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Old 08-10-2016, 03:28   #1
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BVI trip feedback

Finally getting around to posting some notes from our BVI trip. These are just some misc notes, but I would have liked to have had them before my trip. Hopefully this will help others planning their trip...

We chartered a power cat from Moorings. Mixed review for the Moorings staff to start out trip, but mostly negative. We arrived and spent the night on the boat the first night. Arrived late and I had to go straight to the chart briefing meeting. My wife went to the boat with our luggage. I didn't need the chart briefing as I've chartered with them before in BVI's, but it is required now. The briefing was excellent. Fellow made it casual and fun, and did a great job of answering all questions.

It was, however, downhill from there. After the meeting, my wife informed me the boat had a terrible smell from the holding tank. We had two 17 y.o.'s with us, and they didn't want to spend the night on the boat. Wife already had someone come check on the boat, and they had replaced the smell with a strong chemical smell. After supper, we decided to stay on the boat as the smell was dissipating. What I was most unhappy about was the attitude of the front desk person. No real interest in the problem at all. I also tried to talk with a lady at the desk, but her accent was so strong I had real trouble understanding her.

We used Bobby's Market for groceries, and they did great. Highly recc. them. My wife decided last minute to get groceries delivered instead of going the next morning for groceries. Bobby's was more than accommodating and the groceries were on the boat when we got there.

The boat orientation guy was pretty good. No problems there, although there is never any encouragement to check the boat for problems. It's more just showing you details of running that particular boat. As to problems with the boat, the salon door wouldn't stay shut without locking it. That was an annoyance all week long. The other negative for me was Raymarine chartplotter and autopilot. I just don't like Ray chartplotters and it took me a couple of days to get the hang of it. Fortunately I took Navionics on my tablet, so I used that all week and turned the Ray on just for a backup. It was far easier to use the tablet than the Ray chartplotter. I know you don't really need electronics in BVI's, but running a vessel in foreign waters, it's really comforting to have them. I would have been very unhappy had I not taken the tablet. The Ray autopilot would hold course for awhile, then veer off 30-40d. Useable but you had to keep an eye on it. That said, I think most of the charter boats down there use Raymarine. No idea why. No DVD onboard as advertised. No deck key for the fuel tank fill (but fortunately two screwdrivers). Other than those two small things, the electronics brand and the salon door, the boat did great.

A couple more negatives...
*the waitresses at most restaurants just do not seem to care. I know it's island time. I'm used to the slow service. But it really is the attitude that bugs me. You would think with tourism being the lifeblood of the BVI's that people would try to be warm and welcoming. Maybe it was because it was the end of the season.
*Taxi from Moorings to Pussers for supper was $50 for 4 people. What is that, two miles.
*Meals are expensive. Even pizza and 4 waters for lunch was $90. We always say we're going to eat on the boat or at the place, and we always end up going out. The eating out makes it an expensive trip. Part of the experience, I guess.
*I couldn't fish. The new fishing regulations BVI's passed earlier this year will keep me from ever going back. Which is really disappointing, as the BVI's are our favorite destination. We got married down there and have been back often. But if I can't fish, I'm not going. Simple as that. If we hadn't already had this trip planned with friends, I would have changed destinations this time when I learned about the new regs.

*the girl at Pussers store at Leverick Bay
*Darren at Foxy's Taboo
*The dock guy at Bitter End
*native lady on the ferry

For me, the attitude of the people I interact with have a huge impact on my opinion of the trip. More of them should take lessons from the four above.

I was concerned about going in August (we were there something like 6-13th), both heat/humidity and being too close to hurricane season. But we had beautiful weather all week long. The only time we had anything bad at all was the afternoon breeze kicked up going from White Bay to Cane Garden Bay. No big deal but I did slow down and tack some to give the ladies a more comfortable ride. Met some really nice folks from Alabama at White Bay, and I waited too late to get to my destination that day.

I suppose we'll be looking for another destination now, due to the fishing regulations. Suggestions??

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Old 08-10-2016, 05:33   #2
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Re: BVI trip feedback

Interesting, my wife and I chartered for the first time with Vacances sous voiles out of Nanny Key and had a great time! A bit further from the airport but our taxi to supply in Road Town was only $35 one way. Bonus, we got to see more of the island. Our trip back to the airport at the end of our vacation we asked the driver to take us off the main road so we could see more of the interior. Told him when we needed to be at the airport and we had a local tour guide who was only too happy to oblige. We saw some great views and he was happy to stop and let my wife capture the moment.

As for VSV, they were great! Co-located with the hotel it was a peaceful area and a 2 minute walk to the boat the next day. It's a smaller operation so we received a personal chart brief and then went over the boat. The boat was in great shape and when we did have questions they left us with a cell phone and their number. One evening we had an issue with the stove and Jules actually sailed over from the marina to assist.

I will agree that some locals were friendlier than others. We discussed this with a waitress in Cane Garden Bay and she agreed that some of the islands are friendlier than others in general. So next time we vote with our feet and avoid those locales. As you mentioned, plenty of great places to go.

