Dead Man's Chest and the British Virgin Islands
The whole journey began about a year ago, when Michal booked a boat in the Caribbean in January 2016, specifically on the island of Sint Maarten. So we already knew when and where, but we did not know with whom. Manning eventually fell 6: 3 for adults, specifically as follows:
Nydrle's – seasoned sea wulf and captain Michal, foodmaster Pavla and Adina (2.5 years as a lifeguard No. 3), brother Hugo (7 months) remained exceptionally time at home.
Santrucek's – Verka, as it turns out during the long crossing the Iron Lady. Mirek, sailor with innate talent even for the first time on a sailboat at sea, the first lifeguard Vitek (6 years) and a second lifeguard Violka (4 years)
Kivi's – Kivi and Aneta, a bit shore lovers, but perfect for rainy days
Destination St.Maarten Simpson Bay marina and 45 feet long Dufour 455 4 cabin from 2006 named Sai Sai.
We depart from Prague via Paris to the island of St. Maarten. The ship is waiting for us in Simpson Bay Marina Port de Plaisance. St.Maarten is known airport where planes land on extremely low over human dwellings and people at all. Youtube is full of these videos, just enter Maho beach ☺
We take over the ship, as indeed everywhere is used to on Saturday. Night from Friday to Saturday we spent in the apartment in the Dutch, uglier parts of the island. We'll accommodate a little tired after the jet lag (less than five hours in Prague) and go into "town" for dinner. It is moist and warm.
9.1. Saturday St.Maarten
The next morning we take a taxi to the marina. There we find that the ship will be given to us at 5pm :/ So there is no hurry. Marinas is accessible only through a drawbridge that opens several times a day, the last visit of the day is at 4:30. It is clear that today we will not sail anywhere.
Marina is nice, casino, restaurants, hotels and large swimming pool. The program is clear. Buoyancy vests, rings, armbands in the water and go to the pool. Children play in the water, and time passes quickly. At 4pm Michal is leaving to take over the ship. We also pack after a while we go after him.
The ship is a little older and it seems at first look a bit shabby, but otherwise seems to be working. The front two cabins are Santrucek's 2 + 2. Kivi's and we take two rear cabins. The crew is divided. Me, Kiwi and Mira are set equipped with the bags for shopping at the nearby Carrefour. We are returning as three beatles, instead of a ball rolling along a shopping cart. Large amount of food completely dissolves calmly into all possible and impossible holes and storage space in the common parts of the ship. Food for three to four days.
Despite the original intention to go to eat in a nearby restaurant eventually we remain on the ship and some finger food, which we bought at French hypermarket on the French island (read: a lot of good stuff ☺). Captain pushes us early to bed. Morning at 8:30 we had to be at the drawbridge because it is the first time for the exit and we do not want to miss. St.Maarten island tour will be after our return from a two-week cruise around the British Virgin Islands.
10.1. Sunday - Arrival to island Anguilla
The first night on the boat in the marina, everything was calm. Some even managed to have a morning shower in the marina. Quick breakfast on board and then hurray to the bridge. High time, because there is already a que of ships.
Bomb! We pass around the boat of the Volvo Ocean Race from stable Brunel. Evidently anchored here.
Such a boat you do not see that often.
At 8:30, the bridge actually opens. In addition to several other sailboats and catamarans also two relatively large motorboats. Most sailboats have already passed through before us. We're leaving behind few floors high motor boat. Although we have no speed, whirpool behind the yacht draw us into the canal bridge and make our boat harder to handle. Without a boat thruster it is not that funny. Thankfully captain handles it and we are leaving behind the bridge and Simpson Bay. We are heading on engine to the English island of Anguilla.
Less than 3 hours on the engine we anchor in the Bay Mead's Bay. Quick lunch (pasta with red sauce ☺), pack the kids and go for a dinghy on the snow-white beach. All nine of us could not fit into the dinghy and thus Kivi, Anet and I swim to shore. There are several resorts in the bay. As funny guys already have observed from the ship, all people go the restaurant in the middle of the beach, so there we go also, fins and action. At first, annoying Frenchman was annoying us but after a while he gains us, mainly due to the excellent desserts. Vitek is playing in the waves and Violka with Adina raging in the sand. holiday ☺
Time's up on the beach and it's time to go back to the ship before it gets dark. Waves breaking on the shore are not that small. Placing children to the dinghy will not be so easy. Even for Dads it is not easy. The boat flips twice, thankfullly still empty. Motor smashes Mirek's lens :/ Boys managed to take the dinghy farther from shore. Vitek and Violka are already in the boat. Adina is thrown there headfirst. Children are safe. But what ends under water, our backpacks. Everything is wet. Finally we all get to the boat and we laugh together about the situation. But if we were watched by the french guy, he had to think we're crazy.
