Last month we shared some of our favorite trails on Virgin Gorda and Anegada. Today it’s the turn of Peter Island and Norman Island.
Rising from the waters to the south of Tortola, these dry, hilly islands border the Sir Frances Drake Channel on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other. Both are reachable by ferry for those based on Tortola, but the best way to enjoy them is to include these island stops as a part of your BVI sailing vacation. Of course that means we hope you’ll be joining us on the Cuan Law! With our two tenders, there is no better, nor more flexible way to head ashore and explore the tracks and trails of the BVI!
Peter Island, named after the 17th Century Danish Commander Pieter Adriaensen, is the more accessible of the two islands. We suggest you begin exploring the isle at Sprat Bay, the current dockside for the luxurious Peter Island Resort. Don’t let the manicured hotel grounds fool you; there is some stunning and largely uncultivated scenery as you head uphill. Eventually, after a pretty steep climb, but on an even trail, you’ll reach the top of the 470ft bluff running along the south spine of the island. Signs of human habitation are visible on te ascent. You will pass the entrances to the Crow’s Nest and Hawk’s Nest - two beautiful and exclusive private villas - and can even spot a helipad from the summit. However, you are sure to feel close to nature as you breathe in the world’s freshest air, wafted in by the easterly trade winds, while marveling at the picturesque ocean views and landscape of rough, dry brush that provides a home to birds large and small.
It’s not hard to stand here at the island’s peak and imagine the next sail on the horizon will be part of the notorious buccaneer Edward Teach’s fleet. Legend has it that Teach, more familiarly known as Blackbeard, marooned several of his fellow pirates on Dead Chest - the small islet just to the northeast of Peter Island’s Deadman’s Bay, both of which are clearly visible from the hilltop. His cohorts were caught taking more than their fair share of loot so were left on the uninhabited rocky outcrop with no water source and only rum to ease their suffering. An unsuccessful attempt to swim to safety resulted in their grisly remains washing ashore on the nearest beach, Deadman’s Bay, giving one of the world’s most beautiful stretches of sand an incongruously macabre name!
Norman Island, to the west of Peter Island, is also steeped in pirate history, and the tales here are far better documented. Your most likely dropping off point for trail walking is near the Pirates restaurant on the beach of the well-protected cove called the Bight. This west-facing bay is also an idyllic spot to settle in for an evening to watch the spectacular Caribbean sunset; it even has a floating bar, The Willy T! Rounding the western tip (called Treasure Point) at the mouth of the bay you reach The Caves, a favorite Cuan Law snorkeling spot and reputedly home to some of the treasure lost, in a very convoluted tale, by an 18th Century Spanish galleon.
If you follow the trail away from the Pirates restaurant though, don’t take the right hand fork. Instead bear rightish up a more rugged track through the dry scrubby trees. On arriving at a T, turn left and after a scramble (as usual in the BVI!) you arrive at the ridge trail that will bring you to Money Bay. The colors of the water and coral here are breathtaking and well worth the trip. You’ll also not feel at all guilty in enjoying a frosty beverage once you make your way back to the Bight and your boat ride home!
Contact us to book your luxury liveaboard BVI sailing adventure on the magnificent Cuan Law - the best way to explore the idyllic islands, tranquil waters and scenic tracks and trails of the BVI.
Imagining the now idyllic islands and cays of the BVI as the scene of drama, skulduggery and violence is not easy, yet this peaceful territory was not always so…
In the 40 years spanning the ‘Golden Age’ of piracy between 1690 and 1730, the BVI became both a hunting ground and a repair facility for high seas marauders. To this day, many isles and bays visited on a Cuan Law vacation in the BVI owe their names to the fearsome pirates and privateers who once patrolled these waters. Guests aboard sail the same seas as some of the most notorious plunderers of their time, exploring the once treasure-filled caves of Norman Island, and the BVI’s hidden bays and sandy cays. If it’s a pirate’s life for you, Cuan Law even has a plank to walk - something our Captain Scott and Engineer Jamie recently re-enacted!
But what is the difference between a pirate and privateer? Little if you were an unwitting victim, as both captured and plundered vessels, but privateers such as Sir Francis Drake were sanctioned by their respective governments and, in theory, limited their prey to vessels flagged to countries that were enemies of the crown. Pirates - whose number included the infamous Blackbeard, Charles Vane and “Black Sam” Bellamy - were under no-such restrictions, answering to no monarch and raiding at will. In any event, their stories were equally colorful, whether pirate or privateer.
