What an experience! We are all so happy about our week together living on a boat. We were picked up in Saba, and sailed to and around the British Virgin Islands, before being dropped back at the harbor in Saba a week later. There were good parts, and less-than-good parts. It was the perfect way to have a realistic look at what it might be like to live on a boat, and if this is something we really aspire to. Here is a look at where we went, if you'd like to see:
After 21 hours of sailing through the night from Saba, we arrived to the sun rising over Anegada. What a gift! We added our names to the wall at Potter's By the Sea, then rented and drove around on scooters. It was the perfect way to get around this tiny island! We stopped at long, white Cow Wreck Beach (where the Obama’s had been!) and later had drinks at Loblolly Bay. Anegada's beaches are simply stunning.
We had a little snorkel with live conchs and lobsters at the lovely resort of Bitter End Yacht Club at the North Sound of Virgin Gorda. Happy Hour on the mini-island of Saba Rock was fun for us and the kids – a tarpon-feeding show, the personable moray eel and that they could sprint around this tiny island kept them occupied for hours, while Koen and I chatted it up with s/v Chance Encounter.
We spent an afternoon visiting the amazingly gorgeous, volcanic rock playground of The Baths. Huge boulders along the beach create swimming pools and beckon budding climbers. We walked back to the Harbor at Spanish Town from The Baths, along the boisterous Easter Parade. Although we do hike on Saba, it’s a rare treat to get to walk on a relatively flat surface for such a distance.
Tortola was a brief, functional stop for us – namely to clear in. We found a grocery store to buy some bread and were pretty shocked to see that the prices were no cheaper, indeed more expensive, than Saba. We enjoyed a fabulous coconut (something we typically only see on trees on Saba) and another long walk, but this time along a fun, colorful street with shops and cafes.
Another tiny island! Main street is literally a sand road breaking up the beach from a strip of restaurants. The grocery store (although we didn’t go in) is more like a kiosk. There are some very tempting restaurants here, with less tempting prices. We did end up eating dinner on Jost, but not at one of the super-low-key-super-high-price places, and enjoyed some pastries from the cute little bakery.
Between Jost van Dyke and Tortola is this tiny, uninhabited, picture-perfect island surrounded by gorgeous sand and reef. We swam to the beach from the boat, which demonstrated what a weak swimmer I am and what strong swimmers my kids have become, and sang “Op een onbewonde eiland” while walking the path to the interior.
Norman Island and “The Indians”
We had The Indians to ourselves for a late-afternoon snorkel session. The colors were so vivid and beautiful. We spent the night anchored in the harbor at Norman Island, but did not join the jet-set crowd for the famed parties at the expensive restaurants. Rather, we enjoyed a lovely morning swim and beach time in the morning with the place nearly all to ourselves.
The sail back to Saba was pretty rough and very long. At 30 hours for about 100 miles, sailing feels like the epitome of slow travel. All in all, the holiday was a huge success! We learned a bit about sailing, and we all enjoyed being together and living even smaller than we ever have before. The verdict? Life on a sailboat remains a possibility for our future! We'll have to see where the wind takes us.
Would you also like to try living on a sailboat? As lovely as Patrick was on FoxFire II (teaching us to sail, and even bringing Easter chocolates for the kids!), I would really only recommend him for an adventurous couple – not a family – who is happy living without basic comforts, such as showers. Other options, while much pricier, are The Moorings, SunSail, Dream Yacht Charters and Horizon Yacht Charters.
(Do you ever use Air BnB when you travel? If you're planning on going anywhere - sailing with Patrick, perhaps - then I'd love it if you click through this link to make your booking! It's an affiliate link that will help me to earn travel points to another jewel of a destination.)
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