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Old 16-09-2011, 21:54   #1
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Picking-Up Friends in the BVI

I will be sailing a Lagoon 380 from St Martin to Tortola and picking up friends who are flying in from the US to St Thomas. I am thinking of having them ferry over to the West End of Tortola and meet them there, and I can also check in. Alternately, I can pick them up at Road Bay. I will have already provisioned in St Martin, so that is not an issue. I guess it boils down to which site is most convenient to get in and out of quickly (relatively speaking). I would like to tie up to a dock to pick them up. Any thoughts?
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Old 16-09-2011, 22:10   #2
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Re: Picking up friends in the BVI

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I will be sailing a Lagoon 380 from St Martin to Tortola and picking up friends who are flying in from the US to St Thomas. I am thinking of having them ferry over to the West End of Tortola and meet them there, and I can also check in. Alternately, I can pick them up at Road Bay. I will have already provisioned in St Martin, so that is not an issue. I guess it boils down to which site is most convenient to get in and out of quickly (relatively speaking). I would like to tie up to a dock to pick them up. Any thoughts?


I suggest you email you friends an official looking letter stating they are joining your vessel and exiting the country aboard your vessel.

They may be hassled at the airport by cutoms/immigration, re where they are staying or such like, your letter may smooth the encounter.
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Old 16-09-2011, 22:18   #3
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Re: Picking up friends in the BVI

Good point. Actually, they will be checking into the BVI when they Ferry from St. Thomas to Tortola. We will be sailing around the BVI for 8 days, and then returning by ferry to St. Thomas to fly home. So, they won't be leaving the BVI, but I suppose a letter wouldn't hurt.
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Old 17-09-2011, 06:25   #4
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Re: Picking up friends in the BVI

HI Jerry,

You can go the the road that circles on the Dutchside, and there is a large modern grocery there. They use to repackage, and vacuum pack your meat in desired portions. Also they use to deliver you & your groceries if you bought enough back to the boat. The place is cheap, and has everything.

Have a fun sail over. It did it over night, and was a joy to sail into the BVI at sunrise......i2f
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Old 17-09-2011, 06:47   #5
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Re: Picking up friends in the BVI

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Originally Posted by Jerry Woodward View Post
Good point. Actually, they will be checking into the BVI when they Ferry from St. Thomas to Tortola. We will be sailing around the BVI for 8 days, and then returning by ferry to St. Thomas to fly home. So, they won't be leaving the BVI, but I suppose a letter wouldn't hurt.
Unless your friends only have carry-on luggage there is no dock within walking distance of the Road Town ferry terminal. Best bet for you is to be in Village Cay Marina. That is the marina with most facilities.

I wouldn't produce a letter as they are entering and exiting by ferry. It'll only raise questions in the mind of C&I and you don't want that. Believe me!
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Old 17-09-2011, 07:24   #6
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Re: Picking up friends in the BVI

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Woodward View Post
I will be sailing a Lagoon 380 from St Martin to Tortola and picking up friends who are flying in from the US to St Thomas. I am thinking of having them ferry over to the West End of Tortola and meet them there, and I can also check in. Alternately, I can pick them up at Road Bay. I will have already provisioned in St Martin, so that is not an issue. I guess it boils down to which site is most convenient to get in and out of quickly (relatively speaking). I would like to tie up to a dock to pick them up. Any thoughts?
If flying is an option instead of the ferry, Trellis Bay is right next to the airport. Pickups and dropoffs are an easy walk.
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Old 17-09-2011, 07:33   #7
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Re: Picking up friends in the BVI

West End, Sopers Hole is by and large the simplest and easiest place to meet them. There are bareboat and other charter outfits there so the local officials are very used to folks coming over and then spending their time on a boat versus a land hotel.
- - From St Martin, last time I checked in at Virgin Gorda, Spanish Town, easy anchorage outside and a dinghy ride to the marina and then walk to the Customs shack. Since you your visitors will only be onboard during your time in the BVI's it should not be necessary to list them on your inbound paperwork at Spanish Town. I always believe in keeping things simple.
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Old 17-09-2011, 07:46   #8
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Re: Picking up friends in the BVI

Thanks Osiris, I kinda thought Sopers would be easier. I shoud be able to check in there too, so I wouldn't need to stop at Spanish Town, right?
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Old 17-09-2011, 08:55   #9
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Re: Picking up friends in the BVI

You can check in at Spanish Town (Virgin Gorda), Road Town (Tortola), West End (Tortola), or Great Bay (Jost Van Dyke). You do not need to put your friends names on any of your paperwork, indeed you should not, as they will neither be entering nor leaving with you. They, on the other hand, will be asked on their visa form, where they are staying. it will not hurt for them to have a letter from you, for use ONLY if they are asked for it. If you choose to meet them at Village Cay, they should probably just put "Village Cay" as where they are staying....it also has a hotel, even though they would not be staying there. Sometimes Customs gets very fussy and hassles people as to exactly where they are staying. The reason is that they really try to keep out people who may be thinking of overstaying their welcomes and wallets. But, I have never heard of someone being turned away for this. But, they don't seem to understand that people coming for a bareboat charter, for example, might not know the name of their boat. Stay calm, in all cases!

