2012 British Virgin Islands

(Caribbean trip, 5/4/2012 - 5/13/2012)


On May 4th, 2012 I went on a vacation to the British Virgin Islands (abbreviated "BVI") with Katherine Chung.  Below are pictures and videos from the trip.   Click on any picture to get a HUGE version of that photo.   At the top are two maps of the same thing with different annotations.   Also, here is a One Page Summary of our flights and contact info for the hotels.

Map of the British Virgin Islands is below.  The BVIs are part of the Caribbean and are half way between Miami, Florida and Venezuela.  The climate is hot, tropical, the water is warm and beautiful.  The BVIs are kind of sleepy and under developed, there are no big skyscraper hotel developments.  All the islands are extremely close together, often less than a mile or two to the next island, never more than 10 miles.  It is known as a "sailing paradise", a great way to visit is stay on a boat while you are there.  We stayed on the main island of Tortola and also on the second biggest island of "Virgin Gorda".


Below is a screenshot of a Google map of locations.  Click Here for a Google map of some of the interesting locations on our trip.  (Here for long form of the Google Map URL.) 


On to the Pictures!  Below Katherine is ready to leave on our trip, just having a snack while the kitty cats watch.


Our flight departs at 11pm at night, and it is about 8pm as the sun goes down in Pacifica, here is the beautiful weather we are leaving behind.


In the picture below, we are in San Francisco Airport (SFO) going through security, and Katherine and I caused a little ruckus.  Katherine opted out of the backscatter X-Ray, and I started to film her pat down, and the TSA security guard freaked out and refused to continue while I was filming.  SOOOO much fun, so little time to mess with them.


Eventually the pat down was completed and we continued on.


Katherine crashed out sleeping on our red eye flight.


Below is the view as we land in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  All flights from the USA to the British Virgin Islands went through Puerto Rico.  Puerto Rico is an "Unincorporated Territory" of the United States, and a hop skip 40 miles to the west of San Juan Island are the BVIs, which are an independent nation but part of the British Commonwealth, much like Canada or Australia.


I like the picture below because all of the destinations on the entire "Departures Board" are to paradises.  St. Croix, St Thomas, St. Maarten, and our destination of Tortola, BVI.


It is only a 45 minute plane flight to hop from San Juan Puerto Rico to Tortola.  The plane is operated by "Cape Air", and is a tiny little 7 passenger plane.


Below we wait for our Cessna 402C to be ready, and we hop on board! That is Katherine in the bright red dress.  The bags are loaded into several locations on the airplane, some are put under the "hood" in front of the pilot, and some are loaded into a storage area near the back of the "propeller bulge" (kind of inside the wing).


The plane is so small and packed that they put a passenger in the co-pilot's seat.  Glad she went through airport security to be handed the controls to the plane and our lives! :-)  No locked cockpit doors here, I could lean forward and smack the pilot on the head if he does something I don't like.


Below is a movie of our flight, pretty boring, but shows the take off and you kind of get the feel of the little Cessna 402C.  Click here for a very high quality QuickTime version (will probably not work on Microsoft Windows computers).


The picture below is taken out the window of the little Cessna as we cruise along towards Tortola.  The flight only takes 45 minutes.


Below is a self portrait of myself, with Katherine behind me.  Notice my headroom -> Cessna 402C is not very comfortable for 6 foot 3 inch tall Americans.  They stuffed Katherine in the far back seat because she's small, and her head STILL rubs the roof.


As we fly along, the water is gorgeous, with little tiny islands below us.


Another picture out the plane window looking down at mostly uninhabited Caribbean islands that are VERY close together.


What the pilot sees out his front cockpit window.


Beautiful islands, more populated than the others, with sailboats dotting the water below.


Islands all over.


Here we have landed in a foreign country of the British Virgin Islands!  The island the airport is on is called "Beef Island" but that is separated by only a 20 yard bridge to the largest island in the BVIs called "Tortola".  I got scolded for taking the picture below.   In my humble opinion, the BVI airport should be less worried about people taking photos of their airplanes on the runway and more worried that they hand control of EVERY FLIGHT over to one of the tourists who cannot fly a plane (the tourist who sits in the co-pilot seat).  The weak link in this chain of security is not cell phone pictures of the runway.


A two minute taxi ride from the airport and we are at SurfSong Villa Resort.  This is a very quiet little place, with a very few exclusive little beach front cottages. Below is the view out our little cottage.


This is our cottage at SurfSong, I'm standing on the path between the beach and the cottage and can see Katherine on the couch inside.


Below is a picture of SurfSong from above (not my picture).  What you see below is the whole resort, it's small, secluded, and very quiet.  There are no restaurants inside the resort, but taxis are easy to call and only a couple minutes away.


