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Old 09-08-2012, 11:34   #1
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How Crowded Really ?

Thinking about doing a trip out of Road Town in May. Hearing horror stories about needing to rush from one anchorage to another just to get a mooring. Truth or fiction? Strategies to avoid the crowd?
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Old 09-08-2012, 11:40   #2
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Re: How crowded, really?

Depends If arrive at a popular anchorage late in the day you may have difficulty finding a spot,. late afternoon usually not a problem weekends much worse mondays probably no problem
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Old 09-08-2012, 11:43   #3
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Re: How crowded, really?

We were there this past May and didn't find it to be a problem at all. I wouldn't show up at 5pm, but if you show up by 3, most areas shouldn't be full.
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Old 09-08-2012, 11:51   #4
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Re: How crowded, really?

Thanks for the quick replies. Since my mates and I are normally in sail hard, park late mode it's sounding like the answer is "yes, finding a spot late in the day could be a problem".

What about STX and SVI anchorages?
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Old 09-08-2012, 12:05   #5
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Re: How crowded, really?

The BVI is a great place to sail and my family and I have sailed there several times and if you take into account that certain anchorages and islands have limited space/balls (especially in the parks) then you can have a very relaxed and enjoyable time.

I have never sailed the BVI in May but have done it in June, January, and February. We are also going to be sailing the BVI for Christmas and New Years ... now that will be crowded.

The places that you need to think about getting to early are:
- The Baths: I get up at first light and motor over from Cooper or Trellis Bay. There are park balls at the Baths that are for day use only so I try to move the boat and have breakfast there then go ashore and explore. We usually leave around noon and there are always boats orbiting waiting for a ball to pick up.
- Cooper Island: My experience is that if you do not get to Cooper by early afternoon there is a very good chance you will not have a ball available. You can anchor out but it is pretty deep and can be rolley.
- The Dogs and Guana Island are all National Parks and have limited balls. They are great places to have lunch and a snorkle but be prepared that there may not be any spots. Some trips we have had no problem and others we have to pass on by
- Jost Van Dyke: We have never had a problem with Jost (on non New Year's weeks) but don't mind anchoring (especially in White Bay ... this way you can actually swim to the Soggy Dollar) but I have heard that folks not comfortable on the hook have felt crowded or rushed trying to get form mooring ball to mooring ball.

Places you should not have a problem:
- Trellis Bay - full moon nights are more crowded but in general you can get a ball still at mid afternoon.
- Cane Garden Bay - can be rolley but when not never had a problem.
- Norman Island - balls as far as the eye can see and good anchoring if there aren't any. If you are going to snorkle the Indians it can fill up quickly in the mornings. This is another place that I just motor out at first light and have breakfast on the National Park ball at the Indians.

Summary:
I love sailing the BVI. Is it crowded? Yes, especially when compared to the Leewards or Windwards. Can the crowding be mitigated with some planning and early rising on certain days? Yes. Is it worth it? Most definitely, especially if you have children or other's that are new to sailing etc. The islands are close, beaches wonderful, and the pain killers ... well they work.

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Old 09-08-2012, 12:10   #6
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Re: How crowded, really?

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Originally Posted by watchoverya View Post
Thanks for the quick replies. Since my mates and I are normally in sail hard, park late mode it's sounding like the answer is "yes, finding a spot late in the day could be a problem".

What about STX and SVI anchorages?
Just saw this response ... if good brisk sails are what you want then I would certainly recommend the Leewards (Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Kitts, Nevis, Statia, Barbuda, Antigua). You can get good sails going between the islands (6+hrs from St. Barts to St. Kitts for example) and if you have 10+ days could easily see most of them if being on the water is more important than being on land. A very different "feel" from the BVI.

The only problem is you do have to check in and out of all the islands ... so that limits you to leaving after checkout (for most of the islands) and arriving in time to check in.
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Old 09-08-2012, 12:11   #7
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Re: How crowded, really?

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Originally Posted by LifeJacket View Post
- The Baths: I get up at first light and motor over from Cooper or Trellis Bay. There are park balls at the Baths that are for day use only so I try to move the boat and have breakfast there then go ashore and explore. We usually leave around noon and there are always boats orbiting waiting for a ball to pick up.
FYI - The day use NPT balls are supposed to be a limit of 90 minutes. It seems many people don't realize this and while I've never seen it enforced, the more that people try to adhere to this, the less boats there should be orbiting.

