Big Trunk Bay

Thursday January 29, 2015

Big Trunk Bay, Virgin Gorda

We have found our own little slice of heaven here in Virgin Gorda.  A little secret I was tempted to keep to myself, but since I kind of let it slip in my last post anyway I may as well share it so that others can enjoy it as much as we have.  Are you ready for these three little words?  Big.Trunk.Bay.

Imagine that you are anchored in 15 feet of clear and pristine turquoise waters and just in front of that is a powdery white sand beach.  As if that wasn’t tempting enough, just behind this is a jungle of palm trees, and situated behind those are gigantic boulders rising out of the earth.

If that’s not enticing enough, just a few hundred feet down the shore is one of the most breathtaking natural wonders you’ll ever come across.  The Baths and Devi’s Bay. Enjoying it at your leisure, it’s just a quick dinghy ride back to your secluded paradise.  Less than a handful of boats may join you during the afternoon and once the sun begins to set it’s likely that you’ll have the entire place all to yourself.

This is where Matt and I found ourselves for three consecutive nights and had a very tough time tearing ourselves away from this morning.  Each day so far has been started with a cup coffee out in the cockpit followed by general lounging.  Afternoons have included a trip to the Baths, or snorkeling the offshore boulders.  Evenings are spent on deck with a cocktail in hand watching the sun sink behind the hills of Tortola.  At night the starts come out in the dozens and if the water is calm you can see the moon illuminate the sand below your boat.

Yes, this place seems to be as close as you can come to perfection. If there is one downside to this area though it’s that during the late morning to mid afternoon there are unfortunately a fair number of boats running people to and from the Baths which means you will get waked from time to time.  We had this along with just a bit of a swell coming through, but fixed it easily with a bridle pointing us west where the swell and wakes were coming from.

It’s safe to say that if we had more than just a few weeks to spend in the Virgin Islands we would have been in this spot for at least a week or maybe even more.  Although as it stands, we have other islands and eventually a panhandled state calling our name.  But now that the secret’s out you can enjoy this Shangri-la on your own.  Just don’t tell anyone I sent you.

Big Trunk Bay, Virgin Gorda

View of Tortola from Virgin Gorda

Big Trunk Bay, Virgin Gorda

Big Trunk Bay 2, Virgin Gorda

gatos del mar

Big Trunk Bay, Virgin Gorda

sunset over Tortola, BVI

sunset over Tortola, BVI

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The Baths of Virgin Gorda

Wednesday January 28, 2015

Matt & Jessica The Baths

After my incredibly necessary night with Kim and Jereme on Sunday night, we made our way to Spanishtown to check ourselves into the country on Monday.  It was such a surprise when we came out of Gorda Sound to find the close proximity of all the islands to one another.  Knowing that we just had to travel down the coast of Virgin Gorda a little further I kept looking at the chart plotter and then looking up to what I was seeing in real life and scratching my head.  Because what my eyes were telling me was that I was looking at Tortola, but my brain, which was so used to islands being 40 miles apart at a minimum, could not fathom that you could literally always see the next island you were sailing to.  I just expected a speck in the distance instead of lush hills right before my eyes.  But so it was.

After spending one somewhat uncomfortable and rolly night outside of Spanishtown, we knew that we wanted to visit the Baths at Virgin Gorda next.  Based on multiple friends blogs and posts we knew there were moorings available right at the park, but you could not stay overnight at them.  Motoring down the coast since we couldn’t see the need in raising the sails for a one mile jaunt, we ended up stumbling across a perfect little beach in which to anchor that was just a half mile up from where the Baths were showing on our charts. Anyone who has been here will tell you that The Baths on Virgin Gorda are an absolute must see.

What they are is a geological formation of granite boulders that are settled into the sand and shallow areas of the sea.  Filled with caves and small sea pools, they are an incredibly neat place to explore.  With some of the boulders having a diameter of over 40 feet, being dwarfed by them in such a beautiful location was not something I wanted to pass up. Making the move over to Big Trunk Bay on Tuesday morning, we made one attempt at the baths by just jumping in the dinghy and motoring over.  Having done no research at that point, we had no idea what to expect.

Puttering in front of these massive pieces of granite for the first time was definitely awe inspiring, and even though a lot of my friends had been going a great job of capturing them on (digital) film, nothing compares to seeing them first hand. What we had not been expecting this first day is that to get to the baths by water you need to park your dinghy about a hundred feet out and swim in through a partitioned off area.  Since I had my non water proof camera with me and no water proof case at the time, this attempt was going to be a no-go.

We were however able to pull up to a spot on shore half way between the main attraction and Serendipity, where we did wander the beach a little and tried to climb through caverns in these massive boulders to get to the main park, only to realize that swimming would be involved anyway.  On the beach we met some very nice vacationers who said it was well worth the effort to go back to the boat to drop off my camera and head back once more.  “You will never find anything like this anywhere else in the world”, they kept telling us.

