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Old 09-04-2015, 09:35   #16
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Re: BVI vs St. Maarten

Also - we have used Sunsail and Moorings. Both are fine. Never felt like part of a herd. Now go drink some Rum and jump off of the Willy T. Also - if possible plan it around the full moon.
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Old 09-04-2015, 09:46   #17
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Re: BVI vs St. Maarten

Wow, thanks for all the responses. Sounds like the BVIs are the place to start! I would still hope do some fishing if possible, are the USVIs close enough to fish for a day or two, or should I just expect that fishing won't happen without licenses sorted out well in advance?

I see a few of you have brought up the idea of chartering a cat. My main reason for wanting to charter a 50' mono is because I'm looking to buy one in 18 months or so, so I thought it would make sense to try one out for a week. Access to shallower places would be nice with the cat, though, for sure.

Also, do any of you know a bb captain in the BVIs who you really liked? Thanks again!
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Old 09-04-2015, 09:47   #18
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Re: BVI vs St. Maarten

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Also - if possible plan it around the full moon.
Ah! I hadn't even thought of this. What a great idea!
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Old 09-04-2015, 10:30   #19
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Re: BVI vs St. Maarten

Here's a good article regarding fishing the BVI ... http://bvibound.com/can-fish-sailboat-bvi/

If you decide to go the catamaran route, I can offer you a discounted rate on my boat ... See www.Sail-Orion.com. Captains are available through my charter mgmt company for as many days as you'd like.

Thanks - Mark


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Old 09-04-2015, 11:50   #20
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Re: BVI vs St. Maarten

Definitely BVIs. No need for a cat, all the anchorages are deep. Yes check out the full moon party but plan too be sailing toward the full moon if you want to avoid strong tides. We fished, didn't catch much. Didn't see anyone that looked like they cared if we had a permit. Best anchorage, little harbour peter island, best diving, the rhone wreck, can be snorkelled as well. Best snorkelling, the Indians, best sailing, pretty much everywhere was great sailing and nowhere more than 20M or so between.Best restaraunt food, cooper island resort.best land trip, scootering around virgin gorda and wandering to the. bubbly pool. Some lazy sails downwind under jib when it's just a few miles between anchorages and some nice longer upwind sails between sopers hole and virgin gorda.
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Old 09-04-2015, 12:38   #21
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Re: BVI vs St. Maarten

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I would still hope do some fishing if possible, are the USVIs close enough to fish for a day or two, or should I just expect that fishing won't happen without licenses sorted out well in advance?
The USVI is very close, and no license req'ments for fishing that I know of, except no fishing allowed in some areas adjacent to the Nat'l Park around St. John. All the fish are the same and you'll still have to get to deep water to catch something edible unless you're lucky. The downside of visiting St. John is that you have to do the customs/immigration thing which, while simple and inexpensive, takes time. If you're only chartering for a week, this may be too big an impact. That said, I prefer St. John and St. Croix over the BVI hands down. But I don't care any more for beach bars and would rather spend $15/night for a mooring than $25 or $30. Pick yer poison. Savvy cruisers know where to anchor for free in the BVIs and St. John, but these spots are where there is scant activity ashore (which for many is exactly what they prefer).

Of course, another option is to start your charter in the USVI, but if you have a priority for beach bars and hearty parties, it won't match the BVIs. JMHO

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Old 09-04-2015, 13:51   #22
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Re: BVI vs St. Maarten

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So, three of my friends and I are looking to charter a bareboat w/ a captain next January. We're trying to decide between Tortola and St. Maarten. Three of us are young (early 30s) professionals, the fourth is a famous musician. This will be a boys' trip, so we won't be interested in romantic anchorages and strolling the beach. We will want to fish, dive/snorkel, swim, hike, eat, drink, repeat. We're looking to charter a 50 ft monohull for 7 nights.