You are obliged to check in before you do anything else. Legally, you are required to "anchor within sight of Customs". At West End and Great Bay you will, by definition, almost certainly be doing this. At Spanish Town, they have no way of seeing where you are without a walk. I always just say I am in the Marina (which allows you an hour of free dockage, which, depending upon what slip you are assigned and the wind direction, is much less hassle than dinghying in), and it has never raised an eyebrow. At Roadtown, they also have a hard time seeing you, but woe be you if you admit to being in a marina. If you say you are in Road Harbor, you are probably OK. If you say you are in a marina, you can be (and folks have been) fined to the tune of $5000, although it usually gets reduced to something less than that, but still hefty. I am by no means advising you whether to go into a marina or anchor, just telling you how it is handled.

Of course, coming in from St. Maarten, it certainly would not be difficult to just check in at Spanish Town and then do what you please from then on. Do be advised that Customs/Immigration in Spanish Town will not accept cash (hence not check you in) after 3:30 PM, so plan accordingly. I think that Jost Van Dyke closes at 4:00 but am not quite sure. Both West End, and particularly Road Town are open later due to ferry arrivals. If you arrived in the BVI at an hour before or later than the particular office is open, and say so, you will be charged overtime, even though you can only check in during office hours. If you arrive outside of hours, check in as soon as you can. You can check in on a weekend, but it is overtime. You are not supposed to go ashore, before checking in. Whether anyone will ever know this is another thing, but do keep out of trouble.

Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor answers channel 16, then shifts to 11. Their radio frequently will not pick you up much south or north of the harbor, due to topography. They will only rarely assign you a slip before you actually enter the harbor, when an attendant will beckon you. If there is any wind blowing, ASK them (even when you first contact them) if you can tie up to B dock (or the "long dock") for an hour. Getting into their "catamaran slips" in a wind can be quite challenging. Depends on your skills and maneuverability, and, of course, the wind. I have spent many an afternoon, while charter guests are at the Baths, enjoying the excitement of folks coming into those slips for the first time. When I do it, and I have done it many times on a regular basis, I am always just a bit more on guard. Many of the docks do not have an amidships cleat, so point towards one that does, if you have the choice, even thought the dock hand may initially be pointing somewhere else. Your 380 should just fit into the length of the slips, but only just. Beam will be no problem, but the wind can still undo you. The dock hands are decent and generally helpful.

Vilage Cay Marina answers 16, then switches to 71. The docks are pretty easy to get into in the prevailing wind, but a north wind blowing crosswise can make things a wee bit interesting. Fender the leeward side. Most of their slips are thirty feet wide. There are plenty of bollards, and the dockhands are very good. Bathrooms are very substandard, so empty your holding tanks before you enter. The restaurant is pretty good, for its type, but there is loud music coming out of it, or the Bat Cave, several nights a week.

Soper's Hole marina has good staff, and some of the docks are very easy to get into, others less so. We almost never stay overnight, so I can't give you any great insights, other than to say that it is a cab ride around the harbor to Customs and the Ferry Terminal. Although it can get pretty crowded in the High Season, there are often a few moorings open, and they may be your best choice, as it is a very short and easy dinghy ride to the dinghy dock at Customs and the Ferry Terminal. Anchoring is mostly deep and not very realistic, particularly with a bareboat's length of rode.

Great Bay, Jost Van Dyke, has quite tricky holding. When they put in some moorings a couple of years ago, I was hoping they would screw them into the bottom in the difficult places, but they screwed them into the bottom in all the best, most convenient holding spots. There aren't that many of them, and they really fill up in High Season, so you need to get in early in the afternoon and maybe even mill around for awhile. If you anchor, there are still a very few good spots. Most boats wind up in marginal ones, but they never set their anchors well, so they don't realize this. Make sure you have set your anchor well, be unafraid to re-anchor, and pray that the other bareboaters/cruisers will have done the same. Of course, they probably won't have, so be careful. If there is no wind, boats can bob around every which way, but there is usually a breeze. This is our least favorite anchorage on JVD, but it is the only one convenient to Customs and the Ferries. We ALWAYS get in early enough for multiple anchoring attempts, and have had to divert elsewhere on rare occasions.

Ferries do operate to all these places, although I am not sure that one goes from the USVI to JVD, in fact, I don't think one does. There are lots that go to West End and Road Town, and a couple times a week, one goes all the way from St. Thomas to Spanish Town. You will need to check this.

And, as someone else said, if you can get them to fly into Trellis (which, by the time that add the cab ride to the ferry in St. Thomas, the ferry ticket, and maybe a cab at the other end, may not be that much more expensive), they might even be able to see your boat from the plane as it taxis. In any case, it will be a short dinghy ride, and a five minute walk to the terminal. Easily done, and a nice place. If you do this, make sure to make a stop at The Last Resort, maybe for dinner and the show, but certainly for drinks and the show. Call them by phone (the number will be in your cruising guide) rather than by radio. Unoccupied boats have suffered intrusions, over the years, and announcing your dinner plans over the radio is an open invitation here and in other places. Check to see what days Al is playing (usually Tuesday through Saturday, but not always) and have a really enjoyable evening.

