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The Virgin Islands are a Newbie Sailing Paradise!
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The same characteristics that make the British Virgin Islands ideal for a regatta make it easy for newbies to give sailing a try. For one, it’s hard to get lost.
“It’s mostly line of sight sailing,” says Bob Friel, the former editor in chief of Caribbean Travel & Life magazine about the friendly confines of the Drake Passage. “It works for sailors of any experience level.”
“Every day you’ve got a pretty straight forward plan,” Friel says. “You wake up in a gorgeous anchorage with a beach bar and sail to another gorgeous anchorage with a beach bar.”
The bars of the BVI are stuff of legend, starting with the Soggy Dollar Bar in White Bay on Jost Van Dyke. Set back from the white sand beach in a canopy of palm trees, the Soggy Dollar earned its name from patrons paying for their drinks with wet money from swimming in or falling off their dinghies—there’s no dock so you have to anchor off the beach. The Soggy Dollar lays claim as the home of the original painkiller.
Just around the corner in Great Harbour, there’s Foxy’s Bar. The key is to go in the daytime and hope the legendary proprietor, Foxy Callwood, is performing. Callwood has called himself the laziest man on earth, but his bar and musical performances have attained cult status.
“He’s the most famous raconteur in the BVI and will make up a song about you and your crew on the spot,” Friel says. Those lucky enough to earn an original composition leave with some of the same sailing street cred attained from a weathered Mount Gay hat.
If bar-hopping BVI style isn’t your style, book one of the best dives in the entire Caribbean, the wreck of the Rhone, a British mail ship that sunk during a hurricane in 1867.
Pirate enthusiasts and literary types can investigate Norman Island, the place that reputedly inspired Robert Louis Stevenson to write Treasure Island.
Or cruise over to the natural wonder of The Baths on Virgin Gorda, where giant boulders along the beach trap secluded pools of water.
And there’s the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda, perhaps the most well known sailing destination in the BVI with its sheltered North Sound, an ideal playground for small boats.
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