This is a continuation of our BVI sailing adventure… Following the traditional of getting up before the roosters crow, Rich had the motor started and mooring lines in by 6 a.m. the following morning. We zipped over to Monkey Point for two rounds of fabulous snorkeling then sailed to Diamond Cay (Manchioneel Bay) on Jost Van Dyke. We grabbed a mooring ball, close to the shore and the coral reefs.
At the foot of the bay is Foxy Taboo, a charming bar and restaurant opened in 2003 by British Virgin Islander Foxy Callwood. Unlike other parts of BVI, Diamond Cay is spic-and-span with swaying palm trees, groomed paths, a well-built and maintained dock, and other amenities that make visiting a joy.
After getting directions at Foxy’s, we walked to Bubbly Pool, which is a shallow pool protected by piles of boulders. As the seawater surges through the boulders, it creates bubbles, hence turning the calm pool into something akin to a Jacuzzi.
What it didn’t say in the sailing guide is that the pool is calm at low tide with barely a bubble on the surface. Nevertheless, it was worthwhile to visit because the pool contained baby “bumble bees.” Not really bees. Sergeant Majors, which are perky black and white striped fish that can grow up to six inches in length. The ones in the pool were itty-bitty, maybe half an inch in length.
We’d seen the grown up versions while snorkeling and earlier in the day at Monkey Point. Several dozen of these charming fish were swimming around our swim ladder. We “accidentally” feed them bits of dried out bagels, which they happily chomped down until a solid black fish showed up and started to chase them away. It just shows that even the reef has tension among the species.
Several days later, at Sopher’s Hole, when we were getting into our dinghy after buying ice and other groceries onshore, I noticed a school of bumble bees near the dock and exclaimed to Rich, “Look at the bumble bees!”
A woman getting out of a dinghy nearby heard me and almost fell overboard, thinking that the stinging airborne variety of bumblebees were swarming. Ha! She was kinda’ a fancy lady who along with her husband and another couple were being brought to shore by the captain of mostly likely a catamaran they were chartering. Many people who charter in BVI have a captain, especially if they’re on a moose-sized catamaran with several other people.
After delighting in the baby bumblebees in Bubbly Pool, we headed back down the rocky trail, past several Manchioneel trees. Signs posted around the trees, reminding visitors not to stay away from the trees because they’re highly poisonous and can produce a severe skin reaction, especially after a rain. In addition, their fruit, resembling a small green apple, is highly toxic.
Part of the trail back to Foxy Taboo goes over sections of rocks. We must have zigged when we should have zagged and ended up on another trail. Trying to get my bearings, I looked down and saw several shells moving by my feet; I yelled for Rich to bring the camera. Inside each shell was a teeny crab. To the right is a picture of one of the crabs.
I’d spied several of these crabs during our beachcombing adventures. They’re the ultimate recyclers in that they move into abandoned shells. When they grow too large for their existing shell, they’ll find another. Theoretically, a small starter shell could have half a dozen occupants before it breaks or disintegrates.
Even though these crabs are very small – like a peanut with legs – their pinchers are very strong. I allowed a little fellow to grab my thumbnail and he held it so tight that I couldn’t pry him loose! When I put my hand in the water, he let go.
Also walking back, we stopped to take pictures of the mangrove trees (below), which grow in the brackish or seawater. They have huge roots that are on top of the water and most likely extend down tens of feet.
After our Bubbly Pool visit, it was time to snorkel again. We headed to Sandy Spit, which proved to be terrible snorkeling. We had a bad omen within seconds of putting our heads in the water and spying a large, tuna-like fish swimming within a few feet of the shore. Not only was the current strong in the area, but the reef was only a few feet beneath the water. In this situation, you must keep your body perfectly horizontal and your face in the water to avoid hitting any coral and possibly damaging it or yourself. I find it very claustrophobic to swim that close to sharp coral, especially, if you encounter a barracuda or other large, scary fish.
Disappointed in the snorkeling, we dingy along the shore on the way back to the boat and stopped on a sandy beach that at one time had a small bar. To accommodate or more aptly take advantage of the thirty sailors, there are numerous bars throughout the islands, which range from anchored boats where you can tie up and a get a beer or shot of rum to fancy establishments with upholstered chairs, froufrou appetizers, live music, and drinks with umbrellas and multiple liquors like a Royal Navy Fog Cutter (Pusser’s Rum, gin, lemon juice, orange juice, orgeat syrup, dash of Cointreau, and club soda) or Deep Six (Pusser’s Rum, lime juice, sugar syrup, and champagne).
Pusser’s is a BVI institution. Throughout BVI, there are Pusser’s stores, restaurants, and most of all, bottles of rum. Founded in 1655, Pusser’s is the “father of navy rum” and the original grog that was issued to sailors of Great Britain‘s Royal Navy from 1655 through 1970. It’s hard to imagine that rum was the daily libation on pitching ships, where attentiveness is key to safe sailing.
The breath of a beach, where we stopped near Sandy Spit, had a small, beat-up boat on it, which had been modified to enable people to sit around the pilothouse and order a drink. The boat was now nothing more than debris rising above wealth of riffraff and trash the waves deposited – cans, bottles, shoes, swim fins, buckets, fishing nets, dishes, utensils, and other stuff that had fallen off boats, or more likely, washed into the ocean.
As far as we can tell, there is no recycling in BVI and no desire on the part of the residents to consistently use trashcans rather than gullies, parkways, bushes, and the beaches.
On many of the island, roosters, chickens and goats roam free. I don’t know whether these animals are eventually eaten or domesticated livestock returning to nature. On the deserted beach, near the dilapidated boat-bar, Rich found jaw bones from a small goat. Its teeth were blackened. I suspect that it had been barbequed in a fire pit we spotted on the beach.
Yes, I took one of the bones, which I cleaned with bleach and a toothbrush when I got home. It’s next to the deer jaw bones I found in Texas.
Above, you can see how dark we were by the fourth day… and slightly red. This stunning self-portrait was taken after we ate dinner and before we started to watch the sunset. Every evening, I smashed up some mint leaves with sugar and a squeeze of lime juice. I’d then divide the mixture into two glasses, add ice up to the top and fill almost to the top with club soda. Rich would then pour of splash of rum in my glasses and a finger or two into his. Now you know why he looks a bit wasted in the picture above!