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Old 24-05-2009, 08:28   #1
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Living Aboard in the Caribbean

We are almost ready to make our "move" to living on our sailboat in the Caribbean, particularly the Virgin Islands to start. My question is about where do people "live"? Marina, anchor, mooring balls? I can not find any info anywhere. I've called a few maina's and WOW are they expensive in the islands ($1/ft/day for a 1 year lease). Any info as to what others do or have done in the past would be helpful. Thanks ahead of time.
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Old 24-05-2009, 08:52   #2
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Living Aboard in the Virgin Islands

Park moorings in the USVI are $15 a day, or were last I was there. Renting a mooring in Great Cruise Bay is possible. I had a mooring there for 10 years back in the 1980s and 1990s. Fatty Goodlander had a mooring next door to mine.

I would not advise along side at a dock in St. Thomas . . . . may as well be in New Jersey.

The BVI have a few marinas, but they are expensive, but if you are paying $1 a foot a day. that's cheap.

But the reason to live aboard in the Caribbean is to explore the islands, and anchoring is possible throughout the islands.

My family and I are heading to the Caribbean this fall on Searcher, our 57 Bowman ketch. We'll be in the Virgin Islands through Chrstmas, then heading further south.

We are writing a book on the experience, and sectons can be seen at www.KidsOnBoiats.net.

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Old 24-05-2009, 11:24   #3
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Originally Posted by dailey View Post
We are almost ready to make our "move" to living on our sailboat in the Caribbean, particularly the Virgin Islands to start. My question is about where do people "live"? Marina, anchor, mooring balls? I can not find any info anywhere. I've called a few maina's and WOW are they expensive in the islands ($1/ft/day for a 1 year lease). Any info as to what others do or have done in the past would be helpful. Thanks ahead of time.