We decided to spend the night here. Gradually, all the boats are leaving us and we remain alone across the bay. The ship is dancing on the big waves. Winds and waves caused by the storm apparently in New York, everyone is prepared for a crazy night.
In the evening we sit and drink when we suddenly see the bottle next to our ship. Three pairs of children's eyes shine adventure. Michal opens the bottle and Vitek cannot wait to put his fingers inside to pull the paper from the bottle. It's a map. So part of the map. We are told that on another island we find probably the other part of the map that will lead us to a dead man's chest.
11.1. Monday - Sandy Island
All night the ship was quite a lot dancing. Quite expected, we are at sea ☺ But with every major wave of boat incredibly crackled and creaked. As she would want to break up into pieces. Nobody had much sleep. We convinced others who have not been at sea that a night like this is exception, but I feel that they do not believe.
During the breakfast we search map of Islands and looking for the layout, similar to the message in the bottle. By chance, there is one island that meets the conditions near our night berth. It is Sandy Island. It is little sandy island, a few palm trees and a bar. We are ready after the breakfast, turn on engine and go forward.
We put down the anchor, wrap things for the beach, small snack and we move on to the shore.
Quick view around the island confirms that this really could be an island of treasure map. The map indicated that we have to dig 5 steps from the Palm tree towards the see. Palm trees around the bar we skip, there would no one dig. We've got so few small trees, one of which looks directly exemplary. 5 steps. Everyone tries to dig. We do not know how big the dead man was. After a moment, digging here and there finally under Vitek's blade is anything. Bottle! And we have another message.
Together we solved the message on the map. Shows where we should sail, and where you can find buried treasure. The pictograms on the map looks like a "Devil's Bay". Another picture shows a bowl and ewer, which guides us to the bath, place which is described in Lonely planet guide as the Baths, which is actually located in Devil's Bay. We just need to drive to the British Virgin Islands, about 80 miles ☺
Rest of the day we spent on the island. We swim, or rather trying to swim in the waves. We build sandcastles. Around 11am arrives little motor coach with a black crew - operator of bars and restaurants. We all are very hungry. The restaurant crew has a selection of grilled fish. But we have to wait too long, but worth it. We have mahi-mahi, the most common local fish, probably something like Dorada, ribs and typical local side dish rice and vegetables. Yum.
Around 3pm we return to the ship. We've got a long crossing to the British Virgin Islands (BVI further just as the British Virgin Islands). We do not want to go on a dinghy twice so Mirek and I swim to the boat, "on our own." It's quite far away, but we have fins. All we have to overcome a strip of coral and rocks where waves break. A couple of them got us, one slightly bruised hand, but then it all goes well.
Dress up, put up the sails and go to the BVI. There will be a night cruise, which ultimately takes 15 hours. To go through the day, we would not be able to seize the children, or we put all the Disney movie on your tablet. The downside of course is that in the morning the children are lively, the crew not so much. Michal and Mirek split shifts and turns, after about 3 hours. The autopilot does not work so there has to be still somebody at the steering wheel. The wind blows about 4 knots, in the morning disappear completely so we turn on engine and finish the path.
12.1. Tuesday - BVI - Virgin Gorda
The first island of the BVI, which we welcome is Virgin Gorda.
The modern history of the Virgin Islands said that Columbus discovered these islands during his second voyage to the New World in 1493. In the guide we read that Columbus gave the name to these islands after 11,000 virgins, followers of St. Ursula, who were tortured in 4 . century. Virgin Gorda then translated means "steep virgin". Columbus said that the view from the ship was as a silhouette of fat woman lying on her back. After such a long voyage, they had behind themself, I am not surprised ☺ Island was also back then a base of pirates, including the dreaded Blackbeard, who preyed on Spanish galleon carrying gold from the New World to Europe. Now the majority of the island's is nature reservation and it is also the place where most visitors go. In the southern part of the island are situated the Baths. It came to me, as if God plays dice on the shore, and then there's just left scattered. Huge granite stones that create a maze of pools and trails, of which the vast majority are denied for fat people. In contrast with the white sand and turquoise water, good kitsch.
We left the ship in Spanish Town, the capital of Virgin Gorda, where we also reported the customs administration. From there we caught a taxi straight to the Baths. Through Baths leads short, in total about an hour track beginning and ending at the restaurant. Admission is $5 per person. After a small snack we go on a hike. Vitek carries a treasure map. If our estimates are correct, somewhere in the bath at Devil's Bay should be buried dead man's chest.
