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Pusser’s Anegada Race

Anegada from the air.

Putting Anegada on the Map

It’s been 20 years since the first Pusser’s Anegada Race. Marty Halpern, one of the founders of the event, shares what’s changed – and what hasn’t – over the years.

Contenders race under sunny skies.

If you’ve been to Anegada in the last couple of years, you’ve been spoiled for choice when it comes to beach bars, restaurants and boutique hotels. Back in the mid-90s, however, the sister island was still more-or-less undiscovered, at least by the yachting community that had already chosen the rest of BVI as their home.

“At that time, 20 years ago, boats were not travelling to Anegada,” said Marty Halpern, longtime BVI resident and captain of the Ruffian. Whether it was to protect vessels and reefs from less experienced navigators or because Anegada is such a long journey compared to the myriad of more central anchorages around the territory, many charter companies discouraged guests from visiting the island.

“There were two or three restaurants, and no navigation markers,” Marty recalled.

But he knew the island had a lot of potential, and so did his friends the Soares family, who run Neptune’s Treasure at Setting Point, and the folks at Sailor’s Ketch in East End, whose stock of local fish is caught from around Anegada. The group cooked up a plan for a fun weekend in the far-flung sister island. It would start with a slightly-to-windward race from East End to Anegada, followed by a break day just for fun on the island, and end with a more competitive downwind pursuit race to the West End Yacht Club’s then home base at the Jolly Roger.

“The primary reason we wanted to do it was to expose everybody in the BVI to Anegada,” Marty said. The race, now known as the Pusser’s Anegada Race, has only changed a little in the years since, and 2016 will be its 20th anniversary.

There were only a handful of boats in the 1996 race (won by Robin Pinfold on Kuralu), but it didn’t take long for the annual fleet to hit 20 boats, then 30, Marty said.

“There are always serious racers in the event, but we set it up so that you could race anything: any boat, any size, any look.” Marty said. This system made different kinds of boats competitive, which in turn brought in “a real cross section of the boating community in Tortola,” he said.

To this day, the West End Yacht Club assigns handicaps to level the playing field among racers and cruisers. For example, a vessel carrying a dinghy with a motor gets points to counter the time they lose by being slower in the water than they would be without them.

And organizers still want to make the race inclusive, rather than exclusive, Marty said. The 20th anniversary race even includes catamaran and powerboat divisions, and will continue to award a range of creative prizes. Previous years have seen awards given not just for best times, but also for most family members on a vessel and liveliest crew.

Early in the race’s history, organizers decided to take advantage of the three-day weekend of Commonwealth Day, a BVI public holiday. This let them hold the first race on Saturday, make Sunday their “fun day,” and to finish the long weekend with the return to Tortola race on Monday.

Full sail racing in the Pusser’s Anegada Race

The fun day has always included activities for adults and kids alike.

“We work on all the activities throughout the year,” Marty said, “We have dinghy racing, a sand castle competition, kite flying and, of course, excursions and sight seeing.”

The event lineup also includes evening activities like the BBQ, drinks and dancing on Saturday and Sunday. In earlier years, the entertainment was provided by the Lounge Lizards, a fungi band that included three US sailors.

After the Pusser’s Anegada Race got established, fun day began to draw comers from Tortola who weren’t participating in the race, but would arrive on a ferry. Day-trippers, many of whom were visiting the sister island for the first time, would join the family-oriented activities and make time to explore on their own.

“We welcome them and give them a schedule of events and send them to taxis if they want to go sightseeing,” Marty said.

It’s also become tradition for teams of horseshoe players from St. John and St. Thomas to charter or bring their own boats to Anegada to compete for a cash-prize. Each year, brackets begin with USVI versus BVI teams, and the games are “very lively, good fun,” Marty said.

Many assume that the race is named for the popular Caribbean cocktail, but it was one year’s weather – and Marty’s love of the old Vaudeville act-turned campfire skit that begins “It was a dark and stormy night when my Nellie ran away” – that actually inspired the name of the race.

Not that it’s without a connection to rum. This year the Dark and Stormy is sponsored by Pusser’s Rum, and the Pusser’s Marina Cay location will serve as the registration spot and the starting point for the race to Anegada on Saturday.

The location just off Beef Island makes the sail to Anegada much easier than it might otherwise be, Marty said, adding that over the years, the course has been simplified.

“We used to send you around The Dogs, so it was a challenge,” he said, adding with a laugh that one particularly rough year, about half of those who registered never arrived in Anegada.

“They just turned around and went home,” he said.

The sail back has gotten a bit easier too. Now, vessels parade past Road Town and into Nanny Cay, which is spacious compared to the crowded waters of Frenchman’s Cay where they used to finish.

“Nanny Cay is ideal because people can sit on the beach and watch everyone come in,” Marty said.

The Pusser’s Anegada Race has also gotten more technologically savvy with the years.

