Tortola

Tortola is the main and Largest island in the British Virgin Islands and is also home to the BVI capital of Road Town. Tortola has many marinas where you can get fuel, water, and provisions.

Road Town

photo of road town, from tortola, British Virgin islandsRoad Town, Tortola

Road Town is a port of entry for Tortola and has customs and immigration here. If you need to clear in to customs do not go to a marina first.

Rather anchor in the harbor to the east of the cruise ship dock or over near the western shore where you will see boats moored. If you dock first, customs will fine you.

Customs is at the ferry dock that is to the west of the cruise ship dock. Ferries come to Tortola from St Thomas, St John and Virgin Gorda. Inside inner harbor, the entrance of which is found at the eastern side of the cruise ship dock.

On the eastern side is the Moorings, Sunsail and Footloose bare boat companies. On the west side is Village Cay Marina which has overnight dockage, water and ice can be had here and you are right in the middle of town. There is a dive shop for air fills, rental gear or dive trips.

Everything is within walking distance. In road harbor there are several other small marinas that are more set up for permanent berthing rather than overnight transient berthing or fuel sales etc.

There is another dock in road harbor that sells fuel and is generally the cheapest in the BVI, they are on an easy dock to get on and off. It’s the delta fuel dock. They are at Baughers Bay on the east side of road harbor and just next to the very tall radio antenna that is easy to see from all of the bay.

Close to this dock are 2 sets of very large yellow moorings, sometimes you may see a ship moored to them. If there is a ship on them, do not attempt to go between the ship and the shore as these ships deliver fuel and propane to Tortola and have a floating hose leading to the shore. There are no overnight moorings in Road harbor.

BRANDY WINE BAY

Heading east from road town along Tortola, the first bay you will come across is Brandy Wine bay. It’s a pretty part of Tortola that’s easy to get into, there are reefy areas jutting out from both the east and west shores as you enter, just enter the bay in the middle of its opening.

Anchoring is on sand in about 10 feet of water so it makes a nice spot to spend your last night aboard if you have to be back in town very early the next day. I have used this anchorage many times and never once has there been another boat in it! There are no overnight moorings on this part of Tortola.

East End

To the east of buck island is the entrance to east end bay. Again, there are marinas in the bay and water and provisions can be bought. When entering East bay you will see a line of rocky outcrop running from the far eastern shores.

On the western end of the rocks there is a white light. A couple of hundred yards further east there is a lone small floating green marker. Enter between the green marker and the rocks. The water is 20 plus feet deep. To the east of the green marker there is only a couple of feet depth. Once inside the bay, you will see all the marinas on the eastern side.

Stay over to the eastern side of the bay as the western side is shallow mud. The furthest dock in is Harbor View Marina. There is a small chandlery and a large grocery store right next door. Also a small coin operated laundry and a dive store for air fill, rental gear and dive trips.

Beef Island

Moving further east along the coast of Tortola you get to beef island. An acceptable anchorage can be had anywhere in the lee of beef island in sand between 20 and 30 feet deep.

If you decide to anchor to the north of the large house on the shore, be sure to keep an eye on the water depth as there is a large reef area about a half mile off the sand beach.

Snorkeling along the shore of beef island can be rewarding however be very careful out by the point as there are very strong currents here. There is an interesting dingy trip to be had here.

Photo on hans creek from Tortola, British Virgin IslandsHans Creek, BVI

There is a spot on Beef Island called Hans Creek that is to the western end of the large sandy beach. The whole area in front of the beach and to its east has a large reef area that protects it from the larger seas.

A deep entrance can be seen by looking about a half mile south of the western end of the beach. You will see a couple of rocks that stick out of the water a foot or so. Keeping these to your right as you are entering, head straight for the rocky headland at the east of the beach.

This will take you between the 2 reefs. Once past the reef on your left (You will be within 100 yards of the shore now) turn left and follow the mangroves. This will take you into a small lagoon, This whole area is a breeding ground for fish.

