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Old 24-02-2012, 20:28   #1
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Your First BVI Charter

6 weeks till my 1st real charter (11 days) in the BVI. We have a 35' from Footloose. I have a Great crew, my wife & another couple. I have my ASA 104 & 200nm under me in So Cal sailing costal & offshore. I feel comfortable & confident in my abilities.

Having said that... what would have done differently on your first BVI charter? What were your best memories? What were your biggest challanges?
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Old 24-02-2012, 20:53   #2
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If you're the mooring ball type, get to your evening anchorage early.
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Old 24-02-2012, 21:28   #3
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Re: Your first BVI charter

Yes, you rarely get to practice picking up a moooring ball line and securing it to the boat in sailing classes. Same with dropping it and then motoring away without running over it and fouling the propeller.

So practice how to approach a mooring ball - stop the boat with the ball close aboard the bow - and how to retrieve the line using a boat hook without loosing or dropping the boat hook into the water.

Anchoring in the BVI for a beginner is not really recommended due to the very deep water close to shore so taking a mooring is the most usual practice.

And the recommendation to arrive early to the next place is important to the enjoyment of your experience. With fewer other boats around you can finesse your mooring technique without worrying about neighbor boats.

Also you can be relaxing in the cockpit with a cocktail while watching others do the "dance" trying to get a mooring.
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Old 25-02-2012, 00:23   #4
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

The need to get to the overnight spot early cannot be over-emphasized, especially in March. Our experience has been that some liveaboard types will claim you're atop their anchor as soon as they see the charter agent's logo on the boat you sail and demand that you leave forthwith. One of our sailing friends got into it with liveaboards over 40 vs. 50 years of sailing experience and just how many boats they had respectively owned. So get there early enough to trace their rode and ensure that you won't foul their retrieval, come morning, and then tell them to stuff it. Do ensure that your anchor is well grounded and secure, as we've needed to reset more than once.

We've done the BVIs twice, once as crew on a cat and once as skipper & first mate on a monohull. My takeaway is to not try to push too hard and see too much. The visit should be about stress relief, not stress increase. Cast off early, follow the wind and call it a day where you end up. Don't try to take in the entire expanse from Jost Van Dyke to North Sound, both sides of Tortola, in a week. Pick one end, the other, or the islands south of Tortola and take your time. Don't even think about racing everyone else to the Baths from Tortola on Sunday afternoon.

Faves: Leverick Bay, Foxy's Taboo on Jost Van Dyke, Ivan's No-Stress Bar on the latter island (and the restaurant just over the hill to the west), Soper's Hole.
Overrated: Trellis Bay, Pirate's Bight & Willie T.

The closest we've come to SoCal sailing is the Catalina ferry, but you'll probably find the BVIs similar to what you've been doing recently.
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Old 25-02-2012, 00:39   #5
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

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.

For instance, our cockpit speaker for the VHF was borked as well as the GPS antenna. Our boat hook was also missing the extension piece, which made things eventful the first day, it was like trying to pick up a mooring with a coat hanger. I ended up using a paddle with a duct taped scrap wood hook to improvise.

I fixed the other issues on my own during the trip during down time, but I like that type of thing, never the less it would have been much easier if I had spotted them before debarking.

Another tip would be to collect 3rd party cruising guides before you arrive, as everyone will be using the one they provide.

Turn your phone OFF. Unless you want to be surprised by a huge bill.

Lastly, VISIT THE ATM before you leave. You wont find them anywhere else and Mooring fees stack up and usually are cash only.
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Old 25-02-2012, 08:31   #6
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Re: Your first BVI charter

[QUOTE=osirissail;895001]Yes, you rarely get to practice picking up a moooring ball line and securing it to the boat in sailing classes. Same with dropping it and then motoring away without running over it and fouling the propeller.

