The BVI are wonderful, but you can't see all the highlights in 7 days and those who try are often disappointed, since much of the time is spent getting from A to B and trying to keep to a tight schedule. I've spent many months in the BVI and still have places I'd like to explore.
Where you go, and in what order, depends upon your priorities. A lagoon 420
will go pretty fast (when motoring/motorsailing) and unless your primary motivation is to sail you will be using your engines quite a bit. There are anecdotal stories of Sunsail boats coming back from a charter
and it turns out that the main halyard
was missing and the charterers hadn't noticed
Usually the first day gets started quite late and the best choice for the first night is the Bight on Norman Island. The whole bay is full of mooring
balls so you will always get one. It is a short sail across the Sir Francis Drake channel from Road Town (Moorings, Sunsail, many others) and Nanny Cay as well as being easily reachable from points such as the West End (Soper's Hole) and Hodge's Creek. The Bight offers snorkeling at the Caves or at the Pelicans (there are about 10 mooring
balls there for boats, as it is too far from the Bight to dinghy
over, but the caves are a dinghy
drive away from the anchorage). At night there is either Pirate's ashore or the infamous Willie T's; if you have any light sleepers aboard then I might recommend not taking a mooring ball close to or downwind of the Willie T as it might get load and stay loud until the wee morning hours.
Usually the charter companies recommend doing a clockwise circuit of Tortola; this allow the upwind legs to be in the protected waters of the Sir Francis Drake channel and the downwind leg to be in the open atlantic waters north of Tortola. Unless you want to bash upwind against the swells or are intrepid adventurists and want to go against the crowd, then I'd recommend doing it that way.
Thus from Norman Island you would head
up the channel towards Virgin Gorda. The wreck of the Rhone is off Salt
Island on the way, and just a bit further is Cooper
Island with a nice beach, good food
and great snorkeling off the point. If there is no north swell this makes a good overnight but even then I'd recommend going inshore as much as possible.
The Baths on Virgin Gorda are a great, but crowded, stop. You can do that on the second day in the afternoon or, if you stay at Cooper
, then early on the second day. You might have to cruise
up and down the rows of mooring balls to get one when it frees up as this is a very popular place and anchoring
is prohibited there. If there are any flags
up on the beach then give the Baths a pass - they are up for a reason and there are fatalities there every year from people who thought the flags
were there just for decoration or believed their skills to be superior to mother nature's when it comes to swell and rip currents.
I love the North Sound, which would be you next stop unless you want to dock
at Spanish Town on Virgin Gorda. If you sail up to the North Sound it will take a while as it is almost always upwind, but it can be fun to sail around the Dog Islands (or grab a mooring ball and go swimming, snorkeling or diving
amongst them). Once in the North Sound there are many options. Immediately to the right after entering the channel (Even though your draft
might allow it, I would highly recommend not taking the cut between Mosquito Island and Virgin Gorda as it can be tricky and you wouldn't want to ground on that hard coral) you have Leverick Bay with either a slip or mooring balls and entertainment ashore in the form of Michael Beans' and his pirate happy hour show as well as food
downstairs or fine food upstairs.
Or you can bear slightly left and anchor
of Prickly Pear or take a mooring ball at the beach. There is nothing ashore at night there - if that is what you want. Or you continue around the bend and take a mooring from either the Bitter End Yacht Club or Saba
Rock. I recommend Saba's moorings - they entitle you to a water
fill up and a bag of ice the next morning! Food and entertainment is offered in both locations.
The next day you have a major choice - going to Anegada
or not. I don't know if your charter company allows Anegada
, but it is nice and quite different if you decide to go. Note that the chartplotter
coordinates are off for Anegada and you should use the chart direction or go to bvipirate's site to get excellent entry directions. The Anegaga lobster is a delicacy and the two beach restaurants at the anchorage offer it (that's Potter's by the sea and The Anegada Reef Hotel).
If Anegada isn't in your plans then you have a couple of choices - head
back towards the airport
and spend the day at one of the Dog Islands and then spend the night on a mooring ball at either Trellis Bay or Marina Cay. Both have restaurants and bars. At Trellis I love the singing chef
and food at The Last Resort or hang out where a lot of the liveaboards spend time at The Loose Mongoose; Marina Cay offers a great happy show and dining at Pusser's at night. If your wallet allows it, the new marina on Scrub Island comes very highly recommend, but it isn't for those on a budget
If you continue past Marina Cay you can squeeze between Beef Island / Tortola and Guana Island or you can sail straight around the island from The North Sound to head towards either Cane Garden Bay or Jost van Dyke. This would be an open water
sail and one of the longer legs on your trip.
Cane Garden Bay is an experience, but if the north swell is up the anchorage is quite uncomfortable, I'd call it untenable but I'm fussy. The alternative is the anchorage around Foxy's Taboo on Jost (I can't recall
the name of the bay, just past Sandy Spit, but it is very sheltered and has both mooring balls and anchoring
Either Sandy Spit or Sandy Cay are not to be missed. Wonderful islets with snorkeling and sand just exude the pleasures of the Caribbean!
Next would be Great Harbour on Jost. The holding is not good, but they've now put in quite a few moorings to keep boats in position at night. Ashore are several establishments - the famous Foxy's and where I get my favorite pizza - Corsair's.
Just around the bend, within dinghy distance if the seas aren't up, is White Bay and home of the Painkiller! This beach and the bars/restaurants can get quite crowded with daytrippers from St. Thomas and is a big party place and how can you not go to the Soggy Dollar Bar for a painkiller? There are also mooring balls in White Bay for overnight stays and your cat's depth
is no issue - but be careful, boats have been lost
there either going through the reef entrance or after breaking loose.
Next would be a fast downwind / wind
a-beam trip to the West End and Soper's hole. I have had bad experiences there, so won't comment on the shoreside delights. After turning the bend at Soper's there is just an upwind leg to either Nanny Cay (docks only) or across back to The Bight on Norman for the last night before sailing from there to your charter base.
I didn't count the nights, but think I'm already past 7 and have just described the major points - there are so many more places to stay and visit...
p.s. I've got an interactive picture map with 232 BVI pictures if you are interested - see http://www.sv-zanshin.com/maps/mapall.php