Below is the living room from the SurfSong Villa we stayed in.


Below is the kitchen area of the Villa we stayed in.  Cate (one of the owners of SurfSong) worked with us by email to pre-stock our refrigerator however we liked, and she really did a nice job for us.  I have to take a second to comment how genuinely nice and sweet Cate was about everything, we felt super welcome and whenever we stepped out of our Villa and looked slightly lost Cate would swoop out and help us with our next arrangement, engagement, taxi ride, recommendations. 


The bedroom area complete with mosquito netting around the bed.


The next morning (Sunday, May 6th, 2012) we got up and took a small driving tour of the island of Tortola.  Our taxi driver and tour guide was Dougie, a friendly local born and raised on Tortola who had a new baby girl (Abigail - Abby) the day before.  It only takes an hour to drive around the entire island, so we stopped for lunch and rum drinks at a couple of locations.  You drive on the LEFT side of the road in the BVIs, but most of the cars have the steering wheel in the American position (left front seat steering wheel) and not in the England or Japan position (right front seat steering wheel). Below is a picture through the windshield of our SUV to show the streets are pretty narrow and there is no center line, and it is raining.  :-)


We stopped on the hill to look down at "Road Town, Tortola".  This is the very largest town on the largest island in the BVIs, and as you can see it is TINY.  Population 9,400.  The largest building below with a red roof is the hospital.


On the north side of the island, a little to the west of center is "Cane Garden Bay" and we had lunch at "Myett's Garden and Grill" there.  It's a really pleasant little area with a collection of beach hotels and restaurants and such.  It rained a lot the day we were there, but it was still very pleasant.  Below is the front sign.


Below is the back deck at Myett's, it is right on the beach (the beach is off to the left in this picture).


The view of Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, from the back deck of Myett's restaurant.


Below is a panorama of the beach at Cane Garden Bay taken while I was standing in the water.  It gives you an idea of what it looks like and that there are some bars and restaurants on the beach.


Sailboats anchored in Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, BVIs.


I thought it was funny that it was pouring rain and I had an umbrella so I had Katherine take this picture of me.


A closeup of me (Brian) standing on the beach with an umbrella in the pouring rain at Cane Garden Bay.


There are a few Rum distilleries in the British Virgin Islands, and one of them is "Callwood Distillery" which has operated for a few hundred years out of the location pictured below.


One of the famous party spots on Tortola is "Bomba Shack" pictured below.  "Bomba" is the guy who "built it" if you can call a few pieces of plywood nailed together a beach bar.  We were there the day after one of the big "full moon parties" where hundreds of people have too much to drink.  We were the ONLY people in the place, which was a nice way to get a few pictures of the actual structure.  You can search the internet for other pictures of the big parties.  We had a famous "Bomba's Rum Punch", soaked up the vibe, and went on our way.


This is the inside of "Bomba Shack".  In the distance you can see Dougie talking with Katherine.  Hanging from the rafters are various women's undergarments, kind of a celebration of silliness like the "bra tree" found at many ski resorts.


A banana tree growing outside the Bomba Shack, and a sign mentioning the famous "Full Moon Parties" that occur once per month here.


The next morning (Monday, May 7th, 2012) we woke up and I went for a morning swim at the Surfsong swimming beach.  Below is my "Monday" note to help me remember the day transitions.


The morning view from our SurfSong Villa by the sea.  The weather is turning away from the rain (thank goodness).


The building on the left of the picture below is a "space to hang out in".  The first floor is comfortable chairs, the second floor has mats for yoga and to get massages.


This is the "downstairs" of the yoga hangout at SurfSong, the picture below looking out over the water.


This is the upstairs of the yoga hangout.  It really is very pleasant.


A short 2 minute walk down the beach is the swimming area for the SurfSong Villas.  If you scroll the picture below to the right you can see the sailboat of the owners anchored in the little harbor.  I saw a little stingray swim by but didn't get a picture.  I took a little swim in the warm water here alone.  Very secluded, very peaceful.


Back in the room later, it was raining outside.


We caught a taxi and went over to "Trellis Bay, Beef Island, BVI" to check out the scene.  It's super relaxed, with a couple of low key restaurants on the beach including "De Loose Mongoose" and the "Cyber Cafe".   We ate lunch at the Cyber Cafe, we had the "Awesome Fish Sandwich" which Cate (from SurfSong) recommended, it was very tasty.  These are REALLY small little places, very relaxed.  There is also an art studio.  Below is the entrance to the area.


Around the beach are metal sculptures meant to have fires built inside them.  Very "Burning Man" style.  They have full moon parties here also, a little more family oriented than the "Bomba Shack" drunk fests, but I've seen neither.  Below is Katherine by one of the metal sculpture burning fire pits.  The metal sculpture burning fire pits are Aragorn's Fire Sculptures from the art studio on the beach there.


