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Old 27-02-2012, 18:25   #16
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

I agree with other comments that you shouldn't try to do too much. You can't fit in everything, so don't bother. It is helpful to have an idea of places and stops you are going to make. Then make sure you get there early - most spots you can get in early and enjoy the rest of the day there or make short dinghy trips to nearby spots to enjoy.

In busy spots like the Indian's, Caves, Baths and Sandy Cay, get there early.

I'll also add, that if you find yourself in a spot or situation that you are uncomfortable in, ditch it and move on. Our first charter was a 47' Moorings Catamaran. 20' longer than the largest Mono I had every handled.. First day we tried to go to the Soggy Dollar Bar. It was crowded and after trying to find a spot, I decided I wasn't comfortable and we left. Did the same thing a day later at Soper's Hole when we were going to top off the water (just because we were there and figured why not). Wind and proximity to other boats was making me nervous trying to dock, so I bailed - especially since getting water wasn't critical. After that, I started to feel more comfortable. So my point is, just don't leave your comfort level - change things if you need to.

I also agree St. John could be good for a few days. Especially if the North swell isn't an issue. Lots of moorings on the north side and it is less busy than the BVI from what we experienced a couple of weeks ago.

Also as stated make sure to go over the boat thoroughly. Our boat hook was broken this past trip (missing the hook) and my wife did see we had it, but didn't see that the hook wasn't there.. Best advice I can give on this which worked great for us was to pick up the mooring from the stern of the boat and then walk it forward. We did this about 3-4 times with ease before getting the hook. Also don't hesitate to call service if you have an issue - they can often walk you through fixing it over the phone and if they need to send someone out, they make the process quite easy.

Another thing I wish we did our first trip was hike to the top of the baths for breakfast. It wasn't until our 3rd trip that we finally did that and we've done it most trips since.

And the most important thing - have fun and relax! Our first few trips we raced all around to hit a few snorkel spots a day before settling in for our night. This past trip at most we hit one spot a day and some days just moved to a new anchorage and enjoyed things from there.
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Old 06-03-2012, 11:01   #17
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

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Did a Moorings trip with my girlfriend last year in the BVI. Had a blast.

If anything pay attention to the boat walkthrough and use that time to do a check on basic things while someone is there to verify you didnt break something.

I can't stress this enough. Previously, we have been so excited to be on the boat and on vacation that we didn't pay close attention to make sure everything worked, and how to "work everything" aboard For example, we didn't pay close enough attention to the stove/oven lighting process last time, and didn't realize that the oven actually wasn't lighting.

Make sure you understand how to light the stove/oven; switch water tanks; open/close the holding tanks; etc etc. It is worth the time you spend to make sure things run smoothly once you are underway. Oh, and be sure you start the dinghy outboard several times to make sure nothing is wrong, our last two dinghies had diffcult-to-start outboards.

Agree with everyone that you should limit your stress by taking it slow and easy. Norman Island is the best first night destination for a newbie charterer leaving from Road Town. Get there early on the first day because others often do the same thing and moorings fill up fast.
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Old 06-03-2012, 11:14   #18
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

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I can't stress this enough. Previously, we have been so excited to be on the boat and on vacation that we didn't pay close attention to make sure everything worked, and how to "work everything" aboard For example, we didn't pay close enough attention to the stove/oven lighting process last time, and didn't realize that the oven actually wasn't lighting.
If it's an option, getting to the boat the afternoon before departure and spending the night aboard can really help the jitters of rushing through checkout on a new boat in a new location. You can take the time to test out all the usual scenarios and make sure everyone knows where stuff is. Also, I find that if I know I'm missing sailing time, I don't pay as close attention hoping to get out on the water sooner. If it's "just" an extra hour before the first painkiller, I can usually stay on task and be sure I really know the boat.
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Old 06-03-2012, 12:23   #19
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

give us a list of your anchor spots. I to would rather anchor.
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Old 06-03-2012, 17:14   #20
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

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If it's an option, getting to the boat the afternoon before departure and spending the night aboard can really help the jitters of rushing through checkout on a new boat in a new location. You can take the time to test out all the usual scenarios and make sure everyone knows where stuff is. Also, I find that if I know I'm missing sailing time, I don't pay as close attention hoping to get out on the water sooner. If it's "just" an extra hour before the first painkiller, I can usually stay on task and be sure I really know the boat.
This is great advice. I'm not sure what the Footloose start time is - like Sunsail it might be an evening start by default.

Regardless, don't short change the prep time. Having just completed our 6th charter a few weeks ago on a boat that we'd been on before, I was able to go through things in about 1.5 hours or less. I would spend more time on a less familiar boat just to make sure nothing is missing. Even this past trip we missed the fact that the boat hook didn't have the hook

Better to spend an extra hour or so at the dock and make sure all is well than have to make a call (which you may have to do anyway) while out on the water for something that could have been dealt with.
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Old 15-03-2012, 10:34   #21
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

Provisioning
When bareboating in the Leewards, fresh fish was available widely, and we would bar-b-que fish almost every night. When we went to the BVI, I assumed we would do the same, but found fresh fish unavailable in most of the markets. However, the markets in the BVI all have vacuum packed meats including fish frozen hard as a rock, and they were great on the bar-b-que. An advantage is that you can buy enough for two nights if you pack well on ice. We had Mahi-Mahi, chicken and pork tenderloin on the grill and it worked out great. Keep cash for buying ice and paying for mooring fees. Have fun, you will love it!
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Old 15-03-2012, 10:59   #22
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

My first charter in the BVI's was in 1973. Boy, was it different. Same beautiful place, just without all the boats and people.

