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Old 01-07-2009, 21:34   #1
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Next Charter After BVI ?

I am relatively new to sailing (born and raised in Ohio) but have done some training and a few short trips. Last winter we did a one week charter in the BVI and had a great time. My wife would say that I am somewhere between hooked and addicted. Unfortunately we had to return home to work and family. We are planning a trip for this winter (Jan or Feb). I would like to "take the next step" so to speak after the BVIs. However, it is my wife's vacation also so I don't want to push so hard that she does not enjoy herself. We will have another couple with us and will have one week. We don't have any specific priorities other than some sailing, relaxation and nice anchorages. What suggestions does anyone have on where to go next? Thanks

Fred
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Old 01-07-2009, 21:44   #2
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Why do you want "the next step"? You had a great time in the BVI's despite your lack of experience. I'd go back to the BVI's before trying somewhere else, but the windwards and Leewards are great, once you get more experience.
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Old 01-07-2009, 22:08   #3
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To speedoo,

I suppose my only answer to your question is: Life is short and there are many places I have not been. Although I clearly did not see everything the BVIs have to offer, it is appealing to go someplace entirely new.
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Old 01-07-2009, 22:16   #4
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What do you want to get out of cruising? That (in addition to cost) will drive your destination.

Personally for secluded, beautiful anchorages, I love the Abacos, Bahamas. It's very protected. I frequently find anchorages with no other boats, yet small, quaint towns are always an option as well. The snorkeling is excellent, and there's only one stop I've ever picked up a mooring. (Treasure Cay for $10 including use of their pool and other facilities. Won't find that in the BVIs!) They key to finding out of the way spots here is to learn about tides and be comfortable with only a foot under your keel at low water.

For a cultural difference I've enjoyed St. Martin/St. Barts/Anguilla.

Another option is to charter out of Tortola again and head down to the Spanish Virgin Islands. When I was there last summer, I never saw another charter boat. Very nice....

Also, if you stayed in marinas and picked up moorings in the BVis, consider seeing the BVIs from a different perspective. I just returned from 3 weeks there and never once picked up a night mooring or stayed at a Marina. I'd say 1/3 to 1/2 of the nights no other boats were within shouting distance and often had an anchorage to ourselves.

I've also discovered caves that put "the caves" on Norman's to shame. Snorkeling much better than "the Indians" and a fantastic, pristine beach that sometimes has great body surfing that I've never seen anyone else at.
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Old 01-07-2009, 22:41   #5
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Nautical62,

Thanks for the suggestions. I will look into those. I bought Street's book on the Virgin Islands with the Spanish Virgins specifically in mind. I was also considering St Martin and you certainly make Abocos appealing.

What do I want out of cruising? Great question. I want to be able to spend more time cruising as my personal schedule allows so gaining experience is important to me. Equally important is making sure my wife has a good/relaxing time. The more she enjoys cruising...the less time I will spend away from sailing.
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Old 01-07-2009, 23:13   #6
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After our first two bareboat charters in the BVIs last, my wife Karen and I chartered a Bahia 2 weeks over Christmas/New Year's out of Antigua. We spend the first week cruising around the western/northern coast of Antigua on our own, then had a teaching captain join us for the second week and we did our Coastal Passagemaking class while sailing down to Guadaloupe, Les Saintes, Marie Gallante, and Iles de la Petite Terre. Antigua and the French West Indies are terrific cruising grounds, they just have longer passages between the islands. We didn't manage to sail to Barbuda, but I understand that is terrific also.

Antigua has lots of charter boats, and was a great trip for us...we want to go back!
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Old 01-07-2009, 23:18   #7
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It sound sounds to me that figuring out your wife's desires has as much to do with your choice as destination. What are her needs? Marinas?, Lack of weather?, Social life? Meals out?

One can find or avoid these things in most any cruising destination. The choice of boat may also come into play. A 40 some foot cat with air conditioning and 150 fresh water supply is very different from a 32-foot monohull with a 30-gallon fresh water tank. (My budget)

I find the key to having people who sail with me having a great time is to never need to rely on them, but rather to show them a great time and make them feel useful when the can help. Knowing the area and being able to handle the boat on your own relaxes everything. Most all arguing I see on boats with couples comes from people pushing their abilities followed by closely by differences in what people expect out of a cruise. My first cruise I did solo specifically so I knew I wouldn't be reliant of crew.

My advice is to really focus on what your wife wants and what make her enjoy cruising. Provide that and the rest will come.

All the best.
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Old 01-07-2009, 23:47   #8
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Nautical62,

Thanks again for your suggestions. Your comment of "BVI from a different point of view" is a great suggestion. I wish I could get away for 3 weeks! If it is not too much trouble, perhaps you could suggest a few of your favorites (especially since I only have a week). She really enjoyed the BVIs but I would like to do more than just cruise from one mooring to the next.
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Old 02-07-2009, 05:57   #9
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Consider the Grenadines. A lot of folks who've enjoyed chartering in the BVIs have moved on to those lovely islands.

