Sunday, March 22, 2009

BVI (Mostly) Day 2

Early start, but worth it

[Kyle]Since we knew we had to clear Customs and Immigration in two widely separate places, we got up early on our second day. We pulled up the anchor at the first hint of light and sailed out of the anchorage as quietly as church mice. I love doing that. By the time the sun rose over the Sir Francis Drake Channel, we were just clearing the western tip of Norman Island and were headed to the south coast of St. John, USVI. St John is mostly nature preserve and is very pretty. A we sailed along, I imagined all of the cool trails and camping there, but we were on a mission - Customs.

Cruz Bay, St John, USVI

We came into the very pretty little harbour of Cruz Bay, St. John, and tied up to the much better protected (than Road Town) Customs dock. Once inside, U.S. Customs and Immigration were courteous and efficient but not friendly. We were back outside in three minutes. Then Maryanne noticed that we had been given no evidence whatsoever that we had cleared in or out - they kept all of the forms. H.M. Customs in the BVI was sure to give us trouble over that. We went back in to double check and they said we were in the system and that's all that was needed. Three minutes later, we were back on the dock shrugging our shoulders.

Since we were officially in the U.S. for the day, we topped up our tanks with fuel and water and headed back to the BVI, this time to the island of Jost Van Dyke (pronounced Yoast Van Dyke). The anchorage was pretty deep in Great Harbour and the holding was poor so it took us several tries to get the anchor to hold in a spot that allowed for plenty of swinging room. Once satisfied, we got in the Portland Pudgy and headed to shore to clear in.

We walked into the Police Headquarters building and were immediately greeted with an angry stare from the Customs woman. When it became clear that the Customs agent was not going to speak to us, (we were the only three in the room) Maryanne explained that we would like to clear in, please.

"Where's your form!" was the response.

"We don't have a form. We just got here. Where may we get a form?"

"You don't have a form?"

"No. Sorry. We've only been in the country for 15 seconds. Where would we have obtained a form?"

This question did not make her any happier and with a huge melodramatic roll of her eyes, she produced the form and stabbed a finger at a desk to fill it out. We took about half a step. "What are you doing?! Go to Immigration first!" She pointed in that direction.

The Immigration lady was not as nice. When we said we didn't have forms, she demanded a dollar. Maryanne started counting change out, the woman rolled her eyes and said, "Just give me a quarter!"

Maryanne made a joke about how it was getting cheaper all the time, which flopped. Like the Immigration woman in Road Town, she said many contradictory things and was clearly not happy with us for being, uh, alive, I think. She kept saying we were giving her a headache and saying how stupid and troublesome we were, all while appearing to be completely exhausted by the effort of keeping her head up. By the time we were dismissed back to Customs, that woman was looking like Mary Poppins by comparison. We both left biting our tongues and fuming. Those two horrible women had performed the miracle of actually making us miss the slightly less horrible woman in Road Town. It was a complete shock to us. The Customs and Immigration people in Virgin Gorda were really nice! It occurred to me much later that most other people on boats in the BVI (over 90%) are charterers who have probably been sent the forms in advance by the charter company and are not asking to stay the maximum legal amount of time (most only stay a week or two). Those boats are registered in, and never leave the BVI. Still, I get a feeling everybody is a "headache" to that woman.

Walk back down the hill towards White Bay, JVD, BVI... In the bay you can see one of the biggest privately owned sail boats in the world, at 88 m (290 ft) the very modern Maltese Falcon, we have seen it almost everywhere we've been, from Antigua onwards.. It obviously moves around a LOT faster than us. Oh, and if you have a few $1000 to spare, you can charter her, and the submarine that comes with it!

To shake that off, we walked up, and then down a very steep hill (they don't do switchbacks here) to the next bay over: White Bay. To be honest, I was disappointed. The bay was very white (ooh, the glare!) and beautiful, but it was packed, just jam packed, with what looked to be the overflow from the Cancun Spring Break crowd. Boats were everywhere. Drunks were everywhere. It was way too busy. We had heard that Jost Van Dyke was quiet and unspoiled. It is true that there are no Radissons or Hiltons on the island, which is good, but the place looked like a water park on a hot Saturday.

Scenes From White Bay - you'll have a hard time believing Kyle's "Crowds" Story. These were very carefully selected photos.

We walked to the far end and found the One Love bar, which wasn't too crowded (yet) and went in for what turned out to be a deeelicious frozen rum drink of some kind that they had on special. Since we had to go back over the big hill and since I wasn't smart enough to pack the gold brick, we stopped at one drink and headed back over the hill to Foxy's in Great Harbour.

Scenes From Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke, BVI

Foxy's is kind of a famous hangout on Jost Van Dyke. It was much quieter. Maryanne and I enjoyed a Presidente beer each while sharing a big hammock and reflecting on our marriage (our anniversary was four days earlier when I was at work). Hungry and fed up with paying quadruple for beer, we rowed back to Footprint for a sunset curry.

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