Mélange Travel & Lifestyle Magazine July 2016 - Page 64

© the BVI Tourist Board If you’ve read the novel, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson you know the line, “Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest…yo ho ho and a bottle of rum.” The story tells of the stranding of crew onto a barren rock off of Peter Island in the days of piracy and mutiny in the Caribbean. As Captain of the 45’ sailing vessel Leto I spent a glorious day anchored off the tiny island snorkeling through sea grass with sea turtles and enjoying sundowners of local rum with pineapple. The forbidding rock named Dead Man’s Chest stands in sharp contrast to the long white sand crescent beach of Peter Island and was one stop on a ten day cruise through the beautiful BVI Known as, “Nature’s Little Secret,” the British Virgins encompass 150 miles and over fifty islands in the Caribbean east of Puerto Rico. The main island of Tortola is a mere 12 miles long but is home to one of the largest sailboat charter fleets in the Caribbean. The constant trade winds of the Sir Francis Drake channel make for perfect sailing conditions and the amenities for sailors here are plentiful. Sailing from Tortola into a steady fifteen-knot breeze our first mooring was off of the famous caves at Norman Island, the inspiration for Treasure Island and where stashed pirate treasure was discovered by residents of Tortola. Today The Bight at Norman is a favorite anchorage for both cave snorkeling and drinks aboard the “Willy T,” a schooner permanently anchored in The Bight. Dodging the frequent squalls we sailed up channel to Cooper Island for happy hour at the lovely Cooper Island Beach Club in Manchioneel Bay, where yachtsmen are welcome to shower and pick up ice for the price of their mooring ball. Manchioneel Bay is one of the Department of Conservation & Fisheries Sea Grass monitoring sites and webcams provide a constant view of the turtles and rays that live in this lovely spot. 60 A perfect day’s sail east and we arrived to the island of Virgin Gorda, named by Columbus, “The Fat Virgin” because from the sea the island has the profile of a woman in repose. We picked up a day mooring to explore the fantastic Baths, a series of small pools and tunnels created by a cascade of huge boulders tumbled all around the edge of Virgin Gorda. A restaurant at the top of the Baths, aptly named, “Top of the Baths,” has a tiny pool and good lunches and a tiki bar on the beach serves up the signature drink of the BVI, the painkiller, a concoction of rum, coconut cream, orange juice and nutmeg. After a night in the Virgin Gorda Yacht Club marina and reprovisioning in their well-equipped grocery we headed out to Marina Cay, a tiny speck of an island where the famous Pusser’s restaurant overlooks a fantastic snorkeling reef and sailors can enjoy showers, fuel and ice, and a tiny beach. The eight acre island was the subject of the book, “Two on the Cay” written by Robb White, who lived here in the 1930’s.