No offense meant, just want to post it out to help educate anyone that might read this. We too often see people simply hanging out for extended amounts of time when it's crowded.
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Old 09-08-2012, 12:13   #8
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Re: How crowded, really?

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FYI - The day use NPT balls are supposed to be a limit of 90 minutes. It seems many people don't realize this and while I've never seen it enforced, the more that people try to adhere to this, the less boats there should be orbiting.

No offense meant, just want to post it out to help educate anyone that might read this. We too often see people simply hanging out for extended amounts of time when it's crowded.
Thanks for the info ... I did not realize that. We do try to be conscientious with still taking enough time to enjoy the Baths. I will make even more effort to herd my crew on and off next time.
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Old 09-08-2012, 12:14   #9
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Re: How crowded, really?

There are still plenty of spots where getting in at 5 won't be a problem. But be prepared to anchor if you do get in late and there's no balls left.

St. John is an option often overlooked and we've never had an issue getting a ball there. Last few trips we've spent 2-3 days there.
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Old 09-08-2012, 13:38   #10
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Re: How crowded, really?

The only place I would worry about finding a mooring ball in May would be Trellis Bay for the Full Moon Party. Balls were full by 11am on our last 2 trips.
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Old 09-08-2012, 14:37   #11
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Re: How crowded, really?

Last time I was in the BVI was about 15 years ago and it was too crowded for my tastes then -- I can only imagine what a zoo it must be now.
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Old 09-08-2012, 14:57   #12
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Re: How crowded, really?

Yes it does get a bit crowded there. I saw a dispute that nearly ended in blows when two charter boats were trying for the last mooring at Cooper Island. Some come in early, leave the dink on the mooring and then go sailing. Don't know if you can guarantee the dink will still be there at 5 p.m. though. We always anchored but the mooring balls seem to have sprouted up all over now.
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Old 09-08-2012, 15:22   #13
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Re: How crowded, really?

If the dink is left on a ball that is already paid for, then it shouldn't be touched.

We were at Marina Cay one time and saw a Captained boat leave. I didn't notice it until later, but they attached a life vest to the pendant. Apparently the boat coming in didn't know what that meant (not sure I would have either), but the Captain was a little annoyed when he came back and found the ball taken. He ended up spending the night on the dock - not sure why he wouldn't just anchor, but I'd bet he already paid for the ball.
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Old 10-08-2012, 05:24   #14
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Re: How crowded, really?

If you are comfortable anchoring there are lots of great places to ignore the balls and drop the hook.

On Cooper there is decent anchoring South of Cistern Point. Still an easy dinghy ride to the Beach Club.

Just North of the channel to Spanish Town there is good anchoring.

Lots of anchoring in North Sound in the old Drake's Anchorage (near Leverick Bay) and off Prickley Pear (near Saba Rock and BEYC). The Prickley Pear anchorage is where many long-term cruisers are, including Anouk who lives aboard with her son and sells t-shirts and hand-made jewelry from her dinghy. She is an institution.

Easy anchoring at Anegada. Check any of the cruising guides for directions.

Easy anchoring on Jost Van Dyke in White Bay and Great Harbour. Not much room due to moorings in Little Harbour but I've never seen it crowded in there.

Good anchoring in Cane Garden Bay.

Room for one or two boats in Soper's all the way up at the head near the wrecks. It's deep and you'll need a lot of rode.

Some room in The Bight, but good anchorages at Key Pt, Money Bay, and other spots around Norman and the south side of Peter.

Most charterers go from mooring to mooring so be sure to check out the anchoring gear on your boat carefully and ensure it is adequate for you needs. Most of the boats have decent Deltas, but some are really too small and there is a still the odd rusty CQR in the fleets of the second and third tier companies.
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Old 10-08-2012, 08:36   #15
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Re: How crowded, really?

Great feedback folks. Thanks so much. We are definitly comfortable on the hook. In addition to Auspicious' comments above, what opportunities does that open up? What suggestions do you have for a cruise plan - 9-10 days, leaving out of Road Town, looking to put miles under the keel?
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