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Old 09-01-2016, 12:12   #16
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

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Originally Posted by jimfj View Post
Hello and Thanks in Advance for your opinions and reply's

I beg your advice on chartering in the Virgin Islands. I have several questions as I have not chartered there before.

1.) Where to charter, American or British? Does it make a difference?

2.) Charter company that you have had a good experience with. I understand the tier system of charter companies, IE Moorings and Sunsail being first tier with the most expensive boats, and CYOA and others being second tier. I don't have a problem with a boat that a bit of age but i don't want to try and save $300.00 and have a bunch of problems.

3.) Boat ....Mono vs Cat.. I know this is like discussing motor oil and tires but we are 4 adults and 4 kids aging from 13 to 6. We are all water lovers and everyone gets along. I like to actually sail, meaning, I use the motor on my boat to maneuver in and out of the mooring ball field. It goes off after that. We are trying to do this in July and just wondering if one boat is better suited to the area in that time frame. A/C is NOT a must. We all live in KS. We are used to hot and humid summers and as far as I'm concerned I would rather be hot in Caribbean than hot in Kansas.

4.) Anything else that I could benefit from in planning this vacation...trip insurance, flights airports, where to go...anything

Thanks,

Jim

A couple of things. For the record I am the fleet manager for CYOA Yacht Charters in St Thomas. I live full time here and have for eight years.

We are not a second tier company. We only place new boats in our fleet most stay five years or less. We actually have higher end boats than Moorings and Sunsail. There are only two boats in our fleet that don't have gensets. They all have air conditioning. We have water makers on 8 of our boats. Ice makers and multiple refrigerators on most of our big catamarans. Every boat in the fleet from a 36 foot hunter to the 50 Saba Catamaran have separate refrigerators and freezers. Think of it more as a nice boutique hotel versus a holiday inn.

There are only a hand full of second tier companies in existence in the US and British Virgins. Conch, VIP, Footloose, Pro Valor, and Seabatical. There are multiple other first tier companies. TMM, Horizon, Navigare, Dream Yachts, Island Yachts, Marine Max etc.


As for where to start, USVI versus BVI's. There are good and bad to both locations. The travel to the USVI is easier, less expensive with a lot more flight options. We have a real airport capable of direct or one connection flights from most of the the US. Flying into St Thomas and getting on your boat is painless. You will be on board the first day. Flying into or Ferrying into Tortola will burn up two days of your vacation. You can easily get trapped into spending a night on either end of your charter in a hotel, and sometimes on both ends trying to get to and from Tortola. The Ferry and Flight schedules are spotty.

So which would you prefer to sail around St John, or stay in a hotel for a night? Frankly on a sailing vacation I would rather be sailing than riding Ferry's. As for St John, make no mistake it is by far the most beautiful island in the chain. While it doesn't have the beach bars of Jost or a Harbor like North Sound, it has miles of unspoiled national park beaches, fantastic snorkeling and star gazing at night to die for due to limited light pollution from an Island that is 2/3 national park.

If you have any specific questions don't hesitate to ask.
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Old 09-01-2016, 13:09   #17
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

BVI-BVI-BVI. and shop around. I think some of the monohulls are better deals now because everyone is going to multis. Multis are not that great to sail down there but they are big platforms.
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Old 09-01-2016, 13:34   #18
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

I was a charter captain in the BVI. Lots of good advice above. I have used every company and prefer Horizon. Although an avid monohull sailor I prefer an air conditioned cat in the BVI. Costs more but is worth it.
Check out crewed charters. Look for "captain only" for lower price. Will save a lot of hassle. I would fly to San Juan PR then to Tortola or NY to St Martin then to Tortola.
Got email recently from Voyage Charters with amazing air rates.
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Old 09-01-2016, 14:08   #19
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

Good points for sure. Sounds like Jim should look at the itineraries for the respective areas and see which is more appealing.
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Old 09-01-2016, 15:06   #20
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

It was around 20 years ago, but we had a Privilege 39 for 4 adults and 4 kids and we were all very comfortable. Even with a captain for the first few days. Bigger the better I suppose but if costs are an issue it won't hurt one bit to go for a 39.

BVI more interesting IMO.
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Old 09-01-2016, 15:22   #21
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

As an afterthought I would seriously re-consider the a/c option with a generator so you can have it at anchor. More money but worth it. Of course I am from the Pacific Northwest.
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Old 09-01-2016, 16:23   #22
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

We have had good luck with both Sunsail and Moorings. Just finished a week on a Moorings 4800 4 weeks ago. Boats are generally new and when takinging advantage of sales promotions prices are competive. With all that said we are using CYOA for our upcoming trip in 2 weeks. This trip will be the first time with no extra day at the end to make connections on the airlines. I will bring the boat in on the last day and catch a 3:00 flight home. Also I believe the boats are better equipped, for example our 44 cat will have 2 refrigerators a freezer and an ice maker. That extra beer cooler to keep iced down should not be needed, buying ice every 2 days is a pain. Being a smaller fleet the boats will get extra care, also CYOA is careful on who the rent to so the boats should have less abuse. We are looking forward to be able to sail both St John and the BVI.

