked a mooring ball again. Dinner was a casual but tasty affair at Foxy's but we did skip Karaoke for a night’s well-earned rest after a full day of partying.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 5 - White Bay, Guana Island - approx. sailing time 2.5 hours

After a few hours of sailing upwind, the crew had all earned a relaxing lunch swinging on anchor in another beautiful bay. This island is privately owned by a resort but all beaches are public so as long as you stay at the shoreline you can enjoy this perfectly pristine and usually completely empty beach all to yourselves. There is a fantastic snorkelling spot at Monkey Point that you can reach by dinghy if you are feeling more adventurous.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 5 - Marina Cay - approx. sailing time 45 minutes

The services on Marina Cay have just recently reopened for business in 2023 and it has reestablished itself as a lovely little stop. Well-connected to Tortola by a ferry service it is a great option for mid- charter crew changes if you have anyone needing the airport. There are more snorkelling buoys nearby for your dinghy and we took the opportunity to enjoy a group sunset snorkel before dinner. The coral here is really something to see, as well as the turtles. The restaurant food was also top quality, resulting in several crew members developing a new fondness for lobster rolls.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 6 - Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda – approx. sailing time 2 hours

When looking for somewhere special to celebrate the ‘Big Birthday’, Bitter End Yacht Club was the strong choice, and they were so helpful planning a special evening for our group. Starting with a group rum tasting and exclusive use of their top deck Quarterdeck bar, with views over the North Sound. We followed up with dinner under our own private dining gazebo, and the staff really knew how to look after you.

The resort has several all-day dining & bar options, an extensive offering of water-sports equipment, regular activities like beach Olympics and SUP yoga. It also comes equipped with a local delicatessen grocery store and gift shop. The dockage here is around US $300 including power and water for a large catamaran but you can also take one of their mooring buoys for the standard rate.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 7 - Snorkeling at The Indians – approx. sailing time 3 hours

To reinvigorate ourselves the following morning, the brave members of the crew set of on an early hike to take in the views of North Sound. The newly marked trail was only about an hour but included enough incline to earn the views, and our breakfast.

Snorkeling at The Indians – approx. sailing time 3 hours

On our last full day, we enjoyed a long down-wind sail, cruising along the waves with the catamaran is just how Caribbean sailing is supposed to be. Before arriving at Norman Island, we come to ‘The Indians’ and pick up a National Park mooring buoy for some of the best snorkelling we have experienced anywhere.

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 7 - Norman Island – approx. sailing time 20 minutes.

Picking up a buoy in ‘The Bight’ bay on Norman Island, our original plan was to enjoy a few cocktails at the famous 'Willy T' boat bar before moving onto ‘Pirate’s Bight’ restaurant for dinner. However, the atmosphere was too much fun watching the live show of ‘jumpers’ from the top deck that we couldn’t help but join in and before we knew it, we were devouring our last Caribbean cuisine still in our swimwear onboard, not having left the Willy T!

Sailing Journal - South Ionian, Sun Odyssey 440

Day 8 - Return to Nanny Cay Marina – approx. sailing time 1.5 hours. Disembarkation by 12:00 noon

Truly maximising our trip we did not need to return to the marina until the morning of our final day. A short racing reach back to Tortola had us in the harbour by 10.00 with plenty of time for re- fuelling, check-out and disembarkation by noon. We had time for one last quick lunch before the crew sadly had to disband, returning to the airport for an afternoon flight back to Antigua or onwards to other islands to continue the celebrations for Christmas.