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SailDives - Tortola

from Nanny Cay Marina on Tortola and through the British Virgin Islands - Boarding from 5 PM Saturdays. Click "Reserve a Cabin" to see the list.

SailDives - TortolaOverview
Summary - British Virgin Islands

Reserve a Cabin

SailDives BVI Itinerary Part I
SailDives BVI Itinerary Part II

SailDives BVI Itinerary Part II

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Wednesday - 31 AUG 2016

Angelfish Reef
Our 7th dive in the BVI was at Angelfish Reef.

The swell continued to be up, so there was no chance of doing any of the exposed sites. However, Angelfish reef is loaded with life and is a great dive for divers of any skill level.

We enter the water at 11:17 AM under sunny skies, with 0' - 1' waves on the surface and no current. The dive is 1 hour 23 minutes with a maximum depth of 49' and average of 33' with visibility of 35' and a balmy 84F water temperature.

We follow the usual dive plan counter clock wise from the mooring around the point then turn around and return across the top and through the boulders with the reef on our right.

Even though the visibility is not that good due to the sandy bottom and flat water, the site is pretty easy to navigate.

In this album we photograph Yellowhead Jawfish, Saucereye Porgy. Queen Triggerfish, Giant Anemone, Barred Hamlet, Turtle, French Angelfish, Corkscrew Anemone and Peterson Shrimp, Social Feather Dusters, Barred Butterflyfish, Squat Anemone Shrimp, Golden Coney, Princess parrotfish, large Southern Ray, schooling Horse eye Jacks, Bat Jack shadow hunting above a Spanish Hogfish, Rock Beauty, Grey Angelfish, Schoolmaster, Red banded Coral Shrimp, Belted Cardinalfish, Goldspot Goby, Pallid Goby, Golden Coral Shrimp, Shortstripe Goby, Blue Chromis.

We also photographed Strawberry Tunicates, Red Lip Blenny, Saddled Parrotfish intermediate phase (Brazil), Blueheads, Sergeant Major, Magnificent Featherduster, Purplemouth Moray Eel, Princess Parrotfish, Foureye Butterflyfish, Blue Striped Grunt, Caesar Grunt, Longspine Squirrelfish, Butter Hamlet, Orange Spotted Filefish, Bushy Hydroid, Dusky Cardinalfish, Spanish Hogfish, Yellowline Arrow Crab, Saddled Blenny and dark colored Coney.

This site was loaded with lots of fish and critters, many varieties of Gobies and what was surprising was the Golden Coney which is rarely spotted.

The site has some variation of depth, large boulders, spot coral and sand where large rays are typically seen.

Although the topography was not in the stunning class, there was plenty of variation, but most importantly, an abundance of marine life both large and small.

This dive site is protected from the swell, but the soft sandy bottom often makes visibility less than optimum, it reliably produces lots of opportunity for great diversity and some rarely seen fish like the Golden Coney. We rated this site VERY VERY GOOD at 3.75 and look forward to diving this site again and again in the future.

Sailing in the Beautiful Caribbean Sea
It is pretty obvious that we love to SCUBA, especially on great crewed catamaran sailing yachts, but it is a sailing club and the increase in the swell that prevented us from diving the exposed sites, brought some 30 knot winds and great sailing in the BVI.

There is really nothing quite like sailing. No motor noise, just he slap of the wind on the sails and the lines aching from tension.

We cut through the waves like butter and the stable catamaran barely rocks as we fly silently through the waves.

Chris, the base manager, joined us for the day and while he and Marli are doing a spectacular job, I think, at least every once in awhile, he misses being in the Captain's chair.

So the conditions make diving today too dangerous and we have plenty of time and more fun and sun.

That's the thing about weather, one day its great the next day who knows. That is why our charters are the "no plan" plan, we have a heading and sone ideas, then we see what works out along the way. It always works out the way it is supposed to.

Twilight Snorkel Diamond Cay

At 6:45 PM we do a little twilight snorkel from the yacht, just before dinner.