Participants enjoy fun day at the Pusser’s Anegada Race

 

Memory on Canvas

An exhibition at the Sugar Works Museum will feature the works of artist Lutia Durante

Whether they’re soothing seascapes or vibrant abstracts, oil paintings or sculptures bent from copper, Lutia “Tai” Durante’s pieces are nearly always about one thing: reminiscence.

“It’s documenting my memory,” he said recently.

Lutia (pronounced Lou-tay) often paints scenes from his youth, when the Virgin Islands were still an agrarian society.

The day we talked, two such canvases were on their way to the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College for an art show to raise funds for the school. One was a vibrant depiction of market day, with shoppers and sellers in straw hats and flowing skirts chatting over their wares against the backdrop of the brightly painted buildings of old Main Street.

“In those days, it wasn’t just business, it was also the newspaper,” he said of market days in Road Town back when Main Street was also the waterfront and it was difficult to travel between villages even within the same island. “You’d find out what was happening in the next village because this was the time that everyone gathered.”

The other piece shows a lively carnivalesque parade. It’s more abstract at first glance, but once Lutia describes it, it’s impossible not to see the figures dressed mostly in white, dancing and playing music on homemade instruments.

“They used to come down the street playing music for Christmas, pounding the drums and playing guitar and pipes made out of exhaust systems,” he said.

Lutia says it was years into his career as an artist before he realized he was painting his own past. His three (now grown) children first pointed it out.

“I had a painting of a woman in a straw hat; she was leaning back on her hands… and one by one the kids looked at it and said ‘that’s my grandmother,’” Lutia recalled. It made sense – the pose was one his mother would often take to stretch out her back after spending time doubled over to scale fish caught by her husband.

“I had painted my own mother without knowing it,” he said with a laugh.

Cultural, sometimes historic, images of his native BVI have been a running theme in Lutia’s work, which has been collected by art fans around the world, including Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards. Lutia’s paintings of traditional shipwrights and cattle transported by sailboat illustrated maritime historian Geoffrey Brooks’ children’s book, Building a Virgin Islands Sloop, a chronicle of building a Tortola sloop, the territory’s distinctive historic sailboat.

“I love my Tortola and I got to pass it forward,” he said of the islands’ colorful past.

Paying it forward is also Lutia’s philosophy when it comes to sharing his work with worthy causes. Besides the recent college showcase, he contributes work every year to be auctioned off at the Cedar International School’s fundraising auction.

“Education is so important,” he said. He credits a high school teacher with encouraging him to pursue art. Although he chose not to take a scholarship right after graduating high school, her faith in his talent made it easy to remember that “Art was always something I could come back to.”

Like any good entrepreneur, Lutia knows what his clients want.

“Buyers are looking for things that look like peace, and calm, and relaxation,” he said. “In your life you might be dealing with stress, traffic, all that kind of stuff, but when you see the ocean you start to feel calm.”

Artist Lutia Durante’s pieces are nearly always about one thing: reminiscence

That suits him fine, because at the moment, he’s “fascinated” with the ocean. Seascapes figure heavily not just on his canvases, but also on a recent series painted on slate tiles. The not-quite-symmetrical shape and uneven surface texture of the tiles, salvaged from old roofs, gives these works a depth not possible on flat canvas.

“You have to work with the shape of the tile – it’s a challenge,” Lutia said. He said people seem to love the one-of-a-kind pieces in part for their odd shapes, but also for their history.

“They don’t make them anymore. They’re real slates… I have about 100 left and after that it’s done,” he said. “But I just love it, I love them as medium.”

When we spoke in the fall, Lutia was gearing up for a different challenge: to churn out at least 10 new pieces to be displayed at the 1780 Lower Estate Sugar Works Museum.

Hosted by Lisa Gray of Images Custom Framing and Gallery, the one-man show will be on exhibition during the month of March. An opening reception will be held at the 1780 Lower Estate Sugar Works Museum on Thursday, March 2nd from 5:30 to 7:30 pm and is open to the public.

“We hope this show will promote his work to a wider audience,” Lisa says of the show.

“It’s keeping me busy. I think I felt another gray hair pop up,” he joked.

Lutia’s been working as an artist more-or-less full time after moving back to Tortola after a decade on the St. Thomas Police force. Since his return, he has taken breaks for summer training at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston or to help his kids with their businesses.

At Lutia’s Sugar Works show (his first solo show in the BVI), the artist plans to exhibit more than just oils-on-canvas. A slate piece or two will likely make an appearance, as might the smaller items he sometimes sends to regional or international cultural events: the wooden wine bottle holders and mini-canvases on small easels are popular because they’re more portable, and more affordable, than a full-sized work.

“I sent Luce (Hodge-Smith, head of government’s culture department) to the Bahamas with a wine holder. She said ‘Lutia they almost killed me for it,’” he says.

He may also exhibit a copper sculpture. Although he’d observed pottery-making and has an affinity for working with his hands in general, the copper work didn’t appeal to him until after he received a load of spare copper from a construction site.