We sailed during early May and the weather couldn't have been better. For those of you who haven't been I encourage you to go. It isn't that expensive, especially if you share expenses with another couple as we did. I've taken the kids to Disney for a week and this was more enjoyable and less expensive.

This weekend is the Annapolis boat show. VSV is there and we'll be stopping in to say hello and thank them again. Couldn't recommend them highly enough.



PS. Just to clarify, this isn't an ad for VSV. Just a satisfied customer.

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Old 08-10-2016, 05:34   #3
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Re: BVI trip feedback

So basically once you get past your dislike of the expensive restaurants you already know about and choose to eat at instead of eating aboard and the taxi expense to get there, your trip was excellent other than not fishing?? So why did you not buy a fishing permit from Moorings before you left out?? Then your trip would have been completely excellent No??

Try St . Maarten next time if you don't want fishing regulations.. You will however be navigating in open water instead of Sir Francis Drake Channel which we call "The Pond" being surrounded by islands like it is..
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Old 08-10-2016, 06:29   #4
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Re: BVI trip feedback

Of all the islands I have been to in the Caribbean, and I have been to most, the only place I have encountered a seriously bad attitude is in the BVI. The locals in BVI are downright rude and it is pervasive from top to bottom in every contact. There are exceptions but not many. After a while the overall feeling is that the people you come into contact with do not want you there. I think it starts at the top where the government is unbelievably corrupt and encourages an attitude of prejudice toward the visitors in order to deflect their dishonesty.
For a country who's only industry is tourism this attitude does not work. I would not recommend anyone spend their hard earned money in a country that works so hard to make you feel unwelcome, there are a lot of places in the Caribbean where you can go and be welcomed with open arms and receive the same or better surroundings. Avoid the BVI's.
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Old 08-10-2016, 06:49   #5
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Re: BVI trip feedback

I have to agree with rourkeh's assessment of the overall attitude of BVI folks to tourist. We have been back so much because we got married there, and it is a beautiful place and as noted, very easy place to boat in well protected waters. Although I did learn from experience that there are plenty of days when you should not take a 25' open center console across the channel. Especially not on the very first day after being married! It is really hard to grasp how a country with tourism as far and away their main income can have the attitude that so many of them have. They certainly don't make you feel welcome. And with every new regulation they pass, even more so. We were married at Biras Creek. We were allowed to walk the grounds this last trip and it was sad. Yet another reason to go elsewhere next trip.

You can't buy a fishing permit if you're on a Moorings boat. Or at least that is what I was told. I don't think any of the charter fleet has chosen to get the fishing permit for the vessel. The boat has to be registered as a 'fishing vessel' and the permit apparently is quite expensive. Without the boat being registered, there is no option for the person on the boat to get a fishing permit. I even asked about renting a kayak and getting a permit to fish from that. No go.

What's the difference in the average size of the seas between St Maarten and BVI's? I am definitely ready to try another spot. I will miss North Sound though.
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Old 08-10-2016, 14:18   #6
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Re: BVI trip feedback

Tourism is not their main bread and butter. Off shore banking is. Off shore banking is being somewhat threatened now. The government is trying to create revenue from multiple sources. Fishing and tourism are sources of income and they've made changes to policies about both. I'm not arguing that the new policies are good or bad , I'm just stating the fact that they are changing.

It could be you encountered tired cranky people at the end of the season. When I was there almost all people I encountered were friendly and pleasant. I often think to myself, while in my own town in America, how a tourist might view us. Not a hello, not a good day, not a smile or a wave between strangers, cut off in traffic, not allowed into the traffic lane, etc. Do you experience unending kindness in your town? I think they do quite well compared to my town.
Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. - Eckhart Tolle
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Old 08-10-2016, 14:52   #7
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Re: BVI trip feedback

Suggestions for all charterers:

1) Book accomodation on island the night before your charter. You will bounce out of bed and be first in line for your boat. Yay! You won't waste your precious first day.

2) 2 mile taxi ride means you wasted a beautiful walk through town. I doubt it is 2 miles, anyway. Apart from that, my belief the world over is that Taxis are only for Rich Tourists. If you really think you are rich then ask the price BEFORE you get in! That rich feeling will evaporate.

3) re fishing. Go pillage the natural resources of your own country.

4 Go to St Maarten
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Old 08-10-2016, 15:09   #8
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Re: BVI trip feedback

Its amazing how much impact just a few members of a service economy can have on a visitors experience. Believe it or not, the BVI is working hard at improving their service quality. They are addressing person-to-person interactions, running a quality culinary school, and so forth.

The biggest thing that is holding them back is that they make it so difficult for non-Belongers to open and manage their own businesses, which would be competition. Some get away with it by buying existing businesses but other businesses MUST be at least partially owned by a Belonger or you simply get shuffled to the bottom of the business license application pile.

Really, the only way things get better is if you vote with your wallets. Before you get in that cab, negotiate the price of the cab. Call ahead of time and price out options for taxi fares. Ask the front desk not only to hail you a cab but to hail you a cheap cab. Don't eat out... and so forth.

