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Old 07-07-2013, 07:56   #1
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First time charter at BVI

I would like to share couple highlights from this trip since it was my first charter with very limited amount of experience. Hopefully, it could be give some encrougement for those out there that want to try. I used to sail when I was a boy, but not very frequently. Also, my dad was in the navy so I picked up a lot of tips about seamenship growing up from my dad which all came handy. Anyway, last fall my sailing desires suddenly flamed with a groupon coupon so I decided to enroll on ASA 101 class with a friend so I could particicipate in a leasing program that allowed me to sail j24s @ lewisville lake Texas. I never thought I could enjoy sailing in the lake but strong winds of Texas and single handed sailing of j24s gave me a quite confidence. So I enrolled in with 103-104 and the head to Kemah Texas hoping to gain big boat handling tips. The class was short but we had great instructor so it was money well spent and a step closer to try to charter a boat in BVI. At least the required paper work was ready but lack experience was still a concern.

How do you overcome the fear of uncertainty? My answer was a lot research and planning. I guess another tip I learned from my dad. I was always surprised to see how they planned everything before they head to open sea. I found the manual of the boat I was going to charter which was a beneteua 37.2, and start reading it. Also, start researching the islands in the BVI, and created the route and schedule to follow. Also, I have tried to teach my 14 year old son and my wife very basic skills. How to tie the key knots, terms for parts of the boat and the mooring pick up strategy which was quite entertaining. At the end a lot of reading and YouTube watching. One of the morning balls at Spanish town there was huge bracuda that refused to leave the mooring ball. Also a turtle decided to show up. That was the only mooring ball we had a hard time with. End up changing the location. The current and wind were very strong so we decided for quiter location.

So we head to BVI from Dallas. Getting there is a quite achievement with the plane rides, ferry, customs etc, but we finally made to moorings base. The ground crew was really good. They attend to every need quickly, but quick really is realative term since nothing on the islands is really quick. Everything seems to take 1.5 longer, so we had to adjust. Anyway, patiantce is a important to skill to have when it comes to sailing anyway. Boat was fantastic. It had really everything you might need. I was really surprised. From guides, rain jackets, manuals, toolkit, spare parts great navigation instruments etc.. So we head to channel to fantastic islands. Well, of course not everything was going to go according to plan. The weather was a surprise. 6-7 foot waves and 20kts-28 winds with plenty of gust. So we motor sailed with the jib to our first destination because I was not sure how to work the reeling system yet. I was panning to play with it when I was moored securely before the our first full day sailing. Anyway, next couple the destinations were all upwind and again with strong winds 6ft waves. I have failed couple more times to raise the main by myself since my wife was not able to steer to the wind and lazy jacks was becoming an issue. Anyway, I decided to raise the main while moored and reef it at the same time which worked very well, so that is how we handled the sails going forward till my wife was more confortable steering the boat. Overall the experience was everything I hoped for and more. Increadibly satisfying. My wife and my son definely enjoyed the experience, but I would have to say they preferred the beach a little more due to strong winds and big waves. Also, sleeping in the boat was not easy for my wife. The winds was strong even when we moored which cooled the boat really nicely with the hatches open but the baot noises, constant movement of the boat was a quite concern for her.

The Moorings as a charter company get very good grade from me. BVI was fantastic, but you have to be really confortable with 6ft waves and 20kts winds. You have to master reefing which was surprisingly easy with these easy reef systems where you don't have to leave the cockpit especially you attempt to sail with a crew with no experience. So my receipe for first time charter with no experience is Asa 101-104, couple good seamanship books, practice with one design boats for sail handling. Navigation is quite easy at BVI but I am not sure that should be the leading creteria for picking a first time charter ground.

