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Old 18-02-2016, 10:51   #1
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Another USVI vs. BVI question

Hi All,
Looking to charter first time in carib. week before Christmas 2016. 2 adults (parents) and 4 kids (kinda adults) 20,20,23 and 23. Only going for 1 week and will fly into STT for $ savings.
Parent's goal is to go primitive with lots of sailing and avoid crowds. Kids probably would like to do some of that plus social stuff (bars/shopping). Probably go with cat 40ft but first time chartering a cat also. If you had one week what would you do considering the whole ferry thing vs. be on the boat in 20 mins. Is there enough variation to stay on St. Thomas less crowds? I have read much on this and the consensus seems to favor BVI but extra time required plus more crowds for X-mas. I'm undecided but want to put down a deposit shortly. Thanks for your time.
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Old 18-02-2016, 10:59   #2
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Re: Another USVI vs. BVI question

One additional comment. I guess I'm not sold on a cat either. Would 6 people (family & friends) do okay chartering a mono. This is what we plan to purchase one day anyway. thx
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Old 18-02-2016, 11:05   #3
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Re: Another USVI vs. BVI question

I've done this a couple of times recently. Both times flying into STT, it is super easy and part of the adventure to make my way over to Road Town. STT is fun on the East End, but more adult oriented than towards kids. St. John is awesome but much lower key a bit more expensive. I am not sure what the cost to fly right into Tortola but you just want to consider the costs to get from STT to Road town (with luggage) Figure for the family $8 each for the taxi to the Ferry, $35 each for the round trip ferry, and $100 for the family taxi from Soper's to Road Town round trip. I was on no time table so it was fun, but if you only have 7 days it might be worth going directly into Tortola. I suggest figuring out how to spend 2 weeks vs. 1 you won't regret it!
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Old 18-02-2016, 11:13   #4
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Re: Another USVI vs. BVI question

Have fun chuck. I'd definitely get a mono in your case. Should be plenty of room for 6 on a 40' er or so. I haven't done USVI but BVIs are awesome and crowds easy to get away from. Maybe charter out of the place the ferry lands to cut down on travel time. There's a decent supermarket there for provisioning.
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Old 19-02-2016, 08:41   #5
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Re: Another USVI vs. BVI question

First off, I have never chartered in the USVI, however I have chartered in the BVI many times. I have flown into STT about half the time and ferried over. We love the BVI, and would definitely say it is worth the trip, just coordinate flights with enough time to catch the ferry, if possible. With that group and time of year I'd sleep aboard the night before you head out. The BVI is still not that crowded, and the island stops are more remote, beach bars and small resorts. I never thought the towns had much to offer in the USVI or the BVI, just tourist crap. Regarding which type of boat, count the cabins and heads, then think about space to hang out. Will you do dinners ashore or on-board? If you are planning to get a mono, I'd save the money for it and pass on the cat. You could get spoiled on a cat for a week.

Have fun & be safe!
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Old 19-02-2016, 08:44   #6
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Re: Another USVI vs. BVI question

I've been going to the USVI and occasionally to the BVI for 26 years, and personally, I would not stay on St Thomas. It's crowded, there is more crime, and everyone is trying to get another dollar from you. St John is great, but dealing with customs to get to the BVI from USVI is a hassle and time-consuming. If it were me, I'd stay in the BVI if that's where you're chartering from.
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Old 19-02-2016, 09:16   #7
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Re: Another USVI vs. BVI question

I live in St. Thomas and love it here, but charter in the BVI. You can always take a ferry to St. Thomas or clear in and out.


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Old 19-02-2016, 09:22   #8
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Re: Another USVI vs. BVI question

i have made this trip often. A lot of Charter companies leave out of Red Hook on STT and take you over to the BVI. If you dont want crowded, leave STT as soon as you can.

These guys are great :sailcatalyst.com and sailfreeingwe.com. (no I dont work for them, but I do charter from them). They will customize the trip to you.

Good luck, it is paradise down there.

