The word on the tarmac is that Tortola’s Trellis Bay Kitchen is the unofficial but best departure lounge in the Caribbean. Situated on the beach, a sandy block from Beef Island’s airport, it has become some travelers’ waiting room for a belt of courage or a final fuel-up before heading for an outbound plane. The Kitchen sprouted from the Trellis Bay Cyber Cafe which years before popped up beside Boardsailing BVI – three divergent enterprises bound together by Jeremy Wright who, for nearly two decades, has called the BVI home.
Wright’s larger than life personality is usually around the place; he stays plenty busy, coaching, teaching and helping people out of cyber jams. I popped in one night after a marathon flight and found him taking care of business from behind the bar. “Welcome! You need something cold,” he exclaimed. Before my jet-lagged brain found a thought, he reached for a Carib. “This is it. This is just what you need,” he encouraged as he led me onto the deck and into a big comfy chair. “Perfect. Where’s your camera? This is a good shot.”
Days later I watched that same tailored-to-fit service when a timid, middle aged man appeared, wanting to book a boardsailing lesson. Wright explained the options and, when the gent started to lean toward a few hours of Laser sailing, Coach Jeremy took over. “You want to windsurf!” he asserted. “It’s a snap. Life is short. I’ll have you up in no time.” After a bit of hesitation, the fellow agreed to give it a try and now happily adds windsurfing to his claim-to-fame.
Like so many Caribbean characters, Wright’s back story is one amazing tale after another, each a step that led to the present. His path to Trellis Bay was like most fights out of that airport, a puddle jump that began at 18 when he left school in the U.K., hopped a train to Paris and signed onto a yacht as galley slave for a Mediterranean cruise. Not a bad start to adventure.
The next boat, a schooner, took him from Greece to Gibraltar and on to Antigua. When the vessel’s owner refused to pay the crew, Wright attempted to jump ship but found himself, instead, in the hands of officials who deported him to England. Tempting fate, and the officials, Jeremy returned to Antigua just long enough to catch the next ride out.
That was just the opening chapter in a globetrotting life that sailed on to New York, up the East River, racing to Bermuda and hitching across the states. “When I got to San Francisco,” he recounted, “I dog sat and skateboarded all around the city.” Those hills were the perfect training ground for the passionate board sailor he soon became.
More boats, more travels took Wright to Tahiti, Ahi, Sri Lanka and back to the U.K. where he learned sail making in the Hood Sails loft. “That was great,” he said. “I got to sail on some amazing boats.” Mostly, though, it was boards that occupied his time and attention. “I was a fanatical windsurfer. I made sails, had custom boards. It was a good time.” But it was cold.
When a position at Hood’s Tortola loft opened, he didn’t think twice. “When I got here I went windsurfing every night in Trellis Bay, right here.” Perhaps going with the philosophy of “do what you love,” he later purchased Boardsailing BVI.
Hundreds, maybe thousands of students have experienced success because of Wright’s coaching confidence. Perhaps his most famous mentee is Finian Maynard who holds two world cups for slalom windsurfer. Proudly Wright explained, “He grew up with
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Anyone hanging around Trellis Bay in the 90s, when windsurfers filled every available space in the bay, knew it would last forever. But technology and the mother-of-invention produced a new breed of flying over the water that involved a kite and some sea room. Always one to push it to the edge, Wright got on board, literally, igniting the BVI Kite Sailing Association and added high flying lessons to his already full repertoire.
“We guarantee that we’ll have you up in two hours, turning, going upwind, downwind, the whole thing” Wright told me with confidence.
Trellis Bay Kitchen/Cybercafe Watersports is one of the sponsor/hosts of the legendary full moon parties, complete with bands, mocko jumbies and giant sculpted fireballs. They also host an extravagant New Year’s Eve blowout that fills the beach.
Tiny Trellis Bay: come to have lunch and lessons, wait for a flight to take off, or check your email. But stay to meet wonderful characters you won’t want to miss.