The Sir Francis Drake Channel is a beautiful stretch of water, familiar to any who sail in the BVI. A natural buffer between the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, it was named after the famed English privateer, who was a particular favorite of Queen Elizabeth I of England. This channel, and the islands on either side, proved a perfect location for seafaring ambushes, while its multitude of secluded and wooded beaches were ideal for ships in need of repairs. Many of these pristine beaches feature on a Cuan Law itinerary, offering perfect diving and snorkeling in the bays, and safe waters for would-be sailors to learn the ropes on our Hobie Cats. Another regular stop is Bellamy Cay, named after “Black Sam” Bellamy. This tiny cay was used by the pirate as a base, but is now home to an excellent island restaurant.
According to legend, the feared pirate Blackbeard also hunted in the waters of the BVI, marooning 15 of his crew on the island now known as ‘Dead Chest’. Sailors in this era rarely knew how to swim and with no fresh water on the rocky isle, Blackbeard’s decision was a death sentence. A few reportedly tried to swim the half a mile to Peter Island, but only their lifeless bodies washed ashore at Deadman’s Bay. Gruesome stuff indeed!
Tales such as these stirred the imagination of Robert Louis Stevenson, providing the inspiration for iconic characters such as Long John Silver, Billy Bones, Blind Pew and of course Jim Hawkins. Norman Island - with its fascinating history of plunder, piracy and intrigue - provided the inspiration for Stevenson’s “Treasure Island”. Named after an ill-fated buccaneer, the island still evokes its piratical past to this day, with pristine palm-fringed beaches and atmospheric caves, where the bounty of the Spanish treasure galleon the ‘Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe’ was once stashed. It is no wonder visitors who come to snorkel and gaze at the tame fish of The Caves also keep a look out for the glint of gold below!
Book a vacation aboard Cuan Law today and explore the buccaneering BVI for yourself! The crew are sure to treat to you to many more seafaring yarns, tall tales, local legends and stories of high seas piracy and plunder!
If you have been anywhere near the internet over the last few weeks you will probably have heard of the Natural Environment Research Council’s quest to name its stunning new Antarctic research vessel (we love BoatyMcBoatface, but Usain Boat, with its Caribbean connection, has to be a BVI favorite!).
What does this have in common with the Cuan Law? Well, in the pre-internet days of 1988, Duncan and Annie Muirhead, Cuan Law’s designers, builders and owners, enlisted the help of Skin Diver magazine readers, requesting name suggestions for what was to become the mighty Cuan Law. This stunning 105ft sailing trimaran would be the third in the line – a perfected design tailored to give guests the ultimate all-inclusive BVI sailing and diving experience. Smooth cruising, spacious staterooms and an extensive range of activities - including kayaking, scuba diving, island excursions and Hobie Cat sailing - are offered on board.
It all began in 1969 with the Misty Law, named after the mountain overlooking the Muirhead family home in Renfrewshire, on the west coast of Scotland (‘ law’ is Gaelic for mountain). The beauty and majesty of the area lent itself perfectly to the naming of Duncan and Annie’s first boat, which was also their first home. However, the continuing success of their venture – chartering in the Caribbean in winter and the Mediterranean during summer - was stopped because of the political situation in the Eastern Mediterranean in 1974. Duncan and Annie then decided to make the BVI their permanent home. They were the first people to offer the concept of “liveaboard diving” in 1975.
Having hosted Hal and Kally McCarney (Boatbuilder and Hoteliers in Canada) on Misty Law, a partnership was forged. A plan formed, to design and build a totally custom-designed, luxury “liveaboard” trimaran in Gananoque, Ontario. She would be the largest sailing trimaran in the world, and following the naming tradition begun with Misty Law, the logical choice was another Scottish “law”. This one is south of Edinburgh and was made famous by Sir Walter Scott’s “Bride of Lammermoor”. So the Lammer was born, sleeping 18 guests in nine spacious double cabins, with a crew of six to ensure everyone was well looked after!