“At first I just looked at it for a while, but then when I had a little bit of arthritis in my hands and needed a break from painting I picked it up and I really liked working with it,” he said. He’s particularly proud of a six-foot copper fish, which has since been purchased by a BVI collector.

The jump into 3-dimensional artwork has been an energizing change for Lutia.

“Working with the copper brings me another way of thinking,” he said, “It’s a new inspiration.”

Magnificent Mangroves

True Marvels of Nature

The BVI wasn’t nicknamed “Nature’s Little Secrets” for nothing. Take a drive along the coast, and you’ll inevitably experience something amazing – even if you have called these islands home for a number of years – the mangrove. Recently, for example, while waiting for a friend at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College’s Marine Center, I took a stroll behind the building and stumbled upon the most beautiful mangrove forest I’ve ever seen.

Photo (left): Mangroves created this calm refuge from the Sir Francis Drake Channel; (right) A wooden walking path makes exploring the mangroves at Paraquita Bay easy and safe.

The BVI’s mangrove “forests” are natural little secrets within themselves. If you are living anywhere in the BVI, you’re sure to have seen a grouping somewhere within your travels. Every major island in our chain has a forest of some degree; Tortola (quite a few) Jost Van Dyke, Virgin Gorda, and Anegada. Often, you may drive right up to them, but for the best view with the least amount of environmental impact you should kayak or stand-up paddleboard to one. You could also try snorkeling them, though the water is often quite shallow and possibly silty.

Mangroves are true marvels of nature, in part because of what they provide to boaters, who know them as ideal places to hole-up during a hurricane. If you can, drive down to Paraquita Bay and see for yourself. If you follow the little dirt road behind the college’s Marine Center, and veer off to the left, the Rotary Club has built a dock and boat launch, with a great view of what Paraquita has to offer: a well-designed system of chains providing a shelter for all kinds of vessels if a storm is approaching. Back in 1989, when Hurricane Hugo struck these islands, this was a designated place to tie up and hunker down. Something like 200 boats chose this spot, for all the right reasons.

To the environmentalists among us, mangroves provide an even greater function, that of birthing ground and nursery for many species of fish. The mangroves’ complicated root system keeps out larger predatory fish, so they are an ideal habitat for growing juveniles. Lobsters and conchs get a great start here, too. Mangroves also provide a habitat for many birds, like the flamingo and the little blue heron.

Florida Oceanographic Society marine biologist Brittany Biber has a poetic take on these sea plants and their benefit to the marine ecosystem.

“I like to think of mangroves as Mother Ocean’s fingers,” she said recently. “They not only hold the shoreline to protect its substrate from the greedy clutches of waves but also harbor many important species in their earliest stages of life. They grasp to the earth with all their might using prop roots (red mangroves) and pneumatophores (black mangroves) to expand their impact.”

As Brittany points out, the mangroves seem downright magical to anyone familiar with the phrase “salting the earth.”

“They are unique in their ability to tolerate high saline environments and have perfected the art of salt excretion. … They consume excess nutrients from the water while their falling leaves dye its swamps a tea stained color known as tannin,” she said.

Three types of mangroves can be seen in and around the BVI: the red, the black, and the white. Don’t expect to be able to differentiate them by colors alone. The easiest way to spot which of the three types you’re looking at is to check out where they’re growing.

Great Egret
A great egret perches among mangrove roots.

Red mangroves grow directly in seawater, welcoming and sheltering many aquatic animals. This root system is so hearty it may support a 50-foot tree! The red mangroves differ from the others in some interesting ways. One example is their mode of propagation. They may go from flower to seedling while they are still attached to the parent tree. Once the seedling is large enough, it will fall off the tree into the water where it may stay put or be carried downstream by the water. A unique feature of red mangroves is their land-making ability. They act as giant filters to silt run-off from the hills during heavy rains. The root system traps the silt and gradually builds it up into solid land. In season, you’ll see land crabs scurrying about on these newly created lands.

Maybe the easiest to pick out at-a-glance are the white mangroves. They are highly salt tolerant and may produce pneumatophores if growing in a swampy area. Pneumatophores are extensions of the root system that grow vertically to a height that will remain above settled water after rains or inundation by the sea. They are what allow the trees to “breathe” despite their being surrounded by water. White mangroves have light bark, as their name implies, and can grow to a height of about 40 feet.

The black mangrove is the most salt tolerant of all the species that proliferate in the BVI. They also grow to impressive size, some as tall as forty feet. This is probably the most utilized type of mangrove in the BVI for things like fence posts and fish pots. It is also burnt for charcoal; a fairly common practice locally. The black mangrove is another of the species that produces pneumatophores.

Though not a true mangrove, buttonwood trees, sometimes called gray mangroves, look somewhat similar and grow in coastal areas where mangroves aren’t present.

Mangroves are important for keeping the local ecology in balance through the wetlands they create, which serve as a filter between our islands and the sea, explains BVI based marine scientist Dr. Shannon Gore.