The Grenadines are more laid back and a lot less crowded than the BVI, but are similar in that you can sail from one beautiful anchorage to another in a half day or less, mostly in protected waters. The sailing is almost all reaching in the Tradewinds--no long beats to weather like you'd find sailing amongst the Leeward Islands.

The Grenadines are more about getting away from civilization than enjoying fancy restaurants and nightlife ashore, but if you want to plan a few nights eating at restaurants, it's certainly possible. Bequia and Mustique have some very nice choices. You can also enjoy a chicken and lobster barbeque on the beach in the Tobago Cays some nights, prepared by a local gentleman.

The Moorings has a big charter base centrally located in Canouan, and there are charters available out of Blue Lagoon on St. Vincent. Chris Doyle's Cruising Guide to the Windward Islands is a great resource for seeing what the opportunities are, and planning out your itenerary.

My wife and I spent a total of eight weeks or so in the Grenadines during our two years of cruising in the Lesser Antilles. It was our favorite cruising area.
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Old 02-07-2009, 06:06   #10
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Another option is to charter out of Tortola again and head down to the Spanish Virgin Islands. When I was there last summer, I never saw another charter boat. Very nice....
.
The reason you never saw another charter boat there is that most BVI charter outfits do not allow their boats to go there. You may be able to get special permission but this would only happen if you're experienced and known to the charter company.
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Old 02-07-2009, 08:10   #11
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The reason you never saw another charter boat there is that most BVI charter outfits do not allow their boats to go there. You may be able to get special permission but this would only happen if you're experienced and known to the charter company.
This is what I've been told twice now by people at the Moorings is their policy:

They have a "covered service area" around each base which is where they encourage people to sail and is all they usually will cover in their chart briefings. Inside this area, they guarantee assistance with in 24 hours. However, you are free to go anywhere, realizing that outside of the covered area, their guarantee of assistance within 24 hours no longer applies. When my fresh water system failed in the Spanish Virgin Islands for example, I had to deal with it on my own until I got back to the BVIs. I've met several people who have sailed from the BVIs to St. Martin. Their insurance policy stipulates no night sailing with the exception of passages between island groups.


In the Abacos, I routinely sail north of their covered area. There, they have me sign a form which states I realize they will not offer service north of Green Turtle Cay, but they have never questioned me about my experience or required me to get any special permission.

I can't speak to the policies of other charter companies and suggest anyone wishing to sail outside of the typical cruising area check with the charter company (including the Moorings) prior to their booking for their policies in this regard.
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Old 02-07-2009, 08:40   #12
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For chartering in the Spanish Virgins, try the east coast of Puerto Rico. There are charter operations there and they are probably less expensive than Tortola or St. Thomas. And much closer to the Spanish Virgins.
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Old 02-07-2009, 09:58   #13
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...If it is not too much trouble, perhaps you could suggest a few of your favorites (especially since I only have a week). She really enjoyed the BVIs but I would like to do more than just cruise from one mooring to the next.
Part of me hates to give away my hard found secrets, but since you asked so nicely...

Some of my favorite, less populated anchorages:


Normans: Benures Bay: You most likely will not be alone here. I often anchor here the night before heading back to Road Harbour. The guidebook recommends the east end of the bay, but I've found I don't get backwinded on the west side. Soldier Bay now has moorings which make anchoring difficult. However, if you pick up a mooring here, you may have the bay to yourself. Both bays are convenient to the Bight, the Indians and the Caves.

Peter: Little Harbour is very well situated for a last night as well, but the drop off is more steep than at Benures Bay. Key Bay on the back side is a bay I've only been at for the day, but would love to stay at for a night when the wind is more northerly. (I'm usually there in the summer when the wind is more southerly)

Virgin Gorda area:

Baths/Spanish Town. To avoid the boat scramble at the Baths, I often anchor off Spanish Town and take the dingy over to the Baths (or take the big boat over before the crowds arrive.) During the day it gets rolly here from the boat wakes entering Spanish Town harbour, but I've always had a solid night. I anchor in front of all the moorings in sand. You won't be alone. Sometimes I snorkel the Dogs after most boats have left and anchor at Spanish Town just before Sunset. It puts me in a great position to get to the Baths before the crowds the next morning. Spanish Town offers some nice shops and restaurants. The dinghy dock is huge and obvious when you enter.

