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Sampling The British Virgin Islands
By Tricia Donohue

The rugged peaks of Tortola and the green hills of the other lush islands of the British Virgins dotted the horizon off the stern as we sailed toward Anegada, the farthest-flung, least developed, and flattest island of this laid-back, uncommercial Caribbean archipelago.

From our perch on the bow, we scoured the sea ahead looking for signs of this low-lying coral island, unique among the other, hilly British Virgin Islands, all volcanic in origin.

"There it is," the skipper said, pointing at what appeared to us to be a couple of thin sticks standing on the water line. Then we began to make out a thin sliver of white beach just below the sticks—one of the pristine beaches that surround Anegada.

With its highest point just 27 feet above sea level, Anegada doesn't reveal itself until you're almost on top of it. Nor does the turquoise water warn of the beautiful but treacherous coral reefs. They've claimed more than 300 ships over the centuries, and most yacht charter companies designate the area "off limits" for their boats, unless an experienced skipper is aboard. The captain of our 50' yacht knew the shoals, wrecks, and reefs like the back of his hand.

Spring/Summer 1996

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