After 2 full, horrific days at sea, we arrived at our first island, Tortola. As I thought would be the case, I was terribly sea-sick. However, nothing could have prepared me for just how sea-sick I got. After leaving Miami, our ship, Silver Spirit, had to travel through the Atlantic to get to the Caribbean. The choppy waves of the Atlantic hit us hard and soon the world as spinning. I was literally crawling around my room, I kid you not. I groaned, trying but failing to get comfortable on the sofa. Our analogy was that we felt like '10 tonne potatoes'. It doesn't quite make sense but you actually get the picture. We felt heavy and unable to move. We couldn't even go on our balcony because it was so windy outside.
Fortunately, there were plenty of sea-sick tablets at reception and they worked like a dream. Well, they essentially knocked you out so you slept through the torture. Well, I'm not complaining about that. I struggled through dinner on all those 'day at sea' nights, not really making the most of what was delicious food.
Once our ship entered the Caribbean ocean, things calmed down. Either that or I just got used to the feeling of living on a boat. I no longer felt sick and at times I barely noticed I was on a boat.
One morning, I was awoken by a very strange, loud sound that rattled our cabin. I felt pretty disgruntled that the boat had rudely awoken me from a peaceful nights sleep. I'd actually slept well after some terribly rocky, sleepless nights! It took me several moments to realise that the loud, rattling noise was in fact the boat's anchor dropping. That could only mean one thing, we had arrived in Tortola! Now filled with energy, I flung open the curtains to a fantastic view. In front of us was calm deep blue waters and in the background stood the tropical hills of Tortola.
Tortola is the largest island in the British Virgin Islands, to the north of the Caribbean islands.
We sailed from Fort Lauderdale to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands
I just couldn't wait to start the day. We demolished breakfast before exiting the boat. Dry land! After 3 days at sea I could have kissed the ground beneath my feet. Is it weird that it felt strange that the ground wasn't swaying beneath me?
We were docked up in the port of Road Town, Tortola's capital which is centrally located along the island's south coast.
For each island you stop off at, you can choose an activity to take part in for the day. We had chosen to go kayaking through the mangroves. So, we found the rest of our group and loaded ourselves into our minibus. It was around a 20 minute drive to the kayaking site.
As I am writing this retrospectively, I can't say for sure what the exact location of the mangrove swamps was. However, after taking a look on Google Earth at Tortola in satellite-view, the only area which looks remotely like the mangroves swamps we visited is called 'Paraquita Bay'.
When we arrived we hopped into our two-person kayaks and followed our guide across the gulf to where the mangroves lay. The water was a beautiful turquoise colour and it was peaceful gliding through the water, only the sounds of your ores slicing through the water to keep you company.
We drew closer to the mangroves. The water was getting shallower and we passed two abandoned sailing boats, forever stranded near the mangroves because the water around them has become too shallow for them to leave. It was quite an eery sight but not quite as eery as the mangroves themselves. The mangroves had grown so quickly that a few boats had become lost to them. Peering through the tangled roots of the mangrove trees, I laid eyes on a lonely sailing boat, imprisoned within the mangroves forever.
Mangrove trees are pretty cool. They are trees which grow out of the water, their large tangling roots visible on the surface.
After our tour of the mangrove forests, we pulled up on a nearby beach where we were to do some snorkelling. We had some snacks before entering the water. Compared to Barbados, the snorkelling wasn't spectacular. There were a few corral rocks with some fish swimming around them and sea urchins but that was about it. Suddenly, a rough wave hit us. I noticed a woman in deep distress. She was ushered to the beach where she was tended to. It turned out, the wave had pushed her into one of the corral rocks and her hand had landed on a sea urchin. Sea urchins have spiky, toxic quills that are very painful to touch. Not only was this an unpleasant experience for her, it turns out the woman was a piano player at one of the ship's restaurants. I'm not sure if she would be able to play the piano for a while which is a bummer!
On that bombshell, we kayaked back to the minibus and then headed back to Silver Spirit.
As we boarded the boat, our day in Tortola came to a close. Evening started to fall and Silver Spirit honked its loud, horn in farewell. We were once again guides out of the port by a little tug boat. I couldn't wait to see where our next destination would be.