However, the success of this unique vessel led once more to the problem of limited size, and by the late 1980s Lammer Law was no longer large enough for the guests, crew and all the equipment needed to maintain the Muirhead’s reputation for providing an exemplary level of service. Once more engineer Duncan and the boatyard at Gananoque came together, building the largest sailing trimaran in the world! A suitable name - one in keeping with the existing tradition - eluded them, so they turned to Skin Diver magazine’s readers for inspiration.
Similar suggestions to BoatyMcBoatface followed - humorous, but not following tradition - until along came Cuan Law, from the Scottish Gaelic word cuan (pronounced queue’n) meaning ocean. A name that translates to ocean mountain was an irresistible fit for the new vessel. The largest of her kind, with the stable triple-hull design and towering 103ft masts, the majestic yacht became Cuan Law. Shehas been sailing the BVI waters ever since! Custom-built to accommodate up to 20 guests in staterooms set up with either queens or twin beds, seven crew members, two tenders, scuba gear and myriad other water-sports equipment, Cuan Law offers a uniquely flexible and comfortable way to explore the waters of the BVI.
Contact us now to book a luxury liveaboard BVI sailing vacation aboard the mighty Cuan Law - the best way to discover the magic of the BVI.
For a cluster of Caribbean islands to have a “Long Bay” is not unusual. For islands only separated by a 100 yard channel, having two could be said to be interesting, but three - that’s just plain greedy - especially when they are all such unique and idyllic spots!
Long Bay West, Tortola…
So you finally made it out of the office, reached your boat and are headed out from Road Town to sail the BVI. The Sir Frances Drake Channel is a sailor’s dream - line of sight navigation, steady gentle trade winds, and sunshine at your back as you head west - for the non-nautical that’s a right turn. To make sure that you get to the first Long Bay,
Tortola will stay on your right and after a couple of hours you’ll round the point at West End, pass Smuggler’s Cove and there is is! Stretching for almost a mile, with crystal clear waters and pristine sands, Tortola’s Long Bay has to be seen to be believed. The crescent-shaped bay slopes upwards, with the cluster of lovely villas and condos dotting the hillside giving it the feeling of a magical seaside village right out of the 1950’s. For an overnight anchorage, sailors can nip over to Jost Van Dyke for the night, perhaps to hang out at Foxy’s - but what a start to an island adventure - just wow!
Long Bay East, Beef Island…
If you are party person and hanker for a taste of some authentic Caribbean rhythm, let’s hope your trips falls on a BVI Public Holiday. Nine times out of ten, young folk from all over the region congregate at Long Bay, Beef Island to celebrate with a beach party. On a regular day this is a quiet, fairly sheltered spot to beach-comb and relax, but on a holiday weekend all bets are off! It will be loud, the music and Caribbean accents, rich and varied - and there may not be much “British” about it at all! The food is strictly street with an emphasis on barbecue, including some genuine jerk spices. This atmosphere is not for the shy and retiring, but a Long Bay, Beef Island party will not soon be forgotten! As the name suggests, the beach is expansive, so you’ll always be able to find a spot close enough to catch the vibe, but far away enough to breathe in nature’s beauty too.
Long Bay, Virgin Gorda...
Once you make it to Virgin Gorda you’ll soon be lost for words…. and then you’ll start to have difficulty with the pictures too! Your buddies at home won’t believe that the newest iPhone app didn’t help you to capture the vibrant blues, the verdant greens, the rocks, the sky, the sea... Before you arrived you will have heard about The Baths - and probably seen some great pictures too - but heading away from the southern end of the island, moving along the west coast to Mountain Point before nestling in to North Sound brings you at last to the third Long Bay. Virgin Gorda’s west-facing Long Bay is one of the most secluded and picturesque spots on the islands, with gorgeous sands and spectacular views, particularly in the evening as the sun sets on the horizon. Saving the best ’til last? That’s your call, but we are pretty certain that you won’t want to leave. Ever!
Explore the bays, cays and islands of the BVI with a luxury live aboard sailing trip aboard Cuan Law, the perfect way to discover the secrets of the Caribbean.
Opting for a luxury live-aboard business trip aboard Cuan Law may be the very epitome of blue-sky thinking.
