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Old 30-03-2010, 17:40   #1
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First Bareboat Charter - Bahamas or BVI ?

Hi too all,

My wife and I have just decided that we are going to do a bareboat cruise in either Abacos or BVI the 3rd or last week of March, 2011.
I have been sailing for 15 + years and have owned 4 sailboats . My wife has 4 years and we own a 32 ft. monohull for the past 4 years. ( sail the Atlantic off Nova Scotia )
I am looking for advice,
1. As 1st timers, which would be easier to get to? I assume Bahamas??
2. What about weather in mid to late March? wind and temps.
3. Which would have easier sailing?
4. Recommend bareboat companies; Moorings, Sunsail, BVI Charters, etc..
5. Any other advise welcome and appreciated

Many Thanks,
Greg
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Old 30-03-2010, 17:56   #2
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well I'm doing a week at Fair Winds charter in the USVI, cheap to fly too and no customs going in. Going the last week of april I'll let you know how it goes
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Old 30-03-2010, 17:57   #3
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I have sailed both. The BVI's is much easier sailing and navigation.

Check your airlines for ease of travel. I can get from Calgary to Roadtown in one day. The Bahama's took two days.

You will have a larger choice of vessel in the BVIs. The Abacos are so shallow that fin keel boats is really not that feasible, unless they are really shallow draft.

The weather should be fine in the BVIs. You are a long way from hurricane season. I was there a month ago, it was quite warm.

I was in the Abacos in 1992, amenities have a habit of changing.

Jack (another Canuck)
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Old 30-03-2010, 18:06   #4
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I've only done BVI.....but here's my take.

Easy flight to Tortola on American Airlines with connection in Puerto Rico but not cheap, $600 plus round trip from Baltimore. There are flights to the US Virgins that may be cheaper and you take a ferry to Tortola.

We used Virgin Island Sailing to book TMM, Tortola Marine Management and were satisfied with the price and the boat.

Sailing in the BVI we found easy for beginners. You can use mooring balls everywhere, and the navigation was very easy. Deep water everywhere right up to your mooring or anchorage and many protected spots for overnights.

We sailed to a different Island every day for 10 days and all were great with different things to see and do. Lots of great little bars and restaurants and secluded beaches. Great snorkeling.

Ive been to Italy and Maui and this ranks as my best vacation yet.
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Old 30-03-2010, 19:10   #5
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Hi too all,

I am looking for advice,
I own a 33 foot charter boat in the BVIs, but frequently swap time in the Abacos as well. Here's my take on your questions:

Quote:
Originally Posted by ggromack View Post
.1. As 1st timers, which would be easier to get to? I assume Bahamas??
I've found that even though the Bahamas are closer to the SE U.S., the BVIs are often cheaper and easier to get to, though the difference isn't often huge.

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2. What about weather in mid to late March? wind and temps.
The water in the Abacos is likely to be cooler, but it's a nice time to go there. The wind is generally more consistent in the BVIs. The islands in the Abacos are much lower, so you are often exposed to the wind at anchor.

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3. Which would have easier sailing?
I think navigation is a little easier in the BVIs, and the wind is a bit more consistent, but most sailing in the Abacos is in the protected "Sea of Abaco" which keeps the wave action way down. Although the navigation may be a bit more challenging in the Abacos, I still think it's fairly straight forward, especially with a chart plotter which is standard on most charter boats.

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4. Recommend bareboat companies; Moorings, Sunsail, BVI Charters, etc..
Realize the Moorings, Sunsail and Footloose are all owned and operated by Tui Marine. Tortola is the home base for The Moorings. I feel that means nice facilities, but with so many more people, you feel a bit more like a number. I can't speak to the other options, other to say I know that in the BVIs, I have read many reports of people being happy with other companies.

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5. Any other advise welcome and appreciated
To me the big differences are:

1. Abacos offer many options for isolated anchorages. I often am able to find a whole bay to myself if that's what I want. You don't find that in many charter areas.

2. The Abacos are low lying, with shallow water. You are more exposed to the wind, but it also means the areas to anchor are big and with fewer boats.

3. In the Abacos, there are fewer moorings. This is good if you like anchoring with plenty of space, not so good if you prefer moorings.

4. I feel the Abacos offer more in the way of quaint towns, that local people live in and really use. The BVIs offer more in the way of resorts and stand alone restaurants (not in town, etc.)

5. I think the BVIs offer more accessible snorkeling which you will most likely be sharing with many others. The Abacos offer more extensive reefs.

6. Using tidal information opens up a lot more opportunities in the Abacos than in the BVIs.

I think the bottom line is if you want to enjoy the experience with a lot of other charter people, socialize, go out out a lot, pick up moorings, etc. choose the BVIs. If you want to spend more time enjoying quaint towns and maybe have an island to yourself, pick the Abacos. I'd also pick the BVIs if it's important for your first charter to be as easy as possible.

Last thoughts: The draft of the Moorings charter boats at least varies considerably in the Abacos. I really recommend you choose a lower draft option.

In both places it's easy to provision on your own and have the grocery store call a cab for you to take you back to the base. It saves money and lets you get what you want. I much prefer it to the provisioning service.
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Old 31-03-2010, 05:38   #6
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Thanks very much for your take. It is very helpful

Happy Sailing.
Greg
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Old 31-03-2010, 08:44   #7
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Great advice above. I'd echo BVI. And, BVI Yacht Charters. Good folks.
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Old 31-03-2010, 09:36   #8
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I can't speak for the weather in the BVI's, but I can tell you that March is a boisterous time of year in the Abacos. You may catch a good week, but you are more apt to run into one of the "northers" which roar through regularly during the winter months.

On a personal note, I have now pushed my Abaco visits back to May and June. This way I have a pretty good chance of enjoying good weather. I've kept my Hunter 30 there full-time since 2004.

I echo Nautical's comments about the Abacos. There are lots of fun places to visit, the Sea of Abaco is pretty well sheltered, and you will not encounter many other boats.

Have fun!
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Old 03-04-2010, 10:56   #9
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Nautical69 is right on the money!! Our boat is in Marsh Harbor with Susail. Have sailed both BVI's and Abaco's many times also. One thing I'd like to add is I have found the variety of fish more abundant in the Abaco's, also more colorful and healthier coral.

PS. Nautical69...I've attended many VFW breakfast in Aurora. I go to Oelwein every year to visit family.
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Old 03-04-2010, 11:21   #10
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BVI is a great charter location

We chartered with CYOA in the US VI and had a fantastic time. CYOA is very diligent in checking out the boats before you depart. The flight is simple.

Nice thing about the VI is the consistent winds making the anchorage choices simple. There are mooring balls a almost every anchorage. Most anchorages have small resturants and bars ashore. There are many great snorkelling locations.

Perhaps the best thing about the VI vs Bahamas is the water temperature. It is bath tub warm in the VI.

Clearing customs between he US and British VI is simple and quick.
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Old 03-04-2010, 11:24   #11
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PS. Nautical69...I've attended many VFW breakfast in Aurora. I go to Oelwein every year to visit family.
What a small world - I doubted I'd ever run across anyone who sailed her. The name "Aurora" comes from the second, often forgotten boat on the famous Shakelton expedition.

I'm on the old contract, so I'm always on a Moorings boat in the Bahamas.

One upgrade from my last post, and that is I really neglected to mention Alan's very good point that the cold fronts can be fairly strong in March, especially early March. One was 40 knots early this March.
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