when i was there last december there were folks living aboard in st thomas by water island in a mooring field--some at anchor and some on moorings....is a busy place but the purpose of residing aboard in virgins is for the travel, therefore not a problem for long--if ya dont likes it--relocation is very easy----boredom isnt a problem---ya moves yer boat...lol.....i loved the areas available for anchoring and mooring....true--cruise bay isnt a place with available moorings or anchoring.....too busy any way........so many better and more isolated places in virgins for having to stay than in a cruise haven...i am looking forward to my return.....in my own boat....btw--marinas are very very expensive....
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Old 24-05-2009, 11:48   #4
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I've spent the last 6 Winters in the Carribean with my wife on our 58 Taswell. We rarely visit marinas as we have a fast watermaker and use fuel mostly for the genset. The Virgins are probably not the best place to stay. Lots of charter boats and mooring everywhere. We Spend all our time In St. Maarten and further down the chain. Anchorages are more plentiful and much less crowded. Some moorings are free. Groceries are not a problem, booze is cheep, people are much more friendlt than in the American Virgins.
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Old 24-05-2009, 12:08   #5
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Thanks to your replies. We did charter in the BVI in March so we know how to get water/fuel/dump garbage w/o docking in at a marina. You can pay for a mooring ball and get water/garbage disposal free or anchor for free and pay for water/garbage disposal. It's just cost and trying to keep it down. At $1/ft/day after a years time you'd spend around $15,000 on a 40' which is what we will be cruising in. That really can cut into one's budget. We'd like to start in the VI's because that is what we are familiar with, been there many times. Once we're comfortable then we'll move farther south. Great info, keep it coming.
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Old 24-05-2009, 16:39   #6
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Thanks to your replies. We did charter in the BVI in March so we know how to get water/fuel/dump garbage w/o docking in at a marina. You can pay for a mooring ball and get water/garbage disposal free or anchor for free and pay for water/garbage disposal. It's just cost and trying to keep it down. At $1/ft/day after a years time you'd spend around $15,000 on a 40' which is what we will be cruising in. That really can cut into one's budget. We'd like to start in the VI's because that is what we are familiar with, been there many times. Once we're comfortable then we'll move farther south. Great info, keep it coming.
i didnt pay for garbage , paid minimally for water and didnt have to use a marina at any time--i enjoyed myself totally and kept costs very low...we were able to enjoy for less than 600/ mo for 2......groceries and all included in this ..... costs grew when using a mooring ...... but i didnt have to put out money for garbaqge and at many fuel docks water is not charged....watermaker makes life easier.....
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Old 26-05-2009, 05:22   #7
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The US and BVI"s are a good starting point to the rest of the Caribbean.
No one has mentioned Coral Bay in St John, a free anchorage.
Technically when you arrive in the US VI you should apply for a cruising permit as you have to in the BVI but no one here does as no one in the DPNR office knows how to issue them.
There are many Park Services mooring buoy's around St John @ $15 per night if you chose to be close to the beaches or you can anchor out.
Same sort of system in the BVI's but the buoy's are all privately owned and usually cost $25 per night.
If your boat is US registered you should reregister as a VI boat if you plan on staying 90 days or longer in the USVI's, again no one does as it involves going to the airport to go through the whole procedure.
There are many free anchorages around both the US and BVI's just get the upto date cruising guides for the area, which include the Spanish VI's as well and well worth the stop before you get to the US and BVI's.
Once you move on from the VI's live becomes easier after you have done the up hill slog to St Martin.
If you have a water maker your life will be so much easier than if you have to go to marina's but if you dont if will not kill your enjoyment one bit.
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Old 26-05-2009, 07:23   #8
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I've just spent the last 7 months living aboard in the Caribbean. The USVI, while nice to visit, is a tough one to stay for a long time since almost all of the anchorages will charge you - either dockage or the national park charges or whatever. I only found one place on the south eastern side of St. John where I could anchor free of charge. Places such as St. Martin are much cheaper for long-term stays, yet there is still a fee in main harbour of Marigot. A small fee for the bridge and you can get into Simpson Baie for free anchoring (good luck on the French side if you have a deep draft boat, use the Dutch side). Other countries/islands also charge very nominal fees that don't really add up to much for long stays (St. Barts, Nevis, Antigua to name just 3) - I think I stayed in Falmouth Harbour for 3 weeks and the final bill was under $50 (most of that was the $1/person/day for garbage disposal).
With a watermaker and generator aboard I only docked 2 times during the first 6 months - both times were under an hour and were to fill up the fuel tank; there is nothing that was pulling me towards docks (sometimes referred to as the boating world's equivalent of a trailer park). I ended up missing internet connectivity, even with an additional antenna I found few places that were both "picturesque" and "online".
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Old 26-05-2009, 13:03   #9
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Down in Grenada it is about $8 per foot per month for long term + electric.
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Old 28-05-2009, 06:20   #10
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when i was in usvi and bvi i used my sprint broadband card--had very goood results and didnt have to use much free wifi----didnt use docks and didnt have to pay for garbage ...used trash cans provided for stashing trash...anchoring was free but mooring was paid.....had a great sailing adventure despite the skipper's quirks and disposition..lol....
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Old 28-05-2009, 06:28   #11
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Does anyone know of a good "cruisers' guide" for the Caribbean?
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Old 28-05-2009, 08:13   #12
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There is a new online cruising guide here:
Virgin Islands (USVI, BVI, and Spanish Virgins): Online Cruising Guide

Most people use the regular cruising guide here:
Cruising Guide to the British Virgin Islands on All Other Islands - Ultimate BVI

However, by far and away, I would highly recommend the Cruising the Virgin Islands by Fine Edge Publishing. I was given this just before my last BVI charter, and it would have saved me weeks and weeks of research. Particularly good are the maps of anchorages / approaches.
FineEdge.com
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Old 28-05-2009, 09:06   #13
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What is the scoop on fees in the BVI's. I read somewhere a couple of months ago that the BVI's were charging a stiff daily fee for boats not registered there. As I recall, it all but ruled out the BVI's for a place to stay for more than a couple of days unless you wanted to register your boat there.
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Old 28-05-2009, 09:39   #14
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Does anyone know of a good "cruisers' guide" for the Caribbean?
Chris Doyle's Cruising Guide to the Leeward Islands, and Cruising Guide to the Windward Islands are both excellent resources. I found Nancy Scott's Virgin Islands guide to be good. I haven't tried Steve Pavlidis' Virgin Island guide, but hear that it's very good, as well.
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Old 28-05-2009, 09:55   #15
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I agree with Hud's recommendations of Chris Doyle's books; in addition to those titles, he also has one on cruising Venezuela and the islands off the coast of Venezuela, including Trinidad and Tobago and the ABC's. I'm not sure of the title at the moment as I don't have the books with me, but it is another of his frequently updated cruising guides.

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