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Old 10-03-2010, 15:48   #1
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First-Time Bareboater, BVI - Any Advice ?

Hello all, new to the forum and to bare boating. My wife and I have chartered a 34 Beneteau for a week in late may. We are trying to plan as thoroughly as possible and would like to get some advice on where to go and what to do. We have six days to see what we can see. We like to snorkel, kayak, and hike. Not so interested in dining ashore or shopping and we like our space most of all. What are your favorite spots, secluded beaches and anchorages? I guess we are looking for a top ten list of sorts to help plan our voyage. Let us know about those spots we just shouldn't miss. Anyway thanks in advance for any input!

Will and Danielle
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Old 10-03-2010, 16:15   #2
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Ohhhh, just six days?? You'll want more! This is what I would do for a first timer -
Day 1 - after briefing, sail over to the Indians, grab a mooring ball, go snorkeling, sail/motor over to Benures Bay - beautiful place to anchor and you'll likely be all alone for the evening.

Day 2 - get up early and head over to the caves on the other side of Norman. Lunch ashore at Pirates or Willie T's would be fun. Sail to Cooper for the evening - go ashore at least for a drink!

Day 3 - Sail to Virgin Gorda - tour the Baths if you want - if you really like to be away from the crowds - Fallen Jerusalem is much better for wandering amongst the boulders! Sail over anchor/moor at Spanish Town.

Day 4 - Sail to the North Sound - visit Leverick, Saba, Biter End Yacht Club. All cool places. Anchor/moor at Saba or Leverick (freebies offered)

Day 5 - Sail to the Dogs - great snorkeling - you can make an entire day of it. Sail to Marina Cay for the evening. Wander on the island, thru the garden at the top of the hill, read the history on the wall in Pussers Restaurant.

Day 6 - Back to charter base - so many islands, so little time!! I don't think you can make it to the North side of Tortola or Jost with just 6 days.

It will be a great time, no matter what you end up doing. May is a great time for a visit.
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Old 10-03-2010, 16:44   #3
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You might want to try the google search. It's the small search button with an arrow on it. Type BVI and CHARTER and there are dozens of threads. Or go to the discussion board, check destinations, caribbean.

Karen's suggestion is the standard roundabout. If you want a little different, head straight to North Sound, then to Anagada, then to Jost Vandyke, then to Normans, then to Cooper. That will give you about 4 to 6 hours of sailing every day.

My other suggestion is to get moving REALLY early. If you do, every day you can stop at one other destination, enjoy it, then get to your final destination by 3:00.
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Old 10-03-2010, 19:09   #4
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Quote:
My other suggestion is to get moving REALLY early. If you do, every day you can stop at one other destination, enjoy it, then get to your final destination by 3:00.
The early start just always works no matter where you go or what you do. You are living outside and daylight is precious. In the lower latitudes the sun sets like a brick - and it's suddenly pitch dark. More time to screw up and still get to the anchorage early is just the way to go. Weather in most situations always favors the early start of course except when it does not. The trouble with rules of thumb is you do have 10 fingers. So flexibility requires playing percentages and grabbing easy chances.

Fewer mandated destinations and fewer activities followed by more sailing and less time getting in and out of the boat could be more fun. The more fun would be key here. Doing lots of destinations or must do's can force you into a schedule. This can lead to being in a hurry and that can be deadly on a boat. It starts to demand a power boat to minimize the travel time when the thrust of the idea was a sailing vacation!

Should the weather be fine for sailing forget the shore activities and sail more because you can! Going in circles is perfectly fine if you can make a day of sailing in the warm waters and gentle breezes (fresh breezes are better). Figure the food out before you go so you don't blow the first day shopping and doing chores. It's just too easy to get sucked into doing chores and you have not left the dock.

For all our shorter cruises I always plan far more destinations than we can do. I then pick the actual ones based on weather and other factors of the moment. Load a lot of tricks in the bag knowing you won't force yourself to do all of them, but instead do the ones with the most appeal and opportunity. A great one week trip needs too much luck if you get it over scheduled with mandated things other people told you to do. Wouldn't it be terrible to come back to the same place and do different things. Good places to sail tend to be that way.
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Old 11-03-2010, 02:27   #5
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The BVI are a great destination, but can get rather crowded in high season. While the itinerary listed above is a good one, it will put you in the same 'wave' as the other charterers if you are arriving/departing on the normal switch days.