More metal sculpture burning fire pits.


The metal sculpture burning fire pits below are out in the water a few feet.  Notice the "Burning Man" symbol?  Interesting....  I found this YouTube Video of the spheres on fire.


Below is a panorama showing the whole beach of Trellis Bay, Beef Island, British Virgin Islands.


A wall of quotes inside the Cyber Cafe, I like most of them.  One of my favorites says "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness. -- Mark Twain".  I like that because: 1) I deeply believe that and 2) I am a traveler here.


A wide picture of Trellis Bay, Beef Island, filled with boats.


That night Katherine and I went out to dinner at the "Brandywine Restaurant" in Tortola because all the guide books and all the locals said it was good.  Which it was.  :-)  By the way, *ALL* the food we had the entire trip was really quite excellent.  I'm not sure why the BVI residents take their cuisine so seriously, but I felt every last meal was prepared perfectly, nothing stale, nothing over cooked, nothing that was supposed to be served hot was ever lukewarm and no frozen dessert ever came melted.  This observation was across 10 different restaurants on two different islands.  Below is the menu from the BrandyWine Restarant.


Katherine across from me at the table.


The next morning (Tuesday, May 8th, 2012) we packed up and headed to our next island, a quick power boat ride away.


We caught the speedboat taxi in Trellis Bay that Biras Creek Resort sent to pick us up.  Below it pulls up to the dock.


The boat ride was 30 minutes long and was about 12 miles.  Biras Creek Resort is on the island of Virgin Gorda, BVI.  This resort can only be reached by boat, no roads go there.  But it turns out that makes some sense as IT IS ON AN ISLAND.  (It took me the whole trip to stop thinking of a boat ride as exotic.)  Below we putt-putt out of Trellis Bay.



The movie below is made of clips from several water taxi (power boats) rides we took.  It gives a feel for what it's like.  Click here for a high quality QuickTime version that probably cannot be played on Windows computers.




Below we pick up some speed out of Trellis Bay.


Cruising through "open water" in the BVIs you are never out of sight of many other islands.  Here we are cruising nicely through sunshine and deep blue water.


A little further along on our trip to Biras Creek.  This is the first day the sun has come out and I'm a little camera happy.  :-)


We pass a catamaran on our way to Biras Creek.


A picture facing forward as the power boat comes close to a passing island.


Right as we arrive into Biras Creek, we saw this speedboat towing some people on inner tubes laughing.


As you arrive at Biras Creek, it's kind of like arriving at Fantasy Island, I looked around for Ricardo Montalbán and Tattoo (I'm kidding).  We were the only people on our boat, and yet we were greeted at the end of the dock with a rum punch and we meet our "host" and hop on her golf cart for a tour of the 140 acre resort.  It's quiet, high end, not crowded, you rarely interact with other tourists or the staff.


Here we are on our tour of the 140 acre resort.


Below is an INCREDIBLY short and pointless movie showing a tiny fraction of the tour.  Don't play it, you will be disappointed.  Click Here for an incredibly high quality original QuickTime version of the video below (Probably won't play on any Windows PC).




At the end of the tour, we are dropped off at our private room which looks out south of Virgin Gorda.  Our deck and view is seen below.  That's our private infinite pool (still filling as we arrived).


The bedroom of the private room at Biras Creek.


In the bedroom I noticed this end table clock.  The date and time were 6 months off.  You can interpret this a couple ways, I interpreted it as there were four days, 10 hours, and 57 minutes since the last power outage in Biras Creek. It is an "uptime counter".  :-)


The bathroom.  Off to the very right are doors to the "garden shower" (see below).


The "garden shower" means the shower is open to the air on top.  Kind of silly, but actually pleasant.  There was bug screen in the "windows" you see, so you could feel the breeze from outside but were safe from insects.


The main living room of the Villa:


The view from the living room couch over the infinity pool out to sea.


Below is what the infinity pool looks like fully filled (picture taken the next day).


We were in room "17A" and as you can see in the picture below, there are bicycles assigned to each room.  We can borrow these anytime we like to bicycle around the resort.


We decided to go down to the swimming and water sports area of Biras Creek where they were preparing lunch outside.  Picture of the lunch area below.


Lunch by the swimming area, Biras Creek.


The swimming beach has water sport toys all lined up, and if you ask they will show you how to sail or wind surf or whatever, all "included" in the resort price.  If you look closely, you can see a resort employee "cleaning the beach" near the water.  They "sweep" the beach, comb it with rakes, remove any debris and seaweed that washes up.