“This type of mangrove forest is a continuous ‘mangrove wetlands,’ an ecosystem which includes a hypersaline aquatic habitat (i.e. a salt pond), the pond’s shoreline and its fringing mangroves,” Shannon said. “Since the functions of wetlands include storm and flood mitigation, erosion control and the retention of sediments and nutrients from entering coastal waters, the loss of more than 84 percent of the original wetlands for development purposes in the BVI has had several effects. First, the loss of wetlands coupled with reduced vegetation on steep hillsides from developments and unpaved cut roads has contributed to localized flooding in low-lying areas. This flooding often causes erosional gullies to form in which sediment-laden storm water breaches the beach berm and enters coastal waters.”

Even if the runoff soil doesn’t make it all the way to sea, Shannon added, it can still impact our beaches.

“Some of these sediments may end up being trapped by the sand and mixed with terrigenous materials which may be the reason why residents claim some beaches have lost their bright golden appearance,” she said.

Experts agree mangroves are worth protecting not just because of their beauty and the habitat they provide to sea life, but also because they make the coastal environment more resistant to the forces of modern life.

Brittany puts it this way: “These trees enable coastal shorelines to persevere against all the stresses we as humans throw their way. They fight the effects of boat wakes, dredging, and pollution while serving as a haven for numerous species. Mangroves are a critical tree to many aspects of marine life and without them we would truly be swept away with the changing tides.”

Given all this, protecting our mangroves is of high importance. Conservation and replanting efforts are underway by government, non-profit environmental groups, and private. If you want to help in the effort it’s as easy as sticking propagules upright in the soil where the trees occur.

Another important way that we can help mangroves is to avoid littering, especially in these areas. Water doesn’t circulate well in bays, ponds, and lagoons, so live-aboard boats and power boats are discouraged in mangrove areas. Cutting or removal of mangroves for development or any other purpose should be avoided, as should dredging and filling projects, as these can have adverse effects on existing mangrove systems.

If you’d like to learn more about mangroves, the Conservation and Fisheries Department in Road Town can provide useful information, tips, and guidelines for protection purposes. And again, if you have the interest, take that drive out to the college’s Marine Center, where Tortola’s Rotary Club has done a terrific job of constructing and maintaining a boardwalk so you can get up-close-and-personal with the majestic trees.

Should you venture out to observe these natural wonders, the best spots for viewing are:

  •  Tortola and Beef Island- Hodges Creek, Sea Cows Bay, Slaney, Wickham’s Cay, Belmont Pond, North and South sides of the Beef Island Channel, Well Bay, Trellis Bay Pond, and for best walk-through viewing without hurting the forest, Paraquita Bay, with even a boardwalk.
  • Virgin Gorda- Deep Bay
  • Jost Van Dyke- East End
  • Anegada- Flamingo Pond, East End

The Mutiny and the Breadfruit

Remember the infamous Captain Bligh from Mutiny on the Bounty? Well, here in the Caribbean he is remembered for more than the events of that ill-fated voyage. It was William Bligh who brought the breadfruit, one of the region’s most versatile foods, to the Caribbean. Commissioned by the British government, Bligh brought this starchy fruit from Tahiti as an economical food source for the West Indies’ slave population.

the-infamous-captain-bligh

The first plants shipped aboard the Bounty’s 1789 voyage never made it here, thanks to that notorious mutiny. In 1793, he tried again, transporting the fruit to Jamaica and St. Vincent where it was successfully established. Since then, the breadfruit has spread throughout the Caribbean, including here in the British Virgin Islands, where it is often used as potato-like side dish.

Large and oval-shaped, the breadfruit has a dimpled green outer skin but is yellowish-brown to white on the inside. The fruit hangs like a lantern from a majestic tall and leafy tree, the Artocarpus altilis, which can reach heights of 60 feet or more. Its large long-fingered leaves make this evergreen member of the mulberry family, a shady addition to many local gardens. Because the fruit is seedless, the tree is propagated from root suckers.

Weighing anywhere from one to one and a half pounds, and measuring six to 10 inches in diameter, the breadfruit has a potato-like consistency and can be substituted for any carbohydrate from pasta to rice. This soft and fleshy fruit is also a healthy addition to the diet. Compared with other starchy foods eaten in the Caribbean Islands, it contributes appreciable amounts of protein, carbohydrates and dietary fiber. In addition, the breadfruit contains calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium, as well as vitamins A, B and C. And in the best news for those watching their calories, it has a low fat content.

This distinctive fruit is not edible until cooked, and here in the British Virgin Islands is typically roasted in the oven. But adventurous cooks wishing to add an exotic West Indian dish to their menu may like to try one of the following recipes. In the BVI breadfruit, when in season, can be found at the Saturday morning market in Road Town. Elsewhere in large cities with a Caribbean population, try a West Indian produce market. Canned breadfruit is also available in some areas and can be used as a substitute for fresh in most recipes.