Savannah Bay: I found it much easier to enter and negotiate than the guidebook makes it sound. Most boats congregate in Pond Bay. If you anchor just inside the entrance, you'll likely have boats going past you, but privacy in the evening. On my last night there Pond Bay become a zoo, so I pulled up anchor and headed up to Tetor Bay north of the point. I anchored in the middle of a huge sand patch and had the entire bay all to myself, though there are homes on shore there. The snorkeling in Tetor Bay is superb - The best coral I've seen in the BVIs, very accessible and much better than The Indians. Getting into Tetor Bay from the south can be a bit tricky so enter with good light. Either follow the obvious sand highway somewhat centered or head northwest just inside the reef and cut east towards shore to gain the big sandy patch. You may wish to scout it by dinghy or snorkel the first time. Even if you don't anchor here, check out the snorkeling. The power line marked on the map runs along the north side of the sandy patch, so you'll be well clear of it if you drop your hook in the middle. I've seen many stingrays in the sand of Pond Bay.

Long Bay behind Mountain Point - I only anchored there once, but was the only boat.

Great Camanoe:

Cam Bay: Reasonable snorkeling day anchorage. I've sometimes been the only boat there.

Lee Bay: No backwinding due to low saddle at the head of the bay which leads to Cam Bay. There is an excellent fissure sea cave you can snorkel into on the point which forms the northern edge of the bay. It blows "The Caves" away. You can snorkel to it from either Lee Bay or the bay to the north. I usually see 2-4 boats anchored here.

Bay north of Lee Bay - This is the real secret and my favorite BVI anchorage. I've anchored here about 8 times now and only had another boat in there with me once. The middle of the bay is a coral reef, but in close to shore it's all sand. The SE corner has the largest free patch. I've seen more fish here than anywhere else which drives the birds into a feeding frenzy. There is another fairly good sea cave on the point to the north which again is bigger than anything at the caves, but the one to the south mentioned above is bigger. Wild goats are also very common here. I also commonly see sea turtles off the points. You'll likely get backwinded so allow swing room.

Tortola: Trunk? Bay - 2 bays just west of the big point that separates these bays from Cooten Bay. There are two beautiful sandy beaches here that I've stopped at 4 times now and have never seen another soul. Beware of the rocks off the point separating the two sub bays, otherwise it's all sand. When there is a north swell, it's excellent body surfing, but you can't land a dingy then and must swim in. I personally would not anchor here at night as it is exposed to weather changes, but its a great day stop.

Cane Garden Bay: A popular bay you won't have to yourself, but there is plenty of room to anchor behind all the moorings and just inside the reef. Sitting in your cockpit, you'll have a view of the sunset with none of the other boats in your view and in the summer you'll have a better breeze than those on the ball close to shore. It's a good place to obtain more provisions. Guinness draft in the can was only $1.37 so you can guess how I spent the money I didn't spend on a Mooring.


Jost Van Dyke Area:

Sandy Spit Cay and Little Jost Van Dyke. Very popular during the day, I've often been the only one there at night. The guidebook calls it a day anchorage, but in my experience, the protection afforded by Little Jost, Green, the Sandy Spit and connecting reef is much better than the protection behind nearby Sandy Cay. Unfortunately, more cruisers seem to be figuring this out and it's less common I have it to myself than I used to. There are a couple small beaches on Little Jost Van Dyke you will likely have to yourself if you don't want to join the crowds on Sandy Spit Cay. You can anchor off them or head over from Sandy Cay Spit. On Sandy Cay Spit, the best snorkeling is along the reef extending south of the Cay. There is also good snorkeling in the gap between Green Cay and little Jost Van Dyke, but beware motor boats use this gap to gain the ocean. If you like to snorkel in swell and see big fish, snorkel the back sides of Green or Little Jost Van Dyke. I've snorkeled completely around both but recommend staying away from the shallow gap between Little Jost Van Dyke and Jost Van Dyke.

Sandy Cay (not spit) has a nice beach and some trails to walk. I snorkeled around it and found the snorkeling to be not very good. I sometimes hit it early morning when the overnighters are leaving and before the day users arrive. I find it a somewhat exposed anchorage, but worthy of mention.

Great Harbour, Jost Van Dyke: You certainly won't have it to yourself, but the anchoring is free and easy. There are several bars/restaurants, customs, and a couple small grocery stores. I often do the opposite of the crowds and visit this during the day and stay at Sandy Spit overnight.

Great Tobago - I've only stopped here once for a few hours on my way to the Spanish BVIs and had it to myself. The bay on west side is bigger than it looks on the map. Two anchors would be ideal.


Many claim one can't avoid using moorings in the BVIs. I just spent three weeks there and never once picked up a night mooring.
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Old 02-07-2009, 10:03   #14
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Fred,

one week in the BVIs -- there's still a lot to see. As others have stated, get off the Mooring's Itinerary and explore other islands.

Check out Island Yachts on St Thomas if you're interested in the Spanish VIs, they don't mind you going in their boats.

all the best,
c in sunny seattle
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:33   #15
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I second the Grenadines!
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