If you raise a little flag, a waiter comes down the beach to take your order, and so below Katherine and I have ordered cocktails and are looking at the swimming beach.  It's really nice, very scenic here.  And quiet -> they have a low density of guests.  Of the seven to nine couples in the resort while we were there, there were at least a couple of honeymooners.


Katherine objecting to me taking a photo of her by sticking her tongue out.  :-)   Didn't stop me.   Notice she's reading a kindle on the beach...


Dinner is at one of the higher spots on the resort where you can see the ocean to the NORTH of the island and also the SOUTH of the island by swiveling your head.  In the picture below you see the harbor (North).


The next morning (Wednesday, May 9th, 2012) we puttered around the resort.


Picture looking towards the harbor.


Picture from the main dining area (breakfast and dinners) overlooking the harbor.


This is the main shared freshwater pool.  We never saw anybody use it except us this one time.  It's almost lonely at this resort, I definitely wouldn't recommend coming here single, you'd feel silly.


Below Katherine is all alone in the pool.  Nobody to be seen anywhere, no staff, no other tourists.


Back in our room, we hung out on the deck and in and out of our private infinity pool.


Katherine floating around in the infinity pool.


I took this picture on my iPad so it isn't as high quality as the others, but I liked it because I was doing bank transfers as part of my job on the iPad.  The WiFi is excellent, I could even watch YouTube videos without much buffering from this spot.


The next morning (Thursday, May 10th, 2012) we got up planning a site seeing day seeing the rest of the Island we are currently on (Virgin Gorda).


Breakfast, as always, same spot.  One of the "mistakes" we made on this trip was not moving around more trying more places.  The food was great here, but with a tiny bit of effort we could have gone around the corner to two other islands and resorts and tried them out.


You can only access Biras Creek Resort from the water, but a water taxi runs regularly to "Gun Creek" the closest spot on the island of Virgin Gorda that connects with the main road system.  Below a couple on their honeymoon takes the taxi with us.


Arriving into "Gun Creek" on Virgin Gorda.


Our driver was organized by the host at Biras Creek.  The driver's name was "Silvary" and he was nice and friendly and showed us around.


Driving along, we saw a lot of free roaming chickens (see picture below).


We also saw lots of goats running around, like the ones below on the roof of this house.  Notice that a lot of the houses have pipes sticking out of the tops.  Silvary (our tour guide and driver) explained that when you get permission to build you immediately build one floor, but leave the pipes sticking up waiting a couple years until you can afford the money to build the second floor.  It is convenient to have the pipes available and waiting when it comes time.


Goats in the road on the island of Virgin Gordon as we drive by.


More chickens in the road.


We passed a school getting out for lunch.  Notice they wear uniforms to school.  I wore the same type of thing as a school child in Papua New Guinea (in that picture I'm on the far left).


One of the touristy things everybody recommends is going to see "The Baths" in Virgin Gorda.  Here we are!  There are two ways to get to the beach - swim in from a boat, or walk 10 minutes down from the top road.  We took a car so this is the "Top of the Baths".


We start our pleasant 10 minute walk down to "The Baths" beach.


Along the trail it advertises for the restaurant at the top.  I think this would have made more sense if we swam ashore down below from a boat and were hiking 10 minutes up to the restaurant.


Along the trail (and all over Virgin Gorda) are lizards.  Here are two now.


A close-up picture of the two lizards.


A really close up shot of a lizard.


After the pleasant 10 minute walk downhill, we arrive!  Welcome to "The Baths".


Below you can see the OTHER way to arrive here - by boat then swim ashore.  We stood and watched this crowd of tourists you can see in the water huff and puff onto shore.  A guide was with them showing them the way and making sure they didn't drown.


Katherine on the beach looking confused as I take a picture.


The main attraction here are these big boulders kind of forming swiss cheese caves (pictures below).  You take this one trail that is well marked and has wooden stairs at any difficult parts.


Part of the trail is on soft sand, part is under 3 or 4 inches of water, and part is over boulders.  Here are a few pictures to try to convey it.  Overall it would have been AWESOME if you discovered it yourself.  As it stands, it's really crowded with long lines and I suppose worth seeing once, maybe twice.  Below Katherine walks down the path between two enormous boulders.


This is one of the famous and scenic cave like areas in "The Baths".  And the problem is evident.  There are crowds of people milling about taking photos all trying to get to the private pool behind to take one photo pretending they are all alone while 50 people watch.  So all the pictures you have seen are "fake", this is what it is really like.


In a rare break from the crowds (there are people around every turn) I snapped this picture of Katherine.  Notice we're standing in a couple inches of water.


In any difficult location there are wooden stairs with handrails.  Katherine is walking down one staircase below.


Katherine stops to drink, I thought it was a pretty picture.


