It’s a Small World at Saba Rock, Too!

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It is a week of “Small World” encounters! Yesterday, my former next-door-dock-neighbor dropped in on us at Leverick Bay (she now has a boat in the BVIs, lucky lady). And today – we met up with more Annapolis friends, somewhat by chance. Frank and I are members of the Annapolis Lodge of Sons of Italy, and Frank and Cecile (whose family hails from the Naples and Abruzzo areas – she is the one with glasses above) had “kitchen duty” after our last Friday night dinner. They got to talking and both realized we’d be in the BVIs at the same time – us on a boat, and Cecile and her husband, Scott, on land. They are staying with friends, Ben and Nancy, at Guavaberry Cottages, where Ben’s family has been coming since he was a little boy.

We weren’t sure we’d be able to pull it off, but amazingly, we rendezvoused at Leverick Bay (which has become our new home base). They drove over – in a car – to meet our boat and came aboard for a glass of wine and a tour. Then we hailed the water taxi to take us to dinner at Saba Rock, which is a tiny one-and-a-half-acre island in the middle of the Sound that has a restaurant, lounge, and 8 hotel rooms.

It is quite the happening place. The taxi picked us up at our dock, and we wove in between gigantic yachts and lots of sailboats before disembarking at a spot with stunning views.


Most of us tried the Anegada lobster tacos – made with a sweet lobster that only is found on an island near here called Anegada. We also tried Bushwhackers – a frozen drink made with dark rum, Kahluah, and Bailey’s Irish Cream. We declared the whole meal absolutely delicious.

Believe it or not, we have spent three nights at Leverick Bay. We have liked it so much we couldn’t tear ourselves away. But tomorrow, we move on and will see where the wind takes us next.


It’s a Small World in the BVIs

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Well, we were sitting here at little out-of-the-way Leverick Bay on Virgin Gorda when we heard, “Bonjour Christy! Bonjour Frank!”

It turns out my former next-door-dock-neighbor from Port Annapolis, Suzanne (who is French Canadian), is down here on her boat. AND – wouldn’t you know – she is a reader of the blog! So she knew where we were and sailed on over.

When she was at Port Annapolis, Suzanne was a photographer at the World Bank and owned a Pacific Seacraft, which she sailed all over the Bay, even single-handing. Well, she fell in love with a man named Hugo – who hails from France and is very charming (we think he is a famous French writer, but we always talk about boats – not jobs – so we don’t know for sure). Anyway, we really liked both of them and hoped they would get together.

They did – and Suzanne retired and sold her boat so that she and Hugo could buy a 46-foot Beneteau in the BVIs. They spend 4 months of the winter here and haul the boat out during the rest of the year, when they go home to see family and to travel the world. What a wonderful life!


They have a 5-year plan to stay down here and then may move on to something else. Suzanne said when they started, they took it slow, tested out different anchorages, and stayed close to their home port. But now they venture forth all over the Caribbean. They had just returned from St. Bart’s and after our visit, they were off to another island, Anegada, for a couple of days. They did an overnight 13-hour sail to St. Martin earlier this winter, and said Guadeloupe is next on their list.


Their crew for the week was Louis, also French Canadian, who just retired as a photographer in DC. He has a boat in Annapolis, too, and we know him from one of our sailing clubs. He spends part of his winters in Guatemala because he is brushing up on his Spanish. (You really do meet the most interesting people on a boat!)


We haven’t seen any of them in at least a year, so it was so much fun that they sailed in and dinghied over for a visit.

It is a small world after all!



Leverick Bay, BVI

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We dropped our mooring and headed north to the Island of Virgin Gorda.  There are a number of fun spots here that we have already visited on prior trips. So we decided to try something different this time and navigated to Leverick Bay, which is a little more off the beaten path.

What a delightful spot! Is is small and VERY laid back. When I asked about reserving a slip at another marina on the island, they sent me a form for my credit card information and a two-page disclaimer.  When I emailed Leverick Bay, a man named Nick emailed back to just come on and he’d find a spot. No worries mon. He didn’t even ask my boat name. (When we came in, I asked the dockhand if he was Nick.  He just laughed – it turns out Nick is the owner of the whole place!)

They have mooring balls and marina slips ($1 per foot – in Annapolis it is $3 per foot, so we couldn’t believe our luck). Boats get full use of the facilities – beach, pool, restaurants – plus a bag of ice and 100 gallons of free water (a big deal down here, where you pay per gallon).

Last night they featured a Pig Roast on the beach, which was fabulous. We could smell the grill all afternoon – as we enjoyed pina coladas at the beach bar – so our mouths were watering by the time dinner rolled around. It was all you can eat – barbecue pork, brisket, chicken, grilled corn, salads, dessert – delicious. With a beach band and dancing in the sand.