Vita and Adina run forwards like the wind. When everyone successfully crossed the boulders we end up on a beautiful deserted beach. Where nothing, nothing is here. An ideal place for treasure. Again, we tip the position of the treasure, and after a while all children are eagerly digging.
If there's something there, it has to be very deep. And is! Carib beer box and no the gold coins, but a lot of better things: Spiderman mask, watches with Winnie the Pooh, balloons, whistles, pirate hat and sword.
Vitek is indeed curious, why would Pirates tripping over toys. After mature reflection and mental help dad Mirek ultimately realises that he does not know what he would do with gold coins, toys that are much better.
Collect treasure, we will divide the rest on the ship. Now let's go into the water. We spend about an hour here. Then it's time to go back. The track continues through the forest and we get back to the restaurant. Taxi takes us to the marina. Small purchase in the grocery store and back to the ship. Dinner, teeth, and sleep. Children today have a day full of experiences. Adults still control the supplies of wine, but soon they will also fall a sleep.
13.1. Wednesday - Tortola – Soper’s Hole
On Wednesday morning we go to the largest island in the BVI, on the island of Tortola, to the capital city Road Town. Aneta and Kiwi will stay for a while alone. Sailor's life, apparently does not have to be in rush.Disembarkation we choose a quieter Marina in Road Town, Fort Burt. We add water, throw trash and move quickly on the western tip of the island, specifically Soper's Hole. Hole is quite distinctive name from a geographical point of view, since the marina and mooring are very sheltered. The night is so super quiet. From the perspective of urban Soper's Hole is perhaps the most beautiful and picturesque "town", we visited during our cruise. I am writing a "small town" because Soper's Hole is a total of about 8 houses, 4 restaurants, 3 bars and a few shops. In addition to traditional souvenirs but there is also a well-stocked supermarket and great ice cream parlor.
We have a local ice cream (BVI) rum drink and nutmeg "Painkiller". Dinner planned on the ship. On the bar menu we discover ingenious thing "Potato chips tower". Potatoes peeled for a long thin slices, fried crispy and covered with blue cheese and sprinkled with onion. Good starter.
14.1. Thursday - Jost Van Dyke
Morning, we rarely had breakfast at the marina. D'best cup is said to have excellent waffles, eggs and coffee. We look forward with Verka. A large proportion of Americans have the consequence that everywhere, especially the "American coffee", a regular coffee taste awful. Espresso had nobody. But oh. Machine is apparently broken. So, again nothing. At least that those waffles and eggs benedict taste great.
After a hearty breakfast, we return to the boat and head towards the island of Jost Van Dyke.
Jost van Dyke is a small island with a population of about 2,000 people, named after the pirate Dutchman Joost Van Dyk. Locally renowned Bay is called White Bay, and we direct also our steps there.
We anchor the boat on the mooring in the bay over the hill of Great Harbour. Nice place with several restaurants, shops, a bakery, a church, customs and even the police station. In White Bay are buoys. There is a strong current and because coral reefs there can enter mainly catamarans. Anchoring overnight it is not recommended.
By dinghy we go to the bank. Taxi throw us out in White Bay. We find it a bit, and go back on foot. The first beach we come to the Soggy Dollar Bar (the name is exact). To our dismay, the bar and the adjacent beach packed with Americans from giant cruise ships have docked nearby. This will not last. We continue along the beach to the eastern tip - quiet and few people. There is also a bar and restaurant named Ivan stress free bar. Obligate sand sparkling sea and complemented by cold beer and ice cream. We will stay here until evening. We walk back.
After dinner on the boat, our guys managed to go alone to the local bar Corsair. Skulled pirate bar, which serves Dreadlock black Caribbean mumbling English with a look that you would not be surprised if he was under the counter voodoo doll. The boys did not disappointed us. We we do not know how, but the guys brought on our dinghy full drinks in plastic cups. We drink and agree that is was very successful day.
15.1. Friday - Little Jost Van Dyke and Bubbly Pool
Adina wakes up early in the morning so Michal takes her on shore and in the local bakery bought banana bread, a local gingerbread cake. After breakfast we go on a little Jost Van Dyke, specifically to the Diamond Bay.Little Jost Van Dyke is separated from JVD by coral-sandy shallows. Interesting is that on this island is Bubbly Pool - bubble bath. Bubbly is a natural swimming pool created by the great rocks and cliffs at the ocean's edge. Waves breaking on them, then creates a pool on the beach, where if you dive, you really feel the bubble effect of waves.
