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Old 20-01-2020, 18:43   #16
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

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Originally Posted by Commodore64 View Post
Thank you. I looked at that and a lot of the recent reviews claimed it was out of date since it was published just before the hurricanes. I don’t know if that is a fair comment though.
The version of the cruising guide at https://smile.amazon.com/Cruising-Gu...dp/1733305327/ has been updated in just the last few months - I read it and it seems to be pretty good. I chartered about 4 months after the hurricane and it certainly reflects what I saw and what has changed since then. Have fun!
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Old 20-01-2020, 21:05   #17
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

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Thank you. I looked at that and a lot of the recent reviews claimed it was out of date since it was published just before the hurricanes. I don’t know if that is a fair comment though.
The islands are recovering pretty quickly from Irma - take a look at the BVI Traveller website for more information about places re-opening. I’ve done the counter-clockwise circuit on a Moorings powercat a couple of times (Cooper, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Cane Garden Bay, Jost van Dyke, Norman, Peter) and Anegada is definitely worth the effort. Make a dinner reservation when you get there at the Lobster Trap, and they’ll take you for the afternoon in their bus to the north side of the island to Anegada Beach Club. Use Boaty Ball to reserve mooring balls in advance at Cooper Island, Leverick Bay (Virgin Gorda) and Anegada - so much less stressful than rushing to get there for first come first served balls. Anchoring is possible in most places, but mooring fields are extensive and make life easy. Next time we go (in April), we might try the clockwise circuit and see if we see fewer fellow charterers that way!

Just relax, enjoy island time, you’ll love it.
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Old 21-01-2020, 05:48   #18
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

Anchoring is not realistic, nor in most of the popular "anchorages" is it permitted. Years ago, charterers were destroying the reefs in a cataclysmic way, so the BVI sunk a significant number of mooring balls in the prime spots (you could still anchor way out, but you won't get a good night's sleep). Just pay the mooring fee for the week and enjoy the various anchorages, worry-free.

One less thing to think about.

Fair winds and happy hols,
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Old 24-01-2020, 14:14   #19
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

Thanks all. 168 hours till we set foot in Road Town. Not that anyone is counting.
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Old 24-01-2020, 15:06   #20
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

Contrail and others have some good tips. I have chartered a few times and was always heavily discouraged or some times even forbidden to go to Anegada due to the exensive reef and poor channel marking that have caused some groundings, although I am sure it can be done safely. It is a longer sail than making the tour around Tortola and I would skip it especially if strong winds are present.

You may get some handy tips on what to bring from this thread:
http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...rs-215264.html

I tried the Baths both ways, and while the taxi approach is viable when the Baths are crowded, I would check that mooring area first, because the taxi approach involves boating into the marina, gathering your gear, taking a taxi and then climbing down the hill to the water, where you will have to find a place to stash your dry things and valuables, then hike back up with sandy feet when done. If you take a nearby mooring ball, you carry nothing and swim to the reefs and beach, swim back to the boat. Much preferable if not crowded, in my opinion.

One last thing, I believe I read that the Willy T sunk and has been replaced, but in a different bay, don't know which one. Oh and take some extra time when they show you the chart plotter during checkout, assuming there is one. Different models can take a bit of getting used to.

Have fun!
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Old 24-01-2020, 15:38   #21
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

My understanding is that Willy T is back at the Bight at Norman Island:
https://www.bvitraveller.com/willy-t...norman-island/

I'll be boarding my 50' cat in St. Thomas tomorrow afternoon, in St. John Sunday, and Jost Van Dyke Monday if current plan plays out.
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Old 24-01-2020, 17:12   #22
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

We did our first BVI charter last Feb - 3 couples (all friends) on a 41' mono, and loved it all.

It was a fun sail to Anagada on the 41'... might be a bit less fun in a 32', depending on your day. It was the only time we saw dolphins. The entry into Anegada harbour was well marked, but we had the plotters set up as well, and it was painless. Respect the marked channel and don't stray out of the mooring field. Cow Wreck Beach was great; we spent most of one afternoon there. Our biggest faux pas on the whole trip - we all pre-ordered whole lobster at Potters (Anegada) but a half would have been plenty. (Burrrp!) Oh well, you can always dance it off.
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Old 24-01-2020, 19:10   #23
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

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Originally Posted by Mithril Bham View Post
Spent a few years as a charter captain there. Weather is usually great. I like the Christmas Winds but each to their own.

I would skip Anegada on your first trip.

I found the best way to see The Baths was to dock at Spanish Town and take a taxi. Nice little restaurant with small pool and view.

BVI is set up for a week long charter. Just do the circle and don't rush.

Don't take too much. You can tell the veteran travelers by their small bags.