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Old 15-08-2013, 14:44   #2
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Sound cool. I hoping to do the same thing next summer. What time of the year did you go and do you mind telling what it cost do I can budget? Personal pm is fine. I am down in Houston.
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Old 15-08-2013, 18:57   #3
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Re: First time charter at BVI

We chartered between 6/30 - 7/6. Getting there was quite a hassle. Plane rides Hotel Stays etc.. The charter cost around $4000 for 37ft boat plus split provisioning. We end up eating out at each island because restaurants was really cool. Plane ride was very expensive so another $2300. Finally ferry ride and hotel stays another $600. So 3 people 6 day charter around $8000K. Hopefully it helps.
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Old 15-08-2013, 20:05   #4
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Re: First time charter at BVI

I did BVI charter few times. I noticed that most people fly to USVI and take the ferry to BVI. I always flew directly to BVI after changing in Puerto Rico. It is slightly more expensive (at face amount) but you can literally arrive around 3pm at the Sunsail/Moorings base, take the boat, get the provisioning and leave first thing in the morning. On return, the check-out time is 11am which is sufficient to make it for the 2pm flight to PR and then wherever your destination in the US is. There is no need to stay at hotel/ferry/taxi so you save an extra day or two and it would probably come about the same price. It worked perfectly for me. You snorkel the Caribbean in the morning and sleep at home in the same day.

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Old 16-08-2013, 12:51   #5
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Re: First time charter at BVI

Thanks for the post. I'm hoping to do the same next summer and I am just now researching sailing schools and the such. I'm a long time powerboater so I'm anxious to switch!

Great write up.... thank you!
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Old 18-08-2013, 08:49   #6
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Re: First time charter at BVI

Ohhh... SO much fun!!!

We've chartered in the BVI several times now and we're getting it down to quite the enjoyable 'science'.

For our first adventure there we did a flotilla chartering out of Sunsail (I believe it's all Moorings now?). It was a great way to 'become familiar' with sailing the BVI (and the beach bars, of course). We had 6 aboard a Lagoon 380. Flew from Newark to Beef Island (BVI) with a stop in Puerto Rico, of course.

Each subsequent trip we've gone solo (no flotilla) and have learned to tweak our trips. Chartered with TMM Yacht Charters out of Road Town (Tortola) twice; once chartering a Fountaine Pajot Salinas 48, then a Lagoon 440. We always charter catamarans there... would never own one in our home sailing territories of the Chesapeake Bay, but with as many people aboard as we tend to get, the catamaran is the perfect live aboard/party/snorkeling platform for the Islands for a week. (Obviously the sailing is a 'lesser focus' there... snorkeling tends to take the lead!)

Our most recent trip (Jan 2013, the best so far!), we chartered with Horizon Yacht Charters out of Nanny Cay, another Lagoon 440 since we liked the layout, the 'party pit' just aft of the trampoline, and the nice raised helm that could accommodate a lot of our crew. As is typical, I believe, our charters go from Saturday to Saturday. We arrive Friday afternoon and sleep aboard Friday night. We also tend to squeeze one last day out of the Islands by getting a room Saturday night so we don't have to rush to the airport immediately after de-boarding. We found a cute, clean little hotel on Nanny Cay for the night after our charter ends.

The last two trips we've also flown into St Thomas (non-stop from Newark) and taken the ferry to Tortola. We prefer that by far to flying into Beef Island (just personal preference). Feels like you're 'on the water' that much quicker.

One other 'tip' which we didn't do this last trip, but will resurrect for the next trip is pre-ordering supplies from Bobby's Market. We tend to have 8 - 9 people aboard... that's a lot of supplies (just the Rum alone!! ) and shopping is a pain in the ...... well, you know. Ordering from Bobby's makes it tons easier and then you can restock along the way (Soper's Hole, Cane Garden Bay, etc).

We LOVE sailing the BVI. Three of us are quite experienced. My hubby, our Skipper, and his childhood buddy who has sailed with him for many years are very safety conscious and extremely capable sailors. He never 'takes chances' and reviews MOB procedures and other safety issues with all aboard as soon as we are aboard.

Anyway... that's my 2 cents. Can't wait to go back, but really can't wait for our 'new' C42 to arrive at our slip in Rock Hall, MD!

"Thoughts become things... choose the good ones!"
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