Smuggler’s Cove

Beach goers or history seekers, locals or non, if you’ve yet to experience one of Tortola’s most spectacular beaches, well, it’s time you made your way down to one of our best north-facing beaches. Smuggler’s Cove is not just another pretty face – its natural beauty also carries a lively past. Don’t let any of the roads to get down there daunt your mission. Though the approaches are all pretty pocked and bumpy – as well as dusty in the dry season – they are all accessible in a “regular” two-wheel drive car. Four-wheel would be recommended nonetheless, but isn’t a necessity – the roads are all traversable and the excursion is well worth the trek.

Natural Beauty, with a Colorful Past

At the end of the road, exquisite white sand greets you after you pass through swaying coconut palms. The beach is crescent moon-shaped and is loaded with shady palms. There is snorkeling off to the left, while the eastern side, too, has a reef to explore. And the approaches to the snorkel sites are easy, with access right from the beach. And – if you’re into this kind of thing – there is a sea grape tree on the far western end of the beach entirely adorned with an array of washed-up coral hunks. Some artistically inclined folks took it upon themselves to strategically place them over the branches and the surrounding area. The best part? Come add your own creativity to the endeavor. I have, as have many others. The tree sculpture is subject to change, depending on weather conditions and “in-the-moment” artistic expression.

The entire bay is known as Little Belmont Bay. The western side of the bay, the end containing the buildings, beach bar, historic ruins, swimming and snorkeling reef, has been known as “Smuggler’s Cove” but now the entire bay is locally called that name. The division dates back a couple of centuries.

bob-nell-dennistonIn the plantation era, a sugar works, now concealed by copious bush, was located at Smuggler’s. The Romney family had also owned the beach and surrounding land for many generations. The Clerk family joined them in ownership in 1961 and later sold their interest to Bob and Nell Denniston in 1968. “Auntie Nell” and “Uncle Bob” as they became known, cut the road from West End up and over to Smuggler’s during this time. The Dennistons first visited the BVI in the 1950s, fell in love with the island and left their stateside existence for greener pastures – or, whiter, as it were – and started investing in property. Bob was not retired at that time, but that point in their lives wasn’t far away.

After Bob retired, the couple ran the beach bar themselves, along with four beach rooms and several houses that were available for rental. The rooms were rustic, but the atmosphere welcoming, and the majority of part-timers came back year after year. The beach bar became very popular, serving up cold drinks, lunch, laughter and old stories. If Bob wasn’t around people went around the back of the bar to help themselves to a cold one stuffing a couple of dollars in the can or under a rock on the bar top. There was even a Smuggler’s Cove steel pan band back in that day, led by island icon Clem Smith.

Bob Denniston, a classic car enthusiast, kept his vintage 1966 Lincoln Continental convertible, parked inside the beach bar. The vehicle wasn’t the newest on the island at that time, but was undoubtedly the jazziest, with clean lines and red leather seats. It was chosen to transport Queen Elizabeth in her open motorcade when she visited Tortola in 1977 on her second visit to the territory. A reception in her honor was held aboard the Royal Yacht Britannia, and Bob and Nell had a chat with her at the time. The Queen acknowledged that she was aware that their car was transporting her about the island. Nell – this from a qualified source – mentioned to the Queen, that they “had spent all of last night cleaning out the empty beer cans left in the back seat by our kids.” According to local lore, the Queen shared a smile with her, stating “my children do the same thing!”

The vintage Lincoln was removed some years back, but pictures of The Queen and her entourage being sported about in Bob’s Lincoln remain and can be seen on walls of different island establishments. Right up until its removal, the car’s license plate remained intact: “VI 2.”

Bob was also renowned for skills as an amateur ham radio operator and established the first ham radio operator’s club in the BVI. He provided the island with a much needed service, to not only locals in need of making contact with family etc. abroad, but also did communication work along these lines for the BVI government.

One of Smuggler’s best known stories, and one which movie buffs are probably already aware, was that a portion of the remake of Hemmingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” were filmed there. This was in 1989, though the movie’s time frame was 1930 Cuba. But due to politics, logistics, and finances, filming the movie in Cuba wasn’t feasible. So the search went out, to find the exact-right backdrop, to capture all of what Hemmingway and the movie people were seeking. And voila, Smuggler’s Cove came up as the top choice for several of the movie’s scenes.

The beach bar was transformed into a Cuba cantina and as part of the set, a bedroom was built above the bar. After the filming Uncle Bob and Nell decided to keep the set. But as island people everywhere know, when hurricanes approach, damage will be done, and the structure was mostly destroyed when Hurricane Hugo swept through the islands in the summer of ‘89.

Another favorite story from back in the day, was that of the missing French toilets, brought in for Bob’s newly proposed hotel. When a summer storm blew through and badly damaged the original structures, looters came in and did what they do, and stole anything that wasn’t nailed down. This included the fancy French toilets purchased by the Dennistons. Years later, a friend of the family while hiking around through the bush in the area, stumbled upon them, not knowing where on earth they may have come from or what they may be doing there. The friend, over drinks at the bar with Bob, later told him the story; that he had by chance come across two fancy French toilets, whilst hiking around in the bush. Astonished, Bob exclaimed “They’re MINE!”

