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Hannah White: Sailing with a baby [Part 2]

Join us as we pick up where we left off on Hannah’s exciting journey through the sun-kissed BVI with her baby aboard our Sunsail 404.

Read part one


Time for the baths

The Baths, on the southern-most tip of Virgin Gorda, are an area of unique geological interest. Eroded granite has, over time, created these extraordinary giant boulders with tidal pools, tunnels, and arches. Although getting ashore can prove a little challenging (with a baby), there is no shore access for dinghies. On a windy day in high water, it can make for an interesting swim ashore! Lunch at the Top of the Baths was superb, and we could have easily whiled away the afternoon overlooking the ocean, drinking perfectly chilled beer, but we were keen to set sail again and head back to Tortola as our provisions were running low.

With a north-easterly wind still blowing, the reach across to Beef Island was great fun, and as the sun fell lower in the sky, we made it to Trellis Bay just in time to catch the supermarkets. As dusk fell, we made the decision not to stay the night in Trellis Bay — so we motored across and picked up a mooring just off Marina Cay.


A secret bay

With big plans to head to Jost Van Dyke, we had a quick breakfast and set off. However, before long, we skirted off the northern coast of Beef Island and came across a stunning-looking bay, seemingly hidden from the rest of the world. With only a few avid sunbathers dotted along the pristine white sands, the beach looked so idyllic that we couldn’t help but stop for coffee. We didn’t set sail again for the next 24 hours. After a blissful, long afternoon of paddle-boarding, fishing, swimming, and snorkelling, the only sign of life left on the island was a small ship, which floated onto the beach before heading for Tortola.

A fun sail to Jost

Reluctantly, we left our mooring after an early morning swim. Despite our 780L water capacity, our tanks were running low, so refilling was a priority. The breeze that was forecast to build throughout the week had arrived, but thankfully the 30 knots were from behind, which made for a really fun, fast sail down to Jost Van Dyke. With 1 reef in the main and a slither of jib out, we hurtled towards Jost, at one point (in a large gust) touching 14 knots of boat speed!

The facilities in Great Harbour, although fairly difficult to identify, were more than adequate. There was fuel, water, and provisions in abundance. But it’s not the place to stop overnight, not when White Bay is just next door. Protected by a reef and divided into a double bay, White Bay isn’t the easiest to navigate into, but if you follow the charts, keep your eyes peeled for channel markers, and keep your wits about you, you’ll be fine. We headed to the western side of the bay, – prettier, quieter, and in close proximity to the best beach bars. However, the lack of morning buoys and the need to anchor close to other boats didn’t make for a relaxing stay, so we headed to the eastern side of the bay, some 250m away. With plenty of morning buoys to choose from, I felt far more relaxed.

The beach in White Bay is adorned with beach bars, all in a different state of repair, but mostly open for business to make the most of the large number of boating enthusiasts visiting the island. We decided to make the most of happy hour and then ate ashore at Hendo’s hideout, who served us some of the best local food of the trip!

Sleeping baby on the yacht

Pirate hideouts

It was, sadly, time to make the journey back to base. We had booked an eight-night charter, so there was still one more night to be had aboard. However, with the forecast looking increasingly lively, we were keen to get back in reasonable proximity to Tortola.

Sailing due south, we ducked through Thatch Island Cut at the very eastern end of Tortola and into Soper’s Hole. Soper’s Hole was once the headquarters for pirates and buccaneers; ships and treasure were hidden here, and the high grounds of Frenchman’s Cay and Steel Point were used as vantage points for spotting unwanted visitors.

We knew we must push on to our planned overnight anchorage on the north side of Peter Island. I was only too aware of what was waiting for us in the Sir Francis Drake Channel. 40 knots on the nose. In fairness to our South African-built Sunsail 404, she battled through the short, sharp swell like a warrior, and I was delighted and amazed that the glass of orange juice that I had left on the galley table was still in the same spot when we arrived several hours later. The other good news was that even a force 8 gale was not enough to worry our youngest crew member, who once again slept through the whole thing – this time along with her father!

Sunsail yacht in BVI

The right decision?

Our final night aboard was idyllic. The wind had softened and left the most beautiful sunset, which sat nestled in amongst the few remaining clouds. The perfect end to a perfect week. As we cruised back into Wickham Cay the following morning, we were met with the sight of a bustling dock full of excited charter guests busying themselves with general boating. A few eager guests scurried over to ask if we had any advice on where to go and what to do. We were all desperate to know what I had wanted to know the week before – had we made the right decision coming here? My answer to all was YES, absolutely, 100% YES.

The British Virgin Islands have been damaged, and in some parts to extraordinary levels. Bricks and mortar can and are being rebuilt, and the natural habitat above and below the water will recover and regrow. One thing that has been constant and unwavering is the incredible tenacity and positivity of the locals. I feel privileged to have played a very small part in the recovery process. For all the fundraising efforts and international aid, what the British Virgin Islands really need are people to go there. To support their economy directly, to see past the tragic loss of infrastructure, and fall in love with the sailing area, which is reminiscent of 50 years ago. I guarantee that while enjoying a cold beer on a picture-perfect beach served from a shack (roof optional), you won’t want to be anywhere else.

 If you were inspired by Hannah’s story, then check out our BVI page to learn more about this incredible sailing area.


Ian Pedersen

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