Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 23-06-2009, 18:43   #1
Registered User
 
Immanuel's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: eastern N. Carolina
Boat: 10m Catalac, Immanuel
Posts: 30
Bound for St. Thomas

Hello fellow cruisers,
My wife and I are flying down to STT for vacation & recon on cruising possibilities in the USVI & BVI. We have never been, so we are open to suggestions such as best anchoring spots, must see, etc, etc. We own a 10m Catalac and have visions of going there one day [ hopefully sooner than later ] for long term stays. I do have a recent cruising guide for the Virgins, but they are just names at a place I have never seen. Of course I am taking the guide with me on the trip. We realize that it's best to go way south during hurricane season, but I also wonder if there are any good hurricane holes so as to avoid that. What do the locals & charters do? Anyone have knowledge on this?
We are currently planning at least a years sabbatical for fall of 2010. We would be starting out from Oriental, NC. We thought we'd head down ICW working our way to Florida & Keys, Tortugas for winter months. We chose this time of the year based on our present insurance not letting us be south of Morehead City until November thru end of June.
I would imagine a gulf stream crossing is not realistic until at least May, unless a good southerly weather window appears during February / March. I'm sure a lot of you have done similar trips, so hearing of some of your experiances would be great! Do you dare crossing over to Bahamas during winter months?
I enjoy reading this forum and I have read a few books and cruising guides on this subject. I have also checked out some of the websites I have seen posted here on the forum. Look forward to your responses.
__________________

__________________
Immanuel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 23-06-2009, 21:12   #2
Senior Cruiser
 
osirissail's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: A real life Zombie from FL
Boat: Gulfstar 53 - Osiris
Posts: 5,416
Images: 2
Assuming that your boat is "ocean ready" and you are experienced in big waves and strong winds - it takes from one to three months to get from Florida to the USVI. The normal route is from Miami to Bahamas (Grand Banks) to the Exumas to Mayaguana to Turks & Caicos to Luperon, Dominican Republic to Samana to Mayaguez/Boqueron, Puerto Rico then along the south shore to Salinas and finally east and up into the Virgin Islands. Weather is the big limiting factor along with the speed that your boat can motor into the wind. After the Exumas you will be going dead to weather unless you plan the weather windows carefully. Some of the most nasty water is from T&C to Luperon and from Luperon to Puerto Rico and along the south shore of Puerto Rico. Get the Gentlemen's Guide South by VanSant and memorize it.
The main time frame is in March/April to head south.
When you get to the Virgins/eastern Puerto Rico you will need to have a Hurricane haul-out plan. The main problem is that all the hurricane proof-boatyards are totally booked by February so you better plan ahead.
__________________

__________________
osirissail is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-06-2009, 13:51   #3
Registered User
 
Reality Check's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: West Indies, Now live aboard as cruiser/ voyager often with guest/ friends
Boat: 36' Bene
Posts: 585
Send a message via ICQ to Reality Check
Basically you will probably not find "nice" Cruising possibilities on St. Thomas... or most people including myself feel that way.

You do have some near by locations such as St. James's Christmas Cove and most of St. John which is mostly a National Park with moorings and interesting snorkeling and hiking trails.

In the BVI you will find almost anything you want in cruising locations, from marina type accommodations to more "remote" anchorages on a number of islands. The time of year will determine which will be better. The Northern Swells of the winter season make some locations uncomfortable to somewhat risky.

In the BVI you have lots of locations on Yost Van Dyke... I like most of them but prefer the more Eastern anchorages. Anegada is an interesting spot as it is the only coral island in the group... all the rest are of volcano origin and totally different. The main islands of Tortola and Virgin Gorda have a large number of locations of all types and with different things to offer depending on what your looking for. Tortola is you main location to re-provision/ resupply. Other smaller but interesting islands include must see locations such as Norman Island (Treasure Island of the book) which has several great locations and trails that can be walked with little difficulty to more difficult treks. Peter Island has several resorts and anchorages as does Cooper Island. The smaller islands have anchorages that are great day spots but are often not intended for night time use particularly in some seasons and weather conditions.

Most navigation can be done by sight as your normally in view of several islands at any time and with a Chart it isn't difficult to locate you position. Do understand that obstructions that would be well marked in the US are NOT in the USVI or BVI. Night time sailing in most areas near the islands is not recommended unless you really know the area.