Today, the beach at Smuggler’s remains as beautiful as ever. The former “honor bar” and attached building still stand, while most definitely showing their many years. Though the old Lincoln is now long gone, the bush around the structures has been cleared and there is lumber and some building supplies stacked inside one of the buildings.

smugglers-cove-owner

Historical and cultural preservation of Smugglers is important to local residents and to government officials, who last year proposed that the beach and surrounding land become the territory’s next National Park. Under that proposal, the reef would become the BVI’s second marine park (the first is the famous dive site the Wreck of the Rhone).

Despite the somewhat daunting drive, a trip to Smuggler’s is well worth the trip. Boating, though, isn’t recommended because of coral heads hiding just below the sea’s surface and the (mostly wintertime) north swells.

While you’re there, make sure you:

Get in a good snorkel.

Hang out in the shade. Or the sun.

Walk on down to the western end and add some coral

to the sculpture.

Do a mini-hike through and around the grounds. You never know what you may stumble upon. Probably not any fancy French toilets, but you just never know!

BVI Food Fête – The Highlights

Here’s a listing of some of the biggest events happening during the month-long culinary series:

Oct. 30 is the Barefoot Gourmet Soiree, featuring gourmet food paired with Barefoot wines.

Nov. 5 is Taste of Tortola, with some of the BVI’s best restaurants serving up a sampler menu, plus a demonstration kitchen, and local food and cocktail competitions.

Nov. 11-12 is the Peter Island Caribbean Food Festival, two days of food, drinks and fun at the Peter Island Resort. Proceeds from the event go to the Peter Island Culinary Scholarship Fund. To purchase tickets for this event, contact the resort at (800) 346-4451 or reservations@peterisland.net.

Nov. 13 is The Jost Crawl, an afternoon tour of Jost Van Dyke with stops at various locations for drinks and nibbles.

Nov. 19 is the On the Rocks Bar Crawl. Participants travel on a safari bus to bars and restaurants around Virgin Gorda to sample local cocktails.

Also on VG that day is Taste of Virgin Gorda, featuring samples from restaurants and the sister island’s best chefs competing in a cook-off, plus live jazz music at the historic Nail Bay Sugar Ruins.

Nov. 25 is The Lobster Crawl. The bar crawl around Anegada is the perfect way to kick off a lobster-filled weekend.

Nov. 26-27 is the Food Fête’s signature event, the Anegada Lobster Festival. Includes restaurants around the island serving up their take on the favorite local dish as well as five-stop tour of historic and cultural spots around the “drowned island.”

 

For event tickets, locations and additional information about the BVI Food Fête, contact the event’s coordinator Cindy Rosan-Jones at cjones@bvitourism or (284) 494-3134.

The Flavor of Paradise

food-fes_1I remember the first time I had gooseberry stew like it was this morning. It’s sweet, sour and spicy all at the same time, with a texture much closer to jam than any stew I’d ever had before. It was an unexpected treat in the middle of an otherwise busy lunch hour, and it was the moment I realized I had to taste a lot more new foods before I could come to any conclusions about the culinary traditions of the British Virgin Islands.

I would not have heard of gooseberry stew, much less tried some, if it hadn’t been for BVI Restaurant Week, the predecessor to BVI Food Fête, happening throughout November and currently in its third year.

Tourism officials began holding these culinary themed events in 2012 with understanding that foodies travel, and that everybody who visits a new place wants to experience something unique to that destination.
“We heard that portrayed very clearly,” Tourism Director Sharon Flax-Brutus said back in 2014 when the BVI Food Fête was launched.

“We need to be very proud and showcase our BVI products, our BVI food and beverages, whether it’s peppermint candies or potato pudding … visitors want to be able to say ‘I had oxtail, I had the peppermint candies, or I had a taste of the tamarind wine.’”

Over the years, the BVI’s traditional dishes and drinks have become more and more the focus, explained BVI Food Fête coordinator Cindy Rosan-Jones.

First, in 2013, officials added an event spotlighting the sister island of Anegada and its favorite local seafood, lobster. Lobster Fest has since become the signature event of the BVI Food Fête, allowing attendees to try locally caught lobster prepared in various ways while exploring the territory’s farthest sister island.

“Last year we had the fish and fungi competition, and that was really good,” Cindy said, adding that her favorite local flavors are the drinks made from fresh seasonal fruits like tamarind, ginger and coconut.

Fish and fungi is the BVI’s official dish, and it will again be featured in this year’s Taste of Tortola, when local and visiting chefs will compete to see who prepares the best version of the cornmeal-based dish.

“We hope to make it something even bigger this year,” Cindy said.
Looking back, she said that as the Food Fête has grown, it’s also improved.
“We’ve added more evening events, more local entertainment and things unique to our tastes. It’s become a really memorable experience,” she said.

