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Old 08-01-2016, 09:26   #1
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Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

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



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Old 08-01-2016, 09:41   #2
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..


I have chartered twice in the BVI. The first trip my wife and I chartered a smaller 32í mono from Sunsail. We just stayed in the BVI and had a fantastic time. This past summer we chartered a Sunsail 444 cat with two other couples. Also a fantastic time but just different with the having the other people on board. As far as the boats, I would highly recommend the cat for the space and comfort. I am the only sailor from the entire group and I actually found the bigger cat easier to sail, maneuver and manage with the way it was arranged. We had a generator and AC on cat but we really didnít use it. There is typically enough breeze in most of the anchorages that you really donít need it except at the dock anyway. The first night at the Sunsail dock on the mono was pretty miserable but after that we never needed AC. I am also always shopping around for a deal and if you wait for Sunsail to have a 15% off sale, the rates are some of cheapest.

PM me if you want and I can give you some more details.


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Old 08-01-2016, 09:53   #3
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

go with a cat.. try to save money by looking for "owners time". get air-con.. it's fine without right up until you have to close up during the night because of rain showers.. why not have the option to be comfortable, also very nice to have the option to run it for a bit after returning from land after having the boat all locked down.

USVI, BVI.. really doesn't make much difference.. if you're using mooring balls.. around St. John they are half the price as the BVI.. and even less if you're senior citizen and get park pass for $10, then the balls are only $7 a night vs. $30 a night in the BVI. Easy to go from usvi to bvi and vise-versa so really doesn't matter.

Usually a little less costly getting to St. Thomas than to Tortola... if cost is a concern.
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Old 08-01-2016, 10:23   #4
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

Hi Jim,

We're headed down to the BVI this April. It will be four of us and our first time to the BVI. We selected Moorings and chose a new Beneteau 45. I can tell you that their customer service approach is great. But I would not book their trip insurance. We had an issue last year, had to cancel, and AIG would not cover. Read the fine print. Choose another insurer. Moorings ended up honoring and crediting us (-$500) but they weren't obligated to do so. We had a similar experience with a broker a couple of years ago where we cancelled just ten days after booking (and six months in advance of the charter). They kept our $7500 deposit even though the charterer booked four days into our week. The broker scraped 15% of the TOTAL charter amount for doing nothing but a sales pitch, paid the charterer for the four open days between charters that they were able to book because we cancelled, and sent us the piddly remainder. Again, read the fine print! Go with a company that looks at the entire picture. Bigger firms, in my experience, care about their reputation far more than a sole operating broker.

We chose BVI over USVI because there are more islands and it's a little easier to navigate. Plus Anegada is high on my list of places to hang out. That could be a bit of a haul from St Thomas.

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Old 08-01-2016, 13:19   #5
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

thank you for all the replies!

I need to clarify, what is owners time?? I haven't heard that term.

Looks like everyone likes Cats for sailing down there. Anything I need to know regarding those? Like is 39 feet too small for 4 adults and 4 kids?
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Old 09-01-2016, 07:52   #6
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

  • I'd pick the BVI over the USVI
  • Cats are very roomy; I'd say 42' for 8 ppl., but much more expensive and I prefer sailing a mono.
  • I'd try 2nd tier companies like Horizon or TMM; better value for the money IMO.
No matter what, you'll have a blast (even with the kids)
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Old 09-01-2016, 07:57   #7
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

Many of the charter boats are owned by private individuals who are allotted a period of time for their personal use of the boat. If they don't want to use it they can sell the time and keep the revenue rather than splitting it with the charter company (depends on the contract).
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Old 09-01-2016, 08:03   #8
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

Good morning,

I have chartered Catamarans out of the BVIs several times in the last 8 years. I have gone twice with the kids. We had a great time and are planning our next adventure. My comments will be on Cats only as I have never chartered a monohull in the Carribean.

I have chartered with, The Moorings, Sunsail, Conch Charters, Dream Yacht Charters. I would suggest that if you are sailing in July, you will be in the drivers seat, (at the helm) in terms of negotiating. This is considered low season.

I agree with some of the other posts, a 40 foot Cat should do just fine. I would personally pass on the AC and generator. After all your sailing! Don't anchor too close to shore and you will have a nice breeze and fewer bugs. ( especially on Jost Van Dyke)

Good luck
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Old 09-01-2016, 08:06   #9
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

IntoMyHealth, We're headed down in April as well (our 6th trip). Can't wait!
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Old 09-01-2016, 08:30   #10
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

At one time I was a licensed charter skipper working out of St.T; presently own a 41' that is part of the Sunsail Fleet. I strongly recommend chartering out of Tortola. You might save money in the USVI, but you are not going on vacation to save money. On every boat I took out, the first order of business was to move the boat to windward for two days, just to clear customs in Soper's Hole or Jost VD. The real cruising is in the BVIs. St. John is beautiful, but limited. In July many more anchorages become tenable; you should not need to moor unless you want to be near certain shore facilities like Bitter End in Gorda Sound, Marina Cay, or the Bite on Norman's (Willie T.).

A cat is probably the better choice with the group you've described. Sounds like you won't be spending time at a dock - the only drawback on chartering multihulls, and the larger cockpit will give the kids some space.

