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An article written by our staff and featured in The Charter Connection

SAILING THE BVI - A warm welcome when you've reached the Bitter End...

As much as I love sailing, and exploring far-flung coves and anchorages I'd never see from land, at some point in any cruise I definitely crave some civilization. Sometimes all I want is to stretch my legs, while other times I'm looking for more diversions.

Not all resorts are well suited, or even welcoming, to sailors. Virgin Gorda's Bitter End Yacht Club, however, goes completely the other way - for sailors in need of a shoreside break, it's heaven.

If you've never sailed the BVI, you should consider adding a stop at Bitter End to your itinerary. Even if you've sailed the BVI and moored at Bitter End a dozen times, it's still worth a visit. Here are several reasons why:

Get some Exercise: After a few days aboard, stretch your legs ashore on some of the best hiking trails in the BVI. 'Guy's Trail' starts on the northeast side of Bitter End, just past the top row of Beachfront Villas, and climbs Biras Hill, coming back down by either the Pub, or by the pool (both good places to terminate a hike). One can also carry on and connect with the trails by Biras Creek and up 'Great Hill' on the South side of Gorda/North Sound. For those feeling really ambitious, leave your boat either on the dock or a mooring at Bitter End and take the free ferry over to Gun Creek (a 5-minute ferry ride), and hike to the top of Gorda Peak. The views are spectacular. For some great pictures, go to: http://www.beyc.com/index.php/hiking.html

Relax: Too much exercise? Visit The Spa at Bitter End. Sample aromatherapy, manicures, pedicures, herbal wraps and facials. But perhaps the most popular: couples massages. Treat yourself and your better half! A team of 15 SPA professionals stand ready 12 hours/day to cater to your every need. You can even try out a henna tattoo for a short term reminder of your great vacation! Or join in daily morning yoga (free) on the pool dock. For a complete SPA menu, go to: http://thespaatbeyc.com

Relax some More: Want a little 'couple time' while on a family charter? The best way to achieve this is to dock at the Quarterdeck Marina, and drop the kids at the Sand Palace Theater for the 7 pm (Kid Friendly) Movie Showing. Then sneak off to dinner at the Clubhouse Steak and Seafood Grille (close enough to look in on the Sand Palace, but far enough away to have some Grown-Up time.) Clubhouse details: http://www.beyc.com/index.php/clubhouse-steak-and-seafood-grille.html Sand Palace details: http://www.beyc.com/index.php/the-sand-palace.html

Get More Sailing: Lots of competitive sailors charter cruising boats, or charter cats due to the group size or make up. So how does one get a racing/performance "fix?" Join in the weekly Sunday Regattas at Bitter End. Single-person Lasers race in the mornings, and one-and two person Hobies and keelboats (Hunter 216s and Rhodes 19s) in the afternoons. The nominal rental/entry fee includes an 'It ain't over 'til the cooler's empty' awards party after racing (and fun prizes). Can't make it on Sunday? Bitter End also runs afternoon 'Beer Can Racing' on Mondays.

Party: the natural follow up to the Monday afternoon Beer Can racing is the now famous 'Monday Night Mash Up' at the newly-renamed 'Crawl Pub' at the Bitter End. DJ 'Heavy B' spins Caribbean favorites, while visitors and hotel guests dance and limbo the night away.

Tie the Knot: the most popular place to get married in the BVI is at Wedding Point at Bitter End Yacht Club. Typically, at least three couples per month tie the knot on this very private jetty (and most of them are charter visitors). Bitter End's wedding coordinator, Mary Jo Ryan helps organize it all, from flowers, to celebrant, to post ceremony reception (complete with custom cake). Do your paperwork with the BVI Registrar prior to boarding, and then tie the knot three days later (BVI mandated) with your charter friends and family as witnesses. See Wedding Point slide show: http://www.beyc.com/index.php/the-wedding-point.html

Don't Miss the Big Event: when the Crawl Pub isn't rockin', it'
s showing world-class sporting events on 4 big screen TVs. And for the really BIG games, the PubVision Big Screen (20' X 15') Projection TV has the best sports viewing just about anywhere in the Caribbean. Have a Painkiller or a Pint, some Brick Oven Pizza or a Cuban Mix, and sit back and enjoy the show.

Catch the Boat: If one of your crew needs to get back to the airport in a hurry, or if someone wants to meet up with a charter party 'mid-charter', the Bitter End's North Sound Express Ferry runs a regular schedule to/from Beef Island Airport (right to Bitter End's front dock). For ferry schedule, go to: http://www.beyc.com/index.php/ferry-schedule.html

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