A Travellerspoint blog

Soper's Hole

N18 23.161 W64 42.187

sunny 80 °F


I seem to be having a bad run on photography. Lots of shutter clicks, not much I want to put out there. Sunset from Cooper Island, such as it was. Cloudy, amber, and only rising to the level of OK. That turned out to be an unusual place, but hard to describe. Manchioneel Bay, where we stayed, is not so much a bay as it is a wide arc; there is nothing extending around the sides to form a shelter. So all the boats should have been riding into the wind approximately the same way. Not even close. Catamarans were helter skelter as were the few monohulls. No logic seems to apply.


We have passed by Soper's Hole two times on our way to other places. From looking at the chart I had thought Mr. Soper to be a very clever fellow having found a sheltered place and assigning it his name. Just one more item on the growing list of things I have gotten wrong on this trip. The "Hole" is formed by the very western tip of Tortola, called West End, of course, and Frenchman's Cay. This being the British Virgin Islands I guess that any proper Englishman, e.g., Mr. Soper, has naming rights, but a Frenchman does not. There is a gap between these two land masses that is not only is a conduit for easterly winds, but it also seems to act as a venturi for them, quickening their passage across this spot of water. Not any particular problem, just not what I expected. Despite the high winds we got the boat moored and secured.

The rationale for coming here was the expectation of buying ice for our last few nights on the boat. The run from Cooper Island to Soper's Hole was not very long, maybe 10nm. We were on a run, downwind, but not very much wind, which would have taken about three hours to Soper's Hole. I had the thought that the day was rather like Pamlico Sound in North Carolina where we first learned sailing. There we would go out in the morning and just sail, no plan, other than to handle the lines and to work with the wind, moving the boat. So, today, we did the same.


We broke south toward Norman Island, the subject of a prior blog entry. In the far distance I saw something that I could not understand. This is Pelican Island, adjacent to Norman Island. It has a nasty set of jagged rocks to the west. I could see those rocks but there were also some great clumps of white which could not be surf.


The clumps were four catamarans anchored between Pelican Island and these rocks. There must be a shoal or a ridge between the two because the boats did not seem concerned about dragging anchor. Pretty gutsy, actually, although once you get past the shock value it does not look like a comfortable anchorage even if it is a safe one. I like monohulls even if catamarans are faster. The America's Cup contest has catamarans with hydrofoils that can go over 40 knots, about 45 MPH. We have seen beaucoup catamarans this trip and they do one thing that I somewhat envy. They have no keels, the second hull acting as the counterforce to the wind in the sail. Where we draw about 5-ft. they may draw only 3-ft. They can get crazy close to the shoreline and anchor in very shallow depths.



We did some back and forth runs on a five-mile leg to try our boat handling while coming about, reversing course. Total FUBAR disaster, but we did get out to open water, ocean swells, and unattenuated wind. Very nice. Having tired of that, we decided to sail around Flanagan Island. If islands could sing, this one would do Simon & Garfunkel's I am a Rock, I am an Island, it being both: a tiny island or a large rock. This loop took us into the USVI for the first time. Fortunately, there were no sailing police and we returned to BVI waters fairly quickly. and then proceeded to Soper's Hole.

For the first time on the boat Carol deigned to eat out. This is quite out of character for her, she being a foodie and all. So to capture the memory I took my very first selfie. Maybe it should be called an usie since there are two people in it. I am not current on all the cell phone cultural issues. Anyway, two old people having dinner at Pusser's.



These are what we see to starboard and to port. Bright and colorful, kind of how we might imagine a tropical Caribbean place to be. For some reason, this place has more active commercial activity than any other that we have visited save for Roadtown. Two things of note: (1) we scored 40-lb. of ice; (2) it's cloudy, no sunset picture today.

Posted by sailziveli 22:38 Archived in British Virgin Islands Tagged islands sailing british boating virgin bvi

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