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Enjoy some pictures of the worldrecordtour, taken in the British Virgin Islands


Tortola Map


Map of the Caribbean

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View over Road Town and harbor

City sign in Road Town

Cane Garden Bay surrounded by jungle

British Virgin Islands - "Nature's Little Secrets"

Months have passed since we last were separated from our LandCruiser and it is only the second time that we hand over the keys of our car, which is also our home with all our belongings. (The first time was in Yokohama/Japan with destination Vancouver/Canada). But as it is a free ride, we accept it and fully trust the crew of only five people of "MV Captain Johnny I" who will transport our car in one and a half hour to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. We are not allowed to join the vessel due to the tough restrictions of the US Homeland Security from and to US ports. This is at 6am of June 22nd. Three hours later, we are also on our way with the passenger high-speed ferry to our next country. The short sea trip on open deck is quite turbulent and adventurous. As the ferry speeds away, we just can hold firmly to our seats and are glad that we chose a spot behind the bridge where the heavy spray of the sea waves cannot reach us. A tourist lady who sits behind will surely not forget this wet trip so quickly.


Tasteful architecture in Road Town View over East End Beautiful tropical flower

Despite the trust that we put in the crew of "MV Captain Johnny I", after arrival with the passenger ferry in Road Town, we have just one wish: To rush to the commercial port to our car. But we have to be patient, as we first have to deal with the old English paper work for our car to be allowed into the country. Keith Dawson from the Ministry of Tourism makes all the necessary steps with us, from the insurance to the agent, from the agent to the licensing, from the licensing to the customs. Thanks to his preparative work and his presence, things go pretty smooth. New in comparison with other island is that the car has to go through vehicle inspection in order to be allowed to drive on Tortola with its totally 147 kilometers of roads. What will they check? How tough will they be? Of course, we are a bit nervous as the two black men approach with a huge notebook. But they look good-natured and soon we realize that they do not have in mind to make our life difficult. The only things that they want to see are the lights. After that test, we get a written approval - of course again against a fee - to drive on their island with our Swiss license plates. The whole bureaucracy has taken us from 10am to 3pm and did cost us totally US$ 120.


              Murals on the Ridge Road:

Preparing "Bong Bong" Loading donkeys with sand Men cutting sugar cane

If we thought that the roads on the US Virgin Islands were the steepest in the world, we are taught otherwise late afternoon as we drive to Brewer's Bay in the North, where - according to our guidebook - the only campsite of the island exists. Wild camping is strictly prohibited here. The road first follows the flat coastal plain, but soon after Cane Garden Bay it climbs simply nearly vertically up the hill. The engine is becoming too hot due to driving with full power in the first low gear, so that we have to stop and let it cool off. Until we finally reach the summit, it becomes a real nightmare, as the sliding and the smell of he clutch, which started already before in St. Thomas, is getting worse. We have no eyes for the wonderful view around us, the Cane Garden Bay and "our" Brewers Beach. When Emil wants to turn off the engine, he hears a worrying knocking of the engine, which he diagnoses as a burnt valve. I feel awful. It could not have happened at a worse place. How will we ever get back to Road Town, if at all? Immediately we start to check the compression of the cylinders, and as our "problem maker", No. 2, seems still to be alive, we get new hope that Emil's diagnoses was a false alarm - what it finally showed to be. What a huge relief!


Picturesque Well Bay on Beef Island Exotic flower Bird in the branches

Cooled down, we descend nearly vertically again to the campsite, but still with the sword in the neck that we have to get up somehow once in a while. What gets on our nerves after all the sweating is that the camping at Brewer's Bay is for tents only and those to rent look very dilapidated at the first sight. May be they are not even in use any more? But suddenly, we hear laughter of celebrating people, a group of Americans from North Carolina, who have installed themselves in two rented tents on the beach for their final three vacation days after having sailed for one week through the wonderful islands of the BVI (it is said to be one of the most beautiful regions for sailors). They wave us in and open a bottle of French white wine. At second sight, we notice that the tents are actually not so run down as they looked before to us. On the contrary, they are equipped quite comfortably, with two real beds covered with white linen, of course behind a mosquito net, which in the tropics is indispensable. In front of the tent are a big wooden table, benches and chairs, an icebox and a kerosene lamp. Costs per tent per night US$40. Only one of the women of the group sleeps in a tent, the others prefer to stay in an air-conditioned hotel room close by. What a pity for all the romance, as in a few days they will have all their desired comfort at home anyway again. These thoughts go through our minds, as we are watching the brilliant canopy of stars and listen to the gentle sound of the waves in the mild tropical night. We just park our car to camp near the campground, directly on the beach.


