[Shane – this is an article I wrote and submitted to several sailing magazines to see if they would be interested in publishing it. Of course, my readers do not have to wait. 🙂 It will be split into three parts this week, so no one part is too long.]
I have owned my Lagoon 410, Guiding Light, for eight years now and the last six of those years I have run it as a charter boat in the Virgin Islands. Well this year I blocked out a period of time starting in mid-April, so my girlfriend and I could go cruising for six weeks.
I chose to make a loop from Virgin Gorda in the BVI down to Montserrat along the eastern islands and then back north along the western ones. I have written about our time on each island extensively through my blog, but I would like to take some time and give you my highlights and recommendations for each island.
Sombrero Islands – We started off with perfect weather for us to visit this deserted island that has the remains of three different lighthouses and was a huge phosphate mining operation. It sits 35 miles north of Anguilla, who owns it, and 55 miles southeast of Virgin Gorda. We had very little swell and the wind was below five knots, which is what I recommend if you visit. The mile long by half a mile-wide island is a 40-foot-high plateau sticking out of the sea and looks like an aircraft carrier as you approach. You anchor in 70 feet of water on the western side to the south end of the ruins. There is a metal ladder sitting 6-7 feet off the water and is the only way onto the island. Unfortunately, there is nowhere to tie the dinghy and the ladder is to high up to swim in, so you will need to have someone wait in the dinghy as you explore what is now a huge bird colony with pretty cool ruins as the setting.
St Barts – We continued to take advantage of the calm weather and skipped St Martin to get a bit further south and St Barts did not disappoint us. While the town of Gustavia is about as cute as you can find, the anchorage is quite crowded and can be on the rolly side. As much as we liked the town, we loved Anse De Colombier cove at the northern tip even more. This deserted cove has a great beach, nice snorkeling, good protection, and free moorings to help you completely relax. Another fun anchorage is Ile Fourchue, which is a small island four miles away and where I ended up finding a treasure trove of goods, but that is another story. ????
Barbuda – Given the islands we wanted to see, I decided to motor directly into the wind for the sixty miles to Barbuda, so we could have nice sails to each of the islands that follow. Barbuda is paired with Antigua forming an independent country and most people don’t know you can check in at Barbuda if you provide 48-hour notice. Once checked in find George Jeffery who can take you on a tour to see the largest frigate bird colony in the world. He can also be your water taxi across the lagoon if you anchor in Low Bay to enjoy 11 Mile Beach. We rode our bikes to Two Foot Bay to see, among other caves, one that was an incline and got you to the top of the “Highlands” 114 feet up. On the way back, you can visit the Codrington estate ruins, who owned the island in years past, and take the trail to the very cool Darby Sink Hole (I wrote a blog giving directions to get there). At the southern end, Gravenor Bay is very secluded and has wonderful coral heads to snorkel.
TO BE CONTINUED ON TUESDAY