Caribbean post 4: Navigation

One of the most important aspects to my recent trip to the British Virgin Islands was navigation.  It was an interesting and important process to determine the direction and distance we needed to travel.  Four different tools were used to navigate, charts, parallel rules, dividers, and of course.

The most important tool was the Chart.  The chart is a map that shows the islands themselves, and the hazards that could hinder us, like shallow water and rocks.  It is on the chart that I mark out the path that I drew with the parallel rules as a straightedge including details like direction and distance.  Which I found using other tools.

To find the direction I used parallel rules.  This tool is a pair of plastic straightedges that are attached together with metal rods so that when you move them apart from each other, they will remain parallel.  To find the direction to head, I lined up the path I drew on the chart with one of the straightedges, with the other lined up with one of the compasses on the map.  The compass is labeled with numbers 1 through 360 going around it, so that East is 90º, South is 180º, and so on. The number that the other side of the parallel rules lines up with is the direction.

Dividers are the tools used to determine the distance to travel before making a turn.  And repeat the cycle with the parallel rules.  Dividers work similarly to scissors, as they open and close, but stay the same distance apart when the tool is picked up.   Measure the distance of the leg you are about to travel on, and place the divider on the distance scale.  This is measured to nautical miles unless it says differently.

Navigation was a vital part in my family’s vacation, because it was essential to find our way around.

Caribbean post 3: Snorkeling

A great portion of our trip in the British Virgin Islands was spent snorkeling.  It was a new experience for me, but I quickly got the hang of it.  Almost every stop we made had snorkeling involved.


There are many reefs scattered around the islands.  The fish come in so many beautiful colors.  They lived among many different species of coral, which has been living in the reef for a long time.  As I swam above the fish, they were fine with sharing the reef with a larger creature, only when I swam towards them would they swim away.


Another place we snorkeled at, but was not a reef, was the wreck of the Rhone.  This 310 foot long ship had tipped over in a hurricane.  The captain thought that the storm had passed after they were in the eye of the storm, so he sailed for open water.  Which resulted in the end of the ship.  Today it is one of the most popular shipwrecks to dive at.  I actually dove down to touch the propeller of the ship, in just my snorkel gear.  My ears felt like they were being crushed because of the depth, but it was a great feeling after to have reached my goal.


Whether exploring a reef or a shipwreck, snorkeling was a major part of my vacation in the Caribbean.

Caribbean post 2: Bitter End Yacht Club

Photo Credit: Myself

Photo Credit: Myself

Another great location in the British Virgin Islands, Is on the same Island as the last location I blogged about.  The Bitter End Yacht Club is located in the most beautiful setting I have ever seen, Gorda Sound on the north part of the island, Vigin Gorda.  There are many things to do, both leisurely and active in the beautiful tropical setting.

There are a few great restaurants in the area, most notably Saba Rock.  This restaurant and hotel is located on a small island within Gorda Sound.  The only way to get to it is by dinghy or a short ride in a small ferry.  There is always a place to relax.  Hammocks are strung everywhere between palm trees.  And there are lounge chairs overlooking the pool and Gorda Sound.

If you are more of an active person, there are also many activities to do for fun.  There are many hiking trails prepared.  They go up and down the mountain that towers out of the water.  In addition, you can rent small sailboats to have a fun time sailing around or exploring Gorda Sound.

Caribbean Trip Post 1: The Baths

Last month, I took a family trip to the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.  One of my favorite places was a beach on the West Coast of Virgin Gorda.  The Baths is not a beach you typically go to for relaxation.  This beach is meant for adventuring.  South of the beach is a colony of granite rocks, that were imbedded in volcanic lava long ago, and create a series of caves known as the devil’s path.  The name fits it well.  Waves crash through these rocks, and can toss around a person like a ragdoll.  There are multiple ways to find a path through the rocks, but they can be summarized into three routes.  I call them the water route, the inland route, and the overland route.

Photo Credit: Myself

Photo Credit: Myself

The overland route was the most fun way to get through, in my opinion, and provided a great view.  It was probably the most dangerous way as well. There were many moments when I thought I might fall, which made the experience scary.  In parts, you have to jump to another rock with a sheer drop below you.  In order to get to the top of the highest rock, you have to run on all fours up the side of a rock at a 45º angle.  If you stopped moving your feet you would slide back down.

The water route was also about as fun, and challenging as the overland route.  To make it through that way, you have to be prepared to swim, and always be ready to grab onto a rock if a big wave comes.  The sea life was amazing to watch; the colorful fish would use waves to save energy while swimming around.

The inland route was boring compared to the other ways.  Sure you do have to climb over small rocks, and watch your feet for rocks that could cause you to trip and fall onto a pile of sand, but for all of the larger rocks, there are wooden staircases for steep climbs, and ropes for slippery parts, unlike the other routes.  There are even arrows to show you where to go.  However, there has to be some way through for people who don’t want to risk hurting themselves, or if they are carrying a load, maybe snorkeling equipment to snorkel at Devil’s Bay on the other side.  This is also the slowest route, because it is always filled with people going in both directions.

The Baths was one out of many of the great locations in the British Virgin Islands.