It was obvious that, yes, we would need to come back here fully prepared.  Running back to Serendipity to drop off my camera as well as devouring a quick lunch, we were back in the dinghy and making the swim through the properly named bath like waters and toward the shore.  Taking a second to catch our breaths we then followed the crowds to find there was a trail head through the boulders that led to an area called Devil’s Bay.

Ducking through the crevice of the grand bedrock over our heads we quickly popped out in an area where we were surrounded by walls of rock that towered over our heads with just a small patch of blue sky above.  The open air was swiftly gone as we continued to follow the path into one of the caves made by the formation.  Inside was a waist deep pool of some of the most beautifully turquoise water I’ve ever seen.  Taking a little time to ourselves to explore we wandered in and out of cracks and gaps of the boulders, splashing through warm puddles and gazing at the natural wonders surrounding us.

The Baths Virgin Gorda

The Baths Virgin Gorda

The Baths Virgin Gorda The Baths Virgin Gorda

Once we were finally back on track we followed fellow trekkers across the tops of slick rock while holding on to a rope along the side to help you keep your balance.  Getting let out at the end I made a graceful tumble into the ankle deep water and righted myself in time to continue on to other aids that helped us get across more trecherous areas.  One we actually found through you get get through without the little bridge if you can suck in your stomach to it’s limits to squeeze between a few boulders.

After one more steep ladder and then crouching under a few more boulders while scaling over others on a bridge, we were finally let out at the other side where Devil’s Bay awaited us.  Very much worth the maze, although truthfully that was just fun on it’s own.

The bay was a protected section of beachfront with boulders circling 2/3rds of the way around it.  Bright crystal waters gazed back at you and it was no surprise that the crowds were taking advantage of the refreshing waters and soft sand beach.  If there was a downside to the area it’s that it is in no way a hidden gem.  Everyone and their grandmother knows about it and will probably be visiting at the same time you are unless you happen to stop by first thing in the morning or late in the afternoon.  But for once, we actually didn’t mind the crowds.

Sitting in the sand we got in a great deal of people watching, and when it became too hot we moved ourselves to the giant shadows cast off by the rocks.  We both agreed that this place was unimaginably beautiful and there was no way we could make this our only visit.  Better prepped, we came back again once more stocked with a water bottle, snacks and the waterproof case for my camera.  We toyed with the idea of bringing our snorkel gear to make the swim in, something we had seen almost everyone else with a dinghy do, but we didn’t want to carry it around with us all day or pay for a storage locker.

If we didn’t have to keep our pace moving to see a few more of the islands, I imagine that we’d permanently park ourselves at Big Trunk Bay and make an almost daily trip to the Baths.  So my advice to you if you’re ever in or anywhere near Virgin Gorda is to see this natural wonder of the world.  Be prepared for some possible crowds, but otherwise, I don’t think there is any way you could be let down by this place.  Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.  I mean, just look at it…

The Baths Virgin Gorda The Baths Virgin Gorda The Baths Virgin Gorda The Baths Virgin Gorda

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Laho!; Virgin Islands

Sunday January 25, 2015

Laho Virgin Islands

“btw, where do you think you’ll be in the Carib in Jan/Feb? Maybe we’ll be seeing you……”

“how the heck might you be seeing us in Jan??? We will be somewhere in the eastern carib for sure. I’m flying to Florida next week for a week (photo sessions) and then when I get back we are going to start moving again. We think we’ll be in the Virgin Islands by the end of the month. Who knows after that. What the heck are your guys’ plans???”

“I was hoping to see you in the Eastern Carib this winter…because we’re going to be back there! We just bought a new boat in FL, we’re crossing back across the Atlantic!”

“shut the hell up!!!!!!!!!!!!!! what did you buy and why?????????????? :))))

I am dying over here.

but excited you guys are going to be in the carib!”

 

still dying. hurry up and message me back. lol.”

 

It’s really fun to mess with your friends when you send them a message like that when they’re expecting you to spend the next two years in the Mediterranean.  This is this exchange I had with my good friend Kim from Lahowind when I let the news spill to her that we were in fact turning around and eventually making our way back to Florida.  As you can see, we were both excited at the prospect of seeing each other again so soon.

I won’t lie when I say that part of our schedule lately has been based on when we could meet up with our friends Kim and Jereme.  They were already entertaining family, but I was going to be damned if we were so close to each other and I missed out on a meeting.  With Matt’s “We need to get back to Florida to begin work on the new boat ASAP” mind frame, I knew that any chance I was given with Kim and Jereme, I had to snatch it.  So when they told us they’d be in Virgin Gorda on Sunday, we said “We’ll be there”.

