After spending at least two months traveling throughout the British and US Virgin Islands, we reluctantly had to prepare to sail on down the island chain. Thinking back to all the islands we sailed to in the Caribbean, from Dominican Republic to the north coast of Venezuela, each island had its own special charm. The US Virgin Islands consist of the major islands of St Thomas, St John, and St Croix. The British Virgin Islands are made up of the major islands of Jots Van Dyke, Tortola, Norman Island, Peter Island, Virgin Gorda, and Anegada.
There are so many attractions and things to do that you may never want to leave. Rather than us leave the Virgins to go back to Connecticut for Christmas that year, our family flew down to stay aboard with us. There is so much you can do while idling away in the Virgin Islands. There is something for everyone, including you. You can swim, snorkel through the caves on Norman Island or wade through the Baths on Virgin Gorda. You can swim off your boat or take your dinghy around for some quiet sightseeing. You can easily move your big boat to explore the different islands that make this place so special. You can choose from the Last Resort in Trellis Bay at the end of Tortola where we enjoyed our Christmas dinner. We enjoyed a New Year’s Eve dinner on Cooper Island with friends from another boat. You are seldom alone unless you want it that way.
It was quite easy to hook up with anothercruiser and rent a car to tour the islands. We toured Tortola, visited every Pusser’s Rum restaurant/store on Tortola, Soper’s Hole, Marina Cay and Roadtown. I am not sure if this still exists but we discovered the Saturday afternoon “Martini Club” at the Bistro at Fat Hogs Bay Tortola. This was followed by an all you can eat buffet. After dinner, there was entertainment from a shanty singer and a group of musicians.
When you travel by boat and literally live among the local people, you absorb so much more of the true culture than you would get from traveling with a tour group, for example. It is not unusual to hitch a ride from a local and feel quite safe. There are certain cautions you should be aware of when you feel you are in an unfriendly or hostile environment, as well as in a rundown area. Do not walk around town with all of your fancy jewelry on view. Leave the gold chains and diamond rings hidden aboard your vessel. Better yet do not bring them at all. I have a simple gold wedding band that I wear when we are off sailing and put my valuables in a safe deposit vault in a bank. You do not need any of that where you are going. Also please dress modestly. Save your short shorts and skimpy tops for the beaches. Island people are very religious and modest in their dress. If you have some fancy things, save them for an appropriate place or restaurant. Ladies, halters are fine as longas they cover what needs to be covered. The beaches are something else. I am referring to walking “down town” where the shops and restaurants are located. You will find that most local ladies dress quite modestly and properly. Poor or rich, it does not matter. Modesty does.
No matter where in the Caribbean you go, the dress standards are the same. Try not to feel embarrassed as you walk around town in your Tevea’s and shorts and the locals are in stockings, dresses, shoes, not sandals. Just be neat, clean and modest.
Restaurants are plentiful. Please do not pass up a restaurant because you think you may not like the food or it doesn’t look as pristine as you may find at home. There are so many delights to enjoy if you only let go of your preconceived expectations. Have you ever heard of roti or pepper pot soup before? Me, neither. We were with friends in Roadtown, V.I. and went to the Roti Palace for lunch.
Rotis are a typical West Indian dish from Trinidad. The outer soft shell is much like a burrito shell filled with a curried mixture of some kind of meat such as chicken, goat, lamb, conch etc. Roti is not only found in restaurants, they are also sold on the street from a vendor on a bicycle.
Don’t be afraid to try new foods. It is all part of the culture which has been derived from several other cultures. Enjoy.
Frances is a Commodore of the Seven Seas Cruising Association and a member of Sailing Association of Marco Island and AP United States Power Squadron