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Old 19-07-2010, 01:11   #1
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After Some Friendly Advice, Please - Jan 2011 Caribbean Charter

Coming in from Australia - so no idea, all advice welcome

Going to be in Florida in early Jan (you guessed it, kids choice DW etc) but thought it would be a nice contrast to do a BB charter for a week afterwards (get some sanity back)

Was thinking of Bahamas (assumed it was close, easy to get to) but a little concerned it will be a bit cold/windy. Read some of the other posts and did some searching on BVI, that seems nice also and maybe a bit warmer but a bit further away.

One slight issue (sorry if I offend), I am into power boats - have one and have chartered before. So, winds are not that much of a concern, in fact - less the better. Seems to be a better range in Bahamas, ideally after a 40ft cat.

Really just after a warm and relaxing holiday - great beaches, reefs and the occasional bar/restaurant - prefer less people over more.

So many choices in this part of the world - love to hear your thoughts

Thanks

Greg
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Old 19-07-2010, 01:17   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Bader View Post
Coming in from Australia -


One slight issue (sorry if I offend), I am into power boats -

String him up !!

Oh, and welcome to the forum. Good luck and have fun.
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Old 19-07-2010, 02:28   #3
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The BVI is a good destination for powerboats as well - charter availability is excellent, weather is great, everything is reachable with just a couple of hours motoring. You can fly to St. Thomas from the US nonstop and then take a ferry over - flying into Tortola means a plane change in Puerto Rico and is more often than not much more expensive than going to STT. Not quite the Whitsundays but pretty nonetheless.
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Old 19-07-2010, 04:27   #4
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If you're going for just one week in January go to the BVI. Most of the charters in the Bahamas are out of the Abacos and you can get a cold windy week if a front's coming through. In the BVI it might be a bit windy in January but it'll be warm.
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Old 19-07-2010, 09:10   #5
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Even though the BVI has the Christmas winds at that time of the year, you will be motoring in the mostly protected waters of the Drake Channel. The Moorings has lots of power cats available. There are "only" 950 bare boats in the BVI. Mooring balls are at a premium. A power cat can get from place to place quicker and should not represent a problem. It does get cold though, probably all the way down to 72 degrees F. Some times the water is warmer. ENJOY IT.
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Old 19-07-2010, 19:40   #6
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we were surprised how cold an Abaco winter felt after many years in the Caribbean. you might find good weather for your week in the Bahamas but for a once in a lifetime trip I would suggest the BVIs. Enjoy.
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Old 19-07-2010, 20:56   #7
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Everyone - thanks for the replies

Seems like BVI is the go (now if I could just convince the family to drop Disney and make the cruise 2 weeks