Weather and waves permitting, you might want to think of a clockwise trip instead of the usual counterclockwise one (which avoids fighting upwind on the northern side of Tortola).

Assuming you are leaving from a charter base in Road Town, here is another alternate route:

1. Sail to Cooper Island for the first night (try to get a mooring ball close in to avoid potential rolling late at night). If you are early enough, go snorkeling at Cistern Point, otherwise go there first thing in the morning before departing. It ranks at the top of my snorkeling spots in the BVI.

2. Leave early and sail up to Virgin Gorda, mooring at "The Baths" or Fallen Jerusalem for some snorkeling and swimming. The restaurant at the Top of the Baths serves excellent food, but you have to moor your dinghy and swim ashore at the Baths. The walk up the hill is shorter than it looks. Sail up along the coast of Virgin Gorda and enter the North Sound (well marked channel, but best done in good light the first time you go through). Here you have several choices, either anchor all alone along Prickly Pear for a night away from other boats, or to Leverick Bay for a mooring ball or slip (pricey but fantastic food, particularly the steak, at their upper-level restaurant) or to the mooring field at the far end - where you can choose between the Saba Rock restaurant/bar or ashore at The Bitter End.

3. Anegada day. The entrance is a bit tricky the first time and the GPS chartplotter coordinates are not correct; there is a lot of traffic up to Anegada these days so I would just piggy-back behind a boat that either looks like it knows what it is doing or has a deeper draft than you. The charter company briefing will explain about this entrance, as I gather that all charter companies now allow boats to go to Anegada, but some with restrictions. Sunsail regattas go in there twice a week, they are easy to follow. Also, Walker Mangum's Navigation charts is a great resource for this trip.

4. Depending upon wind and weather, this is where the trip can branch. If the wind is weak, a return to the North Sound is best, or to Trellis Bay/Marina Cay. Normally if the trades are blowing this would be the longest single trip from Anegada to Sandy Cay or Sandy Spit for a spot of snorkeling and lunch. From there to Cane Garden Bay for the night.

5. The shortest sail day, since your ultimate destination is Great Harbour on Jost van Dyke. Either Sandy Spit, Sandy Cay or perhaps even the Jost van Dyke bubbly pool before noon, then a liesurely sail to Great Harbour. There are now about 10 mooring balls, but they might be taken, which is why an early arrival will give you lots of time to anchor. Holding is mixed in Great Harbour and this is one time when you should ensure that your anchor has grabbed and has sufficient scope. Then dinghy around the headland and into White Bay for a painkiller or other refreshments at the Soggy Dollar, Ivan's or Seddy's One Love. Dinner at Foxy's (some night have buffet and live music) or at one of the other restaurants there, my favorite being Corsair's.

6. Wait a second!!!! I was shooting for 10 days... So much to see, so little time... Ok, skip Anegada and its northern beaches and famous lobster dinner. That puts you in Great Harbour on day 4. So this entry is now day 5: From Great Harbour sail or motorsail around Soper's Hole and to "The Bight". Stop at the Pelicans to pick up a mooring ball and snorkel around there before taking a mooring ball in the Bight. Note that the Willie T' bar is active until late at night so depending upon your sleep patterns and partying intents take a ball at an appropriate distance away and not downwind of the floating bar.