The world’s largest trimaran offers an unusual, yet highly versatile venue for fostering creative thinking, cooperation and communication, all set against the backdrop of one of the most idyllic parts of the world. At 105ft and with ten staterooms, Cuan Law has room for up to 20 of your finest employees and colleagues for a business trip like no other. Seven energetic staff members with a commitment to providing the highest quality of service are onboard to ensure every guest has an unforgettable experience in the Caribbean. Activities such as Hobie Cat sailing, scuba diving, kayaking and beach barbecues - all of which can be done from the yacht - are a great way to unwind and foster team spirit, while the onboard video lounge and spacious main saloon are ideal venues for presentations and productive strategy meetings.
Sailing is renowned as one of the most effective ways to get into the true spirit of team building. Making the experience fun magnifies the benefits and putting your group together in an unfamiliar environment, even if it is as lovely as the British Virgin Islands, forces your team to see each other with fresh eyes. Although it's obvious that on a large yacht it is impossible to raise the sails alone, (just marvel at the size of Cuan Law's mainsail - it’s the one at the back!) when your team achieves this feat as a group, and when they get better and better at it each day, they'll be much more confident about leaning on each other back home. Cooperation comes effortlessly in this stress-free atmosphere and learning each other’s strengths under sail creates intellectual “muscle-memories” like no other.
Why the Caribbean?
Nothing says “we value your efforts” better than a trip to the bright sunshine and idyllic beaches of the BVI, and believe it or not, bonuses just don’t work ( Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation). Sharing a trip like this with your team is an effective way to express how highly you value your team members, providing a significant boost to morale! Feeling truly appreciated, they are more likely to go above and beyond once they’re back home in the trenches.
OK, ‘Team building’, I get it, but isn’t there more?
Brainstorming, strategic planning, creative solutions and more regularly happen organically once you take everyone out of the boardroom for an executive retreat. With help from your on location staff and a bit of forward planning, sessions can take place almost anywhere. No-one will groan about a meeting if it’s scheduled to start at 10.00am on the beach! Knowing ahead of time what your goals are is key. Structuring some intense, focused and results-oriented sessions into the day will only add to the experience. It won’t just feel like a vacation, although everyone should return to the real world refreshed. Instead, the journey will invigorate, inspire and prove a positive bonding experience for all participants.
Why the BVI?
You need a stress free way to get all of this to happen, which is where deciding to head to the BVI starts to make a lot of sense. The BVI is an easy hop from the USVI, we use US dollars and speak English. By opting for a trip here, you’re creating something that really feels like an adventure. This is an overseas expedition - with training wheels!
Contact us today to book your team building adventure or executive retreat aboard the Cuan Law and explore the magic of the Caribbean.
Sailing in the British Virgin Islands is always an adventure, with hidden coves, sandy bays and more than a tot or two of rum along the way! However, few islands can match Jost Van Dyke’s unique combination of famous bars, pristine beaches and beautiful diving and snorkeling spots. The island has a well-earned reputation as the party capital of the BVI, with watering holes such as Foxy’s Tamarind Bar & Restaurant in the Great Harbour and White Bay’s Soggy Dollar Bar widely recognized as BVI favorites. Yet there is far more to the fourth largest island in the archipelago than just the best drinks in the region!
Jost Van Dyke is one of the most popular stopping points for boaters exploring the azure waters of the BVI, and Great Harbour is the main port of call for sailors looking to resupply or simply stop for a drink at the ever-popular Foxy’s - the perfect beachside bar. Over time, Foxy’s has become a BVI institution, with its monthly Full Moon Parties achieving legendary status. At other times, it is hailed as one of the best spots in the BVI for sipping on a cocktail, with gorgeous views, fresh seafood for lunch, generous weekend barbecues and a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
White Bay Beach is surely one of the BVI’s most idyllic spots for anyone who enjoys lazing on the sand, taking a cooling dip in the tranquil waters or unwinding in the shade in the Soggy Dollar Bar - so called because access requires a swim ashore for visitors arriving by boat. The food is always excellent, whether you fancy a quick bite at lunch or an indulgent and delicious candlelit dinner in the evening, yet it is the drinks and setting that make the Soggy Dollar Bar an unmissable stop for sailing enthusiasts. Don’t forget to try the Painkiller, a refreshing BVI cocktail originating here that combines orange and pineapple juice, coconut, Pusser’s Rum and a sprinkle of nutmeg!
