aboardashoreWINTER 2012I sea&iI59US Virgin Islands &British Virgin Islands Located at the northern tip of the West Indies, the US and British Virgin Islands were made for the waterborne. A balmy climate, steady easterly tradewinds and an abundance of sheltered anchorages have made them a yachtsman's haven for centuries. The archipelago of over 60 islands and islets is splitbetween the cosmopolitan US Virgin Islands and the neighbouring, and relatively unspoilt, British Virgin Islands. The former, featuring the main island of StThomas, are known for their bustling activity, while the latter, including the exclusive Virgin Gorda, exude a low-key ambiance.St Thomas, USVI Often referred to as the New York City of the Caribbean due toits bustling vibe, St Thomas is the ideal place to start acruisethrough the Virgin Islands. The island has a rich cultural past and has had its fair shareof dramas over the centuries. It was the first permanent settle-ment of the Danes in 1672, and some 50 years later it becamean official port of entry for all nations. It was also rife with piracyduring the late 1600s, and had the world's largest slave trade atthis time. However, by the early 1700s legitimate trades hadtaken over and the houses of prosperous merchants lined thestreets of Charlotte Amalie, which grew in splendour as the1800s saw it become the central trading point of the WestIndies. Its busy harbour is now crowded with sophisticated bou-tiques and restaurants. With tourism being the island'sGREAT DOGISLANDNECKER ISLANDSALT ISLANDCOOPER ISLANDGINGER ISLANDTORTOLAPETER ISLANDPELICAN ISLANDGREENCAYJOST VAN DYKEST. JOHNLITTLETOBAGOGT ST. JAMESISLANDST. THOMASDUTCHMAN'SCAYHANS LOLLICKISLANDNORMAN ISLANDTHE BIGHTHODGES CREEKGUANAISLANDTHE BATHSVIRGIN GORDATOBAGOISLANDCruz BayCharlotteAmalieriS Francis DrakePassageRoad TownHMS RhoneSpanish TownAbove:make time toexplore the Virgin Islandsashore and beneath the waterlineOpposite page: St Barthsis one of the Caribbean'smost glamorous islands?
60Isea&iIWINTER 2012main industry, the grand English manor houses and originalstorage buildings are being put to good use. The latter, whichwere once used for storing stolen pirate goods, have been con-verted into shops and boutique hotels. Spend a day ashore soaking up the fascinating architecture,buildings and museums. Fort William, located on the waterfrontin Charlotte Amalie, is the oldest building still in use and datesback to the 1670s. Over the years it has seen use as a fort, ajail, a courthouse and a police station - the building nowhouses a museum. St Thomas remains a vital Caribbean port due to its shelteredlocation, and its situation between Europe and the PanamaCanal. The US Virgin Islands are free ports, and while downtownCharlotte Amalie is where you can find trinkets and Caribbeanartefacts, St Thomas' Yacht Haven Grande is the place to headfor designer boutiques.The island has only recently upped its game when it comesto dining, and is better known for its eclectic mix of cuisines- including American, Italian, Mexican and Asian - ratherthan its quality. That said, the standard of Caribbean cuisineis generally fantastic. There are a number of local establish-mentsalong the waterfront of Charlotte Amalie servingpopular East Indian influenced dishes. Don't miss the pates(fried breads with meat fillings), stewed mutton soup,conch, plantains, Johnny cake, green sweet potatoes, cur-ried roti and unusual island fruits. Alternatively, join fellow yachties at one of the Yacht HavenGrande's restaurants and bars - W!kked (a bar and bistro),PARSIFAL III54m (177'), 12 guestsfrom US$245,000 per week