Posted by: rosyroadsadventures | August 17, 2011

We’re in the BVI! Charter Boat Watching & Dinghy Rescue

 N 18° 25.5′   W 64° 39.5′

Cane Garden Bay, British Virgin Islands

We’re in! Made it to the BVI on Monday, and cleared the Customs hurdle.

We are at anchor in Cane Garden Bay watching the charter boats. There are many fewer here than in past visits. It is slow season, and probably the slowest we have ever seen it here.

On vacations in the wonderful BVI, “charter boat land”, Happy Hour was always a favorite time of day. Not only for the refreshments, but for the entertainment of watching the arrival of bareboat latecomers to the anchorage. Lots of chuckles were had observing frantic crews trying to pick up mooring balls or set an anchor while their novice captain zoomed around, failing to slow down and stop at the targeted spot. Various gear was lost overboard, dinghy motors wouldn’t start, and there were startled encounters with barracudas through snorkel masks.

The only danger with this activity is that eventually it becomes payback time where no matter your experience, you become the source of entertainment for others. Like the time Bob & I were struggling mightily to launch our 350 pound dinghy from a beach. We thought it was grounded with the outgoing tide. It was actually tied to a pole. A first grader with no boating experience could have figured that out. We provided lots of amusement to the restaurant diners overlooking the beach that evening.

I had another “oops” moment immediately after arrival into the BVI. We had finished checking in with the officials in Great Harbor and were making a quick exit to Diamond Cay when we were summoned on the VHF radio. Not by our boat name, as is customary, but “Robert or Elaine Ebaugh”, which was highly unusual. We didn’t know the boat that was calling us, the Calypso. They had retrieved our dinghy that was floating loose in Great Harbor. It had become detached from the boat during departure. They found our names on the registration papers we keep inside a cooler in the dinghy.

We went back to the harbor and two women who seemed to be charter boat captains met us with with our dinghy and their dinghy. I traded a 6-pack of Medalla for our dinghy line. They didn’t want a reward, stating that “we charterers must look out for each other”, but I insisted. I guess we didn’t look capable of bringing our own boat all the way from St. Petersburg, Florida and I didn’t explain that we weren’t charterers.

Since I was the last one to handle the dinghy tow line, I was in some doo-doo. It would have been MUCH worse had the dinghy floated out to sea. Another lesson learned: always double-check the dinghy tow line EVERY time you handle it. I dislike the way we use a loop on the t-cleat on the stern for towing and would prefer a system with a traditional tie. Bob insists it works just fine if you make sure the line is on the cleat properly. I’m still going to tie it off with extra loops from now on when I’m responsible for that job.

Anyway, I am swearing off of charter boat watching, other than to look for opportunities to help someone else recover from a blunder, and will say a private prayer each evening that I will remember all of my lessons learned to prevent repeats of those boo-boos and that I can refrain from making any further boo-boos. And a toast to the nice ladies on the Calypso who saved me from a LOT of grief had the dinghy been permanently lost.

We had no problems getting the dogs admitted to the BVI, following the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. They have stringent procedures for regular animal importation, and their culture embraces lots of regulation, even if the locals seem pretty laid back. Private yacht Customs & Immigrations visits are handled ashore and luckily follow a different protocol. They didn’t ask if we had animals aboard and we didn’t bring up the subject. They only seemed concerned about firearms. We muzzled Lady before dinghying to shore to keep her from woofing loudly as she often does when we leave, calling attention to the boat. Was that cheating?  We will keep a low profile here. No barking, gals.

We have caught up with the Queen Helene and look forward to a mini Defever Cruisers Rendezvous.


En route to the BVI we found several quiet and secluded anchorages on St. John

Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke, was the same tranquil little town by day, and a great place to clear customs.

We tied up to Foxy’s dinghy dock for the quick Customs trip ashore




Passed this wreck in the USVI. Even professional ferry boat captains can have a bad day.



Posted in Boating mishaps, British Virgin Islands, Destinations, Dogs aboard, Lessons learned

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