WINTER 2010I sea& iI47 aboardashore A fragmented jigsaw of green isles in a turquoise sea, the Caribbean's British Virgin Islands are a haven for sailors. This ten- day cruise steers you to some of the finest ports and anchorages ByMiriam Cain british virgin islands Best of British
48Isea& iIWINTER 2010 T hanks to their balmy climate, steady easterly trade winds and an abundance of sheltered anchorages, the British Virgin Islands ( BVIs) were made for the waterborne. Forming part of an archipelago with the US Virgin Islands some 130 kilometres ( 80 miles) east of Puerto Rico, the BVIs comprise around 50 islands and islets nestled together and exuding a low- key ambiance. Their neighbouring US Virgin Islands ( USVI) have a subtly different character; they are known for their bustling activity and are the shopping Mecca of the Caribbean. A typical charter through the BVI archipelago takes in Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Cooper Island, Jost Van Dyke, Marina Cay and other smaller islands and islets; many uninhabited and largely unspoilt. Except for Anegada, which is a low- lying coral atoll, each island is similar in character: hilly, covered in scrub, surrounded by coral reefsto some extent, and fringed by white sandy beaches. Distances between the islands are short, and the islands are therefore ideal for first- time charterers wishing to test the waters. The most popular cruising area around the BVIs is the channel named after Sir Francis Drake, who sailed through it in the 16th century on his way to fight the Spanish in Santo Domingo. Running from St John ( on the US Virgin Islands side) to the BVIs' North Sound in Virgin Gorda, the scenic Right: the BVI archipelago is made up of around 50 islands and islets, all fringed by white sandy beaches Opposite page, clockwise from top: beach bars can be found on many of the habited islands; the uninhabited islands are perfect for a peaceful afternoon's anchorage; the BVIs have a plethora of dive sites GREAT DOG ISLAND NECKER ISLAND SALT ISLAND COOPER ISLAND GINGER ISLAND TORTOLA PETER ISLAND PELICAN ISLAND GREEN CAY JOST VAN DYKE ST. JOHN LITTLE TOBAGO GT ST. JAMES ISLAND ST. THOMAS DUTCHMAN'S CAY HANS LOLLICK ISLAND NORMAN ISLAND THE BIGHT HODGES CREEK GUANA ISLAND THE BATHS VIRGIN GORDA TOBAGO ISLAND Cruz Bay Charlotte Amalie riS Francis Drake Passage Road Town HMS Rhone Spanish Town ITINERARY DAY 1Tortola ( or St John if boarding in the USVI) DAY 2Tortola - Peter Island ( 9nm) DAY 3Peter Island - Norman Island ( 3nm) DAY 4Norman Island - Salt Island ( 5nm) DAY 5Salt Island - Ginger Island ( 3nm) DAY 6Ginger Island - The Baths, Virgin Gorda ( 3nm) DAY 7The Baths and North Sounds, Virgin Gorda ( 5nm) DAY 8Virgin Gorda - Guana Island ( 9nm) DAY 9Guana Island - Jost Van Dyke ( 6nm) DAY 10Jost Van Dyke - Tortola / St John ( 4nm/ 13nm) ?