Day by Day
Arrive into Tortola, the capital and largest or the islands, with beautiful white sand beaches and tall rugged mountains. Your first day is busy meeting your fellow shipmates, settling aboard and preparing for diving. Enjoy the pool and beautiful Caribbean atmosphere.
After a sailing lesson and getting to know your Leopard sailing catamaran, hoist your mainsail and point across the wind towards Norman Island and the The Indians for snorkeling and a Marine Life tour. We anchor at Benures Bay for the evening beneath Spy Glass Hill (which were the inspiration for the novel Treasure Island).
Now it is up-anchor and away for a lesson of upwind sailing inside the Sir Francis Drake Channel as we zig'n'zag around islands to Virgin Gorda. The protected Pond Bay offers an afternoon for water-sports opportunities and some of the best sunsets in the Caribbean. We start our scuba lessons in the pool like shallows and soon we are explorings deeper as our skills progress.
Today we will master your basic SCUBA skills and the afternoon is water sports like knee boarding and water skiing.
We hike to the rocky intertidal for biology investigations and assist in a community service effort to clean up the shoreline from plastic debris. A short sail to Mountain Point and we start developing our fish and creature identification skills with our resident marine biologist. We start our PADI Open Water Training dives and visit a secret hideaway pool few others know about.
Up early to visit one of the most stunning sites in the BVI's, The Baths. Gigantic granite boulders and half submerged rocks line the southern seashore, creating grottos, tunnels, and arches - a wonderful place to swim, jump of rocks, and explore. Sandy beaches are lined with coconut palms, adding to the dramatic effect. Lunch is at Spanish Town, the second largest town (after Road Town), on the British Virgin Islands. Also known as The Valley, Spanish Town offers numerous shopping possibilities. Spanish Town was originally settled by Cornish miners, and ruins of the chimney, boiler house, cistern, and mine shafts can be seen. It served as capital of the territory until 1714, when the government moved their offices to Road Town. When our bellies are full we 'go to The Dogs' for some afternoon diving.
Day of the Dogs. We start with a morning dive at "The Chimney" on Great Dog. It is a great place to fine tune those natural navigation skills. Project Ocean Survey, Bronco Billies, the Flintstones or Joes Cave follow. When we get our days allotment of nitrogen, it's time for a nice slow downwind sail to Marina Cay. A small island with tropical gardens and its own culture and a unique history. Famous for Robb White's Two on the Isle, a true-life love story mixed with Robinson Crusoe. Everyone visits the unique gift shop before heading to the beach restaurant for desserts. The "View-Master menu" is a throwback to our childhood and so is the tasty key lime pie.
Mangroves snorkeling in the morning and Guana Island in the afternoon is great for water skiing, wake boarding, and kayaking in its perfectly calm waters. Underneath the surface we explore the reefs full of soft corals where nurse sharks are commonly seen (they don't bite). Hiking ashore brings us to a vista overlooking the Atlantic with expansive views. At sunset, be sure to sit with your friends at the front of your boat to watch for the green flash. Night dive in a rocky outcropping filled with a carnival of fishes and invertebrates.
You're not too old to play at Green Cay's Playgrounds, a dive site where we often come face to face with dolphins and see elegant eagle rays gliding by. Do a reef fish survey for project REEF and help science. Your team has really come together; it's time to go ashore for an evening with a beach camp fire and limbo with reggae dancing and steel drums.
An early start heads to West End, the pastel enclave, to refill on ice-cream before performing a perfect series of fast tacks with your now smoothly operating crew beating upwind through the Narrows toward Norman Island. While the end is near, the diving still gets better exploring a series of top sites we visit a secret wall of black coral and maybe Santa Monica Rock to spot big pelagics. Hey lets finish with a Night Dive.
We start with a sail up the Sir Francis Drake Channel to Dead Chest Island and dive a Picaso inspired site called 'Painted Walls'. Sailing up to Salt Island we then dive of the Wreck of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company's RMS Rhone. This is one of the most highly rated shipwrecks in all the Caribbean. The wreck is situated on the lee side of Salt Island, spread out over a couple of acres. The Rhone, a 310-foot long iron-hulled steam-sailor, was built in England in 1865 and was sunk by a hurricane a mere two years later on October 29th, 1867. The Rhone was of a hybrid technology? powered by both sail and one of the earliest steam driven propellers. It looks exactly like people expect a historic shipwreck to look like. The long sleek lines of the intact bow section, lying on her starboard side in 78 feet of water, are clearly visible. The pointed bowsprit, the long iron mast, the lifeboat davits and even a signaling canon are easily spotted. Inside the wreck schools of fish flow around the support beams, shafts of light penetrate through portholes. On the "ceiling", a liquid mercury-like layer of trapped air cascades past beams covered with brilliant orange cup coral. Snorkelers floating on the surface above can easily see the huge propeller, the aft mast and a line of portholes. The Rhone is also a film star - she was the filming location for the treasure diving epic The Deep. The evening is at Cooper Island and we finish our Night Diver Specialty.
We get to dive some of the clearest water in the BVIs today. Starting at Ginger Island we dive a 'Alice in Wonderland' named for the mushroom shape of the corals. We move around Ginger's Backside which is almost always flat calm, providing a restful location for surface interval and second dive. Again, a huge healthy coral reef runs the length of the island starting at about 25ft under the boat and falling away to the sandy bottom at about 50ft. This is usually a very slow paced dive, giving the group plenty of time to explore the holes and ledges in the reef for lobster, octopus and the occasional turtle - also look out for small stingrays out on the sand. The days not done.
The last dive is a beauty Blond Rock with the clear water and lots of grottos. A lazy sail back to home port. We have a farewell pizza bash ashore and reminisce with your new close friends on the fantastic adventures shared together.
We brush the sand from our feet and say our goodbyes. Good friends. Splash On...