Done with the little trail, we walked the 10 minutes back up to the "Top of the Baths" where there is a freshwater swimming pool.  It's really hot everywhere we go, so Katherine stayed cool in the pool.  We met the guy in the picture below who is from Los Gatos (very near where we live in the USA).


This lady works at VMware, which is a well known Silicon Valley (south of San Francisco) company.  Some of our friends work there or  have worked in the past, and we know one of the founders.  It's just like a bit of home found half way across the world.  :-)


On with our tour, our guide says this is the home of Morgan Freeman on Virgin Gorda.


There is an old Copper Mine on Virgin Gorda.  It was 240 feet deep when it was abandoned in 1862, and some of the old machinery is still here from that era.


Below are the remains of some of the buildings from the copper mine.


The copper mine is at the very end of Virgin Gorda, here is the "end of the road".  You can see some goats wandering around here.


A closer picture of the goats by the copper mine on the island of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands.


We continue our meandering tour and day around Virgin Gorda by having lunch at "Little Dix Bay, Virgin Gorda". 


Below we sit looking out over the water at lunch at the Little Dix Bay.  It seemed like a very pleasant resort area with easy access to roads.


Continuing along on our driving tour, I took the picture below looking out the window to show the type of houses we see as we drive.


Some of the houses were very colorful, like the ones seen below.  I like it, very festive.


The island of Virgin Gorda we are on has gentle hills and basically this one road down the center.  You can see both sides of the island at times like in the picture below.


The sign in the picture below says "North Sound Methodist Church" on Virgin Gorda.


At the end of the afternoon, we are waiting for our ferry to go back to the Biras Creek Resort below at Gun Creek.


At the end of the afternoon, we are waiting for our ferry to go back to the Biras Creek Resort, and I saw this guy.  He had just bought this enormous "traditional style" phone handset attachment for his iPhone.  I thought it was interesting.  I had never seen it before, but a quick web search turns up several models that cost $19 or less.


I asked what brand or manufacturer the taxi boat was, and the locals say they are "Bradley Power Boats" that are built new right there on Virgin Gorda.  Here is a picture of our ferry powerboat which says on the side "Bradley 350, North Sound, Virgin Gorda, B.V.I."


Below are some boats moored at Gun Creek which might also be of type Bradley?


The boats below might be Bradley also?


Aboard our "Bradley 350" water taxi (ferry?) from Gun Creek to Biras Creek Resort.  It's a fast 8 minute ride.


Getting off the ferry we are at the "Fat Virgin Cafe" in the Biras Creek resort - this is the area you can take small boats out to go snorkeling and such.


Below an instructor shows a tourist staying at Biras Creek how to operate the Boston Whaler 110 Sport with center console steering and 25 Horsepower Mercury outboard engine.


The next morning (Friday, May 11th, 2012) we went for a long sail for most of the day. 


Friday breakfast, same spot, same story.


On the way to meet our sailboat at the dock, we see a lizard.


Another lizard:


A few pictures of the interesting boats down by the docks at Biras Creek Resort.  The boat below has a very minimalist flying bridge I thought was interesting.


Another picture, same boat.


The picture below is of a speedboat with dual 150 HP outboard engines.  I like this configuration for the power, maneuverability, and redundancy.  Two engines means the ability to "spin" the boat in place (run one engine in reverse, one forward, the boat pivots "in place").  And I'm a huge fan of the redundant engines so if one engine has a catastrophic problem you still have enough power in the other engine to limp back to port.


Below we are greeted by the owners of the sailboat who will take us for a sail today.  The charter sailboat is named "Crystal Clear" and is owned by Charly Zahr and wife Carolina.  In the picture below you can see Carolina on the boat.  The boat is a 62 foot Robert Perry double mast Sailboat.  Here is a link with some info on booking it for a sail.  Here is Crystal Clear's Facebook page.


Katherine and I in front of the 62 foot Crystal Clear double mast sailboat.


The next two pictures are not mine, taken from promotional materials but they are good pictures of the 62 foot double mast sail boat named "Crystal Clear".


A side shot of "Crystal Clear" the 62' sailboat.


Back to my pictures, on the left is Carolina, and in the captain's chair is Valantine.  He looks young, but seems to know his way around the boat.


From left to right in the picture below is Katherine, Valentin (the blonde kid), owner and captain Charly Zahr, and on the far right Charly's wife Carolina.  The picture below is knitted from two pictures so forgive the rough edits in the middle, this is what it looks like sailing underway.


Sails up, here we go.  The water and weather are absolutely perfect today for a sail.


That's me perched on the bow of the 62 foot sailboat named "Crystal Clear" that sails around the British Virgin Islands, right now being based out of Biras Creek Resort in Virgin Gorda.  I'm taking a picture.