The order of difficulty for checking in (in my biased opinion) is Spanish Town, Road Town, West End, and then JVD. The order of difficulty for picking, for you (in my biased opinion) is Road Town, Spanish Town, West End, JVD. For your guests, it is probably a tie between Road Town, Spanish Town and West End. JBD will be dead last.

One of the best kept secrets of the BVI concerns the prevalence of dinghy theft, sometimes even when you are aboard! Lift it or lock it. Always.

Best of luck, and have a great trip.

Tim
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Old 17-09-2011, 09:17   #10
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Re: Picking up friends in the BVI

Thanks Tim for all the great advice. I think I neglected to mention that I will be on a charter boat. It is a one-way charter from St Martin to the BVI. After I pick up my friends and we sail for a week in the BVI, I will be dropping the boat at the charter base. So, wouldn't it be okay for my friends just to indicate that they will be doing a bareboat charter and name the charter company? And when I check in, it would seem reasonable to list them as crew (only two people).
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Old 17-09-2011, 10:22   #11
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Re: Picking up friends in the BVI

Jerry, you should not list them as crew for your check in, only for the Cruising Permit. When you check in, only those on board should be listed, since their passports will be necessary and visas will be issued. While you are actually within the BVI, you don't check in or out of the various ports.

Your friends will check into the BVI at the ferry dock (or airport), and will present their passports and be issued their visas at that time. So, it is not as if you should (or should not) include them when you check in....quite simply, you cannot and may not.

However, when you check in, you will be charged for a cruising permit for the time you are here, and their names must be submitted for that, along with everyone else aboard. You just explain that they are arriving by another means. You will pay a per day/per person fee for all aboard. You will also pay for a National Parks permit, which is necessary for the days you visit national parks. If you know exactly where and when you are visiting these places (there are many, and include the Baths and the Indians, the Dogs, Mountain Point, Monkey Point and Sandy Cay, among others), you can specify the days and pay accordingly. My guess is that you would be better served by just paying for the week and not worrying about it. The fee will not be much different.

Since you are dropping the boat in the BVI (which company?) you will leave the entry clearance with the charter company, and only retain your visa, which you will need for your own exit, by whatever means.

Your friends can and should indicate they are doing a charter, but Customs/Immigration will probably ask for the name of the specific boat, as well as the charter company, so get that to them if possible. I agree, you should say they are on the boat, not at a marina or hotel.

If anyone (Customs or the Marine Police) should happen to stop you during your charter, the documents that will need to be produced will be the Cruising Permit (on which everyone's name will appear), Visas (which everyone will have), the ship's papers and, sometimes, the National Parks Permit. The one thing I am unsure of, as we are BVI based for our charters, is what equivalent of the "Commercial Recreational License" you will need. You may want to ask the BVI base what to expect. This is essentially an import permit. Those of use who are based here pay an annual fee ($601, in our case, for a Leopard 45). Those who are not pay a small fee each time they enter. Just what that is based on, I do not know, since it does not apply to us. I am pretty sure this is going to depend upon where your boat is based. If it is a BVI based boat coming home, it will should have its commercial recreational license included among the paper work. If it is a St. Maarten boat that will only be in the BVI for a week or so, I would imagine that you would have to pay the temporary fees. In addition, there is a one time fee that is charged the first time a boat checks into the BVI in a given calendar year. Even if your boat is BVI based, it may well not have left the BVI this year, so you may well have to pay that, which, as I recall, is $10. You might ask the charter company about this. If the boat is from St. Maarten, same thing, it may not have checked in this year.

I think that is about it. And, remember to lock your dinghy!

Cheers,
Tim
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Old 17-09-2011, 13:46   #12
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Re: Picking-Up Friends in the BVI

OK, now I get it. Thanks for making this crystal clear, Tim. I wasn't thinking of the difference between customs and the cruising permit. I'm chartering from VPM-Bestsail. They have a base in Anse Marcel in St Martin and in Maya Cove on Tortola. I've used them twice out of St Martin and they give me a significant discount for a one-way charter to Tortola. I get invited to teach at the medical school on St Martin about twice a year, so I try to work in a charter after that. So far, I've done all my sailing in the Leewards, with a last day passage to the BVI. This time we will head to the BVI right away and spend the next 8 days in the BVI. It will also be the first time I have chartered a cat, although I have crewed on them. I can't wait!

Oh yes, and I always lock my dinghy! The fine print on the charter contract says that the insurance does not cover the dinghy or motor. If it gets stolen, I am totally responsible for it.
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Old 17-09-2011, 17:15   #13
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Re: Picking-Up Friends in the BVI

& a fine crew member you are!........i2f
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