I thought that somehow it probably looks when one bath in champagne ☺ A careful when water goes back into the sea, it can suck a man altogether. Otherwise it is great and will enjoy both children and adults.
Kids fall a sleep exceptionally early. Adults have a free evening. Verka pulls an interesting game, "Dix it." Deck of cards with various fanciful images are divided among players. A player who is on the move, then says a word, whatever his card reminds him and everyone puts his card which means the same. Others are guessing what card is the original. Funny but also interesting game that reveals the inner man. Verka psychiatrist by profession simply deny ☺
16.1. Saturday - Norman Island
The next morning we lift up anchor and set the direction to the Channel Islands, a string of small islands south of Tortola in the Sir Francis Drake Channel.
Guide states that these islands are a paradise for yachtsmen, small distance, safe anchorage, perfect conditions for snorkeling and diving. Thanks to the segmentation of the coast area it was great for the pirates, who could easily hide here with boats and fast attack. Pirates and legends about them is that this place is sprinkled directly. The names of the islands was apparently so they were named according to what has naval ships were taking before long journeys. There are Islands like Beef Island, Salt Island, Cooper Island, or Ginger Island. On Beef islands sailors loaded meat, in Salt Island they salted it and on Cooper Island they have taken the barrels for the road.
We begin to discover this area through the first island Norman Island. This island is nicknamed 'Treasure Island'. He said he was a model of the book by Robert Louis Stevenson. Before the book was written, he studied to b able to know the depth maps of the local area and local legends Caribbean. The fact remains that act against piracy from 1750 forced someone to hide a treasure on Norman Island. About 160 years later this treasure known as "Pieces of Eight" found in a cave. Since then, this place is called Treasure Point. The treasure was stolen from a Spanish ship Nuestra Senora and consisted of $ 450,000, silverware, crimson and tobacco.
We are considering the buoy in a nice sheltered bay the Bight. Full day on the beach near the water. Entry into the water is shallow, almost no waves, soft sand and then children raging themselves and do not require intensive supervision. This leaves little time to finally lie down on their beds, have a drink and something to read.
The guidebook recommends snorkeling in caves near the beach. But I think we are lazy ☺ Nobody wants. $ 5 per hour, so at least we rent sea kayak. First Michal, me and Adi. Then all Santruckovi go on it. The kayak was for two ☺ But it's cool. We are all surprised how stable it is.
Day is slowly coming to an end and we decide to stay for dinner. On the menu of local restaurants have had lobsters, a renowned delicacy of the entire Caribbean. Dinner is excellent so we return long time after dark.
17.1. Sunday - Peter Island
Another island in the channel we visited was the Peter Island. Peter Island is a private island. We anchored in the Great Harbour on the mooring. Throughout the morning alternately drizzling, so we can not decide whether to stay on the boat, or go ashore.
Finally, we changed buoy for one closer to shore and set off to explore the island. The beach is a mix of sand and pebbles. The water is clean. Great for snorkeling, but Adina it is splashing too much. So we split into groups. Santrucek's stay here and train children snorkeling. Michal, Adina and I set out on farther walk into the inner of the island. We are getting into the bay Sprat Bay and beyond to the bay Deadman's Bay. Here we find a private resort with a long long beaches. This is a place of rich Americans, soffas are only for hotel guests, but it is the end of the day, and not "acquired". We are leaving our things and go with Adina into the water. Young lifeguards need to train every day.
From the Bay "Dead Man" is directly visible and island on the opposite side of the bay called "Dead Chest Cay." These two places are linked by a story that gave them names. When looking at Dead Chest Cay from the northwest, its outline resembles a coffin. For longer perspective, it looks as if a coffin peeping head and body part. Therefore, the island was called Dead Chest.
According to another legend, this island was the place where the pirate Blackbeard landed 15 of his men with only a bottle of rum. Some of them were trying to save, and wanted to swim a half mile to Peter Island, but drowned. That is why the name was given Deadman's Bay. After about an hour, and 2 drinks we go back. We're taking Santrucek's on dinghy to go back to the ship. Stocks are thinning. For the dinner we have pea soup. When the children are asleep, we play games and sip.
18.1. Monday - Cooper Island
On Monday we go to Cooper Island to Manchineel Bay. Pleasant Bay with 1 large resort Cooper Island Beach Club. It is the only resort, where for our whole journey does not serve typical blacks Caribs, but according an accent typical native British people.
