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Old 03-01-2004, 14:29   #1
sjs
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Another New Guy

Hello All,

I have been lurking here for a few months and, initially, would like to thank you for all of the information I have enjoyed reading.

I sailed out of New London, CT in my youth, mostly between there and Newport, RI, and mostly daysailing, with the largest boat being an Ensign. I have cruised off southern California, out of Sydney, Australia, and for the last 15 years in the Chesapeake Bay. Most of my cruising has been in boats under 36 ft with some substantial time on a Nauticat 43. My last boat was a 25 C&C out of Havre de Grace, MD, but that was several years ago.

After a time away from regular cruising I am getting the rust out with two bareboat charters this year in BVI. If you don't mind questions in the introduction section, I have two.


My wife and I will take a 33 Oceanis out of Hodges Creek (Sunsail Charters) in February and I have been reviewing the charts and a cruising guide. My problem is that I am like a kid in a candy shop and cannot make up my mind on an itinerary. We have 7 days and I would like to ask for suggestions from any of you with experience in BVI. To please my wife, I would like to plan mostly short fetches, early approaches with the light still good and very protected anchorages with a restaurant. My initial thought is to
hit The Bight at Norman Island, Marina Cay, The Bitter End YC, Cane Garden Bay and Jost Van Dyke Island. Not very original I know, but I thought I might get better suggestions here.

Second, my brothers and some of our sons are going down again in June for a week on a 46 ft catamaran. Some pretty good cumulative sailing experience between us but no one with experience with cats. Anything in particular a monohull guy ought to be warned about with a displacement cat? Thanks for any input.
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Old 05-01-2004, 17:35   #2
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Sorry I didn't greet you properly sooner

but I had to clean my keyboard of tobacco juice dribbles Don't worry, I only spit in my shirt pocket. Seriously, someone will be along in a while to answer your questions.
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Old 05-01-2004, 18:54   #3
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Welcome aboard sjs,

Man, I'm glad Cascade didn't get any of that tobacco juice on you.Always stand clear of his shirt pocket ,boss

I'll try to answer the first part of your question concerning the BVI. The first charter I ever did was there a few years back. I don't recall where Hodges Creek is at, but our charter started on the island of Tortola.It being my first charter,I too wanted to keep the sailing legs short,and the enjoyment of the islands high.Most of the sailing legs between islands are ~15nm.

Like you, I studied,read,asked,and researched to find as much information as I could prior to getting to the islands.IMO, these are the "must do" islands in the BVI.

Virgin Gorda, The "Baths" -- My favorite.Picture postcard scenery, and great snorkling. Great burgers ashore, but I did notice the absence of lizzards.(just kidding....)

Monkey Point, - I believe it's on Guana Island- Some of the best snorkeling in the BVI.There's a small cut between Trellis Bay and Guana island which you can use to get there, rather than sail all the way around on the outside of the islands.

Jost Van Dyke is excellent. We enjoyed the snorkling in Whitecastle Bay more than we did our dinner at "Foxy's", (Expensive!), but it's all good.If you go to Whitecastle, be sure to get a "Painkiller" ashore at the little Tiki hut bar. It's where the Pusser drink originated.

Norman Island - Great anchorage, and snorkling.

Cane Garden Bay - We didn't stop there, but I've heard it's very beautiful.I also heard the anchorage tends to get a little rolly. You might want to research, or maybe others here can clarify?

***When leaving Jost Van Dyke, Soper's Hole (one of Blackbeard's old dives) is a great day stop.

*** You need to arrive at all anchorages pretty early in the day to get a decent place to drop the hook. I would suggest no later than 3pm,with earlier being better (especially at the Baths) in order to get one of the available moorings.

*** Good luck, and enjoy. I envy you!!!
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Old 06-01-2004, 18:42   #4
sjs
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Thanks for the welcome guys. 29Cascaderfixer, looks to me as though there might be a market for gimballed spitoons. I trust you never spit to windward. Of course, if you are a graybeard like me, spitting to windward can cover up the gray.

Stede, I appreciate the suggestions. Hodges Creek is also called Maya Cove and its just east of Road Town on Tortola. I'm looking at the chart and can see Monkey Point. Looks like the passage you remember is called the Camanoe Passages. I like the look of that and maybe Marina Cay for the anchorage. Do you recall, when you went to Monkey Point if you approaced from the southeast, or were you coming from the west after the Jost Van Dyke and Soper's Hole waypoints? Let me rephrase that, I'm wondering if, when starting from the southern coast of Tortola and going to points on the northern coast, whether it's better to go clockwise, around the southwestern tip, or counterclockwise around the northwestern tip. It appears the prevailing winds will be easterlies and neither of the narrows have an overly severe current.
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Old 07-01-2004, 05:52   #5
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sjs,

Well imagine that, Hodges creek used to be called Mayo Cove.That's where we sailed out of.I guess I can now say I've sailed out of Hodges Creek, and Mayo Cove on Tortola

When we sailed out of Mayo Cove, there was only one charter company there called "Tropic Island", whom we chartered with.I recall at the time, there were some big plans in the making to enlarge the dock area and bring more charter boats in.

To answer your question, I'll refer to what our itinerary was when we sailed the area.We sailed in a counter clockwise movement from Tortola during a week in May.The itinerary worked very well for us sailing,and touring wise.