A picture looking up at our tall sails on our 62 foot double mast sailboat.


Below I'm relaxing comfortably on the stern of the sailboat.  Notice we tow our zodiac style dingy behind us all day long, we never use it.


Below is a quick picture of the instrument panel, we're making 7.4 knots (very reasonable) and the water is of depth 82.9 feet.  There is an autopilot on the boat which maintains any heading you like, the autopilot is currently set to 218 degrees.


Katherine (on left in hat) smiles as Carolina sets some food out for us.


I walked up to the bow to take some pictures.


Here we are following other sailboats.  Notice they tow their dingy also.


The island pictured below is "Necker Island".  "Necker Island" is owned by Richard Branson who owns "Virgin Airlines" in addition to some other things.  I thought about dropping by to visit Richard, but we heard he wasn't there at the time.


A close up picture of "Necker Island".  If you click on the picture below you can see some buildings.


We always tow our dingy around, all day long, every day in the BVIs.  It is good to look back and check that it is still there from time to time.  Also notice at the very top right of this picture a "notch" in the wooden board.  The main sailing mast can be "locked down" inside that notch which prevents it from swinging around, or it can be raised a little to move freely a few inches above the entire wooden board (like when tacking and the boom swings).  I liked the system.


Below is a short 5 minute movie of some clips from the day so you kind of get the feel of how relaxed it was.  Click here for a very high quality QuickTime version (will probably not work on Microsoft Windows computers).


Below is a picture of Charly Zahr inside his boat the "Crystal Clear".  He is sitting at his laptop computer, which has cellular broadband connectivity even while under sail out here.  We were able to load websites and do Google searches.


Katherine lying down taking a nap on the sailboat.


The catamaran "Hotel California" passes by us in the British Virgin Islands.  It is a 48 foot long Catamaran.


Another picture as the catamaran passes us.


The island pictured below is "Peter Island" in the British Virgin Islands.


In addition to sailing catamarans, there are pure power catamarans like the one pictured below.


Early in the afternoon, Valantine crashes out for a nap on the sailboat. 


We saw this boat earlier, the "Hotel California" 48 foot Catamaran sailboat.


This large merchant sea going ship carrying a large truck passes us.  It says "Cay Seal" on the side, and it has IMO Number 7724485.  When I looked it up, this identifies as ship named "Grenadines Star" of type "Landing Craft" (notice the bow of the boat in the picture below) built in 1978.


A little further along in the day, Carolina set up some chairs for Katherine and I on the bow.


Brian (me) and Katherine on the bow.  Picture by Carolina.


Picture from the bow facing forwards.


Carolina feeds a sea gull some bread (this picture by Charly).


Here you can see the sea gull coming up to eat the bread out of Carolina's hand.


A picture taken the moment the sea gull grabs the bread from her fingers.


Captain Valantine still seems young to me, but here he is so comfortable he steers with his feet.


A catamaran comes up from behind us.


The sailing catamaran called "Sirius Escape" passes us in the BVIs.


As we are almost back to our home port of Biras Creek, we pass the catamaran named "Saboré" at anchor.


In the picture below you see the utterly tiny island of "Saba Rock" and some sailboats at anchor surrounding it.


Below is the "Bitter End Yacht Club" which is just around the corner from Biras Creek Resort.  Both are only accessible by boat.


Below the sailboat "Dancing in the Dark" out of Baltimore Maryland is at anchor with it's dingy.  It is a monohull (traditional) sailboat, single mast, about 51 feet long.


Right near Biras Creek Resort there is a "Mega Yacht Dock", pictured below.


Below is a powerboat named "Iriana" out of Naples, Florida.


We pass a sailboat named "Great White" of type "Sunsail 464" at anchor.


Another pure power catamaran named "Rosewood" out of "Little Dix Bay", BVI.  That's the name of a resort there, so this is probably the water taxi for that resort.


At the end of a long relaxing day of sailing, here I am in our private infinity pool relaxing and cooling off (it was very hot all day long).


The next morning (Saturday, May 12th, 2012) is our final half day in Biras Creek Resort and we depart back to Tortola for the night before we fly home.


In the morning, Katherine noticed a tiny crab walking in our living room!   Below she is loading it onto a spoon to carry it outside.


Below is a movie of the little tiny crab that invaded our hotel room.  Click here for a very high quality QuickTime version (will probably not work on Microsoft Windows computers).


Below is a close up picture of the little tiny crab.  This is 30 feet from any sea water, and I can't imagine how he is able to survive and how he climbed up a 6 foot wall into our room!


On this final morning I decide to borrow a complimentary "Boston Whaler" 110 sport for a spin around in the bay.  It was a ton of fun.  Below shows the center steering column console.