Both Taste of Tortola and Taste of Virgin Gorda events should be even more memorable this year with the addition of staffed photo booths where attendees can pose for keepsake photos with novelty oversized culinary props. The taste events also let food fans become the jury for the evenings’ coveted “people’s choice” prizes.

“Everyone gets a ticket when they come in, and they use it to vote for their favorite booth. That restaurant receives a prize, and the bragging rights,” Cindy said.

For those looking to make the most out of their Lobster Fest at the last-minute, Cindy recommends chartering a yacht, since Anegada doesn’t have as much hotel space as other isles in the BVI.

“I think it’d be perfect for a group of friends to sail over and spend the weekend on a yacht enjoying Anegada,” she said.

She also hopes that while there, Lobster Fest patrons take part in a five-stop historical tour of Anegada. Last year, the tours coincided with the re-opening of the Faulkner House Museum, the historic home of one of the territory’s local heroes, Theodolph Faulkner.

“We found that was very popular last year, so we’re bringing it back,” Cindy said. “There’s more to Anegada than lobster.”

Photo by Jordana Wright
Photos by Jordana Wright

Alamo Car Rental

Alamo_Car_Rental_2016_honda_hrvGreat deals on your car rental, exceptional customer service, quick and easy reservations. 4wd 8 passenger SUVs, sedans, mini vans, free pickup. Three locations.
Open daily 8am-5pm.

Airport, Road Town and West End
Tel: Maria’s by the Sea,
Road Town: (284) 342-5266
Beef Island Airport/EIS: (284) 495-2526
West End, Towers: (284) 495-4877
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Rates on request

Shoreline Aviation

Shoreline Aviation offers Seaplane Service from October 15 through May 1 from the International Airports of St. Thomas (Cyril King Airport), St. Croix (Henry Rohlsen Airport), and San Juan, Puerto Rico (Luis Munoz Marin Airport). We also offer charter service to and from other neighboring islands like Anegada and Virgin Gorda, including seaplane service directly to several destinations in the North Sound.

Location: USVI
Tel: Caribbean: 340-642-3000 / US: 800-468-8639
email: bvi@shorelineaviation.com

interCaribbean Airways

interisland-airlines-logoAbout interCaribbean Airways: interCaribbean Airways is based in the Turks & Caicos Islands, Connecting You and the Caribbean.

Tortola, BVI
Tel: +1 877 887 9233
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For rates, please visit our website or contact your preferred Travel Agent.
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interCaribbean moves to 18 flights weekly between San Juan and Tortola

November 18, 2016. Tortola, British Virgin Islands. interCaribbean Airways is pleased to announce a major increase in air service to commence double daily services effective from December 19th 2016 and triple daily 4 times a week.

This new AM and PM services give the opportunity for business and leisure travelers in the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico to visit for a day, and be home in time for dinner. These flights operated by EMB 120 aircraft are the fastest turbo prop aircraft in its class making it the quickest connection.

Trevor Sadler, interCaribbean Chief Executive Officer said since we first began service into the San Juan to Tortola we have seen a steady increase in the demand for our flights. We are pleased to respond to this demand with significant increase in flights between two favorite islands and in addition to new daily flights from Tortola to Antigua.

Commenting on the recent announcement by InterCaribbean Airways of an increase in service to the British Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands Director of Tourism Mrs. Sharon Flax-Brutus said, “The BVI Tourist Board is pleased that interCaribbean Airways is demonstrating its commitment to bring convenient air transportation to the region and applauds the airline’s recent decision to increase service to the BVI. The increase in service between the BVI and Antigua and the BVI and San Juan is welcome news as it will help address the challenge of airlift and accessibility to the destination.”

Schedule

FL#           FROM     TO            EFECTIVE                 UNTIL                        DAYS                                           DEP          ARR

637           SJU           EIS            14-Nov-16               28-Oct-17                Mon Wed Fri Sat                     15:35       16:15

638           EIS            SJU           14-Nov-16               28-Oct-17                Tue Thu Sat Sun                      11:40       12:20

508           EIS            SJU           19-Dec-16                04-Nov-17               Daily                                            09:20       10:00

509           SJU           EIS            19-Dec-16                04-Nov-17               Daily                                            11:30       12:10

510           EIS            SJU           19-Dec-16                04-Nov-17               Daily                                            16:30       17:10

511           SJU           EIS            19-Dec-16                04-Nov-17               Daily                                            18:40       19:20

EIS = Tortola, SJU = San Juan

interCaribbean Airways is based in the Turks & Caicos Islands, Connecting You and the Caribbean. The company operates a fleet of EMB 120, Twin Otters and BE99 aircrafts providing service to Antigua, Bahamas, Tortola, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. Additional services also includes flights between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, as well as domestic flights operated in The Turks & Caicos Islands and Jamaica. map-with-logo-cmyk-new-ver-a4-61-1

De Loose Mongoose

de-loose-mongoose-logoDe Loose Mongoose Restaurant and Bar is a fun, family friendly place to eat, drink, and spend your day on the beach.  Award winning Chef, Neil Cline, has ensured that his Grill and Dinner menus are the perfect complement to the lively nightly entertainment. Delicious food, ice-cold drinks, friendly staff, and an unmatched view await you at “De Happy Place”.

