As we arrived in the BVI, there were sailboats of all sizes on the move everywhere! Here is a large sailing yacht motoring across the bay. Lovely!
And another big sailing yacht cruises by... it's size dwarfing the 40 ft charter boat heading (too) close by.
The BVI is a popular place for bare boat sailboat chartering (no professional captain on board) and we were on the lookout for charter boat sailors (also known as "credit card captains").
Nothing against these sailors, but it is a known fact that many of them do not have a lot of experience anchoring and are likely to drag into you if there is a blow. Fortunately, most of the charter companies require them to take a mooring to minimize this possibility!
|Photo credit: Alternate Latitude website|
Hey guys, there's an easier way to do this! How about a charter with your own personal chef with our friends, Steve and Deb Schlosser on Alternate Latitude. Alternate Latitude, a Voyager 44 catamaran, offers 3 kinds of charters – Captain only, half-board or all-inclusive. Check out their website!
After a 6-hour sail from St. Thomas, we dropped the anchor on the east side of Prickly Pear Island near Eustacia Island at 3:30 p.m.
Our anchorage was across from Necker Island, the famous home of Sir Richard Branson (of Virgin Records and Virgin Airways fame) and an ultra-luxurious private retreat for celebrities and CEO’s. I’ll have to admit that I got the binoculars out to see if I could see some of the rich and famous prancing around on the sugar white beaches (naked, even!), but alas, there was nary a soul to be seen. There was a mega yacht anchored right off the shore and I saw some smaller boats running about, but not a rich or famous person in sight!
The story of how Richard Branson acquired the island is an interesting one.
Sir Richard Branson first became aware that some of the islands in the British Virgin Islands were for sale in 1978. He was just twenty-eight years old. He promptly went to the British Virgin Islands for a holiday to investigate the prospective real estate. On first observing the islands, he envisioned using them to put up rock stars for his record label. Upon arrival to the BVI, he rented a luxury villa and travelled around islands for sale by helicopter.
|Photo Credit: Wikipedia|
|Photo credit: Necker Island Website|
|Photo credit: Necker Island Website|
In the early hours of August 22, 2011, The Great House, as it is called, burned down in a blaze believed to be caused by lightning from Tropical Storm Irene. The house was occupied at the time by as many as 20 guests, with Sir Richard Branson himself staying in a residence nearby. All 20 of the guests escaped unhurt from the burning house, which according to Sir Richard Branson was totally destroyed. Among the 20 occupants were actress Kate Winslet, along with Branson's 90-year-old mother Eve and his 29-year-old daughter Holly, when the fire broke out in the early hours of the morning. Kate Winslet saved Branson’s mother by carrying her out of the house. The Great House has now been rebuilt with the Great Room expanded from but in a style strongly reminiscent of that lost to the fire.
Although the land on the island is entirely privately owned, under BVI law, all beaches up to the high-water mark are Crown Land and are open to the public. In practice, the security personnel who accompany guests to Necker Island are known for making it difficult for ordinary members of the public to enjoy the beaches, particularly when high-profile guests are in residence. We stayed on our boat and didn’t venture over.
The next afternoon, we departed our little anchorage at 5:00 p.m., heading to Simpson Bay, Sint Maarten. We passed several large ships during the night and had a pleasant 14 hour 80 nautical mile sail. We dropped the hook in the basin outside of Simpson Bay and waited for the Simpson Bay lift bridge on the Dutch side of the island to open.
We were ready to party! We made plans to meet at happy hour that afternoon at a local Greek restaurant, Barnacles. Good fun, good friends, and new friends... What a welcome to the island of Saint Martin!
References: www.dailymail.co/uk, Necker Island website.