At noon, our boys have arranged transportation by boat to dive to the wreck of a steam ship Rhona. Women and children remain on the boat, specifically on the beach. After Norman Island again great place for kids - shallow, fine sand and small waves. In addition, local cafe, delicious ice cream and coffee are served. What else could you wish for.
The boys are back around 4 pm, the full experience of the dive. The first dive had two small shipwrecks, was taking about 30 minutes. The second draft was then ti Rhone wreck for about 45 minutes.
Rhona, specifically Royal Mail Steamer Rhone is one of the top attractions in the BVI, whether you're diving or just snorkeling. Located in Salt Island. Part of the ship is not in such great depth so it is possible to see even just by snorkeling. BVI are full of sunken ships, Rhone is the biggest and most interesting. 29 October 18767 Rhone is preparing for the voyage back to Southhampton and picking up supplies. By that time, the ship was anchored outside the port of the island of Great Harbour at Peter Island. Around 11am dropped the needle of the barometer. Even the hurricane season was already gone, one suddenly came. The anchor was plucked and the boat ended up on the reef and sank. Divers have such a great conditions to see this ship.
We get something little at a local restaurant - roti - pancakes stuffed with vegetables, beans and choice of meat or shrimp. It is one of the typical local dishes and is very good.
19.1. Tuesday - Salt Island
On Tuesday we return to Tortola Fort Burt, getting back Kiwi and Anet. We keep buying stocks for the rest of the stay and set the direction of Salt Island. We go to the Rhône to Lee Bay Salt Island. Guys want us to at least snorkel over the Rhone ☺
Additionally, we do have a little trip to Salt Island. As the name suggests, the island was and still is used to collect salt. On the island there are two salt ponds that dry up at the end of the season, a local of them collect salt. Actually, the experience of visiting it's nothing much. Totally closed ponds smells and there is nothing else. We return to the boat and go back to Cooper Island, where we spend the night.
20.1. Wednesday - Cooper Island
Today we will sail back to St.Maarten. During morning we enjoy the last moments in the BVI, we swim and buy some souvenirs in the well-equipped shop.
We have to sail around 120 nautical miles to the front-side wind. We'll have to tack. The expected arrival is the next day around noon.
21.1. Thursday - St.Maarten
Well, the cruise lasted 30 hours. We arrived on St.Maarten after dark around 7 in the evening. Me and Kiwi, we gave races in feeding the fish, which I eventually successfully won. Children watched on the tablet Pat and Mat 2x, 3x Jaja and Paja and the introductory song of the Duck tales series became our anthem, which everyone sings, although he was waking up at midnight. 30 hours is 30 hours. At the same time Verka earned the title Iron Lady, since she was the one who proved in the waves below deck to cook a three-course menu without flinching. While sailing, flying fish jumped through the window to the kitchen, she could not believe it probably :)
Finally, the captain happily anchors in Simpson Bay St.Maarten.
During a night there were a lot of swings. We immediately fall a sleep. Therefore in morning we all agree that as soon as we want to pass under the bridge and anchor in the marina. The bridge opens at 9:30. Michal went to customs.
In addition we also saw the Steve Jobs ship. Specifically, the ship that he designed for himself, but He did not enjoy it. His wife after his death sold plans. Someone bought them and made just one piece. And we now see it here live.
It just confirms that St.Maarten island is perfect for yachts of billionaires. Guys counted that berthed ships are worth of 2 billion USD. It is true that what is here, I've never saw in any other marina.
We brilliantly parked the boat and go to the island. We want to explore the French part, to be able to compare to the Dutch. St.Maarten is special, it is divided into Dutch and French part. Legend says how the separation happened. At one end of the island was a Frenchman with the bottle of wine. At the other end of the island was a Dutchman with the bottle of gin. Everyone went drank, and where they met, was established boundaries. Well, because gin is stronger then wine, that is why the larger part belongs to French and Dutch is smaller. That is a fact.
From the marina, we take a taxi to the center, which is actually pretty good. Wooden colourful painted houses, full of restaurants and shops, the fortress on the hill. We have lunch and then we go to the beach on one of the tip of the island - Grand Case. Nice place but with a fairly large waves. Kids definitely cannot go to the water alone. We can smell strongly the smell of restaurants, we could not resist the ribs.
Grill, ice cream, French crepes. Well, it's always when one gets over a longer period out of the boat ☺
We return to the marina and in the evening we start packing.
23.1. Saturday - fly home
We have to abandon ship in 10am. But our flight is in the evening. Therefore, we are heading to the pool at the hotel in local marina where we started. Everyone is enjoying the last rays of the sun. Home is nasty, cold and snow.
Look at the photos that could not fit into blog.
7min long video.