Lunch: Rum BBQ Salmon, Fresh Fish Tacos, Cuban Stacked Pork Sandwich, Mango Jerk Chicken Wrap, Goat Cheese Roast Vegetable Wrap, Baked Anegada Lobster Mac & Cheese, Caribbean Chicken Bowl, Quesadillas, Conch Fritters, Rotis, Burgers, Pastas, Pizzas, and more.

Dinner: Herbed Rotisserie Chicken, Ribs, Penne Alfredo, Pesto Linguini, Beef/Chicken/Fish Burgers, Fish/Pork/Chicken Tacos, Caribbean Rotis, Mouthwatering Grill items, and more.

Be sure to check out our new menu items for the upcoming season.

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Every night till late

Mon 3pm; Tues – Sat 11am

Sunday Brunch 9:30am – 2:30pm

Tel: (284) 495-2303
$9 – $45, Visa / MC, Reservations welcomed

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Sky World Food Theatre

sky-world-logo-01Enjoy a theatrical dining experience and some of the most spectacular views on Tortola at our top of the island location. Chef Robert will dazzle you with tableside cooking in our elegant dining room.

Located at the top of the Ridge Road and two-miles from both Road Town and Cane Garden Bay, Sky World features creative local dishes for lunch, an epic, modern international menu in the evening and unforgettable sunset happy hour drinks.

Experience Dining on a different level

Featured Entrees: Filet Mignon, Rack of Lamb, Fresh Grilled Lobster.

Delectable homemade desserts.

Lunch 12-3pm / Dinner 6-9pm
Tel: (284) 495-9600
Lunch $12-$30, Dinner $20-$65.

Reservations: Preferred

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The Courtyard at Surfsong

surfsong_logoEnjoy fine dining in the intimacy of an award winning boutique hotel.  The ambiance of The Courtyard at Surfsong pairs perfectly with the Chef’s creative, refined cuisine. We offer a prix fixe menu which changes nightly and prominently features fresh local ingredients.

Appetizers: Island Vegetable Salad, Local Pumpkin Soup, Seafood Ceviche, Conch Chowder, Local Watermelon with Basil and Feta

Entrees:   Local Pork with Tomato Relish, BVI Organic Chicken with Chocolate Chili, Lobster with Vanilla Butter, Sous-vide Beef Tenderloin with Mushrooms and Truffle.

Desserts: Local Lime Mousse, Mango Cheesecake, Flourless Cherry Chocolate Cake, Local Fruit Parfait

Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday for dinner 6:30pm – 10pm.

Sunday brunch:  10am– 3pm.

Tel: (284) 495-1864
For rates please visit our website.

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Trellis Bay Market Bar & Grill

tbm-logoNestled between coconut palms and seagrape trees Trellis Bay Market Bar & Grill has since expanded into a funky dockside hangout with frigid beers, mixed drinks and island  scenery known as “Trellis Bar & Grill.” Well known for its Chicken Roti at lunch and Island BBQ every Fri. and Sat. from 4:30pm-10pm. Serving some of the best BBQ in the BVI.

The bay comes alive every month with its “Fireball  Full Moon Party,” Mocko Jumbies, BBQ, fireballs, music, local arts and bars. To get updates on the monthly full moon dates visit www.trellisbaymarket.com.

Caribbean Breakfast: Ackee, Saltfish, Assorted Sandwiches, Hot Coffee/ Bush Tea, Coco Bread, Liver, Corn beef, Salmon, Pastries, Turkey, Ham

Lunch: Chicken, Beef & Veggie Roti, Salads, Hot Wings, Conch Fritters, Patties, Burgers, Honey Stung Chicken and daily local lunch specials

BBQ Dinner: Fri, Sat & Full Moon 4:30pm-10:30pm: BBQ Chicken, Jerk Chicken, Jerk Pork, Ribs, Grilled Fish, Chicken Roti.

Breakfast 6am-10:30am,

Lunch 11am-6pm

Tel: (284) 495-1421
$3.5 – $25

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MYETT’S CHILL ZONE

myetts-chill-zone-lionAtmosphere: Unique Waterfront Bar specializing in island inspired drinks, frozen concoctions, cold beer & wines, specialty coffees, and bar bites. Welcome to your island paradise. So sway to the music, laugh with friends, enjoy the views, leave your worries behind and watch the ships sail in. RELAX YOU’RE ON ISLAND TIME!!                                                                

Good Mornin…Good Afta…noon & Good Eeeve…nin Bites.

Fruit smoothies, Caesar & Greek Salads. Wraps, Panini’s, and Pita Pockets of Turkey Avocado, Chicken Cobb with Avocado, Albacore Tuna, Philly Beef and Veggy.