They say that sailing is 99% boredom and 1% sheer terror. Perhaps that’s true – I haven’t spent enough time on the water to get tired of it or, thankfully, to experience anything that scared me out of my wits. Based on my limited experience, I’d say it’s more like 30% relaxation, 30% inspiration, and 50% inebriation. Yes, I know, that adds up to 110%, but cut me some slack – my brain is still recovering from the sun and alcohol of a wonderful sailing trip last week in the British Virgin Islands week with my good friend István.
You may have guessed from the funny accent on the second vowel that he’s not from these parts. I met and befriended István when I moved to Hungary in 1993. Despite having been ruled for quite a while by an admiral, Hungary – a landlocked country – doesn’t have much of a nautical tradition. He learned the ropes in England after receiving sailing lessons for his 30th birthday, which was 16 years ago. Now he’s a day skipper and a darn good one too. I survived last week’s trip and another one a decade ago in Croatia. All I had to do was obey whatever nautical commands he shouted at me in a combination of Hungarian and English. “Bend the jib! Húzd meg jól! Hoist the mainsail! Man the poopdeck,” and so forth. Actually, he kept it much less technical since the extent of my seafaring knowledge is knowing fore, aft, port, starboard, and that water is wet.
Let me preface the description of our sailing trip by saying that our wives, Éva and Nicole, deserve to be joint spouses of the year for letting us go. Thank you! Even if the elements don’t cooperate, sailing is a great way to relax and to spend time with friends. For both our trips, the weather was beautiful and the setting even more so. The only thing that would have made it better is bringing our families along and we’re working on that.
The natural beauty, good infrastructure, and warmth of the locals make the BVI a sailors’ paradise. I flew to St. Thomas, one of the U.S. islands, and took a short ferry ride over to Road Town in Tortola, the main town of the BVI. We set sail the next day and hit Norman Island, Cooper Island, Virgin Gorda, and Marina Cay in that order over the next five days, mooring each time.
I can describe the beautiful, clear water, inviting islands and tropical breezes to you ad nauseam, but words really don’t do them justice. The rest of this blog post will try to give you a sense through pictures:
This was our boat, a 41 foot Jeanneau named ADA:
Norman Island, home of Pirates Bight Bar, Restaurant, and Gift Shop, is perhaps most famous for being the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, Treasure Island. However, Norman Island also has a rich documented history of acting as a hiding spot for Pirate booty.Documented history for the island dates back to the early 18th century when a Spanish galleon called Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe buried 55 chests of silver coins after the crew mutinied aboard the ship.