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Old 02-05-2011, 07:45   #1
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St Thomas to the BVI Question

In late June I will be sailing from St Thomas to the BVI with my wife and two children (8 & 11). I have a few questions and any advice or input would be greatly appreciated.

1. I anticipate leaving the dock in St Thomas around noon. We would head East and then North up Pillsbury Sound. The thought is to spend that first night somewhere around St John. I have been told that Leinster Bay is a good overnight. Any thoughts? Can you overnight at Trunk bay?

2. Leaving St John, any thoughts on Customs in the BVI? Tortola or Jost? Do I need to be concerned with hitting customs on a Saturday or Sunday?

3. The few times I sailed the BVI many years ago, I left Tortola and sailed counter-clockwise around the island. Seems thats what most did. If I leave St John and do Customs at Jost, does anyone have any thoughts on continuing along the North side of Tortola to Virgin Gorda or Anegada?

Thanks in advance for taking the time to respond.

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Old 02-05-2011, 07:55   #2
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Re: St Thomas to the BVI Question

Leinster Bay is nice--good snorkeling on the channel side of Waterlemon Cay, and the moorings are right there by the Cay. If you get a late start, Christmas Cove on Great St James Island (near the eastern end of St Thomas) is one of my favorite spots.

C&I at West End, Tortola (Sopers Hole) has seemed to me to be open more often than the Jost van Dyke office. The downside there is you have to wait if a ferry comes in, as they take precedence over yachts. I've never cleared in or out on the weekend, so can't advise you about that.

If you want to go to Anegada, leave from North Sound on Virgin Gorda so you can arrive while the sun's still fairly high. Easier to spot the coral heads that way.

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Old 02-05-2011, 08:07   #3
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Re: St Thomas to the BVI Question

Looks like there are only 4 overnight moorings on Trunk Bay, but 20 at Leinster and it's first come-first serve. Here's a link to a map and the regulations regarding boating in the Virgin Islands National Park:

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Old 02-05-2011, 08:26   #4
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Re: St Thomas to the BVI Question


We always grab a ball outside of Cruz Bay (Honeymoon/Caneel area) and then dink in to town for food/drink on the first night. Beach Bar, Woody's, Uncle Joes BBQ etc.

Customs at Sopers can get busy with ferry traffic, alternative would be to look at clearing in at Jost. It's much faster.
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Old 02-05-2011, 08:32   #5
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Re: St Thomas to the BVI Question

I can give you a brief itnerary based on what I did as a Charter Captain there. 1st overnight inside at Water Lemon Cay. (walk up to the sugar plantation) AM up Drakes to Soper's for C & I before noon. From there to pick up a mooring ball inside Norman Isle. (snorkle the caves outside). AM snorkle at the Indians. Willie T's for drinks. If you anchor close to the inside corner you can walk the path to Lunch inside Peter Island Yacht Club. Sail around to the beach facing Dead Chest for an afternoon of fun in the sun. AM over to Salt Island to dive the wreck of the Roan. Lunch and overnight at Cooper Island. AM sail to the Baths on Virgin Gorda. PM achor up just before the turn to North Sound. Snorkle the wall or more beach. Sail around Mosquito Island into North Sound and pick up a ball in front of Bitter End Yacht Club. AM Sail to Anagada arrive before noon to be able to see bottom. Next day back to Marina Cay. If you're early enogh pick up a mooring ball and dingy over to Trellis Bay. AM sail to just inside the hook on Guana for good snorkle w/daytime balls. On to Cane Garden Bay for overnight. AM sail to Jost Van Dyke. If your experienced you can anchor inside the reef at White sound, but don't stay overnight, if not pick up a ball in the harbor, not too close to Foxy's as the noise level increases with the traffic. This gives you a round trip tour with plenty of time to take diving or walking trips, ie the copper mines in Virgin Gorda, the Bomba Shack, or diving around the "Dogs".
All the best,
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Old 02-05-2011, 08:32   #6
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Re: St Thomas to the BVI Question

Most of the questions have been answered. There is absolutely nothing wrong with going round BVI "the wrong way". From Jost its nice to have lunch and a snorkel at Monkey Point, Guana (although it will be a beat) then overnight either in Trellis (Beef Island) or Marina Cay. From there, up to Anegada is a good trip but you can also go across to VG where, effectively, you'll re-join the counter-clockwise circuit which most of the bareboats do.

