As I checked the weather for our crossing of the Anegada Passage, I realized we might be able to fulfill a dream I have had since I got to the Caribbean 6 years ago. As I read up on Sombrero Island, all I was really able to find out is a brief description in a cruising guide, it on the chart, and some history on Wikipedia.
To say I was a bit nervous is an understatement, but I was not going to let that stop me. I staged on the east side of Prickly Pear in the BVI and motored out the channel between Virgin Gorda and Necker Island at 2am with 0-5 knots of wind. We continued to motor for about 8 hours (53 nautical miles) and arrived around 10:30am. I started seeing the building from 9 miles out and wondered if it was a ship since I read the island was flat. Once I started seeing the island itself I started getting excited.
Sombrero Island is roughly a mile long and half a mile wide. It is a platue 40 feet high and looks imposing. We finally started getting depth reading about a mile or two out and I dropped the anchor into sand in 70 feet of water. I was several hundred feet off the island and just west of the buildings at N18 35.164/W63 25.766. Do be careful because my chart plotter had me 200 feet onto the island. There is what looks like a small harbor on the satellite photo, but it is too surgy and there is nowhere to tie the boat off to (although this is where they craned up supplies and loaded the boats with guano). Since there was no wind and a very small swell I felt ok with 200 feet of chain out (3:1 scope) to visit the island for an hour or so.
I read that you can climb up the ladder to get to the steps carved into the cliff. This is all true information and the ladder is a good steel one bolted to the cliff. It is just north of the small harbor I mentioned. The problem is that the ladder is six feet above the water and there is nowhere to tie the dinghy that would keep it from getting destroyed against the rocks. You will probably have to do what we did and have someone drop you off at the ladder and stay with the dinghy. Luckily Melek did this for me after I gave her a lesson in driving the dinghy……ok it was more of a pull this, turn that, now drop me off. Haha. I was so excited to get onto Sombrero Island and she has written a funny blog for Thursday about this experience. I hope you will come back to read it.