A Travellerspoint blog

BVI Sailing Charter

SV Sognare June 14-21, 2015

Allan and I are many-time repeat visitors to Jost Van Dyke, always land based. This summer we took our first ever sailing charter, along with two other couples.
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We chose a crewed charter on Sognare, through Charter House. Our captain, Marcus McClain and first mate, Risa Chu were both exceptional at their jobs.
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We started out of St. Thomas on a Sunday afternoon and checked in at Soper’s Hole, then on to anchor nearby the Willy-T for the night. Two of our crew were new to the islands and I wanted them to get the full experience. We headed to the Willy-T while Risa prepared our dinner. There was plenty of naked jumping going on, so I think our friends got their money’s worth.

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The next morning we were up early and moved to the Indians for some snorkeling before heading off to Virgin Gorda and the Baths. Once we arrived, we climbed up the blazing hot trail (barefoot) and had lunch at the Top of the Baths. Then I took the newbies through about half of the Baths, while hubby and the other couple hung out on the beach.

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After settling back in on the boat, we headed to Leverick Bay where we had dinner aboard and then went ashore for a couple of drinks.

The following morning we had a nice sail to Anegada. First things first, we immediately made dinner reservations at The Wonky Dog. Then we rented a truck for the day to drive around the island. We immediately got “lost” but you can’t get too lost on Anegada. We managed to hit Big Bamboo, Anegada Beach Club and Cow Wreck Beach all in one day. So many beautiful beaches on this Island. I believe I need at least a week here someday just to disconnect from everything.

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While our chef, Risa provided restaurant quality meals every day, I have to say the best meal I had on this trip was at The Wonky Dog. Our captain had recommended the lamb shank and I went with that. It was spectacular! I also got the foie gras appetizer and although it was good, it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had. But still, foie gras on the beach…hard to beat. If you have a chance to have dinner here – do it!

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After breakfast the next day, we had a nice sail to the Dogs where we attempted to snorkel. The jellies were thick here and I only lasted about a minute. My husband lasted a while longer but got into a swarm of them and headed back after just a short while. We then moved over near Scrub to try our luck there and were hit pretty hard with jellies again.

We gave up on snorkeling and decided on lunch at Marina Cay.

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Once we were all stuffed on those huge deep fried hot dogs, we headed over to Monkey Point to try our hand at snorkeling again. Luckily no jellies to speak of here (maybe two or three stings), but I was shocked by how dead the reef is. We had snorkeled this about two years ago, maybe three, and the difference was astounding. There were plenty of fish in the healthiest part of the reef, and we had fun watching a fairly large puffer fish watch us for quite a while, but it is sad to see so much dead coral.

We overnighted here at Monkey Point and took out for Cane Garden Bay the next day after breakfast. This being my first CGB experience, I was underwhelmed. Perhaps because it’s off season, but it just seemed kind of boring to me.

We did, however, get a real treat just before we pulled into CGB. The captain caught a nice size Wahoo! He cleaned it and handed it over to Risa, who made us a delicious lunch of ceviche, sashimi and a couple other things, of which I cannot recall the names. After lunch we lounged around and a few of us swam while the Captain tended to a few items on the boat.

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We headed to Little Harbor JVD for the evening, and went ashore for dinner at Abe’s by the Sea. The lobsters are always delicious here. The staff and service are always great. And Abe, as usual, was sitting on the sidewalk chatting with friends. This was a first time experience for our newbies at an honor bar; kind of a novelty if you’ve never seen one. We invited our captain to join us for dinner, as he had never eaten at Abe’s before – only Sydney’s and Harris’ place. He seemed to enjoy it as much as we did.

Overnight in Little Harbor and then up the next day to move over to Sandy Spit for some snorkeling. We encountered jellies here too, but they were not quite so thick here. Managed a decent snorkel and only a few stings. Afterward we moved over to closer to Foxy’s Taboo. We made the walk to the Bubbly Pool, which was not bubbly in the least, but our friends can now say they’ve been there/seen it.

Lunch at Foxy’s Taboo, a little shopping and we were off to check out B-Line Bar. This place is just awesome - so laid back and relaxing. Plenty of games if you don’t want to just sit around. It felt good to get in some activity in an uncrowded environment. I hope this place stays just the way it is!

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Toward mid-afternoon we moved over to White Bay. Of course we swam in for a painkiller or two, said hello to some of our island friends and then back aboard for dinner. It was a lovely, quiet night in White Bay after the day trippers left.