JR
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Old 19-02-2016, 09:32   #9
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Re: Another USVI vs. BVI question

Chuck, you've received a lot of good advice already. If you are thinking of buying a monohull some day, by all means charter one in the size that you are considering buying. Cats have more deck space, which is good for families with kids, but most folks think that monohulls sail better (I'll get objections to that!)

Definitely ferry over to BVI. Yes, you lose a little bit of time on each ferry connection, but in practical terms, not much. You probably won't get into St. Thomas in time to board the boat, go through boat briefings and chart briefings, and still have time to leave the dock before dark. So your arrival night is going to be spent onboard your boat at the dock. And if you ferry to BVI you will wake up where you really want to be. I enjoy St. Thomas, except for the noise and traffic, but BVI has so much more variety packed into a relatively small space. Many harbors fairly close together, great beaches, great snorkeling, good restaurants, etc.

St. John has a lot of lovely beaches and anchorages, but if you only have a week, then there is no way you can exhaust the best of BVI.
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Old 19-02-2016, 09:42   #10
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Re: Another USVI vs. BVI question

I just completed my 5th Charter in the BVI. This time, we took the boat to St Thomas. When I looked at USVI Charters, their 7 day Itinerarys all took them to BVI for most of the trip. BVI is better. You could do several days in the areas around St John to get away but you will get more from the BVI. I do monohulls (own a boat at Moorings). You also get a better selection at Road Town. I reviewed the notes on travel. Travel options to Beef Island have actually reduced now that American doesn't fly there. We fly to STT because it is much cheaper. Agree with the adventure part about getting from STT to Road Town. My only comment is that you can go direct to Road Town and don't have to get off at the West End. From there it is a short cab ride (or long walk) to most of the Marinas.
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Old 19-02-2016, 09:50   #11
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Re: Another USVI vs. BVI question

What's so hard about flying from San Juan to Tortola? We did St. Thomas the first time, but BVIs direct all the other four or five times. Never did the ferry, which would take even more time than the simple check-in at JVD and back in to the US on St. John. It was fun onc, but not worth the time after that.

You're there to sail, so why not simply go to where you want to be right off the bat? Losing time because of inter-island travel, whether on your bareboat or by ferry makes no sense to us.

The planes from San Juan land in Tortola around mid-day, leaving plenty of time to check in, get briefed and be on your way to, say, Norman Island from Nanny Cay or Roadtown. No sitting in a hot harbor for your first night wasting valuable vacation time.

Your vacation, your choice.

Have fun, whatever you do.

Mono size: we had a 50 foot Beneteau for the three of us once. Four separate staterooms oughta do it for you, unless you don't want to spoil the kids, so a 40 footer should do.
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Old 19-02-2016, 10:17   #12
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Re: Another USVI vs. BVI question

50 foot mono or 40 foot cat.
They will like the Catamaran more.
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Old 19-02-2016, 12:06   #13
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Re: Another USVI vs. BVI question

We've spent the last 2 seasons(Nov-May) in the USVI+BVIs. Depends on what you want to do. BVI=several interesting, but loud beach bars, expensive moorings $30/night), several rolly exposed harbors(depending on if there is a swell running and from where), a couple of really nice beaches and snorkeling spots, and lots of charter boats-some with... less than skilled operators. Everything seems expensive. St John is quiet, some great (protected) beaches, lots of hiking trails, cheaper moorings ($26/night, unless you have a /Seniors card-then its $13/night), and except for the west end mostly nat'l park. Or...do a little of both! Everything is very close (a couple hr sail), and the longest its taken us to process in/out at West End(Sopers Hole) is maybe 30 minutes! STT has some interesting places too (islands and bays), but a little touristy-especially when the cruise boats are in...they usually arrive early am and leave by 6:00pm-8:00pm.
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Old 19-02-2016, 12:56   #14
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Re: Another USVI vs. BVI question

Couldn't resist to weigh in here (guess I'm a glutton for verbal abuse but here goes.....Two sets of twins - "Kinda kids" who are 20-23??? are typically looking for entertainment different then youngsters which may include alcohol, dancing and hanging out. Just saying......