We found Lettuce Sea Slugs, Chitons, octopus, Purple Mouth Moral Eel, and a Sea Hare.

What fun! The hard corals had polys extended, Strawberry Tunicates and Heart Urchins dotted the shallow reef.

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Thursday - 01 SEP 2016

Dive No Name Reef
Our 8th dive of the week we found a site on Greater Tobago, but we could not determine the name of the site so we are calling it "No Name - Greater Tobago", but the majority wanted to call it "Threes Times the Charm" since we could not do the other sites there that we had hoped to do.

This dive was the no plan dive plan, just stick together and we will make a clock wise circle and try to get back to the boat.

We enter the water at 8:19 AM under partly sunny skies with 0' - 1' waves on the surface. The dive is 1 hour 10 minutes with maximum depth of 89' and average 42' with 50' visibility, no current and 82F water temperature.

In this album, a mere fraction of the hundreds of photos taken, we photograph Blue and Brown Chromis, intermediate Spotted Drum, juvenile Creole Wrasse, Yellowtail Hamlet, Eagle ray, Blueheads, Orange Cup Coral, Fairy Basslets, walls lined with colorful encrusting sponges, lobster, Striped Parrotfish, Porcupinefish, Caesar Grunt, Lionfish, schooling Creoel Wrasse, Saddled Blenny, Honeycomb Cowfish, Pillar Coral, losts of soft corals, Flamingo Tongue, Yellowtail Hamlet, Foureye Butterflyfish, Giant Basket Star, Sand Diver, juvenile Beaugregory, Spinyhead Blenny, Corkscrew Anemone and Peterson Shrimp, French Angelfish, a huge rocky field of Yellowhead Jawfish, a big Spiny Lobster who did not care if we were there just get out of his way, Butter Hamlet, and Barred Hamlet.

The site was great and it appeared like it was not dived very often.

Along the shoreline near the point there were large boulders and dramatic topography as well as some decent surge.

There was a small wall just under the yacht that dropped down to 90' and in the center of the site there was dense soft coral coverage.

The field of Jawfish looked like a road that cut across the site and eventually led to the wall, not far from the mooring making a very reliable path back to the boat.

We were thrilled that this site, that is not in the books, was so good and has so much of everything we look for.

We rated the site 3.75 as VERY VERY GOOD and we know that whenever we are out in the West at BVI, no matter the conditions we have a great site to visit.

The Cathedral
Our 9th dive on the itinerary with Tradewinds in the BVI brings us to another site we had not previously done, The Cathedral.

We follow the typical dive plan, clock-wise around the point between the sand and rocks and on the other side we cross into the center to enter the cut and then head to the cavern that the site gets its name from.

We enter the water at 11:26 AM under sunny skies with 1' - 2' surface rollers. The dive is 1 hour 15 minutes long with maximum depth of 46' and average 29' with 40' visibility, minor surge near the rocks and through the cut and 84F.

In this album we have photos of tons of silversides moving through the reef.

The Orange Spotted Filefish on his side clearly showing why it has that name. There were Coneys, many many Blue Bell and Painted Tunicates of various colors, more than we had seen on any other site this time.

Reef Butterflyfish, Bi-colored Damselfish, Giant Basket Star, Black Condominium Tunicates, Peterson Shrimp, White Spotted Filefish on his side showing why it is so named.

There are Yellowhead Jawfish, Nurse Shark, numerous juvenile grunts, Foureye Butterflyfish, in 2 different locations the tiny marble sized juvenile Trunkfish, Sand Diver, Lobster, Cup Corals and lots of colorful encrusting sponges on the rocks.

We also photographed French Grunts, Bi-Colored Coney, Spotted Goatfish, Schoolmaster, Yellowtail Snapper, several large Tarpon, Turtle, Porcupinefish, High Hats, Spotted Drum, Black Bar Soldierfish, hundreds and hundreds of Sergeant Major.

We also saw a huge school of what we think are Little Tunnies.

There were Creole Wrasse, Spinyhead Blenny, Brown Chromis, Strawberry Tunicates, Schoolmasters, Chub and Christmas Tree Worms.