Mayo Cove to Trellis Bay - Short trip.By the time we did the boat check out and Captains meeting, it was late in the morning.The short trip to Trellis gave me a good opportunity to get use to the boat and get to the anchorage in plenty of time before sunset.

Trellis Bay to Virgin Gorda-Baths- A short reach across put us there early to get a mooring,and to enjoy the area mostly by ourselves.By early afternoon, there were no moorings left and the area got kind of crowded.That was our que to leave and sail on down to Bitter End.

Baths to Bitter End- Nice sail and anchorage.Picked up a mooring there for $10/night. Good area to visit, but it has the feel of "money", if you know what I mean? Pretty cool dockside shark pen there.

Bitter End to Trellis Bay, and then through the cut to Monkey Point. The cut is just wide enough for two boats to pass side by side, but the water had plenty of depth.

Monkey Point to Jost Van Dyke - We anchored at the bay by "Foxy's" which was a good anchorage.Ate at Foxy's that night, then took the dink around the point to WhiteCastle Bay to snorkle the following morning. You can anchor in WhiteCastle Bay, but I would advise a very careful approach. The reef (which is large) runs parrallel to the shoreline, with an opening in the middle of it for an approach.I don't recall the opening being marked, but maybe it is now?

Jost Van Dyke to Soper's Hole- This was a lunch stop leg. Soper's Hole is a pretty cool place to visit. After lunch we headed on to Norman Island.

Norman Island to Peter Island- As mentioned previously, Norman Island is a great stop and anchorage.We anchored in the bay and then took the dink around to the caves.(Old snorkeling trick -- take a plastic loaf bag with you with a few slices of bread in it. While snorkeling, open the bag and pull some bread out.In a matter of minutes, you are completely surrounded by fish.Just be sure to take the plastic bag back with you when you leave : ^ )
Peter Island is for the most part private, with some big yacht club there. It's a beautiful island and the yacht club had some awesome showers you could pay to use.

Peter Island back to Tortola

*** I believe you're right about the winds being Easterlies, but I wouldn't get to caught up in that. During our seven day trip, we had some very strong winds, and then sometimes we had no wind and had to motor.IMO, it's pretty much a trade off which way you want to sail out of Tortola (clockwise vs.counter) You're going to have some really good sailing legs, and some not so good. But eh, it be de Carribean Mon! U be jammin fah sur...no problem! It all be good Mon!!
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Old 07-01-2004, 19:03   #6
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Thanks very much Stede, that is great info and fills in a lot of gaps.

I know exactly what you mean about the feel of "money" re: Bitter End. I had that impression from what I have learned, but my wife has the impression that it is a place she definitely wants to see. Not sure why considering who she married.

You made longer legs than I was contemplating, especially considering your experience with light wind days. I've been checking the daily marine weather reports for BVI and sort of fell into the trap of assuming I would have good wind every day. Glad you brought me to my senses on that.

Soper's Hole had me a little concerned as an anchorage due to the submarine cables on the bottom but it sounds great as a lunch stop.

I am enjoying the process of studying the charts and planning this, but not as much as I expect to enjoy the cruising. Hope you have some great sailing in your immediate future.
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Old 08-01-2004, 07:13   #7
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sjs,

A few more comments from the "peanut gallery" on this subject.

Bitter End,Virgin Gorda - Of all the places we visited in the BVI, this was my least favorite. Don't get me wrong, it is a pretty anchorage, but there is nothing really memorable about it compared to other places like the Baths,Jost Van Dyke,Norman Island,etc. Also, it is the longest sailing leg for the area.IMO, if you are going to the BVI with plans on revisiting after this trip, then going to Bitter End might be worth doing, depending on what you are looking for.(Fancy meal ashore) If this is a one shot deal for you, I would skip it and spend more time hitting some of the other areas like Cane Garden Bay,Cooper Island, the Dogs, Indians,etc.

Sailing wise, you won't have any problem getting to where you want to go,even on light air days. With the exception of Bitter End, all the sailing legs are only a few hours long, and you can easily motor to them if necessary.

Soper's Hole - It was funny to me reading your comments about the submarine cables there. I remember seeing that on the chart also, and being concerned with it. When you enter Soper's Hole, it immediately strikes you how deep the water is, and how much of a non-issue the cables are. There were at least two major charter boat companies operating out of Soper's Hole when we were there, with probably at least 20 large yachts. We also saw serious blue water sailing vessels there in the ~100 ft.range.

I know what you mean about enjoying the planning stages for a trip. That,and making upgrades to my boat is what gets me through the winter months.I've chartered numerous times, but for the last few years I've concentrated on doing trips with my 26 footer. During the last two years, I've single-handed her to the Bahamas,and Dry Tortugas. Both trips were great, and I feel like they were major accomplishments in my sailing career. This year, I'm still kicking around a few ideas for a Spring trip with my boat.I have some obligations that will keep me closer to home, so I think something along the NC,or SC coast will be in order.Where ever I end up, I know it will be good as long as the wind is strong,and the adventure good. Fair winds to you!
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Old 09-01-2004, 15:55   #8
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You can study all the charts, cruising guides, pilots, tables, light lists and almanacs you want but tips from those who have been there are always a very nice addition to the picture. Thanks again Stede, and safe passages.
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