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Old 05-07-2009, 06:11   #16
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Thanks for the all the advice guys. Looks like Ill just be doing a temporary stay at the BVI ( Sebastian hotel on the west end) or camping at Saint Johns untill I finish the ASA courses (101,103,104 with the likelihood of doing others). After that I'm not sure what to do.

Reality Check says that Saint Thomas is not a great place for boating, why is that? Do they have places that rent out boats for licensed individuals? Like if I join the Yacht club, would I have access to member boats? Is there anything of that sort on Saint Thomas? If that's not the case then I'll be forced to go back to the states, which is fine because that's where I intend on buying my boat anyways.

So basically spending a month or so in Tortola taking all the courses I can, then shopping around for a boat to buy (preferably on the west coast, I will be paying cash so I dont want to be doing any flying or a lot of driving). Do I have other options, any suggestions out there? Thanks
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Old 05-07-2009, 07:59   #17
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I cannot find anything in "Reality Check" that says that St. Thomas is not a great place for boating? I have been and spent a lot of time in all the Virgins and really like St. Thomas. One, you are in the "USA" for getting work and shopping purposes (Home Depot, PriceSmart warehouse foods, etc.). It does take some time to get to know "where" to shop and eat to avoid the prices and hassles of the "tourist" areas. Add in that you have normal "US Post Office" for mail and packages and there are lots of pluses.
For actual sailing, the island of St. Thomas is just as good as any BVI and you will find fewer crowded anchorages and better snorkel/diving sites - again because there are fewer charterers. And many more free anchorages - no moorings. The whole grouping of the Virgins are so close together that you can sail from island to island, anchorage to anchorage (mooring to mooring) in hours or less.
Because the numbers of charterers in the BVI's is significantly higher than the USVI's there are comparatively very few charter operations/sailing schools in the USVI. That is a drawback. But for a live-aboard cruiser it is a positive.
** The key to being successful in a sailing school is - don't hesitate to change instructors or even schools if you feel incompatible and are not enjoying/learning to the maximum. There are good instructors and bad instructors and most any of the schools will have both. You are paying good money to learn and if you are not learning, demand a different instructor or change schools. Each ASA level is separate from the next level and completion of any level is transferable to another different ASA school.
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Old 05-07-2009, 08:40   #18
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Originally Posted by Reality Check View Post
St. Thomas has interesting places to go on land but not one of my fav boating locations for several reasons.
...just to clarify that I wasn't making it up. Anyways you make a lot of great points about Saint Thomas that I haven't considered. What still eludes me is whether any of the marina/clubs have memberships where boats are loaned out to its members. I just got in yesterday and didnt have much time to poke around the island so today I plan on calling and/or stopping by the Crown Bay Marina, Red Hook Marina, St. Thomas Yacht Club, etc.
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Old 05-07-2009, 21:09   #19
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I stand corrected (well more like sitting at my lapbook) - but many years ago I held the same opinion of St Thomas - not very nice and the BVI's were so much more exciting to a new charterer. Since then I have had occasion to spend considerable time - a month and more at a time on my own boat. My primary reason for returning up island to St Thomas was to take advantage of the no-hassle Postal System without having to deal with customs agents and fees when in a foreign country. Having to wait many weeks for all the packages to arrive, I had time to explore and get to know the island culture behind the obvious tourist front. In addition, I had several cruising friends working there for the season to refill their cruising kitty. When you learn of the "other side" of a place you get a deeper impression of the place.
I only know of commercial "bareboat" charter companies in St Thomas. There are about 4 or 5 for sailboats and the rates vary from US$400/day to US$2000/week. And you must be already "bareboat certified" by a reputable school - and - have a sailing resume. That is the "kicker" - getting a sailing resume which is a listing of places, boats, and companies that you already chartered from. Where do you start?
After I got a "bareboat certification" from ASA in Miami, Florida I rented boats from the school where I got my bareboat certification. After that I branched out to 3rd level charter operations who had the older, run down boats and weren't too particular about to whom they rented. One level lead to the other and in a few years I could rent from 1st level operations especially in the "off seasons."
Your plan to check out the various operations around the island is probably the best choice. On St Thomas there are "jitney" buses that circle the island. They are obvious with their canvas top and bench seats on top of a flat bed truck frame. Costs were about US$2 per half island; $3 from Red Hook to Charlotte Amalie last time I was there. From Red Hook the buses go by Benner Bay with some marinas and charter outfits; then to Charlotte Amalie and French Town with CYOA. Google St Thomas bareboat charters and you will find the locations of the other places.
I do not think that there are any local co-op type clubs in the islands only commercial outfits in the normal bareboat business. But who knows. Normally, the rates for chartering out of USVI are cheaper than the BVI's but that may have changed as the number of outfits has decreased over the years.
Bareboat chartering is not cheap, but if you get 2 or 3 couples (4 to 6 friends) together and split the costs it becomes a very economical and fun way to see the islands compared to staying in a hotel/resort.
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Old 11-07-2009, 17:43   #20
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Sorry to have jumped in so late on this one. If I can be of any assistance Delecto, feel free to send me a PM. I now of a boat owner who has let people stay on his boat in the past and do minor work on it in exchange for sailing lessons and weekly racing experience as crew.
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