A bareboat charter through the British Virgin Islands yields a prize far more valuable than pirate booty.
By Capt. Ken Kreisler — October 2002
“Mean, vicious, and N-A-A-A-S-T-Y!” The choir of young voices from ten-year-old Steven, seven-year-old Rachel, nine-year-old Samantha Zee, and Sami, my own eight-year-old daughter, chimes in from their seats on the bridge of my 37-foot, bareboat-chartered power cat. Once the shouting and grimacing stops--the special vocal and facial emphasis was their idea after I pause, nod, and give them the high sign for their harmonic interlude--I continue to relate, gravelly voice and all, the story of that fearsome and most loathsome of buccaneers, Mean Murray.
Aye mateys, Mean Murray was all that and more," I growl, and set my course for Dead Man's Chest, a small and desolate rocky islet in Salt Island Passage between Peter and Salt Islands--the very spot where, after a failed mutiny in 1717, the much-feared Edward "Blackbeard" Teach stranded 15 of his crew, giving each man a bottle of rum with which to meet their fate. And thus the origin of the famed song that begins, "Yo, ho, ho..."
It is March, and the trades are south by southeast at 10 knots, if that. We are cruising the waters of the British Virgin Islands--of Jost Van Dyke, Tortola, and Virgin Gorda, as well as the host of islands both inhabited and barren that makes up this splendid cruising archipelago, once the favorite hangout of other 18th-century pirates, including Captain Henry Morgan, the "gentleman pirate" Bartholomew Roberts, and even Anne Bonny, one of the few women privateers. We're on our way to the Norman Island caves, the purported site of the real Treasure Island made famous by Robert Louis Stevenson in 1883.
There are many reasons why the USVI and BVI are so suitable for cruising, least of which is the proximity of all the islands; from Cruz Bay on St. John to Lower Soldier Bay on Virgin Gorda is only about 32 nautical miles, and everything you'd want to do is contained within these cruising grounds. But as my crew of hungry ruffians is getting mighty ornery just now, seeing they have the proper victuals will have to take priority over spinning yarns of the bounding main.
What had started out as a family bareboat charter two days ago from the St. Thomas base of Nautic Blue, the powerboat arm of the highly successful Moorings sailboat charter brokerage, had quickly developed into a multihousehold cruise. Our vessel, dubbed Capt. Squid by the kids, is one of three 37-foot power cats now in service at this location. The fleet will soon be upped to 12, including a four-cabin 46-footer.
This article originally appeared in the April 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.