A pair of Dolphins (mammal) darted past! The site has awesome structure with the cut as well as the Cathedral itself.

We loved the site and rated it 3.75 as VERY VERY GOOD. The site great structure and different environments. What it lacks in multi-level capabilty it makes up for with the gap and the cave which is amazing.

We saw lots of marine life, but it thinned out and the reef degraded the further around the point you went,but we did find lots of critters in there and a different environment so that is a fair trade off.

The cave was by far the highlight of the dive and scores big points, not just from the light coming through, but the silversides whirilling around in their ever turning dance, shimmering in the light and hypnotizing you so you can't look away.

We will defiantly be back to dive this site over and over again.

Sunset in the BVI
Right now, its not all about diving.

Every night there is a beautiful sunset, every meal has this oceanfront view (that chages several times each day), every cabin faces the water, the "pool" is at the stern (a toasty 82F) and the lounge is on the bow and on the rooftop and you can swim in the water and never get sand on your feet.

Life is full of choices: these aren't the hard ones

Sandy Spit and Weather Moves in
We make our way to Sandy Spit, but the weather gets ominous so we head out after a short spell to a protected bay for dinner.

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Friday - 02 SEP 2016

The Maze
Our 10th and final dive is at The Maze in Lee Bay.

We had done this dive several years ago and the typical low visibility altered our opinion of the site.

Even though the visibility remained low at only 20', we found lots of interesting critters and have rethought our opinions by removing the visibility consideration in our updated rating.

The site has a sandy bottom and any surge or weather easily turns it up creating less than optimal visibility.

We enter the water at 7:39 AM before breakfast since we need to stop by the Baths and then sail back to the base before the 4 PM witching hour.

However doing a dive, then coming aboard to an delicious morning meal is pretty awesome.

The surface was flat with 0'-1' waves under partly cloudy skies with no current. The dive is 1 hour 37 minutes with a maximum depth of 48' and average of 30' with 20' visibility and 82F water temperature.

Because of the high particulates, clouds and low visibility, both ambient light and backscatter from lights affected our ability to have many photos of the topography of the site. But the caves and the rocky maze that surround the shoreline were great and we could imagine how awesome it would be with 50' visibility.

We photographed in this album Branching Anemone, Silversides, Yellowline Arrow Crab, Tomtates, Giant Tunicates, Spotted Lobster, Red Band Coral Shrimp, Orange Ball Sponge, Spotted Moray Eel, Black Hamlets, Corkscrew Anemones and Peterson Shrimp, Spinyhead Blennies, Secretary Blennies, Strawberry Tunicates, Yellow Tail Snapper, juvenile Rock Beauty, Sand Diver, Caesar Grunt, juvenile Blue Tang, colorful encrusting sponges, and a wide array of fans, soft and hard corals throughout the site.

The number of Blennies was astounding and we were able to get multiple shots of the Blennies outside of their abandoned worm hole houses.

There was one flat rock covered in encrusting Fire Coral that was nothing less than a Blenny Condominium complex, and even under the boat, almost every hard coral housed blennies.

If you wanted to look at critters, you could spend the entire dive and never move more than 30' from the mooring.

We realize than not everyone is all that excited about the small stuff, but I like to remind everyone that the reef is a living organism, the sponges, corals, zoanthids, corallimorphs, hydroids and just about everything attached to the hard surfaces are living animals, not plants. With all of that life, there are also tiny juvenile fish, tiny crustaceans, bi-values, crabs, shrimp and thousands of other things tied together in an intricate web of life.

The life of the reef is the life of the ocean, and the life of the ocean is the life on Earth, our one and only home in the universe. There is more krill by weight than all other life on the planet, so yes the tiny is important, and amazing and leaves us in awe the more we learn about the ocean and its reefs.

We rated this site 3.75 as VERY VERY GOOD despite the poor visibility and we know many will disagree, but its not just about the turtles, the sharks, the eagle rays or the Tarpon because without the tiniest of critters, none of them would be alive.

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