None of us has done a charter, and only one of us has been to the Caribbean, so we have a lot to learn about the entire process. For my sailing experience, I own a Catalina 22 that I've sailed a total of 60 days in fresh water lakes over the last three seasons. I'm hoping that after this charter, I will be able to captain a bareboat the next time we take a trip, but I accept that maybe two trips w/ a skipper would make sense, as well.

So, for those of you with experience, would you recommend BVI or St. Maarten? Cost is a lesser consideration, we want to maximize our time on the trip. Thanks!
Having spent 6 years cruising the Caribbean and visiting many times there is no question that the BVI's is your destination. Been in both for long periods; frankly the only reasons I dwelled in St. Maarten is due to being more economical and is a great Island for repairs/supplies due to no tax. Admittedly I'm not a diver; saw many that were in the BVI's~~
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Old 09-04-2015, 14:04   #23
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Re: BVI vs St. Maarten

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The USVI is very close, and no license req'ments for fishing that I know of, except no fishing allowed in some areas adjacent to the Nat'l Park around St. John. All the fish are the same and you'll still have to get to deep water to catch something edible unless you're lucky. The downside of visiting St. John is that you have to do the customs/immigration thing which, while simple and inexpensive, takes time. If you're only chartering for a week, this may be too big an impact. That said, I prefer St. John and St. Croix over the BVI hands down. But I don't care any more for beach bars and would rather spend $15/night for a mooring than $25 or $30. Pick yer poison. Savvy cruisers know where to anchor for free in the BVIs and St. John, but these spots are where there is scant activity ashore (which for many is exactly what they prefer).

Of course, another option is to start your charter in the USVI, but if you have a priority for beach bars and hearty parties, it won't match the BVIs. JMHO

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St Croix is fine, but I met many from St. John in the BVI's and Spanish Virgins that Left the USVI due to CRIME, even those born there~~Big consideration~~St. Thomas is Miami on Steroids. Why is it that by far the majority from the US mainland charter in the BVI's and their only visit to USVI is to fly in and out due to better flight access. Very low crime rate in the BVI's and yet Tortola is only a stones through from St. John~~ Go figure?
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Old 09-04-2015, 14:08   #24
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Re: BVI vs St. Maarten

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Originally Posted by 2Hulls View Post
The USVI is very close, and no license req'ments for fishing that I know of, except no fishing allowed in some areas adjacent to the Nat'l Park around St. John. All the fish are the same and you'll still have to get to deep water to catch something edible unless you're lucky. The downside of visiting St. John is that you have to do the customs/immigration thing which, while simple and inexpensive, takes time. If you're only chartering for a week, this may be too big an impact. That said, I prefer St. John and St. Croix over the BVI hands down. But I don't care any more for beach bars and would rather spend $15/night for a mooring than $25 or $30. Pick yer poison. Savvy cruisers know where to anchor for free in the BVIs and St. John, but these spots are where there is scant activity ashore (which for many is exactly what they prefer).

Of course, another option is to start your charter in the USVI, but if you have a priority for beach bars and hearty parties, it won't match the BVIs. JMHO

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There are only 5 USVI and 55 BVI's, no comparison~~
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Old 09-04-2015, 14:12   #25
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Re: BVI vs St. Maarten

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Also - we have used Sunsail and Moorings. Both are fine. Never felt like part of a herd. Now go drink some Rum and jump off of the Willy T. Also - if possible plan it around the full moon.
Moorings are owned and operated by Sunsail, so don't really matter.
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Old 09-04-2015, 14:26   #26
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Re: BVI vs St. Maarten

I agree with the others that for your purposes you'll be happier chartering in the BVI. I'd suggest St. Martin if you were staying longer term or needed to get/do some work on your boat.