The highlight was a show by the Jumbies, which are Caribbean stilt walkers. You can see me in the purple flowered dress as part of the conga line going through their legs!

Today – we are just hanging out on the boat – reading, fishing and napping, with plans to take a sunset dinghy cruise. We are getting into island life and may just stay awhile!


Manutea – Our Floating Home for the Week

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Frank and I have chartered boats in a lot of places, and I have to say, the BVIs is one of the nicest. I packed our recycled grocery bags because we are usually hauling provisions in from who-knows-where. And if we are lucky they have a bench close to the base where we can wait with all our luggage and groceries surrounding us until our boat is ready. Then, invariably, something big is missing – like the charts or canvas bimini – so we have to beg and plead for assistance, usually in another language.

But the BVIs is a magical place to charter. I could tell it was different when I perused their online provisioning list. You could order almost anything – you could even have Omaha Steaks delivered right to the boat. And they had pages of wine for delivery – with prices for South American wine that are half that in the United States, I guess because South America is closer.

The last time we chartered was in Sicily – and when our taxi pulled up to the base, our driver thought we might have gone to the wrong place. It was literally a tent on a long concrete pier with a port-o-potty – although it had its own charm. The owners called their friends, who picked us up and took us to their local restaurant for lunch while we waited for the boat. A different kind of personal touch. There were a handful of boats, and we got to know a large group of Polish men (including the Chief Justice of the Polish Supreme Court) while we all waited for our boats to be ready.

In the BVI, the Moorings/Sunsail base is a whole compound that looks like a luxury hotel.  They whisked us in, knew exactly who we were, actually walked us to the boat (among hundreds), and even helped us on with our luggage. Our boat – a 38-foot Beneteau – was ready with nothing missing, only 6 months old, and had the air-conditioning running! (I don’t think we have EVER chartered a boat with air-conditioning.) Wow!



We got checked out on the boat (you can see Frank learning the tricks of the dinghy) – and off we went.


It was very windy and right on our nose, so we mainly motored and got beat up a little on our way up the Drake Passage. We ducked into a charming area called Marina Cay and picked up a mooring. Our plan had been to go ashore for suppers out, but I always have one “back-up” meal tucked away – just in case. We were so relaxed we decided to just stay onboard – so we have already eaten our back-up meal on the first night!

And maybe old Italian traditions die hard – on our first day, we used up our supply of pasta, garlic, olive oil, and lemon – and we have yet to turn on the air-conditioning. We kind of miss those zany, unpredictable days of Sicily – although we did enjoy a stunning Caribbean sunset with our half-priced South American wine.

Sugar Mill, Tortola, BVI

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We were going to jump right into boat stories, but we loved our pre-boat hotel so much that I wanted to do a quick review in case others visit the BVIs. We stayed at the Sugar Mill Hotel on Tortola. It is built on the site of a former rum distillery (from a couple hundred years ago). They have a perfectly round swimming pool, which is built on the track where oxen turned the mill that crushed sugar cane. It is a beautiful property and very laid back  – with only about a dozen rooms – a place for relaxation, not a lot of activities (although that can be arranged).  And I t was comparable in price to the hotel at the boat base – with a lot more atmosphere!

They greeted us with champagne on their open air veranda, then loaded us in a golf cart with their logo and drove us to our room up the hill – which has a balcony with a view. They invited us to their weekly cocktail party, where we met all kinds of people. It turns out families have been coming to this hotel for years for a week at a time, so half the people knew each other from prior visits and were introducing each other to new family members – “You remember Harry – he just got married, and here is his new wife, Emily. Now she comes with us to Sugar Mill, too.” That sort of thing. It was a very friendly crowd.

Sugar Mill is most known for its dining room and considered one of the best in the BVIs.  The menu changes daily and is served either on the verandah or in the old mill, lit with candles.  It was delicious – my favorite was grilled shrimp and scallops; Frank’s was almond-crusted lamb chops (always his favorite!).

Best of all – they have a private beach. We were amazed that we were the ONLY ones there. Others use the hotel as a base to see other islands or go diving, so they were all out and about. We lolled the day away reading. They had a nice seaside cafe (you can see in background above) so we didn’t have to leave the beach at all. And the pool has an honor bar – you can mix your own drink and just write your name down in the notebook.  (For some reason, this really impressed us.)  I even worked one morning (before the honor bar), and they set me up with a desk overlooking the ocean with a pot of English Breakfast tea.

And when we left – they all hugged us. That is just the kind of place it is. We were sad to leave and hope to return to Sugar Mill again one day.