cheers

Greg
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Old 19-07-2010, 21:10   #8
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Be careful of the Visa restrictions as a foreign visitor if you leave the USA and expect/want to re-enter again for a stay on the way home. Under the VWP arriving by airline be sure to get the maximum time upon entry. That maximum time date on your I-94 determines the cut off date for coming back into the USA from any neighboring countries.
- - If you plan to charter out of Miami to the Bahamas and back to Florida - that is a No-No under a VWP entry. You must have a B1/B2 visa to exit by private recreational vessel and re-enter again.
- - You can fly to the U.S.Virgin Islands and charter there so long as you stay inside USA waters - USVI/Puerto Rico. You are still in the USA.
- - If you fly to the B.V.I. or some other island country you are now out of the USA and must follow the re-entry limitations - unless - you return home by airline flights that do not include a stay in the USA again.
- - It is rather complicated, check with the Travel.State.Gov website for the final word on what you can and cannot do as to leaving the USA and then re-entering again under the VWP. Under the B1/B2 Visa the situation is much easier if you want to exit/enter via a private recreational vessel.
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Old 19-07-2010, 21:24   #9
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Don't even think about the Bahamas. BVI DEFINATELY.
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Old 21-07-2010, 02:38   #10
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OsirisSail - if you originate a charter or sail in the USA as a visa-waiver participant. you can keep your original I-94 form and utilize that for re-entry via sailboat. This is used for USVI-BVI charters but is also applicable for a Florida-Bahamas trip. I had this procedure explained to me in detail by customs & immigration in Charlotte Amalie, USVI and have since heard from people who have utilized this method of being able to sail into the USA without having to go through the lengthy and expensive procedure of getting a US B1 tourist visa.
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Old 21-07-2010, 08:17   #11
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Depending upon the year it occurred and the place where your friends did it - the policies are highly variable. The official US State Department website dealing with departing and entering the USA via private recreational vessels (including aircraft) use of the VWP is invalid and you must have a B1/B2 visa. Here is a link to Noonsite's USA/Immigration page which states: "Important Notice:-
All nationalities, whether entering or leaving the US or doing both, by private yacht MUST obtain a visa in advance. Such visitors CANNOT enter the USA under the Visa Waiver Programme.
"
Noonsite: USA
There is also a link within the above link right to the US Immigration government's relevant website.
- - I suspect the officials in the USVI are not unreasonable and know that the "Virgins" are "different" as a practical matter. However, when a Swedish national who has a relatives in the USA wanted to sail with me from Florida to the Bahamas and back - she was told by the US Embassy and Consulate that she had to get a B1/B2 and could not use the VWP for anything other than entry/exit from scheduled airline international airports.
- - One of the "catches" in the whole system is the "total discretion" assigned to the individual US Immigration official at the port of entry. There are some very nice and reasonable ones and there some real A-H's - who luckily are in the minority but still there. In Florida, where you exit and re-enter makes a huge difference in treatment. I normally never check back in south of Cape Canaveral for that reason.
- - One of the major loopholes unique to the Virgins is the use of the commercial ferry to enter the US side and get stamped in then go back and get your boat. Maybe some folks in the Virgins can amplify on that as I have never needed such a thing but have heard stories of others doing it.
- - Here is a line from Noonsite's USVI entry information: "An alternative is for crew without visas to obtain a Visa Waiver by first taking the ferry from the BVI's to the USVI's. See article Making use of the US Visa Waiver for entry into the USVIs" Link: Noonsite: Making use of the US Visa Waiver for entry into the USVIís
- - Having been around on the this planet way too long, one thing I have learned is: "never say never" and its companion - "the only constant thing in this world is change." And I personally try to reduce as much as possible any "surprises" when dealing with bureaucrats.
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Old 21-07-2010, 10:04   #12
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Consider Miami and the Florida Keys,

Hello Greg,

Why complicate the matter, Fly into Miami, you are less than a day's drive to Orlando, 249 miles, enjoy the Magic Kingdom, etc.. and then charter out of Miami, any type, sailing cat would be best, boat,and the enjoy the Florida Keys. The weather is and will remain unpredictable, so enjoy what you get. Then depart to home relaxed; not spindled, bent and mutilated by VWP and unnamed agencies or laws.

Al from Miami, where the weather is great, most of the time.
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Old 21-07-2010, 11:33   #13
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I too have had some classic sailing weather on the SW coast of Florida and on to the Keys. Good fishing, great beaches, friendly times. I would make sure the oil is gone (or never arrived) Chartering in SW Florida is cheaper.
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Old 21-07-2010, 11:46   #14
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we were surprised how cold an Abaco winter felt after many years in the Caribbean. you might find good weather for your week in the Bahamas but for a once in a lifetime trip I would suggest the BVIs. Enjoy.
I second this. I love the Abacos, but they can be very cool in the winter compared to the BVIs, especially if you wish to swim.

I find that even though the Abacos, Bahamas are much closer to Florida, flights are often not much cheaper.

I personally much prefer cruising either the Bahamas or Virgin Islands to Florida.
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Old 22-07-2010, 12:30   #15
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As others suggested, BVI is great. I'll be there in October for our second annual trip now and can't wait.

If you can't get the family to drop disney for another week chartering, see if you can get them to drop it for 3-4 days at Universal Studios giving you more time to charter Depending on their age, Universal may be more fun and they just opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. If you stay onsite at one of the 3 Loews hotels, you get front of line access to nearly everything and can really ride everything and see all the shows in 2-3 days. It's far less stressful then Disney and for older kids/adults more fun in my opinion.

Either way, a week in Orlando followed by a week in BVI sounds awesome!
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