Where is YOLO?

...Off to the Sea for Adventure

...Off to the Sea for Adventure

Saturday, March 26, 2011

USVI/BVI Adventures of a lifetime!

First and foremost, we must give a big thank you to our friends Chris Warrington (for the stellar photos) and Stacy Bengs (for the writing/inside connections) for featuring us in Red Wing's local newspaper, The Republican Eagle! (http://www.republican-eagle.com/event/article/id/72795/).

Us YOLO boys have really been living better than we deserve over the last couple weeks. We have had the pleasure of meeting lots of new friends and reuniting with several old ones. Starting off from the last post, after Red Wing friend Mike Walters and company had to get back to work on their cruise ship (Silver Whisper), we were left alone to explore the rest of Virgin Gorda. On March 11th, we met Jay. Jay was on his laptop in a restaurant working on some online pilot recurrent training. His frustration was unmistakable to a fellow pilot so I had to interrupt him, introduce myself, and ask who he worked for. This obviously led to conversation. Jay was a very interesting and helpful British fellow on a week long vacation with his wife and 18 month old son.
Sir Richard Branson's 120' Sailing Catamaran near Necker Island, BVI
Coming into North Sound, Virgin Gorda, BVI. Note the seaplane on the mooring ball amidst the sailboats
... also note the hammock
After a bit of talking Andy and I found out he was a sailor as well and had been thinking of selling up and sailing with his wife and kid. We were happy to share our stories and advice with them in hopes to get them started. In return, Jay helped us with some career advice, as we're on the cusp of returning to real life. He was a man with connections and seemed eager to help us as well.
Jay, Alisha, and Dair aboard YOLO
Later that afternoon we invited Jay and fam aboard YOLO to check it out. Two of the three were excited. His 18 mo old son DID NOT like the dinghy ride one bit and his disgust continued throughout his 45 minute stay on YOLO. Jay seemed to enjoy it though! Their visit was cut a bit short, but we made plans for another rendezvous the next day on another part of the island. Jay treated us to dinner at the amazing restaurant on Saba Rock and we said our goodbyes as we had planned on setting sail the next day for Tortola BVI.

It was a serendipitous decision to go to Road Town, Tortola! On the 13th, while anchored in Road Harbor, cooking dinner aboard, getting ready for a night of nothingness... we hear our VHF going off with some old salt calling for YOLO. I respond to the mystery captain hailing our vessel (thinking we were doing something wrong) only to find out it was Captain DAVE!!!! Captain Dave was one of our sailing mentors from up in Bayfield before we started the adventure. A local Bayfielder, he is a staple in the community up there as a sailing instructor. Everyone knows Captain Dave. He was one of the few old salts that truly believed in our success on this adventure given our skill level. Needless to say, however, he was thrilled to see us down here and actually in one piece. He was down here on a one week charter captaining a catamaran sailboat for a family from Iowa he is close with. We spent dinner with him and the family and had a great time catching up with him and sharing stories. It was great to see you Captain Dave!
Captain Dave reunited with his YOLO boys!
The next day, 14th, we set sail for the lesser known Norman Island in hopes of some good snorkeling. Come to find out, there was a lot more than that. Much to our surprise, in the anchorage was a floating steel ship converted into a restaurant/bar. Of course YOLO needed to investigate. We quickly hit it off with Dylan, the bartender of this establishment called Willy T's. Turns out he's also got a Bristol yacht of his own he is working on in Tortola. We swapped cruising stories/aspirations and shared or love of fine Bristol yachts (among other things). Thanks again Dylan, if you're reading this! You made our stay in the BVI a memorable one to say the least.

The Bight at Norman Island
Willy T's!!!!!
While spending a bit of our afternoon on the 15th at Willy T's I met Kelly, a wonderful woman visiting the BVI on a beautiful Westport 112' power yacht (aptly named "Kelly Sea"). We hit it off right away as she seemed quite interested in our story. After a bit of conversation, she told us she had some extra tickets for a regatta party and insisted we return to Virgin Gorda for it. After some discussion, we decided it was too good an offer to pass up, so early the next day we again headed east towards which we came only a few days ago.