While I have not gone the Thorny Path myself I know many who have... generally once and most say they would never do it again... It is not a fast or comfortable trip by anyones account. That is one reason I leave my boat on the hard in Tortola when I'm away for the hurricane season. If I ever bring it up to the US I'll probably never take it back down as I don't really care to intentionally cause myself any more discomfort than necessary. Having it ready in the islands is the best situation for me and many of my friends who do the same from all points in the US/ Canada and other locations.

You may find it difficult to actually recon most of the best sailing locations with out being on a boat similar to the one your going to bring down. Most of the BVI islands and some of the USVI's have minimal roads if any with the exception of St. Thomas, St, John and Tortola. While St. Croix is part of the USVI actually very few cruisers visit the location as it is set off well away from most of the others and has few outstanding anchorages with most only being acceptable in limited weather conditions as certain times of the year... it is a long way to go for the possibility of a marginal anchorage, but this next year. I'll probably go by as I head out of the Spanish Virgin Islands and try to avoid the beat into the wind by going East under St. Thomas which is often called Upchuck Alley in the winter season. Heading South East to St Croix then back to BVI should be easier beam reaches.

Once you are on location, you can spend years exploring the many coves and trails the islands have.
__________________
I prefer a sailboat to a motorboat, and it is my belief that boat sailing is a finer, more difficult, and sturdier art than running a motor.
--- Jack London
Reality Check is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-06-2009, 14:05   #4
Senior Cruiser
 
Vasco's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Toronto
Boat: CS36Merlin, "La Belle Aurore" Ben393 "Breathless"
Posts: 7,138
Quote:
Originally Posted by Immanuel View Post
H
I would imagine a gulf stream crossing is not realistic until at least May, unless a good southerly weather window appears during February / March. I'm sure a lot of you have done similar trips, so hearing of some of your experiances would be great! Do you dare crossing over to Bahamas during winter months?
.
Hundreds of snowbirds cross to the Bahamas during the winter months. The busiest time is December and early January We usually cross around Christmas time. Just hang around Miami for a window and then take off. The windows normally arise when a cold front is approaching and the wind starts clocking . Beetle out of Miami and if you're lucky you'll be in Nassau before it comes around to the north again. Rather than spend the time in the Keys shoot over to the Bahamas.
__________________
Rick I
Toronto in summer, Bahamas in winter.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/beneteau393/
Vasco is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-06-2009, 14:30   #5
Registered User

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Lakeland, FL
Posts: 1,296
Quote:
Originally Posted by Immanuel View Post
I would imagine a gulf stream crossing is not realistic until at least May, unless a good southerly weather window appears during February / March. I'm sure a lot of you have done similar trips, so hearing of some of your experiances would be great! Do you dare crossing over to Bahamas during winter months?
Actually, winter is probably the most popular time for cruisers to cross the Gulf Stream to the Bahamas. This allows you the pleasure of enjoying those islands until early spring when many cruisers start to head south. The only problem with a winter crossing is continental cold fronts. For the most part these are well forecast and can be avoided or even taken advantage of.

Do not miss St. John while in St. Thomas. It's only about 2 miles from Redhook, and you might be able to get a cheap day charter on a sailboat from there:

http://www.interlinesail.com/st_thom..._day_sails.htm

If you're going to spend a day in Charlotte Amalie, a good place for lunch is Amici's - outstanding brick oven thin crust sort of California style pizza. It's located in a very cool old alley, and the only sure way to find it is to go into the big A.H. Riise store on Main St. - I think the alley can be accessed through the perfume department, but someone in the store will help you.
__________________
"There's nothing . . . absolutely nothing . . . half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats."

Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows (River Rat to Mole)
slomotion is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 24-06-2009, 15:51   #6
Registered User
 
speciald@ocens.'s Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: On the boat - Carib, Chesapeake
Boat: 58 Taswell AS
Posts: 1,139
I've chartered in the past in the Us Virgins and I suggest that your first task should be to get out of the US Virgins and into the British VI. Don't go too far South to make the crossing or you will be beating into the wind the whole way. It is better to make the traditional passage of heading east until you pick up the trades in late Fall then bearing off to the South. The Caribbean 1500 leaves from Hampton Virginia on about the 3rd of November and will provide you with the safety of company on your way to the BVI's.
__________________
speciald@ocens. is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-06-2009, 10:02   #7
CF Adviser
 
TabbyCat's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: cruising in the Pacific
Boat: MaineCat Catamaran 41'
Posts: 334
Images: 1
Send a message via Skype™ to TabbyCat
This November we took the Beaufort to BVI route rather than the thorny path to the Caribbean. It took us 9 days in our catamaran. Beaufort is just that much farther south than Hampton that we were able to avoid some of the fronts that are so prevalent in the winter. But we still encountered some pretty big winds & seas.

But if you haven't seen the Bahamas before, I'd recommend doing the Florida-Bahamas - ICW - Maine loop at least once, to gain experience. Then plan a second offshore trip to the Caribbean.
__________________
Susan
IMIS - Int'l Marine Ins Svcs
http://www.MarineInsurance.CC
TabbyCat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-06-2009, 10:55   #8
sitting on the dock of the bay

Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 1,513
Images: 6
Send a message via Yahoo to gonesail
Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reality Check View Post
That is one reason I leave my boat on the hard in Tortola when I'm away for the hurricane season.
just curious: where do you leave it and is it very expensive? i saw something about 14.00 a foot per month ..
__________________
gonesail is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 25-06-2009, 15:01   #9
Senior Cruiser
 
osirissail's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: A real life Zombie from FL
Boat: Gulfstar 53 - Osiris
Posts: 5,416
Images: 2
The haul-out for hurricane yards are: Puerto Del Rey just south of Fajardo, P.R.; Independent Boat Yard, St Thomas; Gorda Marine on Virgin Gorda; St Croix Marine, St Croix; and Nanny Cay, 3 others in Road Town, Tortola. They all have websites were you can get the latest rates and contact information.
But generally speaking because of the thousands of boats in the area these haulouts are "booked solid" for "hurricane haulouts" by Feb or shortly thereafter. So make your plans early. Some yards require a 2 or 3 month non-refundable "pre-payment/deposit" to hold a space for you. Even the supposedly "in-water" hurricane holes fill up "instantly" should there be a threat imminent. So be sure to have all your extra anchors, chain, lots of line and chafe gear onboard and ready to use.
__________________
osirissail is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 26-06-2009, 09:45   #10
Registered User
 
Reality Check's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: West Indies, Now live aboard as cruiser/ voyager often with guest/ friends
Boat: 36' Bene
Posts: 585
Send a message via ICQ to Reality Check
I have used Nanny Cay for the past 3 years. The fees depend on several factors which change each year. Here is the Web link Nanny Cay Resort, Marina & Boatyard - British Virgin Islands - Home

FYI, this is actually the first year I have seen the Marina not totally full or booked out early in the year. In Nanny Cay, several of the charter operators have cut back on slips and storage requirements and an excess has developed. Due to the over supply of charter boats and the different tiers of owner compensation, many owners of the charter fleet boats have removed them from charter and I know of a half dozen or more that have returned the boats to the US until/ if the market in the islands changes.

Several in water storage locations are available for about $12 to $14 per foot for real boats (mono's) and everyone charges a premium for the trailer's on pontoons.... ;^P

Which you use will effect your insurance cost but they all generally have "approved" hurricane procedures.

I can say it is really nice when you can have your boat splashed after an On the Hard storage and sleep aboard the day you arrive by air/ ferry and be gone sailing the next AM.

Nanny Cay does have the best showers/ baths in the Caribbean!!
__________________
I prefer a sailboat to a motorboat, and it is my belief that boat sailing is a finer, more difficult, and sturdier art than running a motor.
--- Jack London
Reality Check is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-07-2009, 12:19   #11
Registered User
 
