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Old 09-05-2013, 12:22   #1
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BVI vs USVI?

As I look deeper into chartering (catamarans) I am curious why BVI seems to be the "mecca" vs the other islands in the area, particularly the USVI.

My main reason for asking is that, at least from the USA, flights are much cheaper to St. Thomas than anyplace else.

I'm looking ahead to the next few years and am trying to find a relatively quick and easy way to get down there and spend a week sailing every now and again.
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Old 09-05-2013, 12:39   #2
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Re: BVI vs USVI?

The USVI are really developed with the exception of St. Johns. Don't get me wrong I love the USVI, we were married there and would rather be there than here. But compared to the BVIs you will be in harbors with neon lights and noises like cars, etc.

On the BVIs, most harbors will be vacant of development except for a couple of restaurants/bars. Take a look at a couple of pictures from our last trip.

The other aspect is that most of the sailing in the BVIs is line-of-sight and inside a fairly protected channel, the Sir Francis Drake Channel. These conditions are perfect for coastal and lake sailors.

As far as flights to BVIs, most fly into St. Thomas and then take the fast ferry to Tortola. That costs about $40 per person round trip.

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Old 09-05-2013, 12:44   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djtopper View Post
As I look deeper into chartering (catamarans) I am curious why BVI seems to be the "mecca" vs the other islands in the area, particularly the USVI.

My main reason for asking is that, at least from the USA, flights are much cheaper to St. Thomas than anyplace else.

I'm looking ahead to the next few years and am trying to find a relatively quick and easy way to get down there and spend a week sailing every now and again.
Bvi is a Mecca because the government there has a tax structure that is less punitive then in the USA. Bvi realizes the substantial revenue that charter guests bring in and they actively work to maintain satisfaction. As I understand it, Moorings used to be based in the USVI.

So why not fly to St Thomas and charter a cat?
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Old 09-05-2013, 14:07   #4
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Re: BVI vs USVI?

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Bvi is a Mecca because the government there has a tax structure that is less punitive then in the USA. Bvi realizes the substantial revenue that charter guests bring in and they actively work to maintain satisfaction. As I understand it, Moorings used to be based in the USVI.

So why not fly to St Thomas and charter a cat?
Right, that's my thinking. Basically that's the question I'm trying to answer here. St. Thomas is USVI, no? It seems like one can fly in, get on your boat, and sail in pretty much the same waters.

But it also sounds like the only difference is really taking that extra "fast ferry" to Tortola.

I'm not sure how the tax structure helps much. Are charters heavily taxed? Or are you referring to other things like shopping, dining, and entertainment?

Or ... even still ... are you referring to corporate taxes? IE., is it cheaper to base a charter company out of the BVI instead of the USVI?
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Old 09-05-2013, 14:58   #5
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Re: BVI vs USVI?

BVI is much better but the ferry is more like $40/person one way.
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Old 09-05-2013, 15:16   #6
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Re: BVI vs USVI?

Not an either or question. For the cruiser (or charter) there is no difference. Fly into STT charter in BVI.... Not a practical difference.
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Old 09-05-2013, 15:18   #7
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Re: BVI vs USVI?

Flying in to either place means you can be sailing in either place the next day, so it really doesn't matter so much except for costs and convenience.
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Old 09-05-2013, 15:28   #8
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Fly into St. Thomas and catch the fast ferry, super easy. Done many times.
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Old 09-05-2013, 15:39   #9
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Re: BVI vs USVI?

Don't forget the Spanish Virgins (islands that is) too! Culebra, Culebrita, and Vieques are nearby and well worth visiting.
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Old 09-05-2013, 16:33   #10
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Re: BVI vs USVI?

Your cruising venue depends on what you like to do. If you want beach front restaurants, lots of partying, crowded mooring fields, go to BVI. If you want less expensive cruising, less crowded moorings, better underwater sports, and a generally more laid back cruise, go to USVI. We have been to both areas and much prefer USVI and Spanish VI. Thus, we recommend flying to STT and chartering from there. We have a standard itinerary for a one week circuit around St. John that works well. PM me if you would like me to send it to you.
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Old 09-05-2013, 16:52   #11
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Re: BVI vs USVI?

"St. Thomas - USVI is less crowded?" Since when? It is the mayhem capital of the Caribbean, with dozens cruise ships docking daily. St. Thomas has a great international airport (with a nearby seaplane base ), plenty of duty free shops, a good place for provisioning your boat and an efficient ferry boat schedule to/from St. John and Tortola. Outside these features, I would not want to spend my vacation there. Mauritz
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Old 09-05-2013, 20:58   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djtopper View Post

Right, that's my thinking. Basically that's the question I'm trying to answer here. St. Thomas is USVI, no? It seems like one can fly in, get on your boat, and sail in pretty much the same waters.

But it also sounds like the only difference is really taking that extra "fast ferry" to Tortola.

I'm not sure how the tax structure helps much. Are charters heavily taxed? Or are you referring to other things like shopping, dining, and entertainment?

Or ... even still ... are you referring to corporate taxes? IE., is it cheaper to base a charter company out of the BVI instead of the USVI?
Answering your post in order.
Yes St Thomas, St John and St Croix are the USVI. Depending which charter company you choose, yes you can fly into St Thomas and be on your boat in as little as ten minutes after grabbing your luggage at the airport. Yes after getting on a charter boat in the USVI you can sail in the same waters as going to the BVI.

Yes I was referring to taxes for the owner of the charter vessel. There is no difference for the charter guest. Because there are advantages for boat owners to have their vessel based in the BVI, it has become a mecca for chartering. Sorry for the confusion.
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Old 09-05-2013, 21:20   #13
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"St. Thomas - USVI is less crowded?" Since when? It is the mayhem capital of the Caribbean, with dozens cruise ships docking daily. St. Thomas has a great international airport (with a nearby seaplane base ), plenty of duty free shops, a good place for provisioning your boat and an efficient ferry boat schedule to/from St. John and Tortola. Outside these features, I would not want to spend my vacation there. Mauritz
Where did anybody say St Thomas is less crowded? Less crowded than where? It seems you are describing Long Bay. Why would anybody want to spend their vacation in Road Harbour if you are trying to compare busy ports? I can't figure out what your point is. I've spent some fantastic nights in Magan's Bay, Honeymoon Bay and Christmas Cove amongst others.

St John (USVI) is less crowded than St Thomas and very laid back. Most of the island is a national park and not developed. The moorings are half the price of the BVI. The beaches are relatively pristine. If one is looking for places to eat ashore and party at night, go to the BVI.
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Old 09-05-2013, 21:27   #14
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Re: BVI vs USVI?

You can now fly to San Juan on Southwest and then fly to Tortola for $150 if you get deals. You can get to San Juan for about $350 round trip. So you save about $200 on your airfare.
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Old 09-05-2013, 22:44   #15
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Re: BVI vs USVI?

oh my god - you guys are killing me. There is no advantage to chartering from a USVI based company in St. Thomas vs a Tortola charter company. The USVI companies out of Frenchtown allow you to arrive on St. Thomas and be in your boat the same early afternoon. In Tortola you arrive much later in the day.

In tortola, you are already in the BVI so any BVI destinations do not require that you check into BVI customs. On the other hand, if you want to go to St. John, you need to check into USVI. Also, places like culebra are out of the question from the BVI unless you are on a multi-week charter.

Each location has their on pros-and-cons and should be based on their own merits.
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