The next day was spent ashore on White Bay. I was happy to get to see some of my Island friends and get a few hugs. Chatted with Jewel, while sharing a hot dog with my husband. (We skipped lunch aboard in lieu of our favorite White Bay snacks.) We moved down to One Love to hear Reuben play and share a lobster quesadilla and some bushwhackers. The rest of our crew wandered down after their lunch and listened to Reuben for a while.

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Late in the afternoon we moved to Great Harbor. We had some mechanical problems and quite a mess trying to getting anchored. One engine was out, due to some sort of cable needing to be replaced. Captain Marcus handled it quite well, with one of our crew assisting by nudging the hull with the dingy as Marcus directed him. He couldn’t manage to get anchored so ended up on a ball. We cleaned up and went to dinner at Corsair’s for our final dinner of the trip. Both the captain and first mate joined us, and we all had a great meal together. I managed to see another one of my Island friends and a quick hello with him as we headed back to the boat.

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Up the next morning and over to St. John, with more tricky maneuvering by the captain and one of our crew in the dingy to get us tied to the dock at Customs. Checked back in and headed to St. Thomas to disembark. Said our goodbyes to Marcus and Risa, and headed off for a cheeseburger at Tap & Still to cap off the trip.

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All in all a great trip. If I had any criticism it would be of the state of the boat. The owners need to commit some dollars to updating (cosmetic) and maintaining things (mechanical). Marcus and Risa work hard to keep it clean and running, though, so no fault to them whatsoever. They are a great crew and I would love to sail with them again.

Posted by Flip Flop Life 09:29 Archived in British Virgin Islands Tagged tortola anegada virgin_gorda Comments (0)

Turks & Caicos Islands

Middle Caicos December 27, 2014 to January 3, 2015 **Very long trip report**

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We said our goodbyes to Barb, the owner of Villa Diasanadu on Provo, and headed off to Avis to turn in our rental car. Avis shuttled us to the ferry, and soon we were on our way to Middle Caicos. The ferry ride is about 25 minutes, and the landing is actually on North Caicos. Christi and Susan at Blue Horizon Resort on Middle Caicos arranged for a driver to meet us and taxi us to the resort.

We were impressed with the ferry system here, in comparison to the ferry system in the Virgin Islands, which is a royal mess on some days. Maybe you'll get a ride, maybe you won't. But the ferry in TCI ran on time, the equipment was beautiful and clean, the staff was friendly and you could even buy a beer while you waited!

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The ride from the ferry dock to Blue Horizon Resort was long, but well worth it once we saw the place we would be calling home for the next week. We chose the Tropico Cottage, which was absolutely everything we expected based on the website pictures. Adorably decorated, spacious, airy and fully outfitted with everything we needed for a relaxing week.

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Just a short walk away (on BH property) is the Mudjin Bar and Grill, where relaxed with a rum punch and some lobster bites which didn't survive long enough to pose for a picture.

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And, the magnificent Dragon Cay, which enticed us to this island in the first place:

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Blue Horizon offers a provisioning service, as the restaurant choices are few and far between on Middle Caicos. Mudjin Bar and Grill is open for dinner, by reservation only. Daniel's (we'll get to that in a few minutes) is only open one night per week for dinner, if I recall correctly. So, if you plan to stay at BH, you'll need to plan on cooking a few meals. Anyway you can order your groceries and they will have your cottage stocked by the time you get there.

The ladies at BH got our provisions just as requested. Although we did have a hilarious encounter on the second day. I had ordered tomatoes, and I remember looking in the refrigerator and seeing them, as I did a rough inventory of our groceries. Well, on day 3 of our stay, I decided to make linguine bolognese for dinner, and thought I'd make some bruschetta as an appetizer, to surprise Allan. As I started looking for the tomatoes, knowing I had seen them the day before, I was stunned to find that we had no tomatoes! Allan and I looked everywhere and finally gave up and chalked it up to alcohol and old age. Maybe there never were any tomatoes.

About the time I resigned myself to the fact that there would be no bruschetta, Susan (one of the managers) came flying up in her SUV, waving at me and saying she wanted to see how neighborly we were. It turns out they had put BLT's on the menu for the Mudjin Bar and Grill, and they were slammed with customers and ran out of - you guessed it - tomatoes! Knowing we were out and about for the day, and knowing they had put tomatoes in our refrigerator, she came over to borrow them! Now, a lot of people might be offended by this, but we had a really good laugh about it. Susan is just a sweetheart! They replaced our tomatoes the next day, and we went on with our lives. The linguine bolognese turned out to be one of the best meals we have ever had on vacation. Note the fancy garlic bread, made from English muffins. Sometimes you have to be creative. And of course, we drank my expensive bottle of cheap wine. You know, the one I paid double for on Provo.

