The only bad news about a Virgin Islands charter vacation is that at some point it ends. Because time seems to fly by so quickly, I always recommend a nine to ten-day charter (minimum) in the Caribbean. Why? It takes one to two days at the start of the trip to slow down and re-learn how to relax, island style. Some (like me) take work along with them, and it can take a few days to wind down completely.
In the end, I am not sure if it is the rum, the sun, the blue waters and beautiful views, or a combination, that pushes you to slow down, relax, and enjoy.
Do you want to experience the Virgin Islands on a MarineMax Vacations powercat? Take a look at their website and then give us a call at 425.780.5015 for 5% discount code.
Cruising the Virgin Islands, Part 5: Relaxing on Norman Island
After visiting Jost Van Dyke and Cane Garden Bay, it was time to start working back towards the MarineMax base on the other side of Tortola Island. We stopped in at Soper’s Hole on the West End of Tortola for a lunch stop. We let the colorful and inviting shops draw us in, and at the Harbour Market, which features a good selection of food items, like flash frozen Swordfish, we purchased some for an upcoming dinner on board. After walking among the shops, we ordered Painkillers at Pusser’s deck before heading back to the boat, which waited for us on a mooring ball in the middle of the harbor. Next stop – Norman Island.
Norman Island has a colorful history. The caves on the end of Treasure Point were once said to hide the treasure of the pirates and sailors who roamed this area and made famous by the book Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.
It is said that during the early 18th century a Spanish galleon called Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe buried 55 chests of silver coins after the crew mutinied aboard the ship. Although most of the treasure is said to have been found by Tortolian residents and later by Lieutenant-General of the Leeward Islands, Gilbert Fleming. More pirate treasure is rumored to exist today on Norman Island.
A quiet afternoon at The Bight on Norman Island.
Norman Island – The Bight
Our favorite anchorage, with six mooring balls at Kelly Point, was already full. No worries for there are over 100 mooring balls in The Bight, and which gave us plenty of options. We took a mooring ball deep in the bight not too far away from Pirates Bight Bar and Restaurant – actually two bars and restaurants.
Over the last ten years, this corner of The Bight has grown up. The bar and restaurant used to be called Billy Bones and had a rustic, pirate flair on a beautiful beach. The construction of a new improved restaurant and then an unfortunate fire evolved into two restaurants and bars. The dock for dinghies and tenders to large yachts is situated in front of a beautiful white sand beach with many beach chairs. The bar service extends to the beach, and while the lounge chairs are available at no charge, the drinks delivered right to your chair make this a pretty lucrative venture.
Norman Island – Treasure Point
Our afternoon activity included taking the dinghy about a mile away for a snorkeling adventure in the caves at Treasure Point. While there is some day moorage for larger boats, the dinghy moorage is a line between two blue floats with loops to tie up the dinghy. It is a short swim to the caves. While many snorkel here daily, your imagination of pirates and treasure can run wild as you swim deep into the darkness of the caves.
The two restaurants at Pirates are very good with some unusual and very well prepared menu items. We had one of our best dinners on the trip there at the Pirates Club, to the left side as you come up from the dinghy dock.
The world famous Willy T is beginning to show its wear.
Norman Island – Willy T. Thornton
The next morning we made the decision to stay right where we were, exploring the island and taking advantage of our last days. With standup paddle boards, and hiking trails on Norman Island we had plenty to do. And, we still had not been over to visit the William T. Thornton, better know as the Willy T.
For many, long-term, repeat visitors to the BVI, the Willy T may bring back memories of rum soaked nights and wild partying and dancing on the Willy T. The bar used to give away t-shirts to adventurous women who would dive from the top deck, au natural, passing the bar on the way down. Over the years things got out of hand and diving or jumping off the top deck is now discouraged, but a few of our crew did – with bathing suits on I might add.
The Willy T has seen better days, or should I kindly say she probably looks better in the moonlight. We visited. We jumped off the top. We drank. We left. Then, we dined on grilled swordfish with mango salsa, served on the back deck for our last night on board.
Cruising the Virgin Islands, Part 5: Norman Island
Back to Reality
Since we stretched out our trip as long as possible with our final night on Norman Island, we started out early the next morning to return the boat and catch the 10:30 am ferry from Tortola to St. Thomas for our flights home. Half of our crew did not want to return to work and extended their trip with a 3-day stay at a VRBO villa with a pool on the hillside above Road Town, Tortola. There are many options for traveling in the Virgin Islands.
After planning and dreaming for months before the trip, it was hard to believe our trip was over and we were headed back to snow and rain in the Seattle area. Our memories would hold us over until our next trip and charter cruise in the Virgin Islands.
The crew pretty much agreed, our MarineMax 443 spoiled us. She was comfortable and spacious with plenty of room for entertaining on the flybridge areas, stern deck and even inside. The Spectra watermaker provided the luxury of frequent showers for our crew of seven without the worry of running out of water while washing dishes. An unlimited data WiFi hot spot gave us a lot of options for looking up information or making reservations, and yes, some of us we peeked at our work email. All around, it was a great charter trip.
~ Mark Bunzel
Catch up on our other stories about the Cruising the Virgin Islands:
Interested in going on a BVI Flotilla?
Northwest Maritime Center BVI Flotilla February 1-8, 2018
Are you sick of the rain? Are you tired of the dark and stormy being overhead and not in your glass? WE ARE! We’re scheming our next sailing adventure and we want you to “Flotilla with Us” to the British Virgin Islands next winter. Bareboat or jump on a boat with one of our notorious Captains, Jake Beattie or Daniel Evans from the NWMC or one of our Seattle celebs!
Start the party early and help shape this adventure. Come to the planning party to hear all the nitty-gritty details.
~Northwest Maritime Center