British Virgin Islands
Chandlers, Luigi, Dodge, and Manly, 1986

The trip that Mal and Paxie Chandler, Luigi, Dodge, and I took to and among the British Virgin Islands was pleasant and relaxing, though getting there and back left much to be desired.

On Wednesday, February 26, I flew to Orlando for a Thursday morning meeting of the Florida Court Clerks' Association, where I gave a talk about the effect of currently pending tax legislation on municipal finance. Thursday afternoon I went to a part of Disneyworld known as Epcot Center, which has been rather accurately described as a permanent world's fair.

Friday morning I drove to the Orlando airport, stopping en route to buy a compass, and got there just in time for the 12:55 plane to Miami and San Juan. But the plane was one of Eastern Airlines's, and it didn't arrive for another hour. Then it spent an hour in Miami getting some minor repair made, so it reached San Juan at 8:40 instead of 6:21 as it was supposed to. Of course the 9:00 P.M. Air BVI plane to Tortola left early, so I had to spend the night at a mediocre hotel in San Juan, and then caught the 9:00 A.M. Saturday flight To Tortola. Luigi and Dodge and the Chandlers had not checked in at the Mariner Inn, and the inn didn't have room for us anyway, so they sent me to the Prospect Reef Resort, a nice seaside establishment a couple of miles away, and said they would send the others over there when they arrived.

Along in the middle of the afternoon I called Ted Horne to see if any message had been left with him, but none had been. At eleven o'clock in the evening I called the Mariner Inn, and was told that the others had shown up and were sent to Castle Maria. I called this hotel and ascertained that the group really was there, wondering where I was; so I got into a cab and joined them, after paying for the room I'd spend the afternoon in. They had flown to St. Louis to change planes to San Juan Friday morning, but TWA cancelled the San Juan flight and kept them in St. Louis for Friday night, sending them on to Miami and then San Juan on Eastern on Saturday, and they caught an early evening Air BVI flight from there to Tortola. I wish I had not let the travel agent talk me out of having everyone fly from Chicago to St. Croix on Midway Airlines. She said they did not recommend Midway because they had too many cancellations.

Sunday we moved over to the Mariner Inn, where we had reservations for that night, and then wandered around aimlessly for the rest of the day. The Mariner Inn is very nice, right on the harbor where the Moorings' charter boats tie up. Monday morning we attended a briefing session that was intended for the charterers of bare boats, and had a meeting with one the supervisor of crewed yacht charters for the Moorings, who told us what to expect and how to behave on the boat, and them we checked out of our rooms by 11:00 and held onto our luggage until we could get on the boat at 12:15. The Moorings furnished a luggage room where we could store the bags we were not taking with us on the boat - a considerable convenience.

The captain of our boat was an Englishman, more recently Canadian, named David Threlford and the cook and rest of the crew was a woman named Elaine de Wolfe, originally from Providence. Both have teen-aged children somewhere else, and are planning to get married in September. We had been told that Elaine had a black belt in karate, had run a kung fu school and had built a house with her own hands. In addition she proved to be a very good cook and was proficient at running whatever affairs on the boat David did not take care of. The boat, named "Para-gone" was 51' long and had three cabins for passengers, one for crew, and a saloon below the main deck, and a nice cockpit above. At the rear of the cockpit a section of the stern could be folded down and a ladder appeared so that people could swim off the stern and then climb the ladder back up. At the head of the ladder there was a small compartment containing a hose and small shower head so that after emerging from swimming one could wash off with fresh water.

Monday afternoon we sailed to the southern side of Norman Island (the second island south of Tortola) where we had a pleasant anchorage all to ourselves; we went ashore and David and I climbed a hill to see a pleasant view of the other side of the island. All of the British Virgins appear to be fairly dry, with cactus and other prickly plants in abundance.

On Tuesday we sailed to the Marina Cay, a small island off Great Camanoe, which is northeast of Tortola; David took Luigi, Paxie Chandler, Dodge and me in the dinghy to try to snorkel at the beach at Marina Cay but met with signs saying "PRIVATE ISLAND" and "NO LANDING" and with a man and a woman who were there enforcing the signs. We tried another place, but found a broken breakwater and some coral heads barring our way to the beach. Eventually we found a place to land and pull up the dinghy and snorkel for a little while before it was necessary to return to the boat for dinner and the night.

Wednesday we sailed to the western end of North Sound on Virgin Gorda and had dinner at a very good restaurant on Mosquito Island called "Drake's Anchorage." The restaurant has only one sitting, at 7:00 in the evening, and customers radio in for reservations. On Thursday we did some more snorkeling on a lovely little beach on Mosquito Island and then sailed to the east end of the sound where we moored off a resort called Biras Creek. While there we saw people para-sailing and one or two ventursome souls being carried aloft on a seat attached to a spinnaker on a sailboat. Luigi and Paxie went ashore and enjoyed it, and spoke highly of the resort.

Friday we sailed to a small bay on Peter Island called Little Harbor, where we saw many pelicans diving and catching fish. The next morning Mal Chandler woke us all up a little before six to see Halley's Comet, which we were just able to make out with his binoculars. I did some more snorkeling before breakfast from the boat; after breakfast it was time to set sail for Road Town on Tortola, where we turned the boat in and aid goodbye to David and Elaine.

Sunday morning we were taken to the airport where we caught an Air BVI plane to San Juan and then found out that our TWA flight to St. Louis had been cancelled. Fortunately we were able to get on a Delta flight to Atlanta and from there another Delta flight to Chicago, where we arrived about 10:00 P.M.