Winter Warmth in the British Virgin Islands

A Canadian family’s first charter with The Moorings inspires a new tradition     by David W. Shaw

The water taxi nosed up to the dock in front of the Moorings Village at the flagship Moorings base in Road Town, Tortola, having just come from clearing customs after the crossing from St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The diesel muttered in idle as the driver helped four Canadian travelers with their gear, marking the end of their journey from the winter cold of Toronto, Ontario, into the tropical paradise of the British Virgin Islands.

  The driver said goodnight and then the boat pulled away, merging with the balmy evening darkness. Jason Tanguay savored the surroundings. Lights along the semicircular shore of the harbor glittered on the black expanse of water. The pleasing timbre of steel drums carried on the gentle breeze. 


Tanguay had just turned 26, and his parents and his fiancé had come to the BVI as part of a combined birthday and Christmas celebration. Winter sojourns to the Caribbean had become an annual tradition for the last three years, and this past January was no different, except instead of hanging out at beachside resorts Tanguay and his companions were going to charter for the first time. They had never been to the BVI and they couldn’t wait to get out on the water aboard their 40-foot Beneteau.        

Every day made new memories for Tanguay. At The Dogs off Virgin Gorda, hundreds of yellow-jacket fish swirled and eddied around the boat, perfectly visible in the clear water over the sandy bottom. Tanguay felt suspended in a warm embrace as he snorkeled, looking down at the colorful show below. The ghostly shape of the 19th-century wreck of the steam packet Rhone near Norman Island mesmerized him. He could see 70 feet down as if he were looking through glass.       


Ashore, the natural wonders of the islands were equally stunning. The smooth sometimes rust-colored, sometimes white surface of the house-size stones at The Baths on Virgin Gorda contrasted against the brilliant blue of adjacent Devil’s Bay. Sea caves formed a cathedral-like labyrinth, and the surf lapped in over a soft carpet of white sand in the shadow of the grottos. The fizz and tickle of millions of tiny bubbles in the Bubbly Pool on Jost Van Dyke were like “being in a natural Jacuzzi” of exquisite beauty. “The waves wash in through the narrow rock entrance, filling the pool with bubbles,” Tanguay said. “It’s fantastic!”


The sail to Anegada, the only coral atoll in the BVI, ushered Tanguay into a world of salt ponds filled with birds, white-sand beaches and some of the best lobster he has ever eaten. The azure shallows just offshore created a magnificent foreground for a sky filled with puffy cotton-ball clouds. In Little Harbour, Jost Van Dyke, the group ambled to Harris’ Place, a red-roofed beach restaurant known for its delicious lobsters. It bills itself as the “friendliest place in the BVI.” As Cynthia, chef and proprietor, whipped up jerked chicken and lobster dinners, Tanguay played darts and swayed to Caribbean tunes with his fiancé.

“It was just awesome being in the BVI,” Tanguay recalled. “Every morning we’d get up, sail a short time, and then hit the beach, go snorkeling or just lounge on the boat. It was everything I could ever have wanted in a vacation.”

Next January, the Tanguay clan plans to charter with The Moorings in St. Martin. Now that the chartering bug has bitten staying put in a beach resort like they used to just isn’t in the cards for the Tanguay family. “We’ve got our eyes on a Moorings 4600 catamaran,” Tanguay said. “It’s going to be really cool!”



Winter Warmth in the British Virgin Islands.pdf