23 January 2011

Bitter End Yacht Club, BVI Day 5/10

Walking along the beach at Bitter End Yacht Club
A slow morning, everyone is relaxed and reading out on deck, content to lazily watch the sun rise.  I'd like to try and hike to the top of Biras Hill to take pictures of Eustatia Sound and Gorda Sound.  History records that pirates used to hide their ships in the nearby coves.  The pirates and privateers would climb the hill and watch for treasure-laden merchant ships to run aground on Anegada's deceptive reefs to the north.  Most of the sailors would then drown, and the lucky pirates would simply sail out and salvage the cargo.  Columbus named Anegada, which is spanish for "drowned".

In all my studying of early explorers, privateers, and sailors, I am repeatedly amazed to learn that most of them did not know how to swim.  I suppose it was a skill not taught in the recreation centers and municipal pools during the 1400-1700's.

A few searches on the internet help me find what I am looking for, a trail over the top of the island.  A Bitter End Yacht Club photographer cut this trail, which connects to National Park trails at the summit.  The trail is accessible near the east end of the resort.

I expect the views will be breathtaking for a couple of reasons.  Although the water here is incredibly clear and blue, we always view it from the deck of the boat. From higher up, I should be able to view miles and miles of water from a steeper angle, which would reveal all the coral reefs and sandy stretches in the entire sound, instead of those just near the boat.  Also, with the angle of the morning sun directly behind and above me, there will be less glimmer on the water for more striking photographs.  
So I announce that I'd like to go on a hike, and to my surprise, everyone wants to hike too.  Somehow I thought they'd prefer to relax on the beach, but this is a fun group, and we have all day.

It's a fairly steep trail, but the abundance of oxygen at this altitude makes for easy hiking.  I can feel my quads working hard, but no shortness of breath or pain in spite of the fact that I haven't exercised in several days now. As we climb steadily through the trees, I'm impressed with how hard it must have been to create this trail.  The brush is thick and the ground very rocky.  But with each step, we are rewarded with increasingly more breathtaking views. So much so as to nearly cancel what I noted earlier about having no shortness of breath on this trail.

The group is patient as we make several stops along the trail to set up the tripod and shoot photos.  Not knowing if we'll come back down this same trail or continue down some other trail, I can't afford to pass up the various rock outcroppings for fear each might have been the best.

Finally, near the top of Biras Hill, the trail exits the low trees and passes through more open, grassy areas.  It's hot now, and I am sensing that we have hiked as far as was pleasurable for a crew on vacation.  While they rest for a moment, I run ahead a few hundred yards to make sure we aren't missing some stunning view.  Nope, we've seen the best there is for today's hike.  The views now are more to the west, and with the sun starting its trek past our zenith, the water is picking up more shimmer than my polarizing filter can handle.  So we hike back down, very ready for a day of swimming and relaxing on the beach.

We take up residence in some relaxing beach chairs under a thatched-roof sun shade, dropping our backpacks to stroll out on the swimming dock.  The warm, weathered texture of the dock feels therapeutic under our feet, melting away the years, making us feel like kids again.  The water is calling to us now as it did when we were 10 years old on a hot summer day.  Randall and I execute these perfect swan dives, entering the water with nary a ripple in its shimmering, caribbean-blue surface.  (The reader will be surprised to learn, at this point, that we were not actually members of any collegiate diving teams.)
Next up, couples diving. Michelle and Randall are first next. Concerned that there might be insufficient oxygen in the available air above the water, Michelle wisely chooses to plug her nose before she even leaves the dock.
Completing our regression to childhood, Noel and I determine to perform a synchronized aerial acrobatics show for the growing crowds along the shore.  Oh, we can't see the crowds, but we know they're there, throngs of paparazzii hiding behind the palms and empty beach chairs on this empty sun-kissed stretch of caribbean heaven.

For lunch, we decide to dinghy over to the Fat Virgin Cafe, near Biras Creek Resort.  It's a low-key, less-expensive place that is reportedly a favorite among cruisers. It is very casual, today one person is hostess, waitress, chef, and cleanup. On the menu is flying fish sandwich, which I've never tried before. Unfortunately, no fish are flying today so I try the Caribbean Rueben. The food is good, the prices are less than typical in the BVI, and the atmosphere is relaxed.

We spend the afternoon reading on a small dock covered with a grass roof. Occasionally sailboats slip silently past into Eustacia Sound, momentarily crossing this stage of unobstructed blue horizon. This is likely the most relaxing place to read in the entire world. In such a tranquil setting, one could open the darkest canon of sturm und drang without experiencing the slightest rise in blood pressure.

1 comment:

  1. I just realized you can click on the photos to see the big versions. Those jumping pictures are really fun to look at, looks like a really fun place to visit.