A WEEK ONBOARD

Sample Itinerary:  A Week on the Gay Armada


What's it really like?  A past Armada sailor sits in our "guest blog" seat and gives a week in the Armada

Day One: Arrival and Welcome Party

St Thomas (USVI) to Road Town, Tortola (BVI)

As we boarded our flight at JFK, I could look around the cabin and see a bunch of the other boys coming in that I was pretty sure were with us, and could already tell that they were going to be fun.

We landed in St Thomas, and you could already feel all the busy gray stress of Manhattan vanish.  The beach music blasted in the airport, there was a rum bar in baggage claim, and I was already feeling the paradise vibe before we even got our bags.  I could see a cluster forming of fellow "suspects" from my flight, and we already started to form an Armada group. 

The Armada sets up all the ground transport, and the guy with the "Gay Armada" sign saw us, and quickly herded us and our bags into the famous "Love Cab" for the quick ride to downtown Charlotte Amalie, the main part of St Thomas, where we gave the ferry guys our bags and got checked in for the ferry to the BVI.

 

The rest of my boat group had taken Friday off, so they'd gotten in last night and hit the town in St Thomas, and a couple were finishing a last certification dive so they could go on the Armada's shipwreck SCUBA excursion.  I met up with them for lunch and cocktails at their hotel pool, then we headed back to the ferry dock.

With so many of us, the ferry company sets a private ferry for the Armada, so we all guzzled another painkiller cocktail (the key drink of the islands) at the ferry bar and started to meet the rest of the guys.  They came from all over, and were a range of ages.  Some were young and stunning, some quite a bit older, but most were other young professionals from New York, Chicago, DC, LA, Columbus, Toronto, and all over.

Because we have the private ferry, they bring us straight into the Marina, where BVI customs is waiting, and we go straight through customs into Armada check-in, where the Fleet Admirals (volunteers who help out during the week) got us checked in, gave us our welcome bags (I put my Armada tank on right away), and took our Captain and Admiral (the head of our group) to go sort out the charter paperwork while the rest of us hit up happy hour.

 

We got to our boat, which was at the same time bigger than I imagined, yet the rooms were definitely more tight quarters than I would have thought, did a quick shower / change, and headed to the marina restaurant for the Welcome Party.

 

With a live band, massive buffet, and generous bar, we were already feeling in the spirit, and got to know a bunch of the other boats.  There were a couple of cuties I had my eye on, and we invited their boat back to ours for some post drinks that went way too late.

 

By the time I went to sleep on the boat that night, the fun had already started

Day Two: Off to Sea... and Pirates Night!

Tortola to Norman Island

The morning was a tad rough after the Welcome Party fun, but we dragged ourselves out of bed to get rolling. We'd pre-ordered all of our groceries (called "provisions" by the sailing crowd), but quickly realized we'd need more snacks and booze if we were going to last a week (half the vodka got used last night!), so we sent a few guys to the grocery store.

 

A guy came from the yacht company and did a big walk through of how the boat works.  There are more systems and machines on this thing than my apartment, but we had to learn the oddities of using yacht bathrooms and kitchens, how to work the generator and the computers, and everything else about the boat itself.  There's a lot to it!  Thankfully, our Captain has it down pat.  He's actually a yacht owner himself, and had volunteered to help us for the week.

 

With the groceries (and drinks stashed away, we were off on the Armada!

 

We started out with some quick lessons on the boat and how the sails work from our Captain, and one of the guys in our group who grew up sailing.  We practiced tacking and jibing the sails, got the hang of it in the Road Town Harbor, and headed on out to sea!

 

Most of the BVI sailing is in the Sir Francis Dranke channel, which keeps the water pretty calm and the winds perfect for sailing.   For Day One, we had a light day of sailing to get the hang of it, and we quickly zipped across the island to the famous Peter Island Resort, where we anchored at the beach and headed in for cocktails and beach volleyball.

 

Back on the yacht, we went around Peter Island and over to Norman Island, our destination for the night, anchoring in "The Bight," an old pirate base where treasure was found years ago.   We tied the boat to the mooring ball (where we were staying for the night), and got ready for some afternoon fun.

 

A couple of the guys went ashore to the Pirates Bight restaurant for cocktails and beach time (we have a little outboard boat called a "dingy" that we tow around, and use to go between the big yacht and shore, or to other boats), but I took the dingy and went with a group for some awesome snorkeling at The Caves, a spot just outside the Bight bay.  We saw all kind of fish, coral, eels, and a ray.  I couldn't wait to go diving tomorrow!

 

By the time we got back to the boat, a few guys were splashing around on a giant inflatable raft that somebody had brought down, and another group was prepping for our first big "family dinner" night.  A few nights of the trip, we'd planned to eat in restaurants, and a few nights we were cooking big dinners.

 

The guys had made a giant salad, roasted some veggies on the stove, and had steaks on the grill.  One of the guys had a new little blond friend who didn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, so we threw an extra one on for him, too.

 

The charcoal grill took a lot longer than we expected, so we compensated with killing more wine instead, and that worked out just fine for us and we were buzzing for "Pirate Night!"

 

In the middle of the Bight bay is an anchored schooner called the "Willy T," and it's the stuff of legend.  Rated as one of the Top Ten beach bars in the world (the BVI has two of the ten), the Willy T's infamous debauchery goes back decades.  My dad used to sail the BVI with his fraternity brothers, and the Willy T still brings a grin to his face about plenty of stories that Mom and I aren't allowed to ever know.

 

As the night goes on, the crowd starts shedding clothes and jumping off the upper deck of the bar.  On the dance floor, I was about to make a few stories of my own with a cute DC lawyer when my roommate drags me upstairs to join the diving fun.   It's pretty epic already, and I can't believe this is only our first real night!

 

I'd tell you more, but it wouldn't be appropriate, and after the drinks on Willy T, I'm not sure I remember enough!

Day Three: Shipwrecks, Beaches... and the Full Moon Party

Salt Island, Cooper Island, and Trellis Bay (Tortola)

My roommate shakes me awake because it's time to go SCUBA diving!  Last night's lawyer may or may not still be on our boat (don't we have a 5th Amendment for that?), and my buddy and I head over to the dive boat.

 

The Armada works with Kay at Sunchaser SCUBA, and they take care of everything for us.  I'd pre-sent my measurements, and they had a station onboard with all the gear I needed, including tanks, wetsuits, masks, finds, and everything else we need, so that makes it easy.

 

The RMS Rhone was a big steamship that wrecked on Salt Island in 1867, and is the best dive site in the Caribbean.  We go for two dives, exploring both the front and back of the ship.   It's definitely the coolest wreck I'd even been diving through!  Off on the other side of the wreck, I see our sailboat, where some of the guys are snorkeling around the shallow parts of the wreck.

 

Rendezvousing back with my boat, we sail over to the Cooper Island Beach Club, where we hang on the beach for a while and grab sandwiches for lunch.  It's a picture-perfect spot, and we'd be tempted to stay here for the night if not for the Full Moon Party!

 

We sail back across the sound to Trellis Bay, next to the airport in Tortola.  There are a couple of Full Moon parties

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Still have Questions?  
Check the FAQ first, then email the team

If our FAQ page and info handout don't answer your questions, reach out to the team!