On the Coastal Road to West End
Sopers Hole Wharf & Marina in West End
Brewers Bay with the only camping
on the Island and only for tents

Emil is not in the mood to spend another day here at Brewers Bay as he worries too much how our LandCruiser will manage the steep hill again with its slipping clutch. Therefore, after breakfast, we say good-bye and make our way just up the hill again, this time on a less steeper access. Reaching the "Scenic Ridge Drive" that crosses nearly the whole island, we drive it from West to East, enjoying all the views over the quiet town of Road Town and its harbor and discover suddenly with fascination a wall with beautiful murals. They show nostalgic scenes of times gone by: Feeding the fowls, on the way to the market, children in front of a school, cutting sugar cane, preparing "Bong Bong", loading sand, just to mention a few ones. Then, we definitely head back to the coastal strip. First we have to get water. We have seen nowhere a water tab, not even at a gasoline station and are told that people have to buy their water, what we do also. For US Cents 0.14 we can fill up our two 20-liter jerry cans. The girl at the reception mentions smilingly that up to now she never filled out a receipt for so little money. Next, we are desperately looking for a new spot to spend the night. We do not care anymore if wild camping is prohibited, not ten horses will be able to bring us back to Brewer's Bay, as we do not want to cross the steep hills again. Very soon, we find a hidden spot at the picturesque Well Bay, where we pitch up "camp" in the dark and spend a surprisingly quiet night.


Catamaran at Sopers Hole Marina

Long Bay at Belmont Point

Boulders at Well Bay Coast


Next morning, our worries are back again: Will we get stuck here in Tortola due to our damaged clutch (it has been running only 23'000 kilometers), will the police discover us on our wild camping site and, over all, will all the new US marine regulations ISPS starting July 1st jeopardize our return to Sint Maarten, which goes through St. Thomas and St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. We do not want to take any risks and start already to organize our departure for the next week, though the camping problem is getting solved on the third day as Chris and John with son Charlie and the two dogs Coca and Trixie invite us to their beautiful villa on Beef Island with wonderful vistas. We are allowed to park in their driveway and use shower and fridge in their guest room, and have the chance to be very close to our preferred beaches - the idyllic Well Bay and the horseshoe shaped Long Bay, where most of the time we have the whole beach for ourselves.


Cane Garden Bay with sailing boats Splashing in the water in Long Bay Masts at the Sunsail Marina

Each day we admire the colorful sailing yachts of the Sunsail Marina. One morning we decide to have a close look at it. We make ourselves comfortable on the shady veranda and are watching the activities. Newcomers with pale faces barrel their suitcases and provisions to their freshly rented yacht. Tanned ones, who have their most beautiful days of the year already behind them, are packing for the return flight. Though we prefer to stand with both feet on ground, the desire to experience this luxury life and to let us float and pamper on the water at least once could catch us. What we are especially attracted to are the Catamarans, which have their living space all behind glass. We have no idea what such sailing holidays cost and study with amazement the prices: Depending on size and comfort, a yacht costs between US$300 and 1'000 per day, Catamarans between US$500 and 1000. A skipper costs additionally $140 per day and a cook around $105. This can go up during the peak season, including personal but without meals: to US$ 3'210, minimum 7 days rental! It does not surprise us anymore that the BVI belong to the most expensive Caribbean Region, what confirm also the prices of the hotels listed in the brochure of the Tourist Board. There, we find seven hotels costing more than US$ 10'000 (ten thousand) per DAY - for the whole island, a villa or a suite. The most expensive is Richard Branson's Necker Island charging US$ 38'000 per day! As such a price level attracts only the elite of the world, there are also all kind of world banks operating here: UBS, private banks from Liechtenstein- and the Cayman Island, etc. In the tropical heat not only clothes are being washed....., and saving tax money seems to allow building the moist luxury villas and steering the beautiful yachts. Amazingly, the British Virgin Islands have the US Dollar as its official currency.


Beautiful and lonely Long Bay on Beef Island Farewell from Road Town Splendor of a tropical sunset


The six days on BVI passed like in a dream. On Monday, June 28, 2004, we say good-bye. Our LandCruiser and we are making the sea journey back to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands again separately, where "our MV Cap Canaille" will take us on board the same night back to Sint Maarten. As we sail away from sleepy Road Town, a sense of feeling comes up that we did not taste fully "Nature's Little Secrets".
Articles in newspapers about us in the British Virgin Islands:
Interview: "World travellers enjoy Tortola call", June 29, 2004