Have fun. It's a great place to sail.


Why would you skip Anegada?
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Old 27-01-2020, 18:36   #24
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

Not withstanding the sound advice given here, we’ve bought 2% of the US GDP in kit for this trip. Amazon has posted a permanent drop off station outside our front door. I just hope a 32’ boat can hold it all!
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Old 28-01-2020, 05:28   #25
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

Notwithstanding our collective Cruisers' Forum sound advice, you will learn - by experience!


Have a great time!
Warmly,
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Old 28-01-2020, 10:42   #26
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

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Not withstanding the sound advice given here, we’ve bought 2% of the US GDP in kit for this trip. Amazon has posted a permanent drop off station outside our front door. I just hope a 32’ boat can hold it all!

Til you gain experience... everyone gets and packs too much.


As you start throwing stuff off the boat, it leaves a handy trail in case you need to be found
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Old 16-02-2020, 15:31   #27
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

Well we're back in the States and thought I would round this off with a quick re-cap of our trip. Most of the advice here was spot on so we certainly appreciate it.

1) Charter Company
As I mentioned above, we used Conch Charters in Road Town - They were really great. We had a checklist of items to make sure they covered during the boat orientation and they covered each one of them without us having to bring it up. Also they do a good itinerary briefing as well, although we found a few things they told us to be inaccurate. Nothing big.

The boat while being a little older was well maintained. Everything worked well and we didn't have any issues with systems or any other maintenance. One possible exception, the dingy painter had severe chafe on it that we didn't notice till we had left the dock. We used a spare line they had in the cockpit locker as a back up. The dingy motor started with one pull every time, but it didn't sound fantastic. I could probably swim faster. It did turn out to be reliable though.

They gave us a local phone to call them for anything that came up. We used it once or twice to verify weather forecasts and general info. They were very responsive.

2) Itinerary
Norman Island
We went to Norman the first day since you really just have a few hours to get somewhere after you get off the dock mid/late morning. This was an easy sail to get us started. We found a ball at Soldier Bay which is right next to The Bight. There was just us one other boat with us and it was an easy dingy ride over to The Bight. This was absolutely perfect. We had the place to ourselves with an easy jump off to The Indians the next morning and easy ride over to all the chaos in The Bight.

The Indians
Next day we got up early and dingy'd over to The Indians for some snorkeling. Great snorkel, but the coral is definitely bleached out. Decent amount of fish to see (yellow snapper, parrot fish and angel fish mostly). Then we headed back to the boat.

Cooper Island
We were originally going to head to Jost Van Dyke from here for the Super Bowl, but the winds were very light ENE and checking boatyball the only mooring available was at Cooper Island. We ditched the Jost plan (we wanted to avoid larger crowds anyway) and took advantage of the lighter winds to get upwind.

This turned out excellent. We really enjoyed Cooper (Manchioneel Bay). Great hangout at the beach club and wasn't over flowing with people. One of the other boats brought out a projector and we were able to watch the Super Bowl outside the Rum Bar with maybe 10 other people after an excellent dinner at the beach club.

The Baths, Virgin Gorda
Next day we got up early and shot over to The Baths. We were able to snag a ball super close to the beach. We lashed the dingy to the line demarcating the swimming area and swam into the beach. This was a spectacular place UNTIL THE TOURS STARTING SHOWING UP! Get there early and get on your way.

Leverick Bay
We left and still had pretty light winds so we made our way to Leverick Bay. We ended up anchoring at Leverick with all the balls being full, but I'm glad that we did. The holding there was excellent and we saved a few bucks. This was busy as I guess many people probably use it as a launching point for Anegada. Our plan too.

Leverick has a nice restaurant, small grocery, diesel & water and beach bar. We were told that the other side of the bay (Bitter End) is still under construction so we didn't venture that way. We enjoyed it here, but it was more strategic for us than scenic.

Anegada
We left the next morning with the sun to go to Anegada. Mithril Bahm (above) said he would skip Anegada and I don't know exactly why, but given the same circumstances (small boat, little experience) I wouldn't make that sail again although I am glad in many ways we did do it.

The wind on the sail to Anegada was about perfect. We had 15 kts on the beam out of East. The only negative is there was a decent sea state up to 1.5 meters also on our beam. This made things a little uncomfortable, but not bad. It took us 5 hours to get there which really surprised me.

When we got to the channel it was very well marked, but it is much closer to shore than we anticipated. This had us a little concerned that we were in no man’s land with the reef being so prevalent around the island. Oh and the tablet that had navionics on it died sooo…that didn’t provide much confidence.

Ultimately, we got into the anchorage no problem, however, it’s very shallow. Thank god the tides are nonexistent here. We got the last remaining ball and were in 6 feet of water. As we roamed through the anchorage looking for a ball I had readings under 5 feet. Our draft was 5 feet!

