Tuesday, May 31, 2016

British Virgin Islands - Sailing Life


We partnered with Footloose Charters for this amazing experience! A sincere thank you to them for organizing the trip. All content and opinions are my own.
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Setting sail on an ocean adventure can be a little daunting for a novice like me. 

When we arrived in the British Virgin Islands, I had no idea what to expect. Did I pack the right things? Would I be required to actually do any sailing? What if there was an emergency? What were we going to actually DO?


Apparently the answer to the last question was: everything.


If you've ever dreamed about taking a yachting trip, I couldn't recommend it more. I'll be posting about it over the next two weeks, but today I want to talk about some of the highlights of sailing life in the BVIs that makes it the perfect vacation!


Now get ready for lots of pictures folks! I also put together a video at the end of the post.




The first thing that must be said is that the scenery is amazing. The water is a crystal Caribbean blue, the islands are mountainous and green, the houses are all brightly coloured, and there is no shortage of pretty boats sailing by.





When you find yourself in paradise, it's a little overwhelming. Seeing the islands from the water is really special because it makes you appreciate how each place is different. It gives you a whole new perspective on the tropics.

Once you've got on your swim suit and your shades it's time to dive in, literally. We snorkeled and swam every day off the boat,  seeing beautiful coral, fish and turtles, or just lounging in the water with a cold beer and laughing. 




This trip is not for those who don't like to get wet. I only packed 4 bathing suits, next time I would consider packing one for every day of the trip because once something gets wet, it never REALLY dries. There are a lot of cool spots and bars that you can only reach by swimming to shore; so jump off that boat!


Or rope swing from the mast. Also a completely acceptable way to get in the water!




Days are really full in the BVIs with so many activities, people tend to get up earlier to start the day, and as a result bed time is a little earlier too. This is why it is SO important to not miss happy hour.




Happy hour varies, but you can bet that around 4-5pm, the beach bars are full of sailors enjoying cheap beer and delicious conch fritters.


On one day, happy hour for us was spent lounging in cozy chairs at the Cooper Island Beach Club, a great spot for both afternoon drinks AND dinner. (It's where I had the dinner that inspired this recipe post)





Cooper Island Beach Club also has a pretty phenomenal Rum Bar with the second biggest collection in the Caribbean. The bar tenders there really know their stuff and they're full of great stories, as well as advice for your trip.

Plus if they like you, you can take a picture with their collection.


Another great spot for happy hour is Quito's Gazebo at Cane Garden Bay on Tortola, where the band is playing a mix of classics and island music to get you dancing.




They also had the BEST conch fritters I had on the trip (and believe me, I tried them everywhere)




After happy hour, either head back to the boat for a laid back meal, or hit a cool restaurant for dinner! There's no shortage of phenomenal meals to be enjoyed, in my next post I will talk ad nauseam about Saba Rock and the incredible mussels I had there.


We ate on the boat as often as not for dinner, it's a great way to make the most of your trip, while saving your cash. The boats have full (if small) kitchen facilities and the main grocery stores have everything you could hope to prepare! 


Once dinner is done, it's time to hit the bars. Be it partying at the 24/7 bar that is Willy T's (literally a pirate ship that you either boat or swim to), heading back to Quito's, or Foxy's on Jost Van Dyke to dance the night away. Each bar has something unique about it, but everyone is there to have a fabulous time. 




I'll talk about some of these places in one of my posts, but I think the night at Willy T's was my favourite. It was the first day of sailing on our trip, we had all just met each other, and we bonded by swimming to the bar from our boat, and jumping off the second floor of the bar into the ocean. 


Later that night we were back dressed only in our bathing suits and COVERED in paint. Then we took paint to the bar and covered everyone we could, which surprisingly made us very popular rather than a nuisance. 


There's something to be said for a night out that bonds you with people who are essentially strangers. Before we got to the airport many of us had never met before, and when you're living in such close quarters for a week you need to get along. Luckily for the most part we got along like gangbusters. 






Having a good group of people (laid back, adventurous, easy to talk to) is so important for this kind of vacation. Plus you don't have enough water to shower every day so you need to be REAL comfortable with each other. If you're preparing for a week of sailing adventure, choose your cabin mates wisely.


In the end, what you need for this trip is a "take on all challenges" attitude, about 10 cases of beer, a really good book for lazy days in the sun, a camera to capture it all, and to make the most of every minute.




I'll be posting parts 2, 3 and 4 over the next two weeks with more specifics on things we did and saw! But check out this video for a quick recap of our activities and fun.

Full disclosure: This video is really poorly edited :) I just wanted to throw together some clips for you guys!


Shiver me Timbers that was a long post!


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