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The Virgin Islands: Renewed and Refreshed for the Winter Cruising Season

event December 17, 2018

One year after being rocked by back-to-back hurricanes, the Virgin Islands are open for business and ready to welcome winter charter guests. Currently cruising the area aboard Fleet Miami’s 147ft Feadship Harle, Captain Carey Drake reports back on the best routes and anchorages for your winter charter itinerary.

We don’t run from Hurricanes, we drink them!” boasts a hand scrawled message on a weathered sandwich board. Such is the sentiment that pervades the Virgin Islands, particularly the British Virgin Islands, which took a direct hit from Hurricanes Irma and Maria in late 2017. While some of the islands’ favorite beach bars and marinas succumbed to the storms’ wrath, others have been restored to their former glory. As a bonus, new watering holes have also popped up to welcome this year’s yachting visitors with a frosty beverage and a smile that characterizes these fabulous cruising grounds.





Setting the scene for the endless supply of white sand beaches, beautiful bays and stunning scenery that define the Virgin Islands, Tortola and Beef Island were hit hard by the storms but have recovered due to a massive reconstruction effort. The airport on Beef Island is open and provides an ideal launching point for your British Virgin Islands (BVI) charter.



The charm of this little piece of paradise lies in its exquisite natural landscape, which can be enjoyed via meandering walking trails offering majestic views of the surrounding islands. While the once renowned Peter Island Resort is under repair, the island itself still provides beautiful white sand beaches and peaceful anchorages.



This uninhabited island at the southern tip of the BVI archipelago is reputed to have contributed to the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s pirate novel Treasure Island. A popular destination for treasure hunters and snorkelers alike, Norman Island is also famous for three water-level caves at the base of cliffs near The Bight that offer adventurous exploration. The world-famous “Willie T” floating bar has been completely rebuilt and a new restaurant, The Pirate’s Bight, offers beachfront dining and entertainment. 



The third largest of the British Virgin Islands, Virgin Gorda is home to the famous Baths, an unusual geological formation that is lasting evidence of the island’s volcanic origins. Unscathed by the storms, these huge granite boulders lay in piles along the beach and form scenic grottos that open to the sea. Leverick Bay Resort and Marina is open and hosts nightly entertainment such as Moko Jumbies and the celebrated Pirate Show.



The most notable storm damage occurred at the revered Saba Rock and Bitter End, whose yacht club will be undergoing renovations during the upcoming charter season. Captain Carey recommends shifting focus to the beautiful anchorages of the North Sound, where the charming Oil Nut Bay offers a beach club, restaurant and marina.



Lush and tranquil, Scrub Island weathered the storms and its three private beaches, world-class restaurants and impressive marina have been dusted off and re-opened to visitors. It’s important to note here as well that the undersea world remains as vibrant as ever, and snorkeling and diving throughout the Virgin Islands is sublime.





With the airport fully functional, St. Thomas and Yacht Haven Grande is still a great option for pick-up/drop-off. However, this island bore the brunt of the Category 5 storms and many of the resorts are still closed or undergoing renovations.



The stunning anchorages of St. John remain untouched and, although the iconic Caneel Bay was affected by the storm, the beauty of the region and the smiling faces of the locals shine through.

Overall, the pace with which these quiet islands recovered from the devastation caused by hurricanes has been most impressive, and only serves to underscore the optimism and resolve of the inhabitants. Once again, the Virgin Islands have persevered and emerged renewed, ready to welcome and serve yachting visitors for the winter cruising season.