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Old 02-05-2011, 09:11   #7
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Re: St Thomas to the BVI Question

I second Christmas Cove. As a first night out, it's really hard to beat - it's EXACTLY what everyone thinks of for a Caribbean charter.
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Old 02-05-2011, 10:29   #8
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Re: St Thomas to the BVI Question

For C&I and given a choice I would use JVD first, followed by Spanish Town, then Soper's, then Roadtown. That's my experience with the hours and staff over 30 years. I've checked in or out of JVD, Roadtown, and Spanish Town within the past year.
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Old 02-05-2011, 11:56   #9
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Re: St Thomas to the BVI Question

Charlotte Amalie, STT to Leinster Bay, St. John is a very long way for a noonish departure from STT. It's a tough slog to windward. If the trades are blowing, it can be a VERY lively and long slog.

Watch out for Cow and Calf rocks.

I'd think about Christmas Cove as a destination for the first night.

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Old 02-05-2011, 15:55   #10
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Re: St Thomas to the BVI Question

Thank you everyone. Very helpful. My first day on the forum. I really appreciate the assistance.
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Old 04-05-2011, 09:27   #11
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Re: St Thomas to the BVI Question

Last year I was the National Park's Bay Host at Leinster Bay for about 5 months until the end of the season in early July. We were "required" to take a two day break every week and I made many two day runs about the area both in and around the BVI and other locations on St. John and St. Thomas.

btrayfors was dead on when he indicated a run from most areas on St. Thomas to Leinster Bay with an afternoon start time can be a hard run at times and even in good times, you will not have much time at Leinster / Waterlemon Cay which is a destination not to be missed. This has some of the best snorkeling and hiking in the islands. Don't miss the old Danish Guard house above the bay which has killer views of the bay... best between 9AM and 11:30 and you will see colorations you will not believe, go on up the trail to Windy Hill for an even better view. Note the fee in the National park is $15.00 per night... a good deal and if you have the Golden Age Pass, think that is still 62+ the fee is $7.50 per night which beats the $25 and $30+ fees over night in the BVI.

I would check in at West End unless you intend on going to Jost Van Dyke first then just do it. You will have marginally higher fees on the weekend but not a major thing.

Direction should be governed on the winds and seas. If a strong North Swell is in work, Probably not a problem that time of year, you may want to stick to the Sir Francis Drake Channel for a while.

If you are heading to Anegada from Jost you need to head out early as you need good light to see the coral heads and find you way into the channel. I've done it several times and not a problem on a bright day but if overcast it could cause more problems. If Northern Swells are acting up... you will want to avoid Cain Garden Bay and possibly the trip to Anegada unless your crew likes to rock and roll a LOT. Swells should not be a major problem in June but they do occur.

Have fun... I'll be heading back from St. Maarten in late June or early July.

I would also recommend a possible stop at Christmas Cove
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Old 04-05-2011, 09:39   #12
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Re: St Thomas to the BVI Question

done it before .. keep in mind you will be against the trade winds going east .. maybe doing a lot of motoring and pounding. probably best to leave very early before the wind and waves pipe up
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Old 08-05-2011, 18:37   #13
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Re: St Thomas to the BVI Question

Thanks again everyone. REALITY CHECK, great run down. I have been away for a few days but plan to start mapping things out this week. I don't like to have a rigid schedule, but want to have some idea of the place not to miss. I'm thinking it makes sense to check in on the west end Tortola and go counter clockwise around. It will make things easier on myself and the crew.

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