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Thursday, May 04, 2017

BVI 2017: Observations

This was an unusual trip in many ways. Along with getting sick with the Nolo virus, I was very pleasantly surprised by how few mosquito bites I received this time. This is the least mosquito infested visit I've ever had. Upon reflection with Arturo, we concluded that the BVIs must have invested heavily into mosquito elimination programs since the Zika virus, and it's very likely that those are paying off. As a result, if mosquito bites have deterred you in recent years, don't. It's better than it's ever been. Of course, part of it was that we also avoided mosquito places like Leverick Bay this time around, and didn't do a land hike other than the visit to the bubbly pool on Jost Van Dyke, but I remember a substantial number of mosquitoes that time, and none this time!

I'm still finding new places in the area that I haven't been, as well as revisiting old favorites. I'm very pleased with our discovery of Privateer Bay and Soldier Bay this time around, and might prefer those over Kelly Cove in the future.

If there's anything I've learned this time, it's just amazing how different brothers are. Bowen loved sailing (and still does). He wants another trip next year. Boen, on the other hand wasn't nearly as adventurous, and didn't want much to do with the water until the last couple of days. When I was a new parent, I thought rather naively that being outdoors and doing adventurous stuff was good for kids (and especially good for boys in particular). Bowen proved me right and Boen proved me wrong, showing that I have no clue what I'm doing as a parent.

Conch Charters proved to be the right charter company for me. While others might have been turned off by our 2014 trip which featured broken engines, I was impressed by the way they handled our problems as well as the problems in the boat. This time, we had no broken engines, just a broken BBQ, and they definitely did not charge us for something that was clearly so old it was falling apart. The price was great, and we got a nice big boat which was well equipped. By contrast, in 2012 we went with Horizon Yatch charters, and even though the boat was much newer and cost almost twice as much as what we paid this year, we still ended up spending some vacation time fixing toilets and showers instead of sailing, diving, and snorkeling. And then at the end Horizon would be a lot more picky about charging you for every dime than Conch was. The net net is that while Conch seems like a "cheap" option, I think their staff has way more experience fixing things and I would definitely recommend that experienced sailors charter with them.

I would be happy to do more sailing trips in the BVI. When the kids are older or whenever the mythical St. Vincent International Airport opens up, we can contemplate other places in the Carribean, but right now the other locations are much less accessible, and flying with kids means you want to minimize the pain of the flight more than anything else first. When I think about how often I've sailed in the Virgin Islands but still continue wanting to come back, it's clear that this is a special place to me.

2 days after the trip, I still occasionally felt like the room was moving when taking a shower or lying down. It's a great feeling.


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