Go slow and look around as you may see turtles, baby eagle rays, baby barracuda, Schools of small bait fish etc. Right in amongst the mangrove roots is where the baby fish hang out, They are protected there from larger predators.

In the shallows you will also see upside down jellyfish. These are a strange creature as they sit on the bottom with there tentacles on the top to catch there food. You can pick these up without harm. You can also see sea cucumbers on the bottom as well as small conch. these also can be picked up.

A stroll along the reef that protects the lagoon will allow you to see many other creatures such as Crabs, Shrimp, annennomies and west indian top snails. If you walk along looking at the edge of the reef  back towards the lagoon, You will often see baby black tip sharks herding the baitfish into the shallows.

This is a fantastic area to take the kids since they will see many creatures up close and can see the importance of mangrove areas as breeding grounds for fish! They can get a walk on the sand or in the shallow waters and do some exploring.

The beach also makes a nice stroll, You can be lucky and find some nice shells along here. Keep an eye in the shallow water for baby conch shells and baby sharks feeding on the 1 1/2 inch long baby fish. At the western end of the beach there is a small trail that goes back into the bush a bit.


Photo of Beef Island Tortola, from tortola, British Virgin IslandsBeef Island, British Virgin Islands

There is a large salt pond here, you can often see many different types of water birds here. If you are power boating and are heading east around beef bluff, there are times that you will see larger steep waves off the bluff.
This is at times when the current is heading towards the east and the and wind is coming from the east creating a wind against tide situation.

If powering and not sailing, stay close to the large floating black and yellow isolated danger marker, then once past, slip in close to the shoreline.

the water is deep and you will notice that the seas are much calmer as the current is slowed dramatically by the shoreline. If however you are sailing the opposite is the rule. Stay well off.

If you do not you will find that the wind direction shifts due to the influence of the bluff. Before you know it you are pinched right up , making no headway but making leeway towards the bluff.

Trellis Bay

Once around the bluff, the next anchorage is Trellis Bay. Trellis bay is full of overnight moorings and is home to the Trellis Bay full moon party! You will see a floating isolated danger mark that marks some rocks to the south of the anchorage as you enter.

Bellamy Cay is in the middle of the bay, simply cruise on in and pick up a mooring. Someone will come by around sunset to pick up the mooring fee of $25-$35 per night.

When in the bay be careful of the water between Bellamy cay and the shoreline deep in the bay as there is a shoal that continues off the end of Bellamy cay for several hundred yards.

Onshore there is a cyber caffe, restaurants and a small store. There are free garbage skips as well. Be sure to lock your dingy up here since It’s a bad dingy theft area. The Beef Island airport is just a 5 minute walk from here, It makes it a great place to overnight if a member of your crew missed there flight or have to leave before the rest of the crew.

Rocks and Shoals

The next noteworthy spot rounding Tortola is rocks and shoals between beef island and Little Camanoe islands. There is a floating black and yellow isolated danger marker that marks submerged rocks just to the south of the marker.

There is also a large shoal that juts out from little Camanoe to the west. The northern side of Tortola does not have much to offer the sailor in the way of anchorages until you get all the way around to brewers bay. A stop on the way through at Monkey point gives spectacular snorkeling amongst thousands of silversides and dozens of tarpon.

Brewers Bay

Brewers Bay has a couple of national parks moorings at each outermost poInts of the bay, they are primarily for scuba diving but do offer a good snorkel as well. They are fairly exposed so should only be used in calmer conditions.

Bare boats are forbidden to enter brewers bay. The whole southern 3/4 of the bay has shallow reef and also submerged power cables. The northern quarter has a lovely sand bottom and anchoring is in 8 to 15 feet of water. This is another anchorage that is usually empty!  Do check the swell report though, this is not a safe place if the north swell comes up. There are no overnight moorings in here.

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