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Old 19-01-2020, 08:44   #1
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BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

We are preparing for a bareboat charter in the BVIs in two weeks. Just my wife and I from Sat to Sat. We’ll have a 2007 Beneteau 32 from Conch and this will be our first Charter as well as first time in the BVIs.

We fly to St. Thomas from Orlando via Puerto Rico and will take the ferry to Road Town.

We’re going to order provisions in advance and then grab a few last second items the morning before leaving the base. We’ll bring scuba gear with us and some other items like strong flashlight, some cockpit lights and other misc items.

My questions from those who have experience - what advice would you give from what to bring not to bring? Itinerary? Sailing advice? Dealing with the Charter co? Things not to miss on land? Best sails?

Appreciate any and all feedback.
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Old 19-01-2020, 08:57   #2
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Commodore64 View Post
We are preparing for a bareboat charter in the BVIs in two weeks. Just my wife and I from Sat to Sat. We’ll have a 2007 Beneteau 32 from Conch and this will be our first Charter as well as first time in the BVIs.

We fly to St. Thomas from Orlando via Puerto Rico and will take the ferry to Road Town.

We’re going to order provisions in advance and then grab a few last second items the morning before leaving the base. We’ll bring scuba gear with us and some other items like strong flashlight, some cockpit lights and other misc items.

My questions from those who have experience - what advice would you give from what to bring not to bring? Itinerary? Sailing advice? Dealing with the Charter co? Things not to miss on land? Best sails?

Appreciate any and all feedback.
Type 'BVI Advise" or "BVI" in advanced search and you will find a TON of information.
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Old 19-01-2020, 13:43   #3
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

Thanks. I couldn’t find much using the search function. Also looking for the most recent information given the hurricane situation.
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Old 20-01-2020, 06:09   #4
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

Greetings!

Sitting in Road Town on our way back to the US. Spent a week on a mono from Nanny Cay. This is our 4th trip but first in winter. Weather has been less than desirable. Cold fronts coming through creating winds from ENE gusting to 35kts and some serious chop/waves. Headlights/flashlights were included so save some space. If you’re dedicated to using a mooring ball locations out of weather are limited and fill quickly, arrive early or use Boaty Ball app by 0700 the day you want to moor. We’ve always provisioned ourselves. Have heard that what you ask for vs. what you get may differ. A few places in Road Town to pick up groceries so not difficult If you have the time. Finally, when you go through customs in Road Town, be patient, they’ve honed bureaucracy to a fine art. They may be horrible civil servants but not indicative of the rest of the people you’ll meet.


Regardless where you go, relax and enjoy ... you’re on island time!
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Old 20-01-2020, 07:43   #5
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

Commodore and Spouse,

You'll spend most of your boat time in a bathing suit and will throw (for your wife) a sundress over it and (for you) a golf shirt and shorts over it to go ashore - with perhaps a light sweater or windbreaker - so light packing, first off.

Try to get on a mooring ball by 2 or 3 o'clock every day, as the reefs are only visible with that angle of the sun - later in the day is more problematic (also because the mooring fields fill up with fellow charterers).

There's a great dive company that will pick you up right off of your charter boat and take you for the famous local wreck dive (name escapes me right now) - just ask Conch and they will have their info.

Like the previous poster said, get ready to have a relaxing, fun time. The BVIs have been a charter-friendly location for a long while. Usually, the prevailing winds are SW 15-20 which is pretty push-button sailing, so hopefully the weather the previous poster mentioned will have blown through and will have settled back into the regular winds and sun.

It will take a couple of days to get your head out of our North American rush-rush time and downshift into "Island Time" , but when you do, you'll make for your next anchorage, snag a mooring ball by 2, 3pm and the next question will be, "Who's making the Painkillers?" You don't know what Painkillers are? Don't worry. You'll find out.

There's also a provisioning company who will deliver stores that you may have forgotten to your boat, so no worries there either.

I'm sure you'll have a fantastic time and just roll with it,
Warmly,
LittleWing77
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Old 20-01-2020, 08:18   #6
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

The weather that Captain Canuck references were particularly strong instances of our Christmas Winds, and yes, they can and did make life unpleasant, last week. They are also not the norm, although they usually occur, at some point, every winter. But, a couple of weeks before, we had very light winds and, for us, practically a heat wave.