Mustang Sally's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2007
Boat: Lagoon 620
Posts: 122
Images: 11
Send a message via Skype™ to Mustang Sally
If you go via the Bahamas you likely won't make it. Hundreds of cruisers every year head to the caribbean via the bahamas and get stuck there. The bahamas are lovely but cold in the winter with cold fronts going through weekly. That is one option but after having done both, the offshore route from either the Chesapeake or Beaufort, we feel, is better, getting you right into the virgins in 9-11 days. Also consider the Caribbean 1500 rally from Norfolk to BVi in November. A great bunch of experienced offshore sailors that will teach you a lot. Check out their website carib1500.com
__________________
Capt Doug
Chef Wendy
Somewhere in the Med??
Mustang Sally is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-07-2009, 21:35   #12
Senior Cruiser
 
osirissail's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: A real life Zombie from FL
Boat: Gulfstar 53 - Osiris
Posts: 5,416
Images: 2
The fast path to the Virgins is known as taking "I-66". You head east to southeast depending upon how far up the east coast you start keeping in the wind patterns of south to north winds until you are at about W066 degrees longitude and then hang a right and head south to the Virgins/Puerto Rico. Once you pass below the Tropic of Cancer you enter the normal easterlies of the Trade Winds and this route keeps those winds on your beam.
However, depending where you start you can spend a week to two weeks out in the ocean and can normally bet on getting beaten up in a squall or storm at least once. That is why the primary route is the "Thorny Path" through the Bahamas and so on to Puerto Rico for those who are not into open ocean sailing. This route provides plenty of places to "hunker down" until the weather passes and you get favorable conditions again. It is the "hunkering down" that eats up the extra time compared to the I-66 route. But the places where you stop are fun and there is plenty to do while waiting.
There are some seriously fun places in the Bahamas and Georgetown, Exumas has gotten the nickname "chicken harbor" as a lot of southbounders get there and never venture further east. Winter in the Bahamas is nice but weather fronts can bring some blustery and cold winds for weeks before you get a good weather window for heading south. I have noticed over the years that for every batch of new arrivals to Georgetown only about 25% ever proceed further east and even some of those turn around before they get to Luperon. You really need to have a seaworthy boat in good condition for ocean sailing and plenty of experience and confidence in yourself before heading further east and the patience to wait for a spot of good weather.
__________________
osirissail is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-07-2009, 21:39   #13
Registered User
 
Mustang Sally's Avatar

Join Date: Aug 2007
Boat: Lagoon 620
Posts: 122
Images: 11
Send a message via Skype™ to Mustang Sally
9 day passage

We did it in 9 days from Hampton Va to the BVI with the Caribbean 1500 in our Catalina 42. It was a great passage and excellent experience. before that we had never even made an overnight sail.
__________________
Capt Doug
Chef Wendy
Somewhere in the Med??
Mustang Sally is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 08-07-2009, 12:46   #14
Registered User

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Lakeland, FL
Posts: 1,296
Quote:
Originally Posted by osirissail View Post
There are some seriously fun places in the Bahamas and Georgetown, Exumas has gotten the nickname "chicken harbor" as a lot of southbounders get there and never venture further east. Winter in the Bahamas is nice but weather fronts can bring some blustery and cold winds for weeks before you get a good weather window for heading south. I have noticed over the years that for every batch of new arrivals to Georgetown only about 25% ever proceed further east and even some of those turn around before they get to Luperon.
This was certainly true about 10 years ago when we were there. However, I think part of the reason is that a lot of people who planned to move on to the Caribbean simply fell in love with the Bahamas and decided to stay for awhile.

We sailed all the way to South America and back in a very non-bluewater Hunter 34. The run from T&C to Luperon was by far our longest passage - 23 hrs. We didn't do watches; we both just sat/dozed in the cockpit waiting to fall off the edge of the earth. In the end, except for running through some sea debris, the passage was uneventful and exhausting. After the Mona it's easy, but as you say the key is patience. You wait for weather; work your way east; and even if you get a nasty weather surprise, safe habor is usually no more than a couple hours away.
__________________

__________________
"There's nothing . . . absolutely nothing . . . half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats."

Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows (River Rat to Mole)
slomotion is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Abacos Bound barqueinc Atlantic & the Caribbean 26 30-01-2009 11:47
Australia-Bound KodiakMike Meets & Greets 11 17-12-2007 10:10
Bahamas Bound Vasco Cruising News & Events 5 16-11-2007 04:55
Gasparillo Bound HattmanDo Meets & Greets 1 30-10-2007 10:43
Exuma bound we are...Anybody else going that way? CSY Man Atlantic & the Caribbean 0 12-05-2007 22:06



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 23:23.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.