The day revealed itself exactly like the previous six: slowly and softly. I slithered from the cozy stateroom into the salon, and absorbed the island sounds and smells. The waves cresting onto the white beach of Cooper Island a hundred yards off our stern encouraged me to double check the depth sounder. All was well and I settled back into my morning routine.
Then, as with the previous mornings of my British Virgin Island bareboat charter, I faced a difficult choice: Should I take a swim before or after breakfast?
"Wow, relaxing is tough work," my friend Jim Astrachan commiserated, peering over his reading glasses. Yes indeed, but we were willing to accept the challenge. I made a decision. I would swim before breakfast and then go to the beach afterwards.
This was my eighth bareboat charter to the BVIs, and my second with The Moorings, the worldwide company specializing in sail charters (but now offering power, too)- although this year the BVI trip almost didn't happen. For variety's sake, I suggested another venue, such as the Grenadines or Mexico, to stir things up a bit. I mean, how many times can you cruise in idyllic waters, surrounded by stunning islands? However, Jim and his wife Julie had not cruised in the area before, so for them it would be, well, virgin. And my stepfather, Gordon Bjorkman, and mother Jane, liked the idea of returning to familiar haunts.
In the end, the return concept grew on me and I warmed to the idea of making it an annual vacation to the BVIs. The underlying benefit was that we were thrust into instant relaxation mode the second the wheels lifted off from JFK International Airport. There was no stressful learning of the particulars of a new destination, planning itineraries, or navigation. We've already been through those hassles on previous trips. I also knew a few special spots that Jim and Julie would enjoy. Better yet, I was familiar with places that should be avoided. And there were still enough unexplored destinations from previous charters to promise a little adventure. I've been accused of being a creature of habit, but in this case, I'd say it worked to my advantage. Thanks to the decision to return, this charter was one of the most relaxing vacations I've had in years. So, here are a few things that I've learned during these charters-maybe they'll help you find a shortcut to chill time
There are several reputable charter companies based in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. I've chartered with a few and generally have had good experiences with each. One of the reasons I selected The Moorings again is that I like their fleet. For the past two years, we've chartered the 474 power cat built by Leopard in South Africa. This year we were on board No Worries, powered by twin 150-horsepower Cummins diesels. The four-stateroom, four-head layout easily accommodates large groups. Outside lounging space is abundant, with a table and settee in the sheltered cockpit, a good-sized flying bridge, and forward deck seating. The relative stability of the ride reduces the risk of mal de mer for your less seasoned crew. In fact, each new 474 is delivered to the fleet on its own bottom from South Africa. That's a heck of a shakedown cruise, as well as a testament to the smooth ride!
The boats are well equipped, from a coffee maker to snorkel gear. And most importantly, the company follows a rigorous maintenance program to help ensure you won't be doubled over a hot engine trying to change a starter during your vacation.
The only issue on this past trip was a jellyfish clog in the generator's raw-water intake. Jim fixed the problem by diving overboard and cleaning the intake from the water. There's nothing like a morning adventure to give your day purpose.