Monday, December 21, 2015

Tortola to Norman Island, BVI's

As the holidays have hit us all like a steamroller and life get's CRAZY busy at this time of year (which is what I attribute all of the the nutso drivers out there to)
I finally have a moment to get back to updating the blog from our trip in late November / early December. It's hard to fathom how far we've cruised over the last 14 months. About 14,000 miles to date! We are in the "home stretch" and have about 5,000 more to go until we find ourselves home early next June...
         This map should give you a good overview of the islands in the Caribbean chain...
The boat is currently in Nanny Cay in the British Virgin Islands. 
That's located on Tortola / Beef Island to be exact...
Here's a great aerial view of Nanny Cay.

 What is Beef Island and who in the world came up with the name "Beef Island" you ask? 
Well, I did some research and a story exists of an eccentric crazy lady... 
No... it wasn't Joan Crawford, but a woman by the name of Catherine George who in 1724, had a fair sized plantation and kept cattle, goats, chickens and ducks, many of which disappeared on a regular basis. There were pirates, buccaneers, hoodlums (gasp*) and beachcombers infesting Marina Cay and Trellis Bay at that time (relatable with our homeless population) so one day she decided to have a bacchanal; an open "house party" if you will...where "grog" would flow like water. 
At the end of the day there was not one of the 36 attendees left standing; all had been poisoned by her witches brew. Ruh ro! 
Maybe Miss Columbia's jip of the royal crown wasn't the worst thing to ever happen?

The bodies were carried off in two cane carts to be buried near Trellis Bay. Apparently Catherine George lived to a great age and finally died in 1754. The ruins of the Great House can still be clearly seen today. Looking down over the bluff to the south are the remnants of terraces where gardens were planted and further to the east are broken walls, possibly remains of cattle pens. So, that's why its called Beef Island...due to her cattle population she allegedly housed. 
Which is probably why there are hordes of wild chickens running all over the island at will..
It could be due to that infamous soirée of hers way back when.
                                       Hopefully those chickies aren't meeting this fate..
Tortola is a volcanic island and the largest of the British Virgin Islands and approx 70 miles east of Fajardo, Puerto Rico. It's 12 miles long and about 3 miles wide.The name turtle is Spanish for "turtle dove" which you can spot flying around town. The center of activity is in the capital, Road Town, which is becoming more modern every day and undergoing a "cruise ship" port expansion. According to the 2010 census report, the population of the British Virgin Islands is approximately 28,054 with 23,419 or about 86% living on Tortola. The territory's existing infrastructure would suggest a population of several times that number. The first stop light (which made front page news in local papers) was installed in Road Town in 2003. 

Even their license plates have quite a charm...

This is a view of an inlet we walked past heading to our dock..
The topography here is so beautiful. Reminds me of the South Pacific... lush as can be!
Bordered by the historic Sir Francis Drake Channel, Tortola has a rich history of fishing, farming, sailing, pirates and privateers. This island is known worldwide for its marvelous beaches, aquamarine waters, yacht charters and offshore banking.

Road Town is also home to several bareboat charter fleets. The most popular is called "The Moorings". We've used that company various times in the past and have found it to be a great adventure outfitter in regard to sailing in some special parts of the world. They have oodles of sailboats & catamarans. (Cat's being the mode of choice here in the BVI's) It was originally launched in 1969 with only three boats in their fleet. That number quickly grew to six and has continued to grow exponentially. Today, there are no fewer than about 14 charter companies and more than 800 yachts (both bareboat and crewed) based in the British Virgin Islands, arguably the most popular sailing destination in the world! You can see why...
There are 4 National Parks on the island, including Mount Healthy which is the island's only remaining sugar mill. Other parks include Sage Mountain, J.R. O'Neal Botanic Gardens & the Queen Elizabeth Park. 
How do you like this art installation? The Tree O' Shame...
It must be where dingy propellers come to die.

Brad, Bish and I decided to take a little drive across the island over to Cane Garden Bay.


Can you see the HOARDES of tourists  in the water and everywhere?
It turns out, there was a cruise ship in town. EEEEK.

We had a nice lunch overlooking the water, and that bay was gorgeous once you viewed it from higher up on the mountain.

Along our drive we saw some very rustic food stands, which all had their own type of island charm.

We made our way to Road Town which is the main center of Tortola where all the action is.
I spotted a farmers stand and we had to make a pit stop for some fresh provisions.
It was all organic and some of the best produce we've had!

There was a rouge wild chicken under the table along with her little baby chicky.

Then, we were off on our next adventure...
to the towns big grocery store to load up for our next guests.
Below, Brad & Bish discuss the merits of food prep. Ha!

On the way back to the marina, we spotted this restaurant. What a crack up!
It was in a very rustic shack which probably doubled as someones home.
This guy was for sure a patron...he was struggling!

