British Virgin Islands

7 January 2019   Mountain Point to Benures Bay, BVI
After breakfast, we sailed down to the Baths, which is a section of coast line where hundreds of giant boulders are packed together, creating passageways and caves.  We had a look at anchoring in Spring Bay, but the sea bed looked to be all rock and rubble, so we picked up a Marine Park mooring.  The Baths is a “must-see” in all the cruising guides, so there were about 50 boats hanging on moorings and scores of dinghies full of expectant tourists flocking ashore.

We joined the throng and took our dinghy to the dinghy mooring line - there are so many people visit The Baths that the Park Authority has banned any dinghies from going closer than 50 metres from the shore.   This means that after tying up, we had a 50 metre swim to the beach.  The beach was packed with people enjoying themselves, but rather than opting for a Pina Colada at one of the bars, we chose to walk along the trail which weaves its way through the boulders and visits a couple of lovely beaches.

The Baths, BVI

We had a fun couple of hours ashore and then sailed across to Cooper Island to anchor in Haulover Bay, which is a spectacular spot next to some impressive cliffs.  We dropped the anchor at 18°22.52N 064°30.66W in 8 metres on good holding sand.  Unfortunately, there was a large swell hooking around the corner making us rock and roll, so after 30 minutes, we upped anchor and set off towards Tortola.

One of the great problems with the British Virgin Islands is that all the best anchorages are covered in moorings that cost between $25US and $35US per night.  We don’t intend to pay anything, so we headed for Buck Island, where we last anchored in 2012 and remember it being very pleasant.  We anchored at 18°25.53N 064°33.73W.  Unfortunately, it was also very rolly.  By this time, we had 3 hours of daylight left, so we immediately pulled up the anchor and headed for Peter Island six miles away.

Key Cay was one of our favourite anchorages in 2012 and we had high hopes.  We arrived at 16:10 and anchored at 18°20.75N 064°35.82W in 6 metres of water over good sand.  Unfortunately, the swell was worse than the other two anchorages.  With less than 2 hours of light remaining, what were we to do? We could stay and roll our guts out all night or move again.

We pulled up the anchor with the intention of motoring back to Buck Island, which was the least rolly of the three anchorages, but then spotted that there weren’t many boats in Benures Bay on Norman Island.  As it was only a mile away, we scooted over and slammed the anchor down in the middle of the bay at 18°19.35N 064°36.33W in 13 metres of water.  I dumped 50 metres of chain out, it rumbled a bit, but held firm, which was good enough for us.  It’s a lovely peaceful anchorage, so exhausted, we cracked open a cold beer.

8 January 2019   Benures Bay, BVI
After our frenzy of anchorages yesterday, we decided to stop and chill out for a day.  Mid-morning, we nipped around the corner and picked up a dive mooring on “Spyglass Wall”.  We descended to 20 metres and headed east, following the bottom of the reef. When we had half tanks, we retraced our route at 12m.  

Haulover Bay, BVI

The visibility was very good although there were enough particles in the water to make photographing fish a challenge.  We saw about half a dozen large lobster and lots of fish.  There were a few varieties of Hamlets, so I concentrated on trying to photograph them – 

In the afternoon, we ran the dive compressor and the water maker and then chilled out.  It’s a very nice, peaceful anchorage away from the charter boats.

9 January 2019   Benures Bay to Haulover Bay, BVI
We motored upwind to have a look at the dive site for the RMS Rhone, but all moorings taken and the sea state was rough, so we carried onto Haulover Bay, dropping the anchor at 18 22.5259 N 064 30.6617 W in 7 metres of water on good holding sand.  Despite the light winds, a swell was still hooking around into the bay, so it was rolly, but we decided to tough it out.

After lunch, we took the dinghy across to the dive mooring for “Wreck Alley”.  We descended the mooring line and then headed west down the reef and across 50 metres of sand to two tug boat wrecks.  There was some big fish including a friendly Dog Snapper and a shy Reef Shark.

We looked around for five minutes and then swam north across a 100 sand patch to another two wrecks.  One was upside down and of little interest but the other one was very good with an interesting cargo hold and cabins.  Our friendly Dog Snapper had followed us over and was amusingly possessive, chasing away other fish when I was trying to photograph them.  The Reef Shark also came over and did a few close passes.

When we were down to 5 minutes of no decompression time, we returned to the reef and ascended to 12 metres for our return to the dive mooring.  It was a very, very nice dive – much better than the busy RMS Rhone.

Back on the boat we filled the dive tanks, ready for tomorrow.  We had a few rain squalls come through and unfortunately, the swell didn’t die down, so we had a very rolly evening.