The word “honeymoon” today conjures images of newlyweds holding hands, strolling along a beach, madly in love. The word in Old English was “hony moone.” Hony refers to the “indefinite period of tenderness and pleasure experienced by a newly wed couple.” Moone, meanwhile, refers to the fleeting amount of time that the love or sweetness would last. While the word “honeymoon” has a positive connotation today, it was initially used to warn newlyweds about waning love over time.
When one thinks of the word honeymoon, thoughts of white sand beaches, fruity drinks, and total relaxation come to mind. We were graced with all three, along with some excitement along the way. Since we aren’t really beach people, we thought a sailing adventure around the British Virgin Islands would be a good alternative. Neither of us had spent much time on smaller boats, nor had we attempted to cook meals on a live-aboard sail boat that rocks with the ocean illiciting more sea sickness than we had anticipated. Luckily, we enlisted help from our savior, Zofran, and only had small bouts of nausea while not on deck or sleeping. What we hadn’t anticipated was 50-60 knot winds that hindered sleep and spawned nightmares of our boat breaking free from the mooring and floating away. Thankfully, weather cooperated with us all but two nights of the week, leaving the other days blissfully calm and serene.
The journey began when we flew into St. Thomas, then took a ferry over to Tortola, the hub of the BVIs. There we met Lusteen, a small and sturdy sailboat whom we would become intimately familiar with over the next week. We then set sail hopping from island to island. We visited the Virgin Gorda baths, took a land tour of the island as well, and enjoyed a beach party one night. We scuba dived Wreck of the Rhone, and snorkeled around various caves and reefs. The plethora of sea life never ceases to amaze me: sergeant majors, yellow tailed snappers, barracudas, tarpons, sea urchins, and coral. One night while stargazing on the deck, we noticed some dark figures racing parallel to the boat. Before we knew it, we had counted 25 tarpons. The crystal clear waters beckoned forth loads of creatures without even stepping a toe into the ocean.
We stopped one night at Norman Island, and due to it being off season, had the beach entirely to ourselves. The famous party barge, Willy T., anchored off the shore was eerily quite, as the bars were closed for low season. Throughout the night, the boat slowly revolved around the mooring, occasionally being silhouetted by the moon, forming a ghostly aura around the blackened ship. As we were the only boat in the cove, the creepiness magnified. It was only fitting that the cove we resided in for the night, “Pirate’s Cove,” was historically the tragic ending for many ships as pirates pounced on any unfortunates who were drawn to the island’s beach.
A highlight was definitely the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke, where we lounged around in hammocks under shady palms. The white sand beach at the Soggy Dollar fades into pale turquoise waters, where the warmth of the water soothes the body and the current rocks you back and forth like a lullaby. It’s a perfect recipe for relaxation and a terrific sunburn. On our last day, we anchored off the coast of Sandy Key beach and swam to shore. There are very few things in life, I believe, that can compare to the sensory enjoyment of squishing wet sand between my toes as I stroll along a beach. It is by far my favorite part of any coastal adventure.
Although our honeymoon wasn’t a typical “us” adventure full of hiking or sight-seeing or endless architecture ogling, it was exactly what we needed. Sailing forced us to focus totally on the present, breathe in the salty air, feel the wind whipping through our hair, and admire the utter beauty of the islands. It was the first time in as long as I can remember that I didn’t read a book, didn’t cross off things on my to-do list, and didn’t do much of anything but enjoy my surroundings. Oh, and reminisce on our incredible wedding. More on that to come!