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Sailor's Delight

2024 April 1

A return trip to the British Virgin Islands designed to maximizing sailing miles is a panacea for a group of northern sailors

We were sailing on a reach, a stiff 25-knot trade wind filling our sails and kicking up whitecaps across the teal water. Behind us, the dark form of islands rising from the water slowly retreated and, for a short time, in front of us was just water.

The Moorings 5000 makes quick work of the sail to Anegada.
Bill Schanen IV photo 
It was the kind of sailing that lives in the brains of winter-weary sailors, and for our group of winter escapees from the north, it was a panacea for the malady of the off season. And it was exactly what we had hoped for when we planned a charter in the British Virgin Islands designed to maximize our sailing opportunities.

That day’s sail—a little over a dozen miles that clicked away almost too quickly on the way to Anegada, the northernmost island in country—was one of three passages worth savoring every moment of.

Our group of a half-dozen dyed-in-the-wool sailors had been to the popular cruising grounds of the BVIs before so it felt comfortable skipping some popular sites in favor of an itinerary that maximized sailing opportunities. 

Our home for this adventure—perfectly timed in late January to hit in the middle of the off season in our Great Lakes’ home waters—was a spacious Moorings 5000 catamaran. We knew we might have gotten better sailing performance out of a monohull, but we weren’t willing to sacrifice the spacious comfort of a boat that was absolutely perfect for a group our size. As it turned it, when it came to sailing, we weren’t making as much of a sacrifice as we thought.

The Moorings base was rebuilt after it was damaged in Hurricane Irma. It’s now a one-stop shop for charterers, with a market, shops, two restaurants, a hotel and more, along with 300 or so boats.
Bill Schanen IV photo 
A lot had happened since any of us had last been to the BVIs: two hurricanes that packed a one-two punch for the islands and a pandemic. That triple storm of bad luck was devastating to the islands, but the recovery has been generally remarkable. Although signs of the tremendous winds that blew through Tortola could be found in the dilapidated buildings and slow reconstruction visible in the hills, a newly constructed and expansive Moorings base was a sterling and classy example of how good things can come from bad. 


The base, which is home to more than 300 boats, is a mini community, and everything you’d need for a charter can be found within a very short walking distance. A dive shop, fishing store, two restaurants, hotel, coffee shop and more is right there. A market is a couple-minute walk from the docks, and a French bakery and large chain grocery store are also within walking distance. It makes the old days of scrambling to get organized before a charter a distant memory, practically eliminating the need for that kind of planning and research—like scoping out a spot to pick up a favorite wine—that used to consume much of the charter-planning process. 

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