Below is a picture the Boston Whaler 110 Sport with center console steering and 25 Horsepower Mercury outboard engine.


A picture of the outboard.


And here I am taking my own picture while ripping around out in the water.  It was seriously a ton of fun.


A picture over the bow of my little Boston Whaler.


I pass a catamaran named "Windscape" out of Delaware.


Below is the catamaran "Necker Belle" owned by Richard Branson.  It is 32 meters long (about 105 feet long) and 14 meters wide (about 46 feet) and the mast is 38 meters high (about 125 feet).  It can go about 20 knots per hour when using both sail and power at the same time.


Below is a picture of the "Bitter End Yacht Club".


If you click on the picture below you can read the "Bitter End Yacht Club" sign on the largest building in the picture.


A boat named "Corinthian" is owned by Bitter End Yacht Club (B.E.Y.C.).  It is a 59 foot long power boat.  I think it takes tourists out to go snorkeling and such.


A bunch of the sailboats here are labeled "B.E.Y.C." (click on the picture below) which stands for "Bitter End Yacht Club".


I head for "Saba Rock" in my little boston whaler.


A close up picture of "Saba Rock Island Resort" as I pass by it.


As I pass by "Saba Rock Island Resort" I noticed the sign in the picture below.


I'm past Saba Rock, looking back over my shoulder at it.


Below is a movie showing me driving the little Boston Whaler 110 Sport around, landing at a secluded beach on Prickly Pear Island, etc.  Click here for a very high quality QuickTime version (Probably won't play on Microsoft Windows computers).



On my right out past "Bitter End Yacht Club" are these houses on the very very tip of Virgin Gorda, no roads here, only accessible by boat.  They look almost abandoned.


Up around the corner I spy my final destination for this morning - a secluded sandy beach on the north shore of "Prickly Pear Island".


Here I am coming closer.


SUCCESS!!   I have landed my little Boston Whaler 110 Sport out here all alone.  It really it is very pretty here, and I now regret not doing this a few days earlier.


A catamaran named "Alley Cat" which is a 37 foot catamaran came into my private bay while I was there.


Returning home, there are two mega yachts parked at the mega yacht dock.   The mega yacht on the left is "Northern Lights" (a 132 foot motor yacht built in the year 2000) and the mega yacht on the right is the "Resolute" (a 129 foot yacht built in 2006).   You can see my amazing boat's bow in the picture, the captains of the other mega yachts are most likely jealous of my Boston Whaler 110.


A closer picture of the yacht named "Northern Lights" here at the mega yacht dock at Biras Creek Resort, BVIs.


Time to leave Biras Creek Resort, here the staff helps us load luggage on the water taxi back to Trellis Bay, Tortola, BVIs.


A picture behind us as we leave Biras Creek Behind.


A speedboat passes us going the opposite direction as we depart Biras Creek Resort.


A catamaran passing by us on our trip back to Trellis Bay, Beef Island (near Tortola).  The whole boat ride only takes 30 minutes.


Back in Trellis Bay, Beef Island, BVI.


We stop for lunch at "De Loose Mongoose" that is right on Trellis Bay, Beef Island. 


Katherine sitting in the patio area of "De Loose Mongoose".


This kitty cat was crashed out in the heat.


Another kitty cat crashed out in the heat.


Back in a slightly different room at SurfSong, below is a picture of the air conditioner in our room.  It is a Fujitsu ductless air conditioner, also known as a split air conditioner.  One part is "indoors" (the part seen below) and the other is a unit that sits outside on the deck.


The outdoor deck of this other SurfSong room.


The next morning we get up, pack up, and are ready for the 12 hour journey home.  Katherine is reading her Kindle and you can see our luggage packed and ready to go.


Inside the Beef Island Airport (EIS).  We aren't supposed to take pictures here, but I wanted to get the phone number to advertise my business on the billboard (lower right corner of the picture below).  I also liked the "Island Pigin" in the green sign below saying "I off to New York! I goin' ping you when I reach."


Our short little 45 minute puddle jumper plane ride on Cape Air back over to San Juan, Puerto Rico.  No co-pilot, but if the pilot slumped over unconscious I could lean forward and have a try at landing the plane.


Below is a movie of the landing of the "Cape Air" Cessna 402C in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Click here for a high quality QuickTime version that probably won't play on any Windows computers.


Back in our home base airport of San Francisco Airport (SFO) you can see it is a debacle with lost luggage piling up.  Through blind luck, the airlines happened to send our luggage to the correct spot!


In SFO, they take security very seriously, and one of the biggest threats to the safety of airplanes nowadays are children's car seats.  Below is a picture of the children's car seats SFO has confiscated in the interests of safety.  Well, technically they have just "lost" these car seats that probably should have gone to the proper destination, but either way they are jailed up tight and you can rest knowing TSA is doing their assigned job: Security Theater.