Relax. Have fun. When we lived on St. John a few years back, our favorite places in the BVI's (for day trips on the center-console runabout) were the Indians, Norman's Cay, the Soggy Dollar, and the Baths. Talk about your overcrowded tourist destinations! But I can't remember ever being stressed in any of those locations. We were living on island time, though, so we just rolled with whatever. Our favorite spots on St. John were Francis Bay and Reef Bay (a day stop only, and maybe off limits for a charter boat? But you could hike to it from Lameshur Bay, which is great itself.)

Three years ago I went for a week with a buddy who owns a charter boat down there. Anegada is his perennial favorite, and I agree, although I still think the Indians are the coolest spot.

As for some of the posts above, remember, it's the Caribbean. Things will be broken on the boat. People won't do what they say they'll do. Jumbies will mess up all kinds of stuff. Just have a painkiller and roll with it.

(Jumbies are mischevious evil spirits that live in the forest.) They are ALL OVER down there.
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Old 15-03-2012, 11:56   #23
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

if you haven't found it, www.traveltakonline.com the BVI forum is a great resource for bareboat charterers. There is a bareboat charter checklist in the BVI Talk forum, too. Bring a pair of leather gloves if the windlass dies (two out of 6 trips for us), some extra line for all sorts of things and a small flashlight for walking the rough roads, paths and to use with the dinghy. Aqua socks or sandals with straps are useful when tryng to board the dinghy from a semi-rocky beach. Plan on seperating your little toe from the 4th toe several times on the mid-ship deck cleat. The only thing I have found that helps prevent that is wrapping a dockline around it, because I always forget about it when going forward to drop the anchor, etc. In our view, Quito is not to be missed in CGB.
Watch out for the "service charge" (it is the tip) a few bars and restaurant add to your tab. Usually 20% and the normal tip line remains on your receipt, so it is easy to overtip in a big way. Have a great time!
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Old 18-03-2012, 16:43   #24
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

Great insights, comments & stories. I appreciate everyone's input.
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Old 24-03-2012, 03:22   #25
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

Have just had a couple of weeks in the BVI's with friends on their lagoon 47. Was a little surprised at how many more boats there were than when we were there crewing on a private yacht back in '94.

However,this time, we were 4 adults and 4 adolescent boys and we had a blast, plenty to do, a few issues with finding moorings or anchorage space, but, so what, your in the caribbean, enjoy every minute.

I say this as i hear the wind howling and the rain pouring outside our home in wellington, temperature around 15 degrees C, waiting and waiting to get a decent day to get out on our boat for a dive.

Only 2 weeks to go for you, be excited, not apprehensive.
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Old 24-03-2012, 05:43   #26
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

We spent 2.5 months in the BVIs just this past winter. I would recommend you do not go any where near the Soggy Dollar bar in White Bay as it involves an entrance through coral heads only to find that it is so crowded you can't stay. Watch out for catamarans not all of them inexperienced charters (quite a few arrogant owners who think that because they spent millions they can do what ever they want) who will try to anchor to closely. A lot of the anchorages have variable winds depending on the terrain and a catamaran will swing differently than a monohull. If there is a mooring pick it up for the night as you will save time and a lot of aggravation. Not the cheap route but the easiest and usually, the moorings are well spaced. Also, sometimes the moorings are there to protect the coral which in some places have been pulverized by careless anchoring. If you do anchor follow the advice of others and let the anchor settle for a moment or a few and then back down on it and drop 5:1 scope. Saw way too many boats that dropped no scope at all and then were dragging at 1:00 am. Final note, full moon party at Trellis Bay is supposed to be great (we were there at New Years and I'm told that the full moon party very similar just fewer bands). Loved Trellis Bay and you can dinghy over to Marina Cay. For us Jost Van Dyke was highly over rated and the only place I felt uncomfortable. Also, watch out for your dinghy as lots of dinghies are stolen, drift away or otherwise go missing especially when being towed. Ask what the capacity of your dinghy is and don't overload it. Watched 6 vacationers miss out on dinner a shore because they all tried to go at once in a tiny dinghy for 2 with an outboard of 4 hp. Businesses and services come and go in the blink of an eye in the Caribbean so you need info for now not a few years ago. Happy to answer any additional questions with the caveat that we own our boat, not charter, but we move around a lot not stay all winter in one anchorage. Good wifi all this week if you want to send a pm.
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Old 24-03-2012, 07:24   #27
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, goatboater.
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Old 24-03-2012, 07:49   #28
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

With four people on a smaller boat you will have limited water tankage. Have an honest talk about water usage and conservation (Are you going to use the stern shower after swimming? Sponge baths?). Pay attention during the briefing as to where you can get water (not many places and usually expensive). Saba Rock includes free water with a moorng fee.

Bring more water and non-alcholic drinks that you think you'll need. Staying hydrated is a challenge.

And for the first few days be really careful about the sun - backs of hands, feet - very common for one crew member to get a bad burn the first day that puts a real crimp on the whole trip for everyone.

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Old 24-03-2012, 08:00   #29
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

Also have a talk among the group about how much they want a calm anchorage. Depending on the weather, many BVI harbors can be rough/rolly for a 35ft mono. Doesn't bother me but some new to cruising can't sleep.

The Bight at Norman, North Sound, Trellis Bay, and Sopers Hole are pretty much always calm.

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Old 24-03-2012, 09:06   #30
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

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Also, watch out for your dinghy as lots of dinghies are stolen, .

I have been reading about this. I called Footloose & they do not provide a locking system. I plan on bringing a lock, cable, hasp, & a small LOTO clamshell. I should be able to rig a makeshift locking system.
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