Leaving St. Martin yesterday after making yet one more quick stop to Island Water World, we were on our way to the Virgin Islands in perfect conditions.  15-20 knot winds on the back quarter, sun shinning.  I’m not going to hide it from you….it was a perfect day to lay out on deck while getting rid of tan lines and sipping on the cheap gin we had just purchased at one of the mega marts in St.Maarten.

The evening and night went quite smoothly as far as sailing goes although it was quite nice except for the fact that there were actually boats to watch out for which we hadn’t seen since our sail from Lanzarote to Gran Canaria.  Moving along quite swiftly we actually had to slow ourselves down so we wouldn’t arrive before sunrise, and Matt woke me even a few hours early for my 8 am shift since he could barley keep his eyes open once it became light out.  Part of his vampire syndrome where he can only be active when it’s dark out.

Having stayed up to date on Kim’s blog with the little internet we were eventually pulling in Simpson Bay, I knew that Prickly Pear had spots to anchor, and even though Laho was going to try and take a spot near Saba Rock that night, we should still be in dinghy distance from each other.  Pulling into Gorda Sound just after 9 am, we dropped anchor in a near empty spot and fell heavily back into sleep until the early afternoon.  From there we tidy’d up a bit and swam in the beautiful teal waters until we were able to reach Kim and Jereme on the radio.  They had been coming from another spot in the BVI’s and we weren’t always in easy connection.

When I did finally reach Kim she told me they were running a little behind schedule and should be getting to Virgin Gorda around 5:30.  Since they had planned on making a delicious dinner for us on their boat but were apparently a sweaty mess and needed to clean up before we visited, we had no trouble pushing back our original 6:00 dinner reservation to 7 while they cleaned up and prepped the boat for us.

Virgin Gorda Sound

Laho in Virgin Gorda Sound

sunset in Virgin Gorda Sound

When we got the call on the VHF that everything was ready, we loaded ourselves into the dink along with a full cooler and a gin & tonic in my hands as we went to greet our long lost friends.  After getting easily lost in the dark anchorage but finding them surprisingly easily considering all the anchor lights shinning against the black sky, we climbed aboard to lots of hugs and excited chatter.  Kim led me below to watch as she prepped our baby back ribs and fed me a Laho dark & stormy that I admittedly hadn’t stopped bugging her aobut since she first blogged about it on her site.  Those liquids mixed in that cute glass?  How should I have been able to resist?

When dinner was served it was nothing short of amazing and the buffet style Kim had set up below deck worked out perfect for the six of us to grab plates and fill them with food at our leisure.  Oh that’s right, I forgot to mention the cousins!  Jereme’s cousin Lindsay and her husband Keith were visiting at the same time as us.  I do remember that they were extremely cool people that had extremely cool stories to tell, but I can’t remember all of it and I’ll tell you why in just a sec.

Jessica with margarita

Kim

cousins

I have a condtion and it seems to be that I’ve become a bit of a lightweight lately.  The gin & tonic I brought over with me?  One drink down.  The margarita that Kim made me with the tasty tequila she first let me sample in Bimini?  Two drinks down.  (Or should I say three by the strength Kim mixed it at, haha).  The delicious Dark & Stormy?  I was O-U-T.

Ok, maybe not like, passed out right away, but I definitely wasn’t completely with it.  I think I snapped a few photos of everyone enjoying themselves in the cockpit and may have commandeered one of our Canary Island beers from Matt.  I was still enough with it to pose for a few photos with Kim which I looked surprisingly sober for.  I am a little ashamed that my first day back with one of my good friends and I was not quite myself 60 minutes in….but I blame that on Matt for not drinking with me enough in the Canary Islands or having nightly sundowners on our passage.  Like that would have been a possibility anyway in the not-so-great conditions we suffered in for 2,200 miles.

Kim & Jessica

Photo courtesy of Lahowind

dark & stormies

laughs on Laho

So, even if I don’t remember every detail that happened, I do remember enough to know that I had a great time that night.  And the pictures prove that as well.  I had a least a little time to connect with Kim again while her margarita was working it’s way through my system and catch up on our last 10 months apart.

We’ve both traveled so far and experienced so much.  Yet the universe found a way in it’s heart to bring us back together.  A set of friends who’s bond was immediate and strong and has continued over moths apart and thousands of miles in distance.  I can easily say that I love this couple with all my heart and visiting them again, especially after the loneliness that followed me through the Atlantic Island of Europe, was enough to fill my soul and last me for months to come.  Plus these are the few people I know that would let fall asleep in a temporary tequila/rum coma on their coach roof, wake up with enough energy to make one joke about boobs before getting shoved into a dinghy to say good-bye, and still want to talk to me the next day.

Jessica & tequila bottle

laughs on Laho

Jessica & Jereme

 

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