Soper’s Hole, British Virgin Islands

As the Brunners left and the new crew flew in, a new order dawned on Kincsem:  The focus was sharply recalibrated on gourmet food, swimming and snorkeling.  Our old friends the Antonis from American Yacht Club were joined by their old friends, the Hoffmanns from Germany.  Unbeknownst to me, Wolfgang Hoffmann is a gourmet chef who loves to cook and prepare food and his determination to have good ingredients for his cooking showed immediately.  Shopping trips were not simply to a close by, convenient supermarket, no!  First an excellent, but farther away supermarche was selected for the first basic run, then various gourmet stores followed for bread, cheese, pate and high end wines!   As the new crew swarmed out to various stores, I was increasingly looking forward to this new segment!      

The Antonis and the Hoffmanns

So Kincsem’s holds were well stocked when we left the marina for a first little sail to an island off St Martin called Tintimare which is blessed with a lovely anchorage on a white sandy beach.  It is there where I first unpacked my snorkeling gear this year. 

Leaving St Martin for Anguilla; picture taken by our old friend Martijn from SV Ocean Pearl

Our next island, Anguilla has taken a different approach to boat tourism from that taken by other islands like St Martin or the BVIs.  There is only one anchorage on the entire island which can be visited for free:  Road Bay.  It is here where one has to check in as well and it is a nice spot.  However, to visit the other, yet lovelier anchorages and off-lying islands all of which are part of the marine park, requires the payment of steep cruising fees which go up with the size of the vessel.  For Kincsem these amounted to over $200 per day and a day starts at midnight!   So to stay overnight in an anchorage requires the payment for two days!  The result of this policy, however, is that one sees very few other boats in the park and the nature is quite unspoilt.

Road Bay, Anguilla; the card game never stopped even on a Monday

While in Road Bay, the ladies (both named Karin) took a little speed boat over to Sandy Island, which as the name implies, is a speck of sand.  It is just a few miles from Road Bay and is surrounded by a turquoise sea and reefs teeming with colorful fish.  There is also a bar on the island which should have swayed the men on the crew to join in, but alas, we missed it!  The Karins much enjoyed the time off Kincsem it seems …..

Sandy Island

We splurged on two days of marine park which we spent on Prickly Pear East and Dog Island.  Of those two, I liked Dog Island the best although it was difficult to land with the swell.     The Anguilla authorities permit you to check out on day 1 of your park permit and leave directly from the park at the end of day 2 without going back to Road Bay for exit stamps.  So we made our exit from Anguilla directly from Dog Island and sailed overnight to Spanish Town in the BVIs for check in there.

Prickly Pear and Dog Island


First stop in the BVIs was Bitter End which has now been rebuilt from the hurricane damage in 2017.  But while the restaurant facilities seem complete, there are only 2 cottages for rent.  All facilities look much improved and high end.  While we enjoyed the restaurant, we also got in a nice little hike to the top of the hill!

Next scheduled stop was Anegada, the northernmost island of the BVIs.  It is very low a surrounded by very shallow waters and many extensive reefs.  I had heard from another Amel 55 owner that they had visited there a few weeks earlier so I thought it should be ok to go.  As it turned out, though, we had less water under the keel than shown in the charts, probably because of the strong winds we were experiencing that day.  The recommended anchorage also had us lie some 300 yards from the shore so it didn’t really feel like an anchorage and there was little protection from the wind chop.  So when the echosounder showed less and less water and finally hit 30 cm under the keel, I switched on the bow thruster and turned Kincsem around.   I did not want to risk turning Kincsem to the side of the channel as I did not know how much water we would find there. It was quite a relief when the soundings went up again!

Sporty conditions on the way to Anegada

Approaching Anegada

So we headed South to the St Francis Drake channel and Peter Island for a lovely anchorage in Key Bay.    On the way there I was noticing that we were going slower than usual for the conditions.   A quick investigation revealed that the bow thruster was not all the way down – some 30 cm seemed to be sticking out of the bottom of Kincsem, slowing her down.  Although I had started the lifting motor after I had turned Kincsem around in the flats of Anegada, I had apparently shut it off accidentally before the thruster was fully withdrawn into the hull.  That was quite a shock since the recommendation is to not use the bow thruster with more than 4 knots of boat speed and we had been going over 7 knots at times!  So I was expecting a damaged thruster but it turned out all was fine:  it still worked flawlessly.  Apparently, with the thruster half way withdrawn into the hull, speed is less of a problem.  This makes sense as the bow thruster is installed in a box that descends below the hull.  With the box half way up, the box is supported by the hull which is not the case when it’s all the way down.  But I had noticed earlier that the bilge pump was running for a while and I could not understand why since nobody was using any water onboard at the time.  The half down bow thruster was the explanation since water can flow in through the opening and drain into the bilge!   Another lesson learned!

 Our days on Peter and then Norman Island were filled with swimming and snorkeling.  The coral was in parts quite good – particularly at the Indians - and so was the fish population.   We were told by people who come here every year that this year coral and fish seem to be better than last year.  So the area seems to be slowly recovering from the hurricane – good news!

Soper’s Hole is a nice place for a crew change.  The marina is located in lovely surroundings and is not too hot and there are a couple of decent restaurants to choose from. There is even a laundry that will wash clothes in a few hours!  Heaven for a skipper who needs to get the boat set up for the next crew which arrives on the same day as the old one leaves! 

Soper’s Hole from the top of the mountain opposite

Happy Hour aboard Kincsem with two OCC member boats:  Tim and Kath Taylor from SV Pelagria and Tony and Lel Wells from SV Games Maker 2.   


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