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The Baths

During Part 3, we started our trip by flying down to the British Virgin Islands from Seattle, preparing, provisioning and taking off from the MarineMax base at Hodges Creek on the island of Tortola. We checked out our beautiful MarineMax 443 powercat with all the bells and whistles and plenty of lounging and entertainment space. We departed through the reef at Hodges Creek and visited The Dogs for a day stop, about an hour away. After a refreshing swim, and lunch, we moved on to the world famous Baths and climbed amongst the boulders and grottos. We visited Spanish Town on Virgin Gorda and the next day Gorda Sound with stops at The Bitter End Yacht Club and Saba Rock.

Now it’s time to head out into the Atlantic Ocean for an open ocean crossing to the coral island of Anegada. At a maximum height of 28 feet, it is not visible until the last 8 miles of the 15-mile crossing. The large hook of submerged coral on the east end of Anegada is the home of over 300 shipwrecks over the last 400 years, a testament to the perils of navigating this area without proper charts and good navigation.

 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.

Setting Point at Anegada
The moorage area at Setting Point in Anegada has buoys for 24 boats.

Cruising the Virgin Islands, Part 4: Exploring the Islands of the BVI including Anegada

The next morning we were off navigating 15 miles north to the coral reef of Anegada in search of beautiful beaches, and a lobster dinner served under the moonlight. The charter companies used to prohibit the passage to Anegada unless the skipper was checked out and approved. Up until about ten years ago, the charter boats were not equipped with GPS or chart plotters. Hard to believe but we did not have iPads or tablets with Navionics to take with us either. Navigation was the old-fashioned way on charter boats with a rudimentary chart and time and distance calculations. Miss Anegada in a rain squall or if too far to the east – you’d end up on the reef. Too far to the west – you’d miss the island and overshoot it into the North Atlantic.

Getting to Anegada

Most of the charter boats are now equipped with chart plotters and navigating to Anegada is pretty straight forward and without prohibitions. When we made our first trip to Anegada years ago, we were cautious and brought a GPS chart plotter with us. We did not need it. We left cautiously after a squall went through and just followed the stream of boats going to and returning from Anegada. It was like a highway on the water with boats in a line off in the distance.

Approaching Anegada

When you approach Setting Point, you can follow the color of the water indicating shallow reef under the water. In our Cruising the Virgin Islands cruising guide, I caution that not all of the entrance channel buoys may be there. Improvise and assume that some may be missing. With the harbor diagrams and the color of the water, you can easily navigate your way in. An improvement now is there are up to 24 mooring balls behind the reef for overnight anchorage.

When to Arrive and What to Do

To get the full Anegada experience plan to arrive late morning. Go ashore, and one of the taxi drivers will probably be nearby ready to take you around the island. The “taxi” is often a covered open back of a truck with comfortable seats. It offers excellent visibility to see the island. Ask your driver to point out the pink flamingo flock as you go by. Take your snorkel and swim gear, and a few dollars and ask the driver to take you to Cow Wreck Beach, Loblolly Beach or Flash of Beauty Beach. All three are excellent with beautiful white sand and some snorkeling on the coral heads. For many, the beaches are some of the nicest in the world and beckon for a second-day stay.

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Plan Ahead for Dinner

Make reservations on the VHF or in advance on a cell phone for your choice of beach resort’s lobster dinners. They are all good. In our case, we dined at the Wheatley family’s Anegada Reef Hotel and Restaurant. The preparations start in the afternoon with the lighting of the barbecues for this treat. Arrive early for dinner and have a sundowner or two and enjoy the views. Note when you bring your dinghy to the dock the large pens in the water floating next to the dock full of lobster.

Dinner is out under the sky and the moon with candles decorating the area. The lobster (and chicken for those who do not eat lobster) grilled on the half barrels with the vegetable side dishes. It is delicious, and the grounds fill up with about 50 diners. The view of the moorage area and the lights of the boats adds to the ambiance.

Marina Cay

The moorage area is just in front of the fuel dock and dinghy dock at Marina Cay with a MarineMax 448 settled in for the evening.

Marina Cay

The next day we moved on and pointed the MarineMax 443 to Scrub Island for a relaxing night at Marina Cay. We arrived early enough for lunch at Pusser’s on Marina Cay and an exploration of the small island and its beach. Later we came back to the island for drinks at the famous Robb White Bar on the top of the island, which is a great place to watch the sun go down with your family and friends on board.

Dinner was on the boat. Before we arrived, we had divided up the cooking schedule, and that night we had swordfish, tropical style with a mango-pineapple salsa on board–very good. And, our water view across the moorage areas from the back deck was perfect.

Here is what the Marina Cay Fuel Dock and Anchorage looked liked. If evening, try again in the morning.

Enjoying the beach at Marina Cay with the anchorage in the background.

More Adventures

While at Marina Cay, our crew went over to Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina to see this luxury resort. They went to grab two bags of ice for the coolers – $8 per bag – ouch! I guess if you have to ask – you can’t afford it. This was double all other locations.

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Time to move on. We had hoped to snorkel at Monkey Point on Guana Island, but the sea conditions were a little rough, and we skipped it. Next, we headed to Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke. We grabbed one of the last mooring balls available, and it was only late morning. We went ashore in the dinghy to explore Jost and have lunch at Foxy’s – always an interesting experience.

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Dinner and overnight on the boat with beautiful views again and in the morning a short hop to Sandy Cay to hike around the island, which was a gift from Laurence Rockefeller about 20 years ago. The sandy beaches there are magical.

Cane Garden Bay has plenty of moorage off the beach where there is wall to wall beach bars and plenty of Caribbean music. After a day exploring Sandy Cay and playing in the water off the back of the boat, our crew relaxed with dinner onboard.

A Few Days Left

Our trip was winding down with regrettably only a few days left. Our next episode will feature our journey to Sopers Hole, and then Norman Island before an early morning departure to return the boat and head off for our flights home.

Stay tuned for more British Virgin Islands cruising adventures…

~Mark Bunzel

Catch up on our other stories about the Cruising the Virgin Islands:

Cruising the Virgin Islands Part 1 – Preparing to Go

Cruising the Virgin Islands Part 2 – Pre-Trip Phone Call

Cruising the Virgin Islands, Part 3: Time to Relax and Cruise the BVI

Interested in going on a BVI Flotilla?

Northwest Maritime Center BVI Flotilla February 1-8, 2018

Planning Party on March 29th, 2017 6 p.m. at the Northwest Maritime Center in Port Townsend

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

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