Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy to be heading out!

Well, we’re battened down, ready to head out and leave the BVIs behind. During our 18 days here, we’ve been enchanted with the beauty of the various islands, enjoyed the chance to do some fun dives, and had exceptionally great food at just about every place we’ve eaten! Unfortunately, though, we’ve also had some unexpected sour notes. As a rule, I like to write about the positive things -- because there is so much to smile about and appreciate while cruising -- but, honesty compels me to admit that during our stay here, it’s clear that the BVIs have become a victim of its beauty and popularity. I don't want to be too negative, but cruisers would probably like to be aware of a few pitfalls!

The islands are home to the largest charter fleet in the Caribbean, as well as being a huge cruise ship destination, so as a result, there’s a bit of a touristy and false Disneyland atmosphere with the steady stream of cruise ship passengers and charterers in many of the anchorages here.  Because of the huge influx of visitors, some places are no longer quaint nor out of the way: we were startled to see that cruise ships not only dock near the Baths, but also come into north Gorda Sound to disgorge masses of passengers, who then flock to the BEYC shops, beaches and restaurants. It's best to visit these fabulous places when there are few cruise ships in port, or it will be crowded.

During the winter months, popular anchorages are choked with the plethora of charter boats (Moorings, SunSail, CYOA, Conch Charters, Virgin Traders, Barefoot Charters among others) all vying for a mooring or a place to anchor; there are only a handful of long-distance cruisers aboard their own boats here. We found we missed the typical cruiser camaraderie that one finds in other ports, since most of the folks are simply here on vacation. Unfortunately, some charterers are boisterous party-hearty groups here for  their own celebratory week or ten days, with no interest in other boaters or experiencing a true taste of local Caribbean flavor. To them, the BVIs are just an exotic backdrop to their getaway and they almost shun interaction, be it with locals or other cruisers. apologies to anyone I've offended with my venting! Sour notes aside, we’ll take the fun times and good memories we've made here, and look ahead to St. Martin! May the crossing of the Anegada Passage be kinder than the Mona Passage!

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