Nonetheless, winter is characterized by stronger winds (occasionally much stronger) than normal, and they are called the Reinforced Trades, if that gives you an idea. My advice regarding winds is to NOT do what most do, which is to agonize over the itinerary, long before arrival, and then stubbornly stick to it. Check with a weather site, like Windguru or Windy or somesuch, and go upwind in the lighter winds and downwind in the big winds. I remember a particular charter where the only light day was to be the first, and we went all the way to Anegada, as far upwind as we could. The rest of the week was a downwind romp in strong winds, very enjoyable, while most of the rest of the boats were bashing upwind, day after day. Let the wind dictate your schedule......hard for land folks to get used to.....but there you go! As a generalization, the best two "sails" you will experience, are the ones to and from Anegada.



I provision online about fifteen times a year and it works pretty well. There are always some things that are out of stock and some others that get substituted, but you should, at least, order the heavy stuff. There is a mid-sized Riteway a couple of hundred yards west of Conch, and you can fill in over there. I generally use Riteway for most everything (the big one is in town), but there are also Bobby's and OneMart, which may have the best deals for produce. Specialty drinks may need to come from Caribbean Cellars or Tico's. But, don't waste a half day of potential charter time, out shopping! All deliver, for a small fee.



Most of the charter companies are staffed by very nice people, and Conch is no exception. Their motto is "Best Deal on Keels", and they do use older boats, but a well kept older boat should not be a negative.


It will help, when checking in, if you know your boat's name. It can be a sticking point if you don't.


It's our winter, so bring a sweat shirt or a wind jacket, but particularly if it's not windy, you are far more likely to bring too much than too little. Shorts, T-shirts, a Polo or two, bathing suits and flip flops about cover it. Maybe a pair of tennis shoes. Plus, what you wear, coming down. The water is warm! One guest once brought along a pair of high heels for each day!!! Don't be that person. Might it be easier to rent SCUBA gear than bringing it down?


Regarding land tours, plan on renting a car for a day, in Anegada, and do so a day or two in advance. If you make more than a couple of stops (You should!), it will be cheaper and give you more freedom. Make sure you see Loblolly Bay, Cow Wreck Beach Bar, and Anegada Beach Club; if nature interests you, drop in at the Anegada Iguana Head Start facility.



If it is rough, you may prefer to see the Baths from land, rather than swimming in. Sail to Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour and stay for a few hours (there is a charge) and taxi over to the Baths. You can see the Coppermine, as well. Don't go to Spring Bay, since that's where those of us who live here go!


North Sound, Virgin Gorda, is a lovely place, even after Irma, from which it's recovery still has a long way to go. With regard to Irma, Anegada, Cooper, and Norman Islands are totally fine. Jost Van Dyke is in good shape, having lost a lot of the classic palm trees, however. Tortola and Virgin Gorda have many areas that are fine, and a good number where rebuilding has barely started. But there is plenty to do and see. You can zipline on Tortola, and if you are a tennis player, try the Tortola Sports Club, in Road Town. One other side trip would be to take Gumption's nature tour of Necker Island, one of Sir Richard Branson's two islands here. It's pricey and worth every penny, but you should start looking into reservations well in advance.


Make friends with your outboard. Be sure to go over that with Conch.



Have a great time on your visit! Be safe. We lose people every year (several already, this season), and usually lack of foresight or outright stupidity on the part of someone or other is to blame.
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Old 20-01-2020, 08:22   #7
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

. Usually, the prevailing winds are SW 15-20 which is pretty push-button sailing, so hopefully the weather the previous poster mentioned will have blown through and will have settled back into the regular winds and sun.