With respect to USVI vs BVI (since others have mentioned it), for family cruising I would rate St. John ahead of the BVIs and the BVIs ahead of St. Thomas. St Thomas can be rather gritty. St. John is just delightful -- less crowded than the BVIs, mostly better restaurants, snorkeling even a bit better, feels more remote. If you want beach bars and party atmosphere, though, the BVI wins hands-down. Also, cruising the BVIs you get a chance to do a little sailing between anchorages (mooring fields). In St. John the bays are all so close you have to go out to sea and back to get your sailing fix.
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Old 09-04-2015, 14:39   #27
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Re: BVI vs St. Maarten

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St Croix is fine, but I met many from St. John in the BVI's and Spanish Virgins that Left the USVI due to CRIME, even those born there~~Big consideration~~St. Thomas is Miami on Steroids. Why is it that by far the majority from the US mainland charter in the BVI's and their only visit to USVI is to fly in and out due to better flight access. Very low crime rate in the BVI's and yet Tortola is only a stones through from St. John~~ Go figure?
Here's the answer. Take it to the bank. As background I did my first charter in the VIs in 1980. I've been back many, many times to the USVI, BVI, and SVI on both charters and on my own boat. I bet I've been in just about every anchorage/mooring field there is in all three island groups.

Note I didn't mention St. Thomas. And St. Croix, as a whole, isn't necessarily "fine". But these are topics not germane to the OP's query.

The reason "by far" that the majority from the US mainland charter in the BVI's and their only visit to USVI is to fly in and out due to better flight access is because the BVI did a better job at seizing the economic benefit of the bareboat charter market. The geography is the same, the sailing conditions are the same, the snorkeling/diving is the same, the fishing is the same. The differences these days is that the BVI is overcrowded and the gem of the USVIs, St. John and Buck Island (off St. Croix), are unappreciated by charterers because the don't know any better. Granted, St. Croix has no charter bases and getting there requires an offshore run not typically permitted by charter companies.

For charterers seeking beach bars and an easily achievable "tropical vacation setting" better than a cruise ship, the BVI is unmatched. Beach bars and mooring balls represent the vacation equivalent of the chicken and egg - which came first? - supported by the write ups in the popular cruising guides. Hint: to find a good free anchorage in the BVI, review the cruise guide given out with your charter boat. Then mark the areas that look like they ought to be fair anchorages (based on geography) NOT raved about in the guides. This will likely be a very good free and uncrowded anchorage.

Even St. Thomas has some very good anchorages that charterers never see, but savvy cruisers know to just stay away from the bad parts of St. Thomas because they did their research.

St. John is our all around favorite island in all of the E Carib - and we've been to them all. Others may disagree depending on their preferences. I am unaware of any crime on St. John that surpasses that of Tortola. And it's more civilized. There are public buses. Ride from Salt Pond Bay to Cruz Bay and back for US$2.00. Compare that to any taxi on Tortola. Compare any grocery store on St. John to the best on Tortola. No contest. Not even close.

So adlib2, I sense you have not visited the USVI with any serious curiosity. Perhaps you should. I recall once having your view. I was wrong.

Dave
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Old 09-04-2015, 15:06   #28
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Re: BVI vs St. Maarten

First time down chartering? BVI - NO QUESTION! (for all the previously mentioned reasons).

One word of caution on fishing. Do it away from the reefs - i.e. deeper water. Reef fish in the BVI can host ciguatera - a fishborne disease you don't want to contract!

But any reputable firm in the BVI (we've used The Moorings), should be able to fix you up with whatever you need. I suggest you stock your own food (i.e. go to the store and buy it there) - as the charter companies generally "over-provision" on food. Have them stock your drinks. there are some really good restaurants on the various islands - so you might consider doing breakfast/lunch aboard and dinner ashore.

Have fun!
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Old 09-04-2015, 15:15   #29
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Re: BVI vs St. Maarten

Great advice here. BVIs are a daily adventure with line-of-sight navigation. And a week on a mono hanging off the side every day will tell you if that is the direction you are happy to go. More exciting than a cat but not nearly the living space. Either way you guys are going to have the trip of your (so far) lives!
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Old 09-04-2015, 15:37   #30
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Re: BVI vs St. Maarten

Heh, I dunno about more exciting than a cat, unless you call changing sides of the cockpit to get more comfortable each tack 'exciting' !
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