After an early departure on the 16th from Norman Island, we began an ALL DAY beat into the wind to make it back to North Sound, Virgin Gorda. We questioned our decision all day but pressed on. Let me tell you, IT WAS WORTH IT! We made it just in time for the YCCS Marina Grand Opening Party which was in conjunction with the sailing regatta party. We had no idea how big this event was going to be and our imagination couldn't even have prepared us for what was in store. All the sailboats in the regatta were multi million dollar 100+ foot sailboats, including the famous "Twizzle", a 189' Ketch rigged racing sailing yacht. You will not see any finer group of sailing yachts anywhere in the world. Accompanying the dozen or so mega-sailing yachts were 10-12 mega-poweryachts there (including "Kelly Sea") to watch the show and enjoy the party. Kelly introduced us to several interesting people. It was pretty amazing to be in such company. We were wined and dined at this event with food and drink finer than we've ever had for the whole trip, perhaps my whole life! It was a unique and memorable night. I couldn't believe that in such company, Andy and I seemed to be the most interesting people at the party, people were waiting to talk to US, rather than the other way around, the way I'd have expected it to be. Of course the beards were sticking out like a sore thumb, but it started conversations I thought I'd never have.

The most notable guest of that evening, however, was definately not the YOLO boys. Sir Richard Branson himself made an appearance at this party as well. Andy and I were fortunate enough to talk with him for a few minutes. Mostly superficial conversation, but still it was an exciting experience. I guess we made an impression on him though as when he left, he sought "the beards" out to say goodbye and to let us know it was his pleasure to meet us. WHAT A NIGHT!
Andy and Sir Richard Branson at the regatta party. That's Kelly on the right in the dark. I was nervous so of course I messed up and partially covered the flash.
here's a website better describing what we got ourselves into: http://www.superyachtregattaandrendezvous.com

Before saying our goodbyes for the evening, Kelly invited the YOLO boys for a St Patty's day cruise aboard Kelly Sea on a daytrip/luncheon to nearby Peter Island. We gladly accepted and returned to Kelly Sea the next morning and went on a beautiful cruise aboard Kelly Sea. It gave us a chance to meet the 4 crewmembers of Kelly Sea (Captain Bryce, 1st Mate NickStewardess Jesse, and Chef Heather). All were interesting and hardworking folks, especially Nick!

Kelly sea at anchor at Peter Island
The bridge of Kelly Sea enroute back to Virgin Gorda. Captain Bryce at the helm
Captain Lance at the flybridge!
Learning the ropes from Captain Bryce
Jesse stepped away so I had to fill in as the ships bartender.
Kelly and I posing for a picture for the website. The photographer told us she wanted a photo of us and wanted to call it "a rose between two thorns"
We made it to Peter Island just in time for lunch and were once again treated to another amazing meal of food much finer than us YOLOers are accustomed to! Many of the power yachts that were at the marina had the same plan and reconvened at this resort on Peter Island (http://www.peterisland.com/villas/falcons_nest). We had a great time with great food and great company then headed back to Virgin Gorda in the early afternoon. What a way to spend St Patties Day!
Random hawksbill turtle discovered whilst snorkeling Norman Island
Square rigged tall ship sailing by.


  1. You met Richard Branson and you didn't hit him up for a job at Virgin Air! So cool.

  2. or piloting one of his space ships...haha

  3. Wow guys, Richard Branson!!! Of course, then you knocked it out of the park when you hooked up with Captain Dave himself!

  4. Just wanted to say the Minnesota Crew had a great time partying with the "Beardos" at Willy T's. Both of the girls in the group, Lacey and Michelle, both commented at breakfast the next day that your beard were soft on there ears when you talked to them. Which I thought was funny. Anyway, nice blog, sail safe.
    Charlie, Lacey, Matt, Michelle, Poseidon on the White Rose or really the Pink Rose

  5. Hi Guys......thanks for the comments.....we had a lot of fun meeting with you "beards" down in Virgin Gorda. The pics look great!
    Back to the real world....flying, cold coffee and long nights. Sounds great! You are still an inspiration to us all!
    To another dinner at Saba Rock. Long live YOLO.
    Jay, Alicya and baby 'Dair.

  6. My folks sent me the RW Eagle article; Andy, apparently you know my stepdad, Frank Sperlak? Anyway, I graduated from RWHS in 2004 and have been living on STT for awhile... so if you guys are still around send me an email (valerie.ej.king@gmail.com). It'd be sweet to catch up with some fellow Minnesotans.

    Good luck and safe travels!


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