I also recommend a cat with any more than 6 people. They all have somewhere to go during the day and not be on top of each other. A boat can get pretty small in a week. Also we like the gen set and A/C for bed time, while it is not that hot, it is humid. Every body get to sleep with their door shut and adds a bit more privacy. As a plus with a/c is your swim suits, and towels dry out better.
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Old 09-01-2016, 16:30   #23
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

chartered monos and cats out of BVI and USVI multiple times. best option is BVI - not USVI. A lot more anchorages etc, and no hassles/time wasted with clearing in and out. St Johns is no where as cruiser friendly as BVI. If you like sailing and can sail, i would recommend voyage charters out of west end BVI. Their cats are better performing to windward than the sundial/moorings fleet, plus they are well maintained. Other than Island packets out of red hook, they are the only operation i have seen that seems to care about your ability to handle the boat more than the limit on your credit card. As far as starting west and heading east versus east to west it is no issue around the BVI - you are going to go around the islands whatever. The main choice will be to the north or south of tortolla depending on the swells.
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Old 09-01-2016, 17:54   #24
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

You can save some airfare by flying to St. T. and taking the Tortola Fast Ferry to Road Town, but check the costs of taxis and the ferry for the entire crew.

It's the Road Town Ferry you want, and absolutely not the Tortola Fast Ferry. One is reliable on comfortable well maintained boats and the other......I will leave it unsaid!

Cheers,
Tim
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Old 09-01-2016, 18:18   #25
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

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Originally Posted by YachtBroker View Post
BVI-BVI-BVI. and shop around. I think some of the monohulls are better deals now because everyone is going to multis. Multis are not that great to sail down there but they are big platforms.
Many multis are actually pretty good sailors and often leave the monos behind, even upwind, if you go ahead and sail them (many don't) and if you know what you are doing. Most folks get talked out of even trying.
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Old 10-01-2016, 00:49   #26
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

I'm chartering out of the BVI's for the first time in a week!! =) Six adults and we're going to "rough it" on a Moorings 42.3 (aka Oceanis 41). I've never been here (have chartered in the Bahamas and Grenadines) and don't know what to expect just yet, but it should be fun!!
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Old 10-01-2016, 02:01   #27
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

Jimfj, you've received a lot of good advice. I've chartered about 15 times in the USVI and BVI and here is my take on it. I've chartered from Moorings, Sunsail, Conch, and CYOA. All are excellent companies with very good customer service. For a one week charter, you will save some precious time by flying to St. Thomas and chartering with CYOA, but you will want to sail in BVI and so you will have to deal with customs and immigration going into BVI, leaving BVI, and re-entering USVI. But then you will be back at your point of departure to fly home. St. Thomas doesn't have a lot to offer in the way of convenient harbors and anchorages once you are out of Charlotte Amalie harbor. St. John has many nice bays and beaches, but the most interesting places are mostly in BVI. The sailing in BVI is not so "linear" as it is in USVI. You have more options to make the itinerary interesting and more choices of anchorages close to each other.

What about flying into BVI or ferrying? Ideally, flying directly to BVI would be more convenient--that's what we used to do. In recent years the flight connections from the USA to BVI have not been very good. Unless you leave from Atlanta, Charlotte, or Miami, you have little chance of getting into BVI without an overnight stay in Miami or San Juan. On the other hand, if you choose to fly to St. Thomas, you need to choose a flight that will arrive by 3:30 pm or you will not be able to catch the last ferry from Charlotte Amalie to Road Town. Charlotte Amalie is a beautiful harbor, but the town is noisy all night long and the shopping and restaurants are completely oriented to the cruise ship traffic. This is not why you spend your time and money to sail in the Caribbean.

What about brokers? Skip them. Just deal directly with the charter companies. They all have special prices in July.

What about the weather in July? We have sailed in USVI and BVI many times in July and have not been disappointed. One time it rained for two days solid, so we sat in the boat with friends catching up on missed years. The somewhat greater possibility of rain or even hurricanes is the reason for cheaper prices, but the average monthly rainfall doesn't vary much from January to July. I would avoid August-October.

Cats vs. monohulls? Cruisers Forum is filled with this debate. You won't be sorry with either one. If you are a genuine sailing enthusiast, you will probably find that the monohulls have the "feel" of sailing that you prefer. If you have small children or guests that aren't sailors, you will probably be more comfortable on a catamaran. Cats have more deck space, don't heel as much, and have cabins that are more like bedrooms back home than monohulls. Don't compare boat length vs. boat length. A 38' cat will cost considerably more than a 38' monohull because it is simply a bigger boat. Compare charter cost vs. charter cost to see how your priorities affect your choice.

I've sailed in all the oceans and remain convinced that if there were only one place in the world to sail, it should be the Virgin Islands. Regardless of the choices you make, you are going to love it!
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Old 10-01-2016, 04:52   #28
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

Here is an interactive map of St John showing the boating resources provided by the National Park.

Virgin Islands Marine Visitor Use Information - Virgin Islands National Park (U.S. National Park Service)
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Old 10-01-2016, 05:01   #29
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

As far as AC or no AC, I'd say this:
  • If I were going in July, I'd want it. Our last boat had it and we used it; it was nice and that was in April. I would think by July it would be very nice.
  • For the AC to be of much use, you need a generator to power it. Most nights you'll be on a mooring ball, hence no generator then no AC.
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Old 10-01-2016, 05:20   #30
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

I'll throw another charter company name into the mix; the one time we chartered a Cat (2009), we went with Catamaran Company and were happy. We chartered a 42', 3-cabin Lagoon for 3 couples and it was perfect. I might prefer sailing monos, but for a crew of 8, cost aside, I'd go with a Cat.
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