We’re ten minutes out of the Dream Yacht Charter base on BVI’s Scrub Island, provisioning and chart briefing with base manager Thierry Ote done and done.
Marina Cay, dead ahead, is an emerald pillow on a sapphire quilt. Due east, past a reef marked by a white surf necklace, Virgin Gorda hovers like a Caribbean Bali-Hai.
Deep water now.
My older adult son, Shaun, takes the helm. I go below to pick a playlist.
My wife, Sharon, and I have sailed the British Virgin Islands several times but it’s been six years since our last charter. First time for our crew, Shaun, Adam, a couple of years younger than Shaun, their partners Caitlin and Nicole.
I climb back topside, singing along with the Beatles, though I’ve modified the lyrics.
Forget the U.S.S.R.
We’re “Back in the B.V.I.”
YELLOW SUBMARINE (NOT)
Next tune, halfway across Drake Passage, strikes me funny even as I’m belting out those words.
This time I’m revising the lyrics of “Yellow Submarine.”
“We all live in a Bali four-point-oh.”
For our trusty steed, a Bali 4.0, “Parmenide” by name, is no rickety submersible but an elegant and comfortable catamaran unique to the Dream Yacht Charter fleet.
A couple of fantastic features struck us immediately upon boarding.
Spacious saloon with this unique lift-up aft wall, a sort of garage door setup that makes for elegant dining al fresco and lets you, come evening, catch every cross breeze you could hope for. Staterooms as generous as the saloon.
We discover another big appeal once underway. “Parmenide” boasts a wealth of places to chill, from formed chaise longues beside the nav station to a generous bow cockpit perfect for catching rays and downing Painkillers.
For the next week we’re all living on a Yellow Submarine.
GOOD DAY, SUNSHINE
Fast forward to our last morning on the water: dawn on the hook off Norman Island.
Over coffee in the cockpit I watch pelicans dive-bomb for breakfast; the sun rises over eastern green hills.
Good day, Sunshine.
I replay the week’s adventures.
Cooper Island, though we missed dinner there because we grabbed a mooring ball too late. “Restaurant there’s one of the best in the BVI,” Thierry Ote told me back at the Dream Yacht Charter briefing. “But you need reservations.”
A glorious run down the end of the Passage, around Tortola and close-hauled in eighteen knots to Jost Van Dyke, vision of the height of Tortola off our stern sufficiently beautiful to bring a landlubber to tears.
A sandy haven idyll off Jost, where we sun and swim on the edge of paradise; the stop on the way to the Bight, where we snorkel at the Indians, a gallery of rocks clawing skyward off Norman.
Perfect weather, perfect winds, perfect times.
Good day, sunshine.
Dawn today in paradise. Yesterday a dock in Nanny Cay and a dose of reality.
Yesterday (though actually long before that), all the troubles of locals – AKA “Belongers” – must have seemed so far away.
Then came Maria and Irma.
Maybe not so far away after all.
Only now are they rebuilding and replacing the docks at a marina we remembered with fondness. Scattered near the channel entrance and all the way in, boats are submerged and sunken, twisted, shattered.
It’s a surreal feeling coming back here and remembering.
Depending on where you go you’d never know a storm had passed. In other places – particularly here, at Soper’s Hole and over on Virgin Gorda – you’re struck breathless by the damage that’s still so evident.
Regeneration is well underway here at Nanny though the façade of Pusser’s Landing in Roadtown is still marred by scaffolding, though iconic BVI properties remain closed.
“We’re coming back,” Ote told me at the end of the Dream Yacht Charter briefing. “Slowly but surely.”
Today – and yesterday – all those troubles do seem just a little farther away.
And the BVIs are still my favorite place to sail.
WE LOVE YOU, YEAH, YEAH, YEAH
“How’s Soggy Dollar?” is one of the first questions I asked Ote at the chart briefing back at the Dream Yacht Charter base.
“Fine,” he assures me. “Just like you remember it.”
My boat back in Canada is called “Soggy Dollar,” testament to my affection for this Jost Van Dyke beach bar.
My kids aren’t at first smitten by this rudimentary watering hole, but a couple of hours reclining on alabaster sands and cooling in turquoise-painted waters work their magic. Multiple rounds of Painkillers don’t hurt.
By late afternoon I’m sure that both our sons and their partners have succumbed to the allure of one of my favorite Antillean archipelagos.
“You love it here, right?” I say.
“We love it,” Shaun and Cait say in unison.
“And you? Adam, Nicole?”
“We love it. We love you.”
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
A BVI PLAYLIST:
- To book your Bali 4.0 for your bareboat charter through Dream Yacht Charter, click on www.dreamyachtcharter.com/destination/british-virgin-islands/. They also list other sailing opportunities like “booking a cabin” on a skippered charter and other folks – including “friend you haven’t yet met,” according to staffer Isabelle Rouma.
- For more information on this fabulous cruising ground, go to www.bvitourism.com