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. You might be better off paying the extra to fly to San Juan and connect to Beef Island, Tortola. Otherwise you have to collect all your baggage in St. T., load everyone and everything onto a taxi (hectic), get all the bags on the ferry, (lots of tipping), and I think there's a departure tax.

FYI - owner's time is what I use when I charter my own boat. Owners are allotted a certain amount of time every year for their own use. Some owners will sell this time in a private arrangement. Might be worth looking into since July is in the slow season.

I have been sailing the BVIs for 40 years; never gets old. Have a great time.
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Old 09-01-2016, 08:52   #11
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

I'm headed to my fifth charter of a Leopard 44 (rebadged Sunsail 44) next month. To answer your questions, I emphatically believe:
1.) For your group, you will want to very specifically charter a Sunsail 44. Four cabins ( with additional berth space for a single child in the forecastle in front of each of the two forward berths) and 4 heads, as well as the delightful front porch in front of the saloon make this a no-brainer. You will never feel cramped.
2.) Fly to ST Thomas, and then take the Fast Ferry. The task of getting through customs in Roadtown is pretty long, so try to get to the front of the line when you disembark the ferry boat.
3.) Get upwind early...go to Virgin Gorda, and then rent a hobie cat from the Bitter End Yacht Club so the kids can understand what makes the big catamaran go.
4.) Then head to Anegada and rent scooters from Kenny Francis for the day. The beaches there are amazing, and the kids will love it. His operation is accessible from the farthest east dock there, just to the right after you get off the dock.

Have fun!!!
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Old 09-01-2016, 09:28   #12
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

PHRF57 is spot on; I'd add a couple of remarks. The Fast Ferry may be fast, but it's not always on schedule; make sure to pack your patience and yes elbow your way to the head of the customs desk. The customs form was designed by a marketing firm and most people don't fill it out correctly (leave the line and fix it, the rejoin the line). If you're an impatient type or crunched for time, fly to Beef Island.

Another Anegada vehicle rental option is DW Jeep Rental, run by Dean Wheatly (email at He'll pick you up and take you to his office where you can rent a jeep suitable for 4. For 8, not sure what he has.

Here's an informative site on Anegada you might check out: Navigating to Anegada
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Old 09-01-2016, 09:48   #13
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

Good advice above. But when we went to the BVIs the first time in 1986, we started out from the east end of St. Thomas. It was "fun" sailing east and checking in at JVD.

However, it takes time, and time checking in and back in wastes valuable sailing and vacation time.

All the rest of our trips we flew into Tortola from San Juan, PR. Much easier.

There's really not that much in the American VIs compared to the BVIs.

You should also get a cruising guide, which will answer just about every question you could ask here. You're only getting our opinions and experiences, and soon you'll have your own choices to make.

I always had monos and if we went back that's what I'd do, but it's always only been only three or four of us on 35 footers.

Don't forget Footloose and North/South (if they're still around).

Happy vacation.
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Cowichan Bay, BC, (Maple Bay Marina) SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)
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Old 09-01-2016, 10:21   #14
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Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..


Boat Moorings Sunsail Leopard 44 or 48

Fly into Tortola Beef Island (EIS) you are going to need a TAXI to get to the M/S base A mini bus for you and yor troops, with a BVI version of Michael Schumacher driving is typical.

IF you fly into STT and then take the never leaves on time fast <SIK> ferry you need two taxis one from the airport to the Charlotte Amalie ferry dock and one from the Roadtown ferry dock to the M/S base.

Provison at either Rightway, Bobbies and one other (close to the Moorings Sunsail base) whos name escapes me for the moment (ONE MART I think). Rightway and One Mart are a short walk from the Moorings Sunsail Base

Be careful of doing the online food shopping with Bobby's for delivery to your boat as I hear that they are not 100% sucessful in supplying your as ordered provisions.

Get off the dock QUICKLY ASAP even upto 17:00 hours and motor at flank speed over to Deadmans Bay Peter Island and anchor there for the night and until you are all sorted on the boat.....then go anti clockwise round the BVI's.

IF you are there at Full Moon Time try and do the Full Moon party at Trellis Bay. Make sure you snorkle Monkey Point Guanna Island.

You do realise that July is actually in the Hurricane season so you can get a Tropical Storm whistling though which can make things 'interesting'

Apart from that go enjoy the BVI's.
Now with 600AH of LIFEPO4
kindest regards
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Old 09-01-2016, 10:34   #15
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pirate Re: Bareboat Chartering Advice for BVI..

I have bare boated the BVI twice and agree with most of the above. Would recommend Tortola as a starting point. We used a smaller charter company to save money...Boat was fine, a mono hull Beneteau 42...the other time we had a cal. 39. We anchored every night. Flew from San Juan to Beef Island took a taxi to the marina. Yes buy the cruising guide for sure...Everybody LOVES Foxy's on YVD...Cane Garden Bay is beautiful. The Baths are a must if it's your first time. The last Resort is a great place to have dinner...or at least it was in '95...I envy you...hope you do not get a hurricane that time of the year...but that early in the season you should be OK. Sloper's hole is a nice stop too.
You will want to go back !!!

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