6. quick and short sail across the Sir Francis Drake Channel to your charter base for a noon dropoff.
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Old 11-03-2010, 06:17   #6
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We've done 6 BVI bareboat charters and the others are right, you will wish you had more time. If you are there during a full moon, try to get to Trellis Bay for the full moon party. Great fun. Get there early, by 10:30am last May we got the last mooring ball and anchoring space is tight. Mooring balls are tough to find at the Baths unless you arrive early, like before 9am. Many prefer to anchor in North Sound or Leverick Bay and rent a car for the day to run over to the Baths and see the island. Take a dinghy tour of North Sound, stop at Saba Rock Resort, Bitter End Yacht CLub and the Fat Virgin. Since your time is limited, skip Anegada and put visiting Foxy's and White Bay on Jost Van Dyke high on your list as well as Cane Garden Bay and Sandy Cay. I'd head straight to North Sound from the charter base, do the Baths and Virgin Gorda the next day, head to Trellis for the full moon party, then Monkey Point for snokeling on your way to Cane Garden Bay and Jost Van Dyke. Try to see Quito Rymer perform at Quito's beachfront bar & restaurant in CGB. He performs solo on Tuesday and Thursday nights and with his band on Friday or Saturday night. His web site has the schedule. The last weekend of May is the Music Festival in Cane Garden Bay. Crowded anchorage and beaches, but a lot of fun, expect your rigging to vibrate from the volume and this goes on for most of 3 days. Finally, spend the last night at the bight in Norman Island and get there early enough to snorkle the caves, or do it before heading back to the charter base in Roadtown. This is a popular itinerary for a first time charterer, easy navigation, anchoring and favorable wind direction. Check out www.bviwelcome.com and www.traveltalkonline.com. Lots of good infomation there. We waited until our second trip to do Anegada. BTW, the 34 is perfect for a couple. Bobby's grocery will deliver your online order ( no extra charge) to your boat at the charter base and you can avoid the charter company provisioning fees. With this itinerary, plan on refueling and water at Leverick Bay marina before heading to Trellis. It won't take much to top off, but this should be enough to get you through the rest of your charter. It takes about 3-4 hours total engine time per day to keep the batteries up enough to run the refer. Hope this helps.

Steve W
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Old 11-03-2010, 06:28   #7
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6 days is plenty of time to get a good circumnavigation in. Of course, you're in paradise so 10 would be even nicer.

I haven't been everywhere in the BVI yet, so I will only make suggestions based on what we've done.

1st, as has been stated...get an early start. We're usually off the mooring by 7 am.
This gives you time to have a nice long mid-morning stop..and then time to get to your evening stop.

2nd, Paul's suggestion of getting most of your food shopping done early is a good one. You don't want to spend your vacation in the grocery store.
I brought certain dry goods with me from home: fresh coffee, sugar, canned chicken, tuna, granola cereal, bars...etc..but that was before they started charging for bags. So, we take the night before on board option..and get most of our shopping done that night. Some Fresh veggies and perishables can be found along the way.

If you enjoy hiking...the walks or hikes up to the top of Norman Island, Jost Van Dyke, the Baths, and Virgin Gorda behind the bitter end are all worthwhile imo...great views..good exercise.

possible itinery:

Day 1 morning... the Baths..then walk to the top...great views...good tiki bar..pool.
afternoon evening....North sound...bitter end...take the hike..it's a loop..around ....stop by the english pub..

day 2 anagada...The lobster dinner is not to be missed...I was disappointed in the snorkeling at loblolly, the reef is dead..or dying.. You might just kayak..or swim
You will find seclusion here

day 3 Cane Garden Bay....this is one of my favorite beaches....it can get crowded if a cruise ship is in....I've been there when it's quiet and not......

day 4 Jost Van Dyke....hike to the top...relax at Foxys

Day 5....possible morning stop at sopers hole if you need fuel or water..
...late morning..stop at the indians...or the Caves...great snorkeling....then to the bight at norman island..hike to the top...
then stop by the Willie T

Day 6....easy run back to Tortola...

If you cut Anagada out...you can work in stops like Cooper Island and Fallen Jerusalem...and still make the circumnavigation.

This also gives you some good sailing days!
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Old 11-03-2010, 06:35   #8
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Some Charter outfits prohibit you from going to Anegada, so check that out first. Unless you are a scuba diver I would not recommend Anegada as there are only T-shirt shops and restaurants there. Same with "The Baths". Instead I would suggest places like Salt Island which is a nice little uncrowded anchorage and hiking around the island and over to the salt flats and south side is fascinating.
- - I would suggest a clockwise circle around Tortola from Road Harbour west to Sopers Hole for lunch. I just love Sopers Hole and the Pusser's Painkillers. Then around to Cane Garden Bay - a less visited little bay - mostly moorings - and some good hiking opportunities along the "backside" of Tortola. Then up over the top to Guana Channel and to Marina Cay or Trellis Bay. Then up to Gorda Sound on Virgin Gorda. Finally back to the Dog Islands (if time allows) and Salt Island anchorage. That puts up on a nice reach back to Road Harbour in the morning.
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Old 11-03-2010, 09:07   #9
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Key Bay on the SW corner of Peter Island is our favourite anchorage in BVI's. Usually very peaceful and quiet (depending on how many and nature of bareboaters ). Only room for half a dozen or so boats so get there early (mid afternoon).

