Tuesday, 1 March 2011

British Virgin Islands - First 3 Days

Tuesday 15th March we travelled to Puerto Rico via Dallas. It was a long flight, and the airlines wanted to charge for food. We arrived in Puerto Rico at around 10:30 pm, and took a taxi to the Hotel Howard Johnson in Isla Verde. After checking in (we had the 'Bunker' a room with no windows on the ground floor), we went for a short walk to a Pizzeria/Bar, and had some drinks to unwind from the trip..... they were super strong, the bar tender just poured the drinks into the glass with out measuring.

We got up early on the 16th and took the short flight from Puerto Rico to Tortola; British Virgin Islands, it took less than 30 minutes. The view from the plane was spectacular, and the runway ends right next to the beech.

We took a taxi to the marina and got our first view of the yacht that would be our home for the rest of the vacation. The yacht was called Chimere, and it is a classic over 30 years old, but well looked after and in super condition.

Next we had to go shopping to get provisions for the sailing trip. We filled 2 shopping trolleys (Carts), and had to take them back to the boat over an unsurfaced car park... what an effort it was like going cross-country.

We loaded all the provisions, and then had to prepare the yacht for sailing, this included filling the water tanks, checking the engines, checking the refrigerator was working, ensuring all the lines (ropes) were free of knots, etc.

When complete it was well into the afternoon so we went to the marina for some cocktails. A live blues band was playing, they were fantastic, and we danced the night away, making some new friends along the way. Eventually we returned to sleep on the yacht as we had a early departure planned for the morning. The sleep was great, the boat was gently rocking, and it lulled you into a deep sleep.

Thursday 17th we woke early and departed from Tortola to Cooper Island. There was little wind, so as this was our first trip on a yacht it allowed Silvia and I to learn some basic sailing skills like hoisting the sails. We arrived at Cooper Island early afternoon so after fixing the yacht to a can (buoy) we took a swim in the clear Caribbean sea. Silvia made a new best friend (an inflatable dolphin), she used it as a bouncy aid to relax in the clear blue sea.

We swam for around an hour, then returned to the yacht to prepare for dinner. When ready, we went to Willy-T's; a large boat that serves as a restaurant/bar. We went in a uniform of blue T-shirts, plastic trilby's, and large Elton John style glasses. We ordered several dishes, and the food was good. We then stayed on for a few drinks. It was very strange that being so far away from Illinois we met a group from our city Peoria, and another group from the next city Bloomington. Whilst on Willy-T some thoughtless person untied our dingy, and we had to make a rescue mission to get it back, otherwise we would not be able to return to our yacht. Fortunately we managed to rescue the dingy, and Carrie (Our Captain) trained me on how to use the out-board motor.

We eventually returned to the yacht and Carrie, David, Silvia and myself relaxed on deck for several hours watching the stars before going below for yet another deep sleep.

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