While spots such as Foxy’s, the Soggy Dollar Bar and Stress-Free Bar (another White Bay Beach establishment that uses an honor system) are worth the visit in themselves, there are plenty of other adventures to be had in and around Jost Van Dyke. Hiking to the top of Majohnny Hill is worth the sweat and toil (although you can rent a jeep!), with spectacular panoramas of the Caribbean and vistas taking in St John to the south, Tortola to the south-east and St Thomas to the south-west. Another unmissable natural attraction in Jost Van Dyke is the photogenic and incredibly fun Bubbly Pool. This tidal pool nestled behind the cliffs in the north-east fills with bubbles as the waves swell against the rocks creating a “natural jacuzzi” to the delight of visitors.
Jost Van Dyke’s eclectic offerings make it a popular port of call during non-dive or limited dive expeditions aboard Cuan Law. It has also become a favorite stop-over during the summer months when the yacht ventures out to Northside dive sites such as the Twin Towers. Beyond the shores of Jost Van Dyke and beneath the crystal-clear turquoise waters lie a treasure trove of places to explore. Great diving can be found throughout the BVI - particularly near the smaller islands and Jost Van Dyke - and the islands to the West, the Tobagos, offer really adventurous dives like Mercurios Rock and The Devil’s Tooth.
Just off Little Jost Van Dyke, lies the picturesque Sandy Cay - a tiny islet, little more than a few palm trees fringed with powdery white sand, that has become a favorite picnicking and snorkeling spot. More experienced divers may also descend beneath the waves at the Twin Towers, Wayward Wall or Cathedral dive sites. The latter is a particularly spectacular dive, boasting rainbow colored coral, an abundance of fish and an atmospheric underwater tunnel leading into the heart of Jost Van Dyke itself.
Contact us today to book a sailing adventure in the BVI aboard the Cuan Law and experience the magic of the Caribbean!
Christmas aboard Cuan Law is a very special experience which makes this trip a favorite for guests and crew! The joy and fun of the Holiday Season is embraced as everyone joins in the exciting festivities in the unique, stunning Caribbean setting. Why not join us for an amazing Caribbean Christmas getaway?
The BVI provides the ideal location for a winter break, with temperatures averaging in the mid 80s and warm, crystal clear seas creating the perfect environment for water sports, or as a backdrop for a relaxed sailing vacation.
Cuan Law will be offering the usual varied itinerary of picturesque anchorages and our full range of activities, water sports and relaxation … but with a seasonal twist! There will be a real Christmas tree for you to put your presents beneath and we will be serving a traditional Christmas Dinner with all the trimmings – turkey, ham, stuffing, Christmas pudding and crackers!
This is going to be an undforgetable adventure, so book now to secure a place.
Please email us with any questions you have.
Sailing Log - May 31 to 6 June, 2015
We enjoyed hosting this week’s diverse group of guests, which included a family with young, enthusiastic divers, as well as mature divers and non-diving partners. We were particularly pleased to welcome back repeat guests, one of whom had previously come without his family, but felt that his family would get a great deal from the experience and brought along his keen diving teenagers and his non-diving wife. Another repeat guest was very happy that of all this week’s dives, only one - the Wreck of the Rhone - was a repeat from his previous trip.
Sunday, May 31
After our welcome aboard and safety briefing, we sailed on to Privateer Bay on Norman Island for our initial, check-out dive. We anchored here and enjoyed a beautiful sunset view.
Monday, June 1
After breakfast, everyone was keen to get started on the morning dive at Angel Reef on Norman Island. We then sailed north to West Dog Island and a dive site called Joe's Cave, which we offered again as a night dive.
Tuesday, June 2
After diving at The Chimney at Great Dog Island in the morning, we sailed on to the North Sound, where we enjoyed a couple of hours kayaking and sailing the Hobie
Wednesday, June 3 Cats. We dived The Invisibles by tender in the afternoon. Our day was concluded with Champagne and hors d’oeuvres at sunset at Saba Rock.
