We always try to coordinate a one-week bareboat sailing vacation around the time of the annual crewed yacht charter show that is scheduled in the US and British Virgin Islands every November. This year was especially interesting for us since it was the one-year anniversary of the devastating 2017 hurricanes that destroyed homes, businesses, boats and much of the charter industry infrastructure. Everyone’s life in the BVI was changed forever.
It is frankly amazing how much has been accomplished and how hard our partners, colleagues and suppliers have worked during the past 12 months to put everything back together. We would like to share our experiences with you.
We did the classic “counter-clockwise” route around Tortola, picking up our Lagoon 45’ cat in Hodges Creek Marina on the South side of Tortola. We spent the first night at Marina Cay, then Anegada (2 nights), Cane Garden Bay, Great Bay/White Bay on Jost van Dyke, Norman Island, Peter Island, Cooper Island and then back to Hodges Creek. We did not visit Gorda Sound since there has been a lot of unrepaired damage in that area and a shortage of mooring balls.
Local Charges and Taxes
There is a new (2018) entrance tax of $10 per person that needs to be paid up-front. We assume this is a “reconstruction” tax and is additional to the $20 per person exit tax that you pay when you leave. The National Park individual cruising permits worked out at $42 per person per week the vessel tax was $35 flat fee for the 45’ cat and the VISAR (search and rescue) contribution was $2 per person for the week. This is a moving target so please check with us beforehand.
Fueling and Provisioning
Fuel and water are available at Marina Cay, Cane Garden Bay, Nanny Cay, and Village Cay marinas. Groceries are available from Rite Way on Tortola and Virgin Gorda and Bobbies in Cane Garden Bay.
The mooring ball situation is patchy. Let me start off by saying that there are plenty of moorings but not all are functional, and many do not have pennants attached. Circling each anchorage before committing is a wise thing to do. In Anegada we approached several mooring balls without success (no pennants) until we finally found a good one. The price for moorings has pretty much been standardized at $30 per night which, in our opinion, is reaching the upper limits of reasonability. If I was younger, I would consider anchoring although the thought of getting up in the middle of the night to check for a dragging is not appealing.
The channel marker buoy situation is also patchy but not dangerously so. The approach to Anegada for example, is missing a couple of markers. Cane Garden Bay is missing the red marker. White Bay is missing the reds that guide you through the reef, but the greens are there so no problem.
The Iconic Bars and Restaurants
Marina Cay was badly damaged and has not fully recovered. The fuel dock is now open (last week) but the restaurant is in a tent on the beach and Pusser’s is much reduced.
The Anegada Reef Hotel is serving up it’s usual delightful grilled “lobsta”. The building has been patched up, re-painted, refurbished and has a brand-new beach bar.
Myetts at Cane Garden Bay is still undergoing major reconstruction, but the beach bar is open, and Kareem and Val are pushing hard to get everything back in shape.
The Soggy Dollar has been completely rebuilt and is looking better than ever with tables, umbrellas, beach loungers and a great new gift shop.
Sopers Hole was badly damaged. Perhaps the most affected of all. There was a lot of damage to boats and property. The fuel dock is not operational, and the waterfront stores have been mostly wiped out. The Voyage Charters base has recently reopened with a limited number of boats. You can still get a drink at Pusser’s.
Pirates Bight on Norman Island up and running and just as pricey as ever.
Willie T’s has moved to Great Harbour on Peter Island, yes there are quite a few new mooring balls there, but rumor has it that the Willie T will be moving YET AGAIN since it looks like Peter Island resort will be building their own restaurant in Great Harbour and don’t like the competition.
The Cooper Island Beach Club was the least affected and was one of the first to open. Today you can hardly notice that there was a hurricane there, let alone 2 hurricanes. The local crew did a fantastic job bringing it back to pristine condition.
Foxy’s is totally functional and almost finished. We were lucky to spend some quality time with Foxy himself who is now 80 years young. His most recent project is to establish a farm on Jost van Dyke and a school to teach kids how to grow stuff.
The Resorts and the Reconstruction
Scrub Island Resort is up and running. Both the hotel and the facilities and the marina are operational.
The Bitter End Yacht Club was devastated and is currently closed and sources tell us that they are shooting for a 2019 opening of the shorefront facilities and 2020 for the accommodations.
Saba Rock was demolished. There is new ownership and reconstruction is under way. Someone talked about a December 2018 opening for the bar and restaurant. Don’t bet the farm on that one.
Biras Creek Resort is planning to re-open in 2019. It was, however, already closed before the hurricanes.
Peter Island Resort does not have an official reopen date yet. We hear it will be in 2019.
Necker Island is not officially a resort but can be rented by the day from the Branson organization. It is operational.
Well, you’ll be pleased to know that the BVI is still the BVI. All its natural beauty and its incomparable beaches are intact and its reputation as the world’s premier sailing destination remains untarnished. The monetary contributions from the British Government, Sir Richard Branson and the various funds as well as the hard work of the local people has paid off. Not quite there yet, but 80% perhaps.
BTW, we had a delightful sail back from Anegada to Cane Garden Bay during our trip and our robust Lagoon 45’ was pushing over 8 knots. It can’t get much better than that.