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YOUR PERSONAL GUIDES From planning the best itinerary and finding the most suitable yacht for your party, to restaurant recommendations, CNI's charter experts have first- hand knowledge of all the yachts and cruising destinations in the British Virgin Islands. Here, two CNI charter brokers, a yacht owner and a CNI captain offer their personal recommendations. Pierre Hurel, CNI Monaco " The British Virgin Islands are perfect for fun, family charters and Virgin Gorda, in particular, is a lure for many of my charter clients. One thing every charterer should do is explore The Baths on the southwest coast, either by swimming, snorkelling or sea kayaking. For those wishing to head inland, the Spanish fortress ruins at Little Fort National Park are worth a visit, as is the old Copper Mine. Or hike The Baths' trails and spot pelicans on the beach and turtles bathing in the shallow waters. For a taste of Creole cuisine, Chez Bamboo in Spanish Town serves up spicy Cajun dishes." Hume Jones, CNI London " A week's charter in the BVIs is a fantastic way for people to experience the Caribbean for the first time. The waters are calm and the distances between the islands are minimal. Many of my charter clients return from the BVIs and rave about the open- air restaurant of the Biras Creek Hotel, which overlooks North Sound on Virgin Gorda. Following my own sojourn to the BVIs, I would thoroughly recommend stepping ashore at the Bitter End Yacht Club, which has a wide range of facilities, dinghies for hire and various restaurants." 50Isea& iIWINTER 2010 Paloma, 60.25m ( 197' 8), 12 guests. Prices from ? 180,000 per week Amnesia, 60m ( 196'), 12 guests. Prices from ? 250,000 per week Apogee, 62.5m ( 205'), 12 guests. Prices from US$ 350,000 per week Maraya, 54.2m ( 177' 9), 12 guests. Prices from ? 300,000 per week

WINTER 2010I sea& iI51 aboardashore channel remains much as it was in the days of the legendary sailor - surrounded by mountainous islands swathed in forests. Novel encounters The ideal place to start your charter is Tortola. If you're travelling from the US, you can join your yacht from St Thomas Airport in the US Virgin Islands and sail the short distance to the BVIs. If you're coming from Europe, you can fly to Antigua and get a quick connecting flight to Tortola and then board your yacht in the port at Road Town, the island's capital. With a thickly forested mountainous spine along its centre, and a coastline studded with golden bays, Tortola is the largest island in the BVI chain. From here, spend languid days sailing between the islands, landing the tender on deserted beaches and discovering private sanctuaries and luxurious island resorts. Following a few hours bathing around Tortola's Cane Garden Bay, cruise across the channel to Great Harbour on Peter Island, before stepping ashore to take scenic walks to private beaches. You can indulge in a Cast Away Facial at the Peter Island Resort, swim in Dead Man's Bay, or take the tender across to Dead Chest Island. Reputedly the origin of the sea shanty " Fifteen men on the dead man's chest - yo- ho- ho, and a bottle of rum," the island is said to have earnt its name after the infamous pirate Blackbeard left several of his crew there with nothing except a bottle of rum as punishment. Some tried to swim across to Peter Island but didn't make it, hence the bay on Peter Island, opposite Dead Chest, is named Dead Man's Bay. The author Robert Louis Stevenson then read the tale, and the sea shanty appeared in his novel Treasure Island. Reputed to be the site of buried treasure from the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora, nearby Norman Island is said to be the inspiration for Stevenson's novel and is the perfect anchorage for an afternoon of water sports. For children, a treasure hunt ashore can be organised by the crew. After the day's activities, step aboard the notorious Willy T schooner ( anchored just off the island) for dinner and dancing - you might even end up walking the plank! In the wake of legends From Norman Island, cruise to Salt Island and dive the wreck of HMS Rhone. This Roal Mail steamer, which went down in 1867, is one of the premier dive sites in the Caribbean. Other spectacular dive sites in the area include the Chikuzen off Tortola. This 82m ( 270') steel- hulled ship sank off the island's east end and is now home to an array of tropical fish, including yellowtail, barracuda, black- tip sharks and drum fish. Meanwhile, the brilliant coral wall known as Alice in Wonderland at nearby Ginger Island slopes from 12 metres ( 40 feet) to a sandy bottom at 30 metres ( 98 feet). Aptly ? Opposite page: Cane Garden Bay on Tortola is one of the island's best beaches; the BVIs are a yachtsman's paradise This page, clockwise from left: swimming and snorkelling the shallow waters of Virgin Gorda is a must; Tortola is the largest island in the BVIs, yet still remains unspoilt; distances between the islands are short, enabling you to hop from one island to the next