So practice how to approach a mooring ball - stop the boat with the ball close aboard the bow - and how to retrieve the line using a boat hook without loosing or dropping the boat hook into the water.
QUOTE]

Uh oh. So we practiced mooring at Catalina Island, the moorings had pick-up poles, which were really nice and painless. Are you saying the BVI moorings do not have these? How accessable are the mooring lines off the mooring balls?
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Old 25-02-2012, 09:29   #7
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

I was there just this last August. I was on a lagoon 440 with my wife and twin daughters. This was my first bareboat charter and I basically have only a few days of sailing experience. While I have owned a 23ft power boat for years, this cat was much larger than anything I have ran before. That being said, my wife drove the boat & I picked up the mooring ball almost the first time, every time. They all had a long rope with an eye on the end. Very easy to deal with so don't worry about that too much. I guess it depends on your abilities anyway. My wife and I work as a team with our power boat and can have the thing in and out of the water in no time at the ramp while it takes other folks forever to do it. I hate boat ramps. They are filled with a bunch of morons that have no business being there. On a different note, I must not get it. What does everyone do in the BVI's? I mean we had things to do but I don't really feel like sitting in a beach bar starting at noon. Maybe I just can wind down and sit around but we found that there was not that much to do there. I know I am going to get blasted for this but it was our experience. We would sail, or try to, for a few hours to the next island, pick up a mooring, snorkel a little, go to the beach in the dink, walk around a bit and then back the the boat and sit around until cocktail hour, sleep, repeat. Someone slap me up. I am seriously considering getting a boat here in the next few years and spending the winters on it in the Caribbean but am afraid I will get bored. HELP!
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Old 25-02-2012, 09:52   #8
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

Sounds like heaven to us LOL !! just anchoring up (don't care much for paying for mooring balls I did not install LOL) and relaxing, watching the birds and the sunset, and the sunrise with a GOOD cup of fresh ground french roast coffee AHH thats what we cruise for !! seeing old friends and meeting new ones, shareing a pot luck ashore, or cooking on board cajun style for a group !! There always something to keep us happy!! alone or with others ! How can anyone get bored?? Just my 2 cents Bob and Connie
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Old 25-02-2012, 10:17   #9
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

Two couples together on a 35' boat for 11 days will need to be very, very good friends. If you aren't now, you will either be great friends by the end, or you will hate each other, LOL.
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Old 25-02-2012, 10:55   #10
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

Our mistake in 1976 was going with a secondary company that no longer exists. The boat was the pits. Try not to do the same itinerary as the majority of boats. Your first day will be a short day so you will be limited as to how far you can go. Try Munier's(sp?) Bay on Norman instead of the Bight unless you like the noise of a bunch of drunks. If the wind is favorable go east to the Bitter End then work your way back west - Anegada on the way. Unless it is Easter week the crouds should be manageable but try to be on a mooring by 3PM.
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Old 25-02-2012, 11:00   #11
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

Just make it a habit of moving on to the next anchorage after you've had your morning rituals. the "Early bird catches the worm"
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Old 25-02-2012, 12:37   #12
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I won't blast you for your opinion. I get bored easily too. One thing that I can assure you is that if you have your own private boat here, there will be a never-ending list of things that need to be fixed, replaced or polished. I never got bored aboard as there is always some stainless that needs to be polished or a system that could use some maintenance. You can keep as busy as you want.
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Old 25-02-2012, 17:54   #13
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

Thanks for the feedback. Everyones comments are EXACTLY what I was looking for.
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Old 26-02-2012, 07:45   #14
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

I own a boat in Footloose.

On my first "charter", we picked up a mooring almost every night. Now I'll go for 3 weeks and maybe only pick up a mooring once. I guess, looking back what I would have done differently is to spend less time at all the crowded mooring/anchoring fields and spent more time on the hook at less crowded places.

That said, it's all a matter of what you prefer.
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Old 26-02-2012, 08:14   #15
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Re: Your First BVI Charter

Best advice I can give you is have fun.

Also, since you have 11 days, you might want to clear out of the BVI and sail to St. John for a few days...if all of your crew are USA citizens this will be easy. St John has over a dozen bays/anchorages...you may want to circumnavigate St. John. Ask the Footloose people for the information about checking out of the BVI at either Soper's Hole or Jost Van Dyke.

You may also want to join the weekly Moorings flotilla to Anegada. It is only about 12 miles from Gorda Sound to Anegada. If you choose to anchor at Anegada, the sand is very silty...be sure to let the anchor settle for a few minutes before backing down or you will just plow with the anchor.

First-timers in the BVI love The Bight, Marina Cay, Foxy's @ Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke and The Baths on Virgin Gorda, so you probably want to see these for sure.

Have fun.

Bill
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