I'm glad to hear you had a least a few good experiences with locals and hope you choose to return to the BVI.
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Old 08-10-2016, 16:34   #9
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Re: BVI trip feedback

I live in eastern NC. Southern hospitality. Maybe not unending kindness, but yeah, folks are friendly here.

We made the decision to stay on the boat over a hotel room. We've tried it both ways in the past. One of our group (a non-boater) particularly wanted to stay on the boat, so we went with that.

I'd walk during the day, but not at night.

I do pillage my own country's natural resources. Quite efficiently, thanks. But when I go to the Carribean and spend my money, I expect to be able to pillage theirs as well. Actually I don't pillage either. I catch and release. Maybe keep one for supper on occasion.

I'm glad to hear they are working to improve their client interactions. Maybe they were tired due to end of season. But I've been there at various times, and seen similar actions. They simply don't seem to appreciate people bringing revenue to them, and they do treat you as an outsider. You are. But you don't expect a primary tourism area such as the BVI's to treat tourist that way. You'd expect them to welcome you with open arms.
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Old 10-10-2016, 06:29   #10
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Re: BVI trip feedback

Gadagirl is right. The economy of the BVI is driven by offshore banking more so than tourism. Maybe hard to believe when you see tourists everywhere, but it is true.

That, of course, does not justify poor treatment of tourists, or poor service in a restaurant. Not by any means. I'm just saying that when you think to yourself, "the whole BVI is all about tourism," you are mistaken. It is not.
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Old 10-10-2016, 07:08   #11
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Re: BVI trip feedback

Yes, you are correct. But it's probably close. I would guess 60%/40%. If you take away a substantial portion of 40% of a country's income, I think they would feel it. And they seem to be doing everything they can to get rid of that 40%.

Maybe they don't really need those tourist dollars.
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Old 10-10-2016, 08:00   #12
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Re: BVI trip feedback

And offshore banking is taking a much lower role in GDP. It used to be much higher but without any reason to invest there vs. any other offshore... money hiders are looking elsewhere!

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Old 10-10-2016, 08:09   #13
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Re: BVI trip feedback

So I just got back from a charter out of the BVI through sunsail last week. (38' Monohull) I'll start by saying I cannot disagree with anything you are saying necessarily, but when I do anything associated with boating I sort of let a lot of little stuff go that I normally would let bother me. Yes there were some items not perfect with the boat, yes the staff and the people on the island were a tad less helpful than I would hope, but overall it was a fantastic experience.

I would say that if you are there to actually sail vs. party September (yep smack dab in the heart of hurricane season) is the time to go. The weather was glorious and we had nearly 20 knots winds (thank you Matthew) the entire time. One day we had to stay in Cane Garden bay because of 12' seas and 40kt gusts...that was fun actually.

Yes a bunch of the places are closed down including the infamous Willy T's, but we had our pic of the mooring field, there were plenty of places open and the people at those places were great and appreciative. I think during season the BVI's are super touristy because it is such easy sailing. I really enjoyed it because the place is so beautiful and only seeing maybe 1 boat on your sail from Peter Island to the North Sound with a stop at the baths is awesome.

We walked 3 times into town from the marina...never felt threatened or unsafe, maybe I am nave though. The taxi from the marina to the west end was $30 each way. Food is expensive, but I expect that since everything has to be imported in, but we cooked a little more than we went out. All in all I think it is a great spot to get your feet wet in the boating lifestyle, but there are most likely much better places to visit and see off the beaten path once you know what the hell you are doing (which I admittedly do not...yet). Added bonus is its literally less than half the price to charter that time of year.

Next on the sailing agenda...St. Maarten or Belize.
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Old 10-10-2016, 09:39   #14
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Re: BVI trip feedback

Glad you had a good trip. We had a wonderful time as well. Overall another great experience. It is a beautiful place, and we do still love it there. I liked late season as well. It was nice to know you didn't have to worry about picking up a ball since the crowds were thinned out (we only had trouble at Trellis Bay due to all the liveaboards having most of the mooring balls). Even though dropping an anchor is easy enough. However, everything is relative...

Are there other islands where you feel the folks are more friendly and appreciative of your being there? That have charters available, along with the beauty and variety of places to visit? We'll do some research and find out next trip. Appreciate the recc. of St. Maarten. No Belize for me though.

Problem with going during hurricane season is the unknown. You would not have been so happy if Matthew had been located near BVI's at the time you went. Cancelling all of your plans and using that travel insurance you hopefully got would be a pain. And there are several of the popular stops that are closed down. We missed supper at the Last Resort due to their being closed already. And many more were closing within the two weeks after we were there. I would not have gone had it been just one week later.

We're not afraid to walk. Just not at night in Road Town. Plus it was hot and muggy that particular night. Not a good night for a walk regardless.

If the BVI's are losing ground in financial services income, then they had better reconsider how they are handling torurism.
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Old 10-10-2016, 10:05   #15
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Re: BVI trip feedback

BVI as a Tax Haven

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