Virgin Islands – British, US, Spanish

Virgin Islands – and where is starboard?

For the dream destination of many charter crews – the BVI – we only wanted to allow ourselves a short week. As much as the charter sailors are annoying, it is sometimes uproariously funny to see how they torment their crews and vessels. Preferably watched from a safe distance. Skippers trunking at full speed towards a mooring ball and then barking at their crew for not getting the lines fixed. The record for unsuccessful attempts to pick up a mooring ball in low wind was 7. My favourite of the week was like a stag: Skipper: “take the line on Starboard first”. Crewmember: “Ok Skip. But where is Starboard?” If the crew has problems with left and right, it can indeed affect a manoeuvre.

On the last evening, well entertained and fortunately not rammed, we happened to meet our sailing friends Iris and Volker, who had just arrived from St. Martin. The cult sites Saba Rock and Bitter End Yacht Club were worthy places for another farewell. The following day, we treated ourselves to a stop in Norman Island to snorkel at the “Indians” rocks. A highlight of the BVI and highly recommended.


Saba Rock, Bitter End, Tarpons, North Sound entry

One last time, I had to endure the lethargic and ill-tempered clearance in West End, which took forever and wasted valuable lifetime. 18 stamps later, we were allowed to leave the BVI.

Our next destination was in sight, even with unpolished glasses: US Virgin Islands. Similar name, different nation: the USA. The clearance there is the absolute opposite of the BVI: simple, fast and friendly. And, unlike in BVI, Antigua, Nevis, Dominica, St. Lucia and Grenada, it is free of charge. However, a valid B1/B2 visa from the USA is required for entry as a sailor.

Welcome on board: Star Link

Now that we were officially in the USA, we immediately sailed to Crow Bay Marina in St. Thomas. There, the answer to all our telecommunication dreams was already waiting. Our Star Link system. Installed in a matter of minutes, the constant search for SIM cards on every island became a quickly fading memory. And even more so the stone age technology Iridium.

Out of the box installed in minutes

One country and two remote bays later, we’re still in the phase of enthusiasm. It looks like everywhere now we have really good internet, just like people on shore (with the exception of Til). Even in remote places and on the road. You will not mention from this article, but it’s posted with Star Link. Phase of enthusiasm.

US Virgin Islands

But now something more about chronicler duty and the USVI. I had already reported in detail on an earlier visit. If you like, you can read about it there. Therefore only briefly. They are great islands and less commercial than the BVI. There are few charterers because VISA rules keep them away. The few charters on offer are crewed and of a very high standard.

St Thomas is synonymous with cruise tourism. With a population of 45,000 and up to 6 cruise cruisships a day, this is a reason to look forward to the offseason. In addition cargo vessels does not make the bay of Charlotte Amalie a health resort. But there are many nice anchorages all around. In Water Island we saw large and small turtles, a fantastic Spotted Eagle Ray and an enormous octopus entertained us with the play of colours of its camouflage. Within no second it turned green, sandy and then “rocky”. What special creatures.

Turtle with a pilotfish combo, Spotted Eagle Ray, Ka and Turtle

St. John has only 4,000 inhabitants and a lot of nature. 70 % of the coastline is a nature reserve with anchoring prohibited, but with mooring balls (first-come-first-served). Cruz Bay is the cute capital, but there’s almost no other civilisation. Only mountains, forests, dream beaches and clear water. A refuge.

St. Croix is the largest and – in our opinion – the most beautiful of the USVI islands. It lies 40 nm south of St. Thomas and has 41,000 inhabitants. The former Danish island is not only beautiful, it also has an entertaining history. For us, Christiansted is the most beautiful Caribbean town. Similar to Nevis, St. Croix is often spurned by sailors because it lies a little to the side of the main routes. A diversion that is definitely worthwhile – even for non-sailing tourists.

Wimps on the way

And that was it for our visit to the legendary Virgin Islands. You could spend weeks here, with the cool mix of nature, iconic beach bars, snorkelling and hiking. Unfortunately, you quickly get used to the comfort of safe sailing and short distances.

We’ve suspected this for a while, but now it’s a certainty: we’re completely effeminate. In the morning and evening we wear hoodies at 24 degrees. The water is only 25.5 degrees and I get into my wetsuit to snorkel. We are 6 degrees north, from 12 to 18 degrees and it is getting fresher. Rarely over 28 degrees celsius during the day and the wind makes it even fresher, especially after the heat of the south.

There’s no doubt about it, we’ve become wimps. Friends already predicted this and warned us not to be too early in the Bahamas. It is “cold” there for longer. What’s the extension of whimp? Whatever it is called, we are in a metamorphosis right now.

Next destination Puerto Rico

It’s time to continue the journey and our way leads us to Puerto Rico. Starting with the next article, we will finally be able to report on fresh destinations again. From now on, we will be sailing to new territories for us.

Puerto Rico is part of the USA, but quite different from the USVI. Our first stop was the small and special island of Culebra, part of the Spanish Virgin Islands. We just caught a good day for the 20 nm trip. As soon as we had anchored in Ensenada Honda, strong winds and waves came as announced and the weather chart turned red. The whole thing is supposed to last 4-5 days, but our anchor holds in 30 knots of wind. We are reminded again that only nature determines our journey. There are worse places to wait for better weather.

Culebra unspoiled

In Puerto Rico, the atmosphere changes. It becomes Spanish. And although the inhabitants are US-American, they are rather proud Puerto Ricans who often don’t speak English. Next week we will report more from the world of the Latinos. Adiós y hasta pronto / Holger Binz

3 thoughts on “Virgin Islands – British, US, Spanish”

  1. Wow… wieder so schöne Bilder.!!! Bin gespannt wie zufrieden ihr mit Starlink seid… im Moment scheuen uns noch die hohen Kosten, und hier im Mittelmeer haben wir noch echt günstig viel Internet zur Verfügung… viel Spass in Puerto Rico liebe Grüsse
    Raymonde & Guy

  2. Hallo Ihr “Weicheier” – wir hatten 30cm Neuschnee und -5 Grad heute Nacht (aber dafür suuper Internet in AT ;-)) Wir freuen uns schon auf das Wiedersehen in Georgetown Moni & Til

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