And then we were back to our marina!

It was time to hit the pool for a little swim.

Later that day, we headed to the airport to pick up Mark & Kim...
It turned out to be "rush hour" in town. Love all the random goats!

We waited for them just outside the international arrival area...and waited. 

Then..I spotted tennis star Tracy Austin who was in town for the Necker Cup.

The Necker Cup is six-day/five-night, all inclusive world class Pro-Am Tennis Event hosted by Sir Richard Branson on Necker Island in The British Virgin Islands. 
Sounds like a splitting good time to me!
Sixteen ATP / WTA Tour Players/Legends are paired up with sixteen amateur teams of all levels, who compete in this fun and spirited tennis competition. A handicapped scoring format makes it competitive for every player. Teams consist of one pro and up to two amateurs...sign me up! Teams compete to win their bracket and earn a chance to play in the Necker Cup Finals to be held on December 2nd before the Charity Tennis Exhibition. 

As for poor Mark & Kim, they were trapped in customs for almost an hour...things move very slow here in the Caribbean and we've gotten accustomed to it.

Once we scooped them up at the airport, we had to make a pit stop to return our rental car. And, as luck would have it the neighborhood did not disappoint with random cattle walking down the street. The perfect way to inaugurate our guests with the island vibes!

This was Sherise our extremely helpful rental car owner. She was going to drive us back to the boat in our rental, but first had to finish a phone call so she unhooked & brought her office phone to the car with her. How in the world it was still working was beyond explanation...but she finished up her call and then kept the phone on her lap once she hung up. You can't make 
this stuff up!
We arrived back to the boat and Bish had dinner ready and waiting for our travel weary guests.
From southern California, it takes a minimum of 3 flights to get here.
That can add up to 16+ hours of travel. Eeesh.

The next day we had a few sprinkles, but that didn't stop us
from departing Tortola and heading over to Norman Island.
The history of Norman Island (610 acres) is steeped in fantastic tales of pirates & buried treasure as told by Robert Louis Stevenson in his famous children's classic, Treasure Island. According to John Amerhein the author of "Treasure Island, The Untold Story", the premise of Stevenson's fanciful novel was based in fact. it's difficult to overlook the rather glaring similarities between Stevenson's novel and actual events that took place here. 
Many places on Norman Island are historically significant to actual events that unfolded in the British Virgin Islands in 1750 and the names of some of the bays tell part of a larger story concerning those events. Stevenson dated his treasure map in the novel 1750 as well. Coincidental? I don't think so. You'll have to read the two books referenced above to find out why.

The island is comprised of rolling hills, rocky headlands, numerous bays and many great places to dive, snorkel, swim, hike, eat, drink ... and be merry.

Pirates Bight Restaurant is located on a white sand beach
on the southeast end of the Bight.
When exploring Norman Island you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Sir Francis Drake Channel, gorgeous bays and the surrounding islands. You may even stumble upon some ruins left behind from the plantation era.

If The Bight is a little too busy for your liking, you can escape to the peacefulness of a number of other lovely anchorages (see below) ... provided nobody else has beaten you to it. Refer to our map of Norman Island for the various locations.
One of the many wonderful things about Norman Island is that it boasts several truly spectacular anchorages. Some are perfect overnight spots, given the right sea and wind conditions, whilst others are for daytime use only. It's noteworthy that one small island could be blessed with so many fantastic places for sailors to enjoy.
Mark & Kim strike a pose...

Madonna has nothing on them.

The original restaurant built on this site was named Billy Bones. It was opened in 1996 by Valerie and David Sims and named for the character in Robert Louis Stevenson's novel, Treasure Island. 

In early April, 1999, Dr. Henry Jarecki and his wife Gloria bought the island, and in 2002, renamed the restaurant "Pirates Bight". In late 2012, the restaurant underwent an extensive renovation and was reopened on December 9, 2012. 

Sadly, in the early morning hours of October 1, 2013, less than a year after the renovations, the restaurant burned to the ground just as the tourist season was about to get underway. Apparently rats ate through the wiring, triggering the fire. 

Undeterred by this major setback, Dr. Jarecki quickly had a temporary building (above) erected and had the restaurant back up and running by November 11th, less than 6 weeks after the fire. As it turns out, that temporary building was too nice to tear down and is currently used as an annex to the main restaurant for special events. 

We loved this little spot and st down to enjoy some afternoon scooby snax.
Mark & Brad were ready to bust out my "signature" pose by the time we it!!
One thing I absolutely love about the Caribbean is the unfussy nature of not always needing to "dress" for dinner. We rolled up to the restaurant and I was still in my bathing suit and only had to throw on a tank top to complete my "island attire" ensemble.

Another gorgeous sunset...they seem so lush here in the Caribbean.

As for those of you at home...
Enjoy your holiday shenanigans!

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