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Old 09-01-2015, 07:56   #1
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Abaco vs BVIs

Hi everyone. I’m new to the forum and would need some help for a very difficult decision I need to make! I have read a few threads on Abaco vs BVI chartering but still can’t make up my mind on which one to choose. Main reason being that we are quite a diverse group of people (including kids) with different needs/sailing experience.

We are organising a family reunion later this year (mid October to mid November period, most likely 1st week of November) and plan to charter a catamaran with Moorings/Dream Yacht Charters in either the Abacos or BVIs. Transportation wise, both options require the same amount of travel time (some people are coming from NYC, some from MIA – BVIs are slightly further away than Abacos but still ok - and one from the UK). 6 adults, one toddler and one 10-month old baby. Mother and baby will stay at resort for 3-4 days then grandparents will take care of baby and mother comes onboard! Therefore we need an itinerary that includes a pit-stop in Tortola if we opt for BVIs or Treasure cay if we opt for Abaco. I have already chartered in the BVIs twice and was considering Abacos to see something new. Everybody else has never been to either BVIs or Abacos.

Ideally we would like the following:

1) Easy navigation (Abacos seems more challenging due to water depht?)
2) Possibility to use mooring balls at least 4 nights out of 7
3) Bars/restaurants onshore (not just eating onboard) we want to see some form of life. We’re not party people, just like the drink in the evening and having something to do (we don’t want to feel stuck in the boat)
4) Itinerary that can be changed ad-hoc (with flexibility to have people disembark/embark)
5) Warm water! (we’re all southern Europeans and don’t tolerate cold!)
6) Some people but not too many people (not sure how BVIs are in November,
7) 2 adults are sailors, everyone else has never sailed before (but they have been on boats).
8) Minimise chances of people freaking out due to strong winds, seas etc

I originally opted for Abacos, mainly to see something new but slowly realised that weather could be an issue (it’s less “Caribbean” than BVIs) and reading forum threads I got the impression that navigation requires a bit more of effort, something that not all people on the boat will tolerate for 7 days. But I might be wrong, so hopefully people with more experience will provide some insightful feedback.

Thank you
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Old 09-01-2015, 09:02   #2
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Re: Abaco vs BVIs

In your case I would choose the Abacos. Go in late spring or early summer.
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Old 09-01-2015, 10:19   #3
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Re: Abaco vs BVIs

One consideration for both is that mid-October to mid-November is still during hurricane season...while November is getting pretty late for a hurricane, October can still be an active month for hurricanes...
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Old 09-01-2015, 10:20   #4
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Re: Abaco vs BVIs

Now that I think about it more...some places (restaurants, etc) in the BVI may close down during the height of hurricane season...by November I would expect they would begin opening back up...
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Old 09-01-2015, 10:24   #5
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Re: Abaco vs BVIs

Hi Veneziano - I'll give this a try. I did my first charter in the Virgins in 1980 and subsequently have been there numerous times on additional charters and in my own boat. I have cruised the Bahamas two full winter seasons on my own boat, including spending about two months in the Abacos in the spring of 2013. I never chartered in the Abacos.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Veneziano View Post
[FONT="Arial"]
1) Easy navigation (Abacos seems more challenging due to water depht?)
As in the rest of the Bahamas, the Abacos has areas where you can get into some really skinny water and there's more of a tidal range than in the Virgins. But IMHO this isn't a big deal as far as easy nav is concerned. The Sea of Abaco is well charted and shallow spots easily seen.

Quote:
2) Possibility to use mooring balls at least 4 nights out of 7
Now here's a difference. Not as many as in the BVI, but there are some. The entire Hopetown harbor is covered with moorings and when we were there there were very few available (although we had no interest in using any). The only moorings we used in the Abacos were in Little Harbor, at the south end of the Sea. Unlike the BVI, all the Abacos moorings are managed by a local entity at that specific location, it seemed to me. Some of them didn;t look very healthy - but that's the case in the BVI as well, although I think the BVI balls are generally in better shape.

Quote:
3) Bars/restaurants onshore (not just eating onboard) we want to see some form of life. We’re not party people, just like the drink in the evening and having something to do (we don’t want to feel stuck in the boat)
You'll find plenty in the Abacos.

Quote:
4) Itinerary that can be changed ad-hoc (with flexibility to have people disembark/embark)
Shouldn't be a problem depending on what you mean. You might have to elaborate a bit here.

Quote:
5) Warm water! (we’re all southern Europeans and don’t tolerate cold!)
Not a problem in Oct/Nov.

Quote:
6) Some people but not too many people (not sure how BVIs are in November,
The BVIs are much less crowded in Nov vs the deep winter months. Oct even less so, but it's still very much storm season and this is a crap shoot. Same can be said for the Bahamas, of course. I cannot comment on the crowds in the Abacos in this time frame.

Quote:
7) 2 adults are sailors, everyone else has never sailed before (but they have been on boats).
No difference, really. Depending on the cold front cycles, the winds in the Abacos will be more variable than the Virgins that time of year notwithstanding any storms.

Quote:
8) Minimise chances of people freaking out due to strong winds, seas etc
See above. Seas are not an issue whatsoever in the Sea of Abacos assuming you don't go out into the ocean. To do so means you have to negotiate one of the numerous cuts which can be very hazardous in the wrong conditions. The charter company may not let you do this anyway. To get to Green Turtle Cay, which is a popular spot, you have to go out and then back in through "The Whale" which can be easy or "don't even think of trying this".

The weather is a crap shoot in either location, but if I had to choose one over the other (Bahamas vs Virgins) in Oct/Nov, I think I'd choose the Virgins. By November the winter cold fronts off the North American continent are getting cranked up and the Abacos usually get the brunt of all of them. You might get lucky, but the Abacos are no place to be by mid Dec through Feb, IMHO.

You'll have a good time in either place. Personally, I'll recommend the Virgins. If your guests/family have never been to either, the Virgins are more drammatic geographically. The Bahamas have their own kind of beauty and the Bahamians are delightful people. Away from the big population centers, crime in the Bahamas is practically non-existent, but you might get hugged to death....

2 Hulls Dave
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Old 09-01-2015, 11:35   #6
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Re: Abaco vs BVIs

Sounds like a lot of logistics for that large group of people, all the best!
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Old 19-01-2015, 19:29   #7
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Re: Abaco vs BVIs

Just wondering how you are doing with your planning?
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