P.S.  My favorite part of the beach: these beach beds!  Here’s the view from the outside and the inside.  : )



Welcome to the BVIs

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We are here and happily settling into island life. But we’ve had a bit of adventure already. Frank and I have both been to the BVIs and thought this would be a nice vacation because we knew the area and we’d already visited many of the places so could just relax. Feeling rather smug, we booked a flight directly to Tortola (rather than the larger St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands across the way). We flew out of chilly Washington, DC to San Juan, Puerto Rico and looked for our gate – D12 on Cape Air. We followed the maze of airport hallways filled with Duty Free stores and cafes until they got barer and barer, with construction sites filling the void. But we kept following to D12.

We turned the corner on the last hallway and glanced out the window to see a half-dozen of the teeniest planes I have every seen sitting on the tarmac. None of them held more than 10 people. There was no cargo hold below the seats, so I was wondering how in the world they would even fit our suitcases (admittedly, mine was on the heavy side). The last time I flew here had been on an American Airways jet. I booked through Travelocity and assumed we’d have something similar. Hmmm . . . maybe the BVIs would not be as predictable as we thought.

It turns out D12 is the gate for a fleet of puddle-jumpers that fly among different close-by islands, so there was quite a crowd. We checked in and had to give our weight – I made Frank cover his ears when I gave mine. Then they weighed each of our carry-on bags. When they called our flight, they took us behind the counter – all 8 of us – and let us introduce ourselves to each other. Then the gate agent led us outside to one of the teeny planes, and we could see suitcases sitting in the nose – so that’s where they store them. He told us we couldn’t bring any carry-ons inside the plane (even purses) and popped open a compartment in the wing. We had to drop off our belongings in one wing or the other – to be even. At that point, I just starting chuckling thinking this will be a good blog story for sure.

To board we had to climb through a little hole in the side of the plane. He called our names and told us where to sit. Frank got the best seat – on Row 1, right next to the pilot (no security separating the cockpit – it was just Row 1). They distributed us around, with me in the back – I guess as ballast for my suitcase in the nose!

One of the passengers said, “It’s hot in here,” so the pilot said, “No problem” and rolled down the window and we taxied off. At that point, I did reach down to make sure I knew where my life jacket was. Frank said he was trying to pay attention because if something happened to the pilot, he figured it was up to him to fly the plane.

But we made it safe and sound – and I have to say – what a view! On Tortola, we crawled out of the little hole, one by one, and just walked into the airport. It was the shortest customs line I’ve ever seen since Frank and I were the only “non citizens.”

Unfortunately, Frank’s bag didn’t showed up. We inquired, and the Cape Air agent said, “No worries. They almost always show up by the next day.” So off to our hotel, which is beautiful. We settled into our room when the airline called and said, “The bag is here – I am the driver and on the way to deliver.” Hooray! We celebrated with cocktails overlooking the water.

A couple hours later – still no bag – so Frank called the same number back. A frazzled sounding man answered and Frank asked about his bag. “Oh mon – I am just in the shower – I will have to you very soon.” Welcome to island life – this may be more of an adventure than we thought. (But Frank does have his bag.)



On the Road Again – To the Islands!

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The Two Fools are back on the road – at least temporarily – and on our way to the Caribbean!  Once people heard we were heading out, we had a half-dozen requests to revive the blog.  Wow – we had no idea that people missed us! Thanks!

Brief Hiatus

To catch you up, we had to put the rest of our 2015 travel plans on hold because I had some complications from breast cancer that turned out to be a bit more involved than we thought.  But all was benign, so I am on the mend once again.  I will have a radioactive dye test next month as a check-up and still see my oncologists a few times a year.  I am also still on tamoxifen for 4 more years.  At Year 5, apparently they can declare you as “cured,” so I am still considered to be undergoing treatment.  But I am feeling much better and things look good.

I am also ramping back up at work.  I still have the flexibility to work remotely, so I have a lovely home office in Annapolis overlooking the water – which means that I can work even when it snows (not sure if that’s good or bad!).   I go into the DC office for meetings when I need to – and even had my first work trip since breast cancer last week.  So we are happy to be settling back into a “new” normal.  But – we have been itching to get back on the road so have a few trips planned, too – more on that in a future blog.


Onward to the Islands

For this trip, Frank and I will be renting a 38-foot sailboat for a week in the British Virgin Islands. Once again, we are the captain and crew.  We saw a last-minute deal on New Year’s Eve and decided to go for it.  We love to sail – and we are super happy to be going to warmer weather.  We’ve both done this trip before, but this is the first time together and the first time with just 2 on the boat. (My last time here was 10 years ago on a boat with 8 girls!)  I’m sure it will be an adventure.

And  . . .  we will celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary while we are here.  So stay tuned as we set sail in the BVIs!

P.S. Here’s a preview – we just arrived, and here is our view from the balcony of our pre-boat hotel. No snow here!