Ever got as far as thinking about a sailing vacation, but never done anything about it as you don’t know where to start? Look no further, as a Crewed Yacht Charter in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) takes all the hassle and confusion away, leaving you able to enjoy and soak up the pure beauty of this area.
I was lucky enough to be invited to step aboard a Moorings Crewed Yacht Charter in the BVIs; I have a sailing background, so know a fender from an anchor, however, there is no way that I would ever even begin to know how to sail, let alone navigate, a 58 ft catamaran! The crewed element takes away the strains of having to shop for food, cook food, wash up and plan the next meal – they are amazingly special vacations, let me tell you and you don’t need to have any sailing experience at all.
Teenagers would love this experience; there is enough ‘down time’ for them to catch up with their social media (wi-fi is available on the boat and the reception is generally very good) and post copious amounts of envy inducing images!
After a pretty straight forward flight from Gatwick, via Antigua and a short drive through Tortola, I stepped aboard my new home! ‘Excelsior’ is a beautiful 58 foot catamaran complete with air conditioning and 4 double en suite cabins.
Scott, our skipper, and Niki, our chef, welcomed us on board and within minutes had rustled up a delicious meal of grilled Mahi-Mahi, a local fish. With The Moorings, crewed yachts which are more than 58 ft also come with a host and Ellen was amazing! We never found her ‘off’ button from day 1 and what she doesn’t know about cocktails isn’t worth knowing about!
After a safety briefing, Scott ran through our sailing itinerary for the week, pointing out what we could expect to do each day and where we would get to. The sailing in the BVIs is perfect for island hopping, enabling you to pick up a mooring buoy for a lunch time stop on one island before heading elsewhere for the evening. It’s all line of sight sailing with short passages, which is just ideal for those wanting to enjoy time in the water as well as on it.
The ‘crewed’ element means that you have breakfast, lunch and dinner on board your boat each day, however, as there are also some fantastic restaurants on the islands, it’s quite nice and very easy to dine ashore from time to time, sampling the local Caribbean cuisine. Most mornings I’d start the day with a gentle paddleboard around the bay, returning to the smell of freshly baked pastries and platters of tropical fruits.
Much of the BVIs is a national park, so anchoring is prohibited in many bays to protect the coral. Instead we usually picked up mooring buoys. The BVIs are famous for dive sites and wrecks galore, but we were more than happy jumping into the azure waters to snorkel along the coral reefs.
We had a lovely long sail up to Anegada from Virgin Gorda one morning and spent most of the time lazily stretched out on the trampoline’s bean bags, accepting a delicious mocktail that Ellen had conjured up for us. It’s so easy to drink from dusk til dawn on the boat; we were offered Mimosas with breakfast, rosé with lunch, sundowners and paired wines with dinner!
Anegada is a beautiful low-lying, nearly flat, coral island, known for secluded beaches like Loblolly Bay and Cow Wreck Beach. Waterside restaurants feature Anegada lobster and the island is home to flamingos, rock iguanas and rare plant species like sea lavender.
A visit to the BVIs isn’t complete without a visit to the iconic ‘Soggy Dollar’ Bar at White Bay on Jost Van Dyke, so the following morning after a beautiful sail downwind from Anegada, we picked up a mooring buoy in Great Harbour and headed by local bus through the hills to the neighboring White Bay, home to this ultimate Caribbean beach bar!
Not so long ago, before dry bags were invented, there was no road to White Bay and no electricity on Jost Van Dyke. The only way for yacht charter guests to get to the bar was to dinghy to the beach or swim from their yacht. And that is how the Soggy Dollar Bar got its name.
Serving its legendary rum based ‘Painkiller’ cocktails, it is the perfect place to while away a few sun-drenched hours.
As we were moored round the point in Great Harbour, our skipper Scott came to get us (rescue us) from the beach in the RIB and bring us back to the boat in time for dinner. On the way back, we passed the ingenious ‘Ocean Spa,’ a floating spa which was built mainly from lumber salvaged from around the BVIs following Hurricane Irma.
Unfortunately, as all good things do, our 7 days of sailing the ocean wave and being waited on hand and foot soon came to an end. After visiting 8 stunning islands, it was time to leave the boat and board the plane at Beef Island. As I sit here writing this, I’ve already found myself getting quotes to charter a boat with my family. Life on the ocean wave is exciting, it’s relaxing and breath-taking and, in this case,, absolutely no good for your waist line, but that’s what vacations are all about right?