It really boils down to personal taste and how you want to spend the group's time. If you've never been to the USVI or BVIs then its all new and it may all be good and fun. On the other hand, if your goal is to maximize time on the boat and explore various anchorages then consider 25 years of chartering experience in the Islands and how it may give you some insights.

If you fly into St. Thomas, you are probably headed to Red Hook to pick-up the charter boat. Count on 45 minute plus ride. $50-$60 bucks should cover it. Very limited mid or low cost hotels at Red Hook, examples include Westin and Ritz. Best choice is probably spend the night on the boat (they charge you full rate for this) in the marina, not much fun there and it will be HOT with little air moving. If you start in USVI just be aware you almost for certain will want to go into the BVIs which means clearing thru customs twice (count on at least 1 hour spent out of your vacation each clearing of customs and fees). One big plus of USVIs is St. Johns, especially the South side.

Many charters find flying into Beef Island airport adjacent to Tortola, clear customs and go directly to charter boat suits their needs best. You can fly directly from US to either St. Thomas, or St. Martin and catch small commuter (prop) to Beef Island. Having been stranded on Puerto Rico numerous times using Ilait and others I avoid PR for connecting flights. A lot of interesting islands to visit in the BVIs.

You can take a ferry from the Charlotte Amalie, Speedy's runs about $35 a head to BVIs: Soper's Hole (West End) or Roadtown both on Tortola - the sailboat charter capital of the world. Charter companies operate out of Soper's Hole, Nanny Cay and Roadtown to name a few and a taxi ride is not to bad in either time or expense. Scenery along the way is enjoyable, and gives you an opportunity to pick-up provisioning on the way to the boat.

Now for the boat. If your goal is for the Admiral (e.g. wife, spouse, significant other, mistress, etc) to be happy (I assure you that you do) a Catamaran is essential. A real "downer" for most wives, "heeling" they are not big fans! This can put a real crimp in a "true sailors binnacle." The four "kinda" kids you speak of, will bow down in praises, thanking you profusely (hard to imagine I know, been there done that). You will be viewed as a hero for your wisdom, and they will heap praise for years to come around the fireplace on those cold Northern winters.. And imagine you can charter many cats, with A/C, TV's DVD, wifi huge ice makers for those sundowners all of which takes a iron jinny (generator) and presto loads of creature comforts. Amazing what copious amounts of cash and fossil fuels can provide.....

But for best part is the huge amount of space both interior and exterior. Large saloons, huge cockpits with seating for 10-12 or more. Copious amounts of lounging and sun bathing areas on a Cat, no comparison to mono. Easy access on and off, (for those nights of long parties) and private heads (not the one on your shoulders) for everyone. A 40' cat will have the space of a 55' monohull hence the price for a cat.

Just saying....living in a plastic tube, unable to see the scenery from the burrow, with six adults for seven days can try the best of relationships, forget the raging hormones and lack of privacy. Maybe that is what sunset beach walks are for........hhmmmmm

If you are still unsure or stuck in a quadmire: cat vs mono consider the following: why is it that there are seven cats for one mono cruising the VIs? It ain't cause of price mate!

I can hear my monohull mates roaring with angst. Hey, I spent the first 50 yrs as a monohull loyalists. Just goes to show fro even slow learners as myself there is hope for us all!!!!!

All days in the VIs are GOOD, so whatever you choose,

Steady breezes and calm seas....
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Old 19-02-2016, 14:38   #15
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Re: Another USVI vs. BVI question

Been there twice, once in a mono, once in a Cat 39. If you hope your SO will support your sailing future, and your family to enjoy the trip, get a Cat and banish any thought of a mono from your mind. This is a family adventure. Make it miserable in a mono or a taste of the fantasy life in a Cat. And BVI all the way for variety and peace of mond.

That's my theory and I'm sticking to it!
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