We had an early start to reach our morning dive site, the Chikuzen Wreck. This is a popular dive site that can only be visited in good weather. Lunch and was served then we were underway to Muskmelon Bay and the Times Square dive site. Again, the Hobies and other water sports were enjoyed in the calm, protected bay before a late sunset cruise to Jost van Dyke. After dinner there was a night dive at The Cathedral. The after-hours party at the lively and ever-popular Foxy's Bar was enjoyed by all.
Thursday, June 4
An early departure was made, around Tortola and on to Salt Island for 'Rhone Day' where we spent the day stern to at Lion Point. Three dives on the Wreck of the Rhone were completed.
'The Rhone Story' is a pantomime explaining the history of the wreck, and is a popular regular feature of this day, with enthusiastic involvement from both crew and guests.
Afternoon water sports again were taken advantage of, including the Hobies, kayaks and snorkeling.
Friday, June 5
Friday is Baths Day! The first dive was at Coral Gardens followed by The Aquarium. Our Beach BBQ lunch at the Baths was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. After lunch, the crew led guests on the Baths Walk and up to the hotel for cool drinks and a spectacular view – Cuan Law could be seen at anchor making a wonderful photo op. A late afternoon and sunset cruise, flying the Gollywobbler – our back end spinnaker sail – took us to our anchorage at Peter Island and the night dive at Randy's Reef was our final adventure of the week.
Saturday, June 6
After breakfast, we headed back to Road Town, where we made our farewells and wished our guests safe journeys home.
I would like to thank all the crew for their hard work, as always, and our guests in particular for making this week a memorable experience for everyone.
Two or three times a year Cuan Law goes “Down Islands” for cruises in the Leewards of 8 to 12 nights duration. These are sometimes booked on a “whole boat” basis but some are available for individual bookings. Please ask.
Below is a description of some of the islands you may visit, though only all would be attempted on a very long trip.We have one of only two licenses to dive Saba and so this is always a highlight of the trip.
Saba offers the best diving in the Eastern Caribbean and is world renowned for its Pinnacles, which are coral encrusted spires coming up from incredible depths to within 80 ft of the surface. Saba has done a magnificent job in protecting, not just its pinnacles, but also its stunning fringing reefs. The island too is unique in the Caribbean being only two miles in diameter but over 3000 ft high. Very lush towards the top but starkly volcanic at its base and with the prettiest villages on its slopes and in the crater.
We usually start the trips from the Dutch island of St Maarten as it has a jetport with excellent direct flights from the USA and Europe. St Maarten is a bustling “free” port (great duty free shopping) with fine hotels and restaurants and normally our guests like to spend a day or two there before or after the trip. The French island of St Barts offers good diving and a charming sophisticated town. The island has become a playground for the rich, and is pretty with lovely beaches. When not diving its fun to spend half a day here buzzing around on a scooter.
Barbuda is a low coral island with few fiercely independent but very friendly inhabitants, who work hard at keeping their unique island unspoiled. There is not really any diving here but a day is well spent in exploration and the Frigate Bird colony is justifiably famous.
Montserrat is different again as it is a violently active volcanic island two thirds of which is in the “Exclusion Zone” - forbidden access because of danger from the volcano. The effect of this danger can be clearly seen on a trip offshore down the coast to the buried capital town of Plymouth, a modern Pompeii.
Between Montserrat and the next island coming north is the extraordinarily precipitous rock of Redonda, 1000 ft high but only 500 yds long and half that breadth. If the weather is right its well worth a dive or two. Nevis and St Kitts form the Twin Island State and offer very good diving and marvellous scenery and are both steeped in history. Well worth a day on land. Then there is Statia, another Dutch island which is very low key but again with quite a history. The wreck and wall diving here is very good.
North of St Maarten lies Anguilla with its five star resorts and endless beaches. Some of the uninhabited offshore islands are breathtaking. The wreck diving here is very good and there are some great spots under limestone cliffs.
Finally there is Sombrero which is a "special" for Cuan Law guests as, as far as we know, we are the only boat to dive it. It is off the beaten track but we can swing by it on our way back to the BVI. Past guests are always talking about the diving at Sombrero as, being so far from anywhere, it offers the clearest water in the Eastern Caribbean and awesome diving on amazing underwater limestone cliffs, underwater pinnacles and a gigantic cavern. The island used to be inhabited by just four lighthouse keepers but they have retired because the light is now automated. It is the most important bird island in this part of the world as it is on the flyway from North to South America.