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Old 11-03-2010, 09:39   #10
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You will find everything you need here

You can find as much info as you can handle at Traveltalkonline: Viewing forum: British Virgin Islands

There is also a section just reserved for trip reports.

Happy reading!
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Old 11-03-2010, 10:02   #11
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I think it is going to be a matter of choosing which anchorages you want, then doing a traveling-salesman solution factoring in the wind and waves to get an optimal path. Good luck - I spent about 4 months cruising the BVI without staying in the same anchorage two nights in a row and still haven't seen all the corners.
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Old 11-03-2010, 12:09   #12
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I own a charter boat in the BVIs and also enjoy getting away from people most. It's not easy in the BVIs.

A few places I sometimes have to myself:

Sandy Spit near Jost Vandyke - Lots of people during the day, but few stay the night.

The second bay north on the west side of Great Camanoe - I usually have it to myself. It's coral in the middle, but you can anchor back in either corner in lots of sand. There is a sea cave at each point north and south of the bay each of which blow "the caves" away. Wild goats roam the hills and birds dive for fish. Nice stop.

The back side of Peter Island often doesn't have many people, also try the bays east of the Bight on Normans.

There is a beautiful little bay on the north side of Tortola. I can't remember the name - it may be Truck - It's fairly far east. Not good for overnight, but a beautiful beach with no homes great for a day stop. Good body surfing in some conditions.

In Cane Garden, you will have many other boats, but can anchor behind them and look out at the sunset and not see any other boats.

The first or second night out I often snorkel on the Dogs and then anchor off of Spanish Town to avoid the day boat traffic. It puts you in a great position to hit the Baths the next morning before the crowds. From there I often go to Savannah bay for some good snorkeling. The bay to the north is in front of homes, but usually has no boats. From there to Great Camanoe, a couple days in the Jost Vandyke area is my typical itineary.
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Old 28-11-2010, 07:27   #13
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Anegada's pure pristine beauty...

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Originally Posted by osirissail View Post
Some Charter outfits prohibit you from going to Anegada, so check that out first. Unless you are a scuba diver I would not recommend Anegada as there are only T-shirt shops and restaurants there. Same with "The Baths".
I cannot wait to get a chance to experience Anegada!!! We did not go last time, most of it was closed. "only T - shirt shops and restaurants there" I think not..... go to BVIpirate.com check out Walker's pics...especially the panoramic beach pics... Romantic...inspiring....and amazing.... I think I could stay quite a while there myself. Also we did go to the Baths and I loved it!
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Old 28-11-2010, 19:08   #14
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I cannot wait to get a chance to experience Anegada!!! We did not go last time, most of it was closed. "only T - shirt shops and restaurants there" I think not..... go to BVIpirate.com check out Walker's pics...especially the panoramic beach pics... Romantic...inspiring....and amazing.... I think I could stay quite a while there myself. Also we did go to the Baths and I loved it!
- - Actually I must apologize for those statements - problem is for the last decade I have seen so many glorious tropical islands beaches, they just doesn't hold that much awe anymore. Jaded, I guess.
- - But for new folks and even older cruisers, the BVI's is still numero uno for great repeat experiences. Salt Island is one of those hidden treasures that never looses its allure. The two salt ponds are forever forming new and different salt crystal formations. And the South Bay beach is unique. Everybody has their favorites.
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Old 30-11-2010, 20:43   #15
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top list of can't miss spots....

just returned from my first time in the BVI...

fell in love with the pristine natural beauty...it magical!

top 10 ---not counting restaurants and such

no special order...top 10

Sandy Cay & Sandy Spit, snorkeling, exploring, romantic setting, beach

the Baths, snorkeling, exploring, beach

the caves, snorkeling, adventurous and fun place

Anegada, (not been there yet...beaches, beaches, beaches, romantic setting, snorkeling

Virgin Gorda-- drive all over..the views are staggering

Copper mine point on VG...very, very cool place...wow!

sailing around...just in general...adventurous, thrilling, romantic...the beautiful water...

cane garden bay....the beach, the sunsets!!! gorgeous sunsets to share!

Brewer's bay....beautiful beach....a grove of trees...we stopped just to listen to all the birds and wildlife....wonderful experience

Jost Van Dyke.....beautiful place...beaches...I would like to explore here more...maybe hike around

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