06 January 2013

The Baths, BVI Sailing Day 3/10

It's only an hour's sail from Trellis Bay to the Baths over on Virgin Gorda.  But you want to start early because the Baths are a popular destination.  We arrived shortly after sunup, and picked a mooring ball very close to shore.

We had breakfast in the cockpit as we talked over the beach landing procedure.  The waves weren't very big, but we didn't want to risk sucking up sand near the shore in the outboard's impeller, so we discussed the dinghy unloading procedure on shore.  I would run the dinghy in to about 4 feet of water where the two oldest boys would jump out and hold the dinghy in place.  Everyone else would climb out with their help and walk up to shore, and then they'd shove me back out to sea to tie the boat off on the dinghy line.  Then I just had to swim to shore.  And unlike every other plan I've ever made, this one worked.

Going through the Baths is an other-worldly experience.  But add kids' lust for adventure and sense of wonder to the mix, and you have hours worth of Ooh's and Aah's.  The older kids started exploring the Baths by mask and snorkel from the outside, while the younger kids climbed through the little tidal pools and dark caverns on the inside.

I don't think we made it more than 50 yards into the baths during our first hour and a half exploring them.  Everywhere they were yelling and calling to one another to "come see this", "come check this out", or "follow me!"

The younger kids enjoyed climbing all the ropes and stairs, which feel like a lot like a Disney Pirates of the Caribbean adventure park.  Except that this is the real Caribbean, and this is where the real pirates played.

There is a well marked trail through the Baths over to Devils Bay.  The older kids seemed more interested in exploring everywhere BUT the trail, which meant a lot of rock climbing and snorkeling through the boulders.

Once over in Devils Bay, the kids enjoyed jumping off rocks into the water.  They would wait until schools of hundreds of tiny silver fish came swimming by the rocks, and then attempt to jump into the middle of the school while the others kids watched through masks under the water.  Try as they might, no one could outsmart the fish.  They dodged every dive.  The kids were also fascinated with a friendly ray that kept swimming in close to see what was going on.

A few tips for hiking through the Baths?  Bring sandals or water shoes that you can wear while swimming, wading, or scrambling up rocks.  And set a time to meet if your group wants to go off and explore on their own.  The two best meeting places are at either end of the trail through the Baths.

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