And home to the beach house.  Kyle dropped by with his big black dog Odin, and our little kitty cats didn't like it very much and stayed in the loft looking down.  Kyle was there to drop off Chou Chou which he watched for us while we were away.


All done with pictures!  Stop reading!   Below here is just lists for next time, some notes, stuff like that. 


Our Proposed Schedule in the BVIs:
Friday, May 4th, 2012 - Depart SFO 11:08pm towards BVI (British Virgin Islands)
Saturday, May 5th, 2012 - flight lands at Beef Island, BVI, around 2pm, stay at "http://www.surfsong.net"
      (need to tell Surfside to reserve us a taxi - $25)
       Dinner at Eclipse (Fat Hog's Bay; 284/495-1646)
       ... or.... Red Rock restaurant & bar
Sunday, May 6th, 2012 - snorkel, also this is the night of the full moon
      9a or 10a West End to Great Harbour, Jost van Dyke arrives ~ 30 minutes later
      Soggy Dollar Bar, Foxy's Bar, BVI Adventures, Bomba Shack full moon party (Tortola). Apple Bay Beach.
        (Surfing center near Long Bay with famous full-moon parties at Bomba's Surfside Shack, Friday night fish fry 7p - 9p peak )
    ... or .... Fireball Full Moon Party (284/495-2447; www.windsurfing.vi
        fungi-style music, stilt-walking Moko Jumbies, and fire jugglers.
Monday, May 7th, 2012 - St Thomas? Or another island?
     Dinner at Mrs Scatliff  (Carrot Bay, Tortola)
     The Sugar Mill Restaurant (Apple Bay)     ...or... BananaKeet Café, Windy Hill Carrot Bay, VG1130, Tortola)
Tuesday, May 8th, 2012 - travel to second island called "Virgin Gorda", stay at "http://www.biras.com"
     Sail to The Baths (Virgin Gordo), Anegada Island Sunset cruise to Necker Island, Helicopter day trip
Wednesday, May 9th, 2012 - snorkel
Thursday, May 10th, 2012 - snorkel
Friday, May 11th, 2012 - snorkel
Saturday, May 12th, 2012 - travel back to first island (Beef Island, BVI) stay one night at SurfSong
Sunday, May 13th, 2012 - Depart BVI on 10am flight, arrive SFO 8:25pm (13 hours travel time)

Food to Try:
Conch fritter
Sugar apples
Little Apple Bay - Mrs. ?
La Baguette Bakery (Pasea Estate, Road Town, Tortola)

Vanilla beans
Net bags

Other Places to Visit:
Aragorn's Studio is located in beautiful Trellis Bay on the eastern tip of the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.
Fallen Jerusalem, Virgin Gorda


Lists of Things to Bring on a Snorkel Trip to the BVIs

This is not for you!  Stop reading!  I'm old, I forget things, this helps me remember for next time.

Pre-trip Section:

  1. 14 days in advance - Check Passport
  2. 3 days in advance - Haircut (short for easy maintenence)
  3. 2 days in advance - Pack

"On Boat" Equipment Section:

  1. Mask & Snorkel
  2. Swimsuit
  3. Sandals (I went with "??" brand)
  4. Beach towel? - did not need, always borrowed from hotels
  5. Chamois Shirt(s) - never worn once
  6. Sunblock
  7. sunglasses

"Off Slope" Equipment Section:

  1. first aid kid
  2. duct tape around pen
  3. swiss army knife

Electronics Section:

  1. Camera (and charger)
  2. Cell Phone (and charger)
  3. GPS - rental car Nuvi, handheld Rino for backcountry (and chargers)
  4. iPod Nano (Apple charger)
  5. speakers for condo - jambox
  6. iPad or laptop?
  7. MiFi on Verizon internet connection device to allow iPad to get online

Street Clothing:

  1. shorts - 1 pair for every 2 days (worn after showering)
  2. light cotton slacks - 1 pair for every 4 days
  3. belt
  4. light short sleeve dress shirts - 1 for every 4 days
  5. polo t-shirts
  6. white socks
  7. underwear
  8. shoes (tennis shoes, dress shoes?)
  9. jacket?


  1. dopp kit (toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, eye drops, etc)
  2. razor
  3. blow dryer
  4. caffeine pills (for coffee emergencies)
  5. pajama shorts
  6. pajama white t-shirts
  7. ear plugs (individually wrapped, bring extras, condo mates might snore!)
  8. white trash bags - for laundry
  9. small clear sandwich bags - for cell phone, etc
  10. travel alarm clock


  1. book for plane?
  2. small umbrella
  3. backpack
  4. glasses & case for glasses?


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