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Our days on Middle Caicos blended into a nice rhythm. I needed to exercise, since we were going on two weeks away from the gym. So, I ran every morning and threw in 100 squats at the end of my run, for good measure. Not quite a CrossFit workout, but good enough for vacation.

This was the view from one of my morning runs:
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On New Year's Eve, we had dinner at Mudjin Bar and Grill. Surf & Turf was the order of the day and it was delicious. We couldn't finish it, so we took the leftovers and Allan prepared steak and eggs for breakfast the next morning. After a midnight champagne toast, to ring in the new year we were off to bed!

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We explored Middle Caicos from end to end and saw so many beautiful, untouched beaches, it is almost hard to describe the sheer beauty of this place. I have to say, this is our kind of island. Much like Jost Van Dyke, the locals are friendly, welcoming and genuinely nice people, and there is no traffic or noise at night.

One the Blue Horizon Property there are plenty of places to explore. We walked up one morning to the start of the Crossing Place trail, and then headed down into the caves, to a "secret beach". We didn't do any hiking on the trail, however.

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One of our favorite places was Daniel's Cafe. Daniel and his wife welcomed us like family. The food was perfect - cracked conch, fried snapper, lobster fritters, and cold beer, with the requisite peas and rice. We had lunch here twice, and were invited to a New Year's Day Lobster Fest dinner along with a handful of guest and the staff from Blue Horizon.

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One of the highlights of our stay on Middle Caicos was kayaking through the mangroves, out to Sand Dollar Island, where we collected sand dollars. We also ran across a live conch, and a cute little star fish!

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We also had a "rental" car on Middle Caicos for about three days. Using the term rental very loosely here. We did pay to rent a vehicle, but it was actually a loan from a friend of one of the managers of BH. No contract, no ID, no insurance...just a set of keys and here ya' go! It was a beat up old SUV, and just perfect for our needs. We drove all the way to Wild Cow Run, which is quite a feat (look it up on a map). It's nearly the end of the earth, but it's beautiful! We saw a couple of flamingos along the way too, as a bonus.

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We did some snorkeling at Bambarra beach, after finding a place that wasn't horribly choppy. Took us a couple tries but we found a nice spot. The coral was in great shape!

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On our last day, we drove to North Caicos and ended up at Sandy Point, where we had this lovely beach all to ourselves. Behind us was the failed Royal Reef resort. Very post-apocalyptic feeling, but fascinating at the same time. There are plenty of stories of failed real estate deals and lost fortunes in the TCI. This beach was by far one of the most pristine I've ever encountered, and could almost make a strong case for ousting Jost Van Dyke as my favorite place on earth.

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If you couldn't tell by the blog, we enjoyed Middle Caicos immensely more than we enjoyed Provo. It just has more of a feel of the real Caribbean (though, technically it's not even the Caribbean) than Provo. Provo seemed just a winter jumping off spot for the Hamptons crowd. Designer clothes, over-priced shopping, see and be seen, etc. I'm all for that now and then, but give me a down-home, authentic island experience any day - that is a vacation!

Middle Caicos has not seen the last of us!

Posted by Flip Flop Life 13:36 Archived in Turks/Caicos Islands Tagged turks_and_caicos blue_horizon Comments (0)

Turks & Caicos Islands

Providenciales - December 20 to December 26, 2014

What a fabulous trip! We spent a week on Providenciales, celebrating Christmas on the beach, and enjoying the endless beautiful beaches of Provo.

Provo is fairly densely populated, with high-end resorts, luxury villas, high-end shopping and fine dining. We chose a lovely VRBO unit in the Turtle Cove Area, "Villa Diasanadu", which had everything we needed. Full kitchen, bedroom, living room, large bathroom, and a wonderful lanai, where we enjoyed a nightly happy hour before heading out to dinner. We enjoy leisurely mornings, and making our own breakfast when we rent a villa, so having a kitchen is nice. And, in an ultra expensive place like T&C, it is a good way to save a few dollars to spend on lavish dinners, which I absolutely love. Provo has two very well-stocked grocery stores, comparable to American markets. Expect to pay about one and a half to two times what you would pay at home for groceries. I even found my favorite bottle of wine for only twice the price!

