BVI Sailing Trip 2017 - Departing...eventually

San Juan Airport, early morning 
Thursday, March 2
Finally, our trip has arrived after months of planning, emails, research and deciding what to pack.  The night before our trip, we went to bed early, knowing we would have to get up early to meet our friends for our ride to the airport.  As usual, when I have to get up early for a flight, sleep is elusive and patchy.  I got up at 3 am and was going to get in a few rounds of  'Words with Friends' to kill some time, when I noticed a voicemail notification on my phone.  It was from an unknown number so I was prepared to listen briefly and delete.  It wasn't a spam call.  It was American Airlines telling us our early morning flight was being pushed back.  Groan.  Our itinerary was going to take us from Ottawa to Philadelphia, Philadelphia to San Juan, San Juan to Tortola.  These itineraries are as delicate as a game of Jenga.  One piece gets pushed the wrong way and, well, you know how that goes.  The first flight being pushed means we would miss all other connections for the day.  Not good.  I texted our friends and we decided it best to arrive at their place, as scheduled, to figure things out.

We arrived and to our relief, Rob had already been on the phone re-organizing our flights.  Having lots of flying experience and dealing with airlines does come in handy!  He managed to get us new flights booked, but knew we would have to spend the night in San Juan.

The flights were relatively uneventful and we arrived in San Juan and checked into the San Juan Airport Hotel at midnight. We've stayed here before.  This hotel is located in a section of the airport which is not in operation.  A great spot to film The Walking Dead!  Counters still in place, eerie lighting, tumbleweeds (kidding) and generally creepy.  At best the hotel is functional, clean and a place to sleep - it's better than sleeping on the floor by the check-in counter.

Friday, March 3
In the morning, we made our way to the 'live' part of the airport.  Again, so eerie - one minute you are the last people on earth, then you turn the corner and it's alive - like someone flipped a switch. So bizarre.  After getting through security and a light breakfast, we started the trek towards the gate for Seaborne Airlines.  After walking for what seemed like a small eternity, we were met by a kind Seaborne employee who offered us a ride to the gate.

A short wait later, our flight was called.  Finally, we would be on our way to our long awaited adventure.  We showed our boarding passes and headed down to the tarmac to get on our flight.  While waiting on the tarmac, the airlines staff called out three of our party of five.  Dale and I looked at each other, shrugged and proceeded with the rest of the travelers, following the leader to the plane.  They loaded our bags, we boarded, strapped ourselves in and waited for our friends.  While looking out the window, we heard the flight attendant say something along the lines of  'That's it, close the doors'.  Um...where were our friends!?  Dale and I looked at each other in disbelief - were they not coming?  What's happening?  With no one to answer these questions, we sat back and wondered what had become of our traveling companions?

The short flight to Tortola from San Juan is very picturesque because of the low altitude of the flight - you can see all the small islands along the way.  We were able to pick out the Spanish Virgin Islands (Culebra and Vieques) along the way.

We landed in Tortola, cleared customs and got into our taxi, still not knowing where our friends were.  We checked into the Moorings Mariner Hotel.  Although it was only 9 am and check in wasn't until 3 pm, we had pre-paid the room so I fully expected to be able to get into our room and have a nap.  We had to wait a few minutes while they confirmed the room was ready (to me there was not reason why it shouldn't be because we hadn't slept in it yet!).  There was a message from our friends explaining there was some confusion with their boarding passes, but that they would be along in a couple of hours.  We got to our room, then went down to the store to get some light snacks and beverages for our friends' arrival.

Our transport to Tortola - Saab 340B (seats 34)

View from our hotel room at the marina - masts in the background

Snack time! 
After another nap (yes, I'm a napper, don't judge me please), we met for a late lunch at Charlie's restaurant at the Marina.  The restaurant overlooks the marina and the sea beyond.  We could also see a couple of shopping mall sized cruise ships which were in the harbour.  Lunch consisted of a delicious fresh tuna salad and a long awaited Pain Killer.

First Pain Killer - a BVI speciality

Seared Tuna Greek Salad at Charlie's
For dinner we asked for a recommendation and took a taxi to a local spot called The Pub in Road Town.  It wasn't as local as I would have liked, but the food was good.  I ordered a chicken breast stuffed with cheese and plantain (that was a first, but nice flavour) and a rum punch.  We headed back to the hotel and waited for Meghan and Scott to arrive - the last of our group of 7.

After a long day it was nice to get some (more) sleep and recharge for a full day ahead!

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