Anegada is a beautiful place with unspoiled beaches on the north side that are stunning! The hype about Flamingo’s was really just hype. Yes they have Flamingo’s, but you have to peer through a telescope to see them on the far side of the salt marsh. Let down there, but we enjoyed the rest of the island.
Next time we’ll take a ferry to Anegada so we have more time to spend there and less stress between the anchorage and the entrance. Although now that I know the entrance the next time will be a breeze.

Leverick Bay
We returned to Leverick the next day and again we anchored there. This turned out to not be a great decision as the winds had been picking up out of the east all day. We thought we would get some protection here, but there is a valley on the east side of the bay between two mountains that really funneled the winds into the bay. We didn’t sleep at all that night from the wind noise, the boat rocking and the chop slapping the hull. It was like trying to sleep at a rock concert. Anchor held great though!

Trellis Bay
Next we headed to Trellis, because the wind and sea state had both gained traction. We were desperate for some peace and Trellis was the most protected place we could find. Going into Trellis between Beef Island and Scrub Island the sea was easily 2 meters and on our aft beam. This made for a very rolly ride on our 32 foot boat, but as we got closer it calmed down.

I have to say that just about every anchorage was in really great shape. Trellis still has some work to do. The channel nearly runs right through the anchorage and there are several derelict balls right in the middle of the channel. A number of derelict boats also remain there.

On shore there are three restaurants and a grocery. We had a nice meal, but decided we weren’t going to stay here any longer than we needed too. It just wasn’t up to par with everywhere else we had been.

We actually decided given the wind direction the next 48 hours (20-25kts Easterly) that getting to Jost would be relatively easy, but getting back around Tortola to Road Town would not. So we took the boat back to the base 1 day early (boo).

Cane Garden Bay
We then took a taxi over to Cane Garden Bay for the day. There weren’t any cruise ships in town so the place was nearly deserted. We had a great time here swimming and hanging out at Quito’s. At the end of the day we went back to Road Town for dinner at Cappricio di Mare which was excellent!

Brewer’s Bay
We left the boat on Saturday morning and went to our hotel for that night, Icis Villas at Brewer’s Bay. The road down to Brewer’s is steep, but the place was spectacular! Again, no cruise ship so the beach was absolutely empty. Icis is not on the beach, it’s about 3 minute walk through a banana grove. It was secluded and there couldn’t have been more than 1-2 other couples there. Again, a spectacular day on the beach and excellent meal at Icis that evening.

We left the next morning, catching the ferry to Charlotte Amalie and plane back to the states.

3) The Boat
We had a 2007, Beneteau 32. As previously mentioned it was maintained well by the Conch crew and functioned well. I would say though that we felt the boat too small. I know there are people who sail around the world on smaller boats, but we are not them.

There was no room in the boat for much of anything. If we were both below decks we were constantly on top of each other. We couldn’t sleep in the same berth (we are not big people), because it was just not comfortable and the boat got tossed around easily by 1.5-2 meter waves. Next charter we’ll go bigger to add to the comfort level.

4) Ferry
We used Road Town Fast Ferry to go from Charlotte Amalie to Road Town. Overall good experience, but a couple of things to know. Make sure you have plenty of time if you are flying out of STT the same day. The ferry back to Charlotte Amalie stops in Red Hook first so you can go through customs. The customs office at the dock in Charlotte Amalie is still under construction. Our Ferry back arrived about an hour later than expected.

5) Provisioning
We ended up just going to the Rite Way next to Conch (3 minute walk) the night before we left to get food. Very easy and quick. Our boat did not have a generator, so we used the fridge more like a cooler than a fridge. We spent a lot of money in Ice. If cost matters to you don’t get ice and trash from the guys driving around the anchorages. It will be double what it costs on shore.

We had a great time and will definitely be back.
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Old 16-02-2020, 16:25   #28
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

One other note in boat size - we felt like we were competing with 40+ ft monos and a million cats who were all zooming past us for position in the anchorage. And the cats are like 10:1.
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Old 16-02-2020, 17:07   #29
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

Thanks for sharing your experiences and feedback. Sorry to hear that you had some rolly nights. We must have been lucky; I don't recall one bad night.


We were 3 couples on a 41', and size-wise we felt the boat length was just right; easy to handle yet even on our reach to Anegada the motion was not terrrible and the boat felt like a rocketship. So maybe charter something larger with your friends on your next trip.
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Old 17-02-2020, 06:01   #30
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

Thanks for the report, Commodore64. I feel like I was back in my old stompin' grounds.

Did you not go scuba diving after all?

Cheers,
LittleWing77
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