View from the lanai of Villa Diasanadu:

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We had a rental car for the entire week, through Avis. Avis was reasonably priced and efficient, and the vehicle was new and clean. I highly recommend a car for a week stay on Provo. There is so much to see and it's easy to navigate. Just remember - stay left!

Tip: when the car rental attendant offers AAA service, TAKE IT! We (and when I say "we", I mean Allan) managed to get stuck in the sand on the very first day, despite my saying, "I think this is a bad idea". Avis wanted to charge us $500 to tow us out of the sand. And then I imagined them finding all sorts of non-existent damage. We quickly hung up on Avis and found a local tow service, gladly paying them $150. It seemed like such a bargain after talking with Avis. I was so relieved to get out of there, I never said, "I told you so!" and I never really got mad. I just had to laugh at our luck. I mean, we were in paradise, after all.

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Most of our beach time was spent on the Western end of Grace Bay, away from the big resorts. Snorkeling was good here at Smiths Reef, though it was particularly windy this week and the water was a bit churned up. During the week, we made the rounds to almost all of the beaches on the island. We visited Chalk Sound and gawked at the huge mansions. We spent an afternoon at Sapodilla Bay, sipping cold beer and people watching. We drove to Leeward and checked out Long Bay Beach, which is very secluded and dotted with even more mansions. One of my favorite places was Sapodilla Bay:

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Provo has so many incredible restaurants, we found it difficult to choose! Since it was high season, reservations were imperative. We decided to go high-end for four dinners, and wing-it the other three. For our reservations we chose Mango Reef, Seven, Via Veneto, and Le Bouchon. Every meal was delicious and worth every sinful calorie. I particularly enjoyed Mango Reef. Dinner seating was on the beach, lit by candles and tiki torches. I chose the deconstructed lobster ravioli based on recommendations at TripAdvisor, and I have to say, it immediately made my list of "top 10 memorable meals." Our casual nights, we dined at Danny Buoys (burgers and such) and Tiki Hut (local fare, conch, etc.). Both had great food and decent service. One night we skipped dinner entirely, after a big lunch at Da Conch Shack. You can't go wrong with any of these places, if you're planning a trip to Provo.

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Deconstructed Lobster Ravioli from Mango Reef

If you're a craft beer fan, you'll be disappointed in T&C. Actually this is true of most Caribbean islands. Caribbean beer is just awful. Being good sports, and for lack of any other options, we tried the local beer "Turks Head" lager and it was horrid. We managed to gag it down with limes and then moved on to Corona after that. Prices are exceptionally high on beer and wine. Everything is imported, so I totally get it, but still got sticker shock every time we bought a case of beer. Turks Head was around $35 per case, and Corona, dear old Corona was $75 per case, which we gladly paid and deemed it "the good beer" for the remainder of the trip.

On this trip, I made it my mission to find the best cracked conch in the TCI. On Provo, the best was at Da Conch Shack, and second was Bugaloos. By the way, both of these places are well worth a visit, even if you're not a fan of conch. Both are in picturesque settings, very relaxing with nice sea breezes, shade and friendly service.

Here are a few of my favorite shots from Provo:

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A day at Grace Bay; Our favorite spot at Grace Bay; Long Bay Beach
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Allan at Da Conch Shack; Conch for Sale; Chalk Sound

Our last night on Provo there was a Junkanoo celebration, which we briefly attended. Basically it was a street party with lots of Reggae music, steel bands, street food vendors, people in costumes, and a parade. We didn't stay long, as we were leaving for Middle Caicos the next day, and wanted to make it an early night. It was a good way to get out and see how the locals celebrate Boxing Day.

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We thoroughly enjoyed our week on Provo, and aside from the mishap of getting stuck in the sand, everything went very well. We would definitely return here. Although, after we visited Middle Caicos, we determined Provo would only be a "passing through" spot for us. We fell in love with Middle Caicos! That report is coming up soon!

Posted by Flip Flop Life 09:35 Archived in Turks/Caicos Islands Tagged conch providenciales Comments (0)

An Introduction

And then on to some trip reports!

Hi! I'm Angie and my husband, travel partner, and accomplice in all sorts of shenanigans, is Allan.

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We have been together for 10 years, and share a love for traveling and adventure. I look forward to sharing our trip reports here. I have posted them in various blogs over the years, and hope to consolidate them here in one place, as I have become quite fond of Travellerspoint.

~Angie

Posted by Flip Flop Life 08:29 Tagged introduction Comments (0)

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