Correction: the prevailing winds are from the East, not Southwest. In the winter they go a bit north of that, in general, so ENE, and in the summer a bit south, so ESE. The swells to watch out for are usually from the North. Unlike many other places, the wind blows around the clock, not just for a few hours in the day.
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Old 20-01-2020, 10:30   #8
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

Don't over plan itinerary; go with the weather and your mood as best you can. Lots of must do things but perhaps the top ones for me are explore The Baths (get there early), snorkel The Indians, snorkel or dive the Wreck of the Rhone, visit Gorda Sound, hike to top of Virgin Gorda, moor in The Bight (Norman Island) to visit the Willy T, and visit Jost Van Dyke. I always charter from St. Thomas and spends a couple days (coming and going) exploring St. John. For me, St. John is the best part of the VI.
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Old 20-01-2020, 12:39   #9
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

RightWay is the main supermarket in the BVI. They have a major store just inland from the Moorings base in Tortola and smaller outlets which also have most of what your will need elsewhere. Taxi to the main store and back if there isn't one near the Conch base. There is also a small one at Nanny Cay.

Anegada is the only place where I would rent a car. We rented a truck ($60 a day) with bench seats in the back and took all nine of us all over the island. Remember to drive on the wrong side.

The other responders here have all offered great ideas.
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Old 20-01-2020, 12:47   #10
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

32' is not a lot of waterline for big winds. If winds are above 15 go with your first reef, second reef above 20. Don't count on the engine to get you above 5 kts going up wind. Look for anchorages that are protected from the prevailing wind. The Bight at Norman, Leverick Bay in North Sound Virgin Gorda, Guana Island, Diamond Cover Jost Van Dyke. Expect to eat more dinners ashore than on the boat. We usually count on 4 meals on the boat, 5 lunches, and breakfast every day. Some of the best dive sites are exposed. Watch the weather forecast and plan your dives for the calmest days.

Have fun!

Cheers, RickG
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Old 20-01-2020, 13:02   #11
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

Get yourself a copy of "The Gruising Guide to the Virgin Islands" by Nancy and Simon Scott.
This guide has everything you need, buy it, read it before you go, and take it with you. It has text, photos and drawing of most anchorges. They say not be used for navigation but they are extremely accurate.

Relax and enjoy yourself.
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Old 20-01-2020, 15:17   #12
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptCanuck View Post
Greetings!

Sitting in Road Town on our way back to the US. Spent a week on a mono from Nanny Cay. This is our 4th trip but first in winter. Weather has been less than desirable. Cold fronts coming through creating winds from ENE gusting to 35kts and some serious chop/waves. Headlights/flashlights were included so save some space. If you’re dedicated to using a mooring ball locations out of weather are limited and fill quickly, arrive early or use Boaty Ball app by 0700 the day you want to moor. We’ve always provisioned ourselves. Have heard that what you ask for vs. what you get may differ. A few places in Road Town to pick up groceries so not difficult If you have the time. Finally, when you go through customs in Road Town, be patient, they’ve honed bureaucracy to a fine art. They may be horrible civil servants but not indicative of the rest of the people you’ll meet.


Regardless where you go, relax and enjoy ... you’re on island time!


Awesome. Thanks for the info. Is anchoring a realistic option in most places or no?
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Old 20-01-2020, 15:20   #13
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sirago View Post
Get yourself a copy of "The Gruising Guide to the Virgin Islands" by Nancy and Simon Scott.

This guide has everything you need, buy it, read it before you go, and take it with you. It has text, photos and drawing of most anchorges. They say not be used for navigation but they are extremely accurate.



Relax and enjoy yourself.


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.
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Old 20-01-2020, 15:26   #14
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

Quote:
Originally Posted by contrail View Post
The weather that Captain Canuck references were particularly strong instances of our Christmas Winds, and yes, they can and did make life unpleasant, last week. They are also not the norm, although they usually occur, at some point, every winter. But, a couple of weeks before, we had very light winds and, for us, practically a heat wave.



Nonetheless, winter is characterized by stronger winds (occasionally much stronger) than normal, and they are called the Reinforced Trades, if that gives you an idea. My advice regarding winds is to NOT do what most do, which is to agonize over the itinerary, long before arrival, and then stubbornly stick to it. Check with a weather site, like Windguru or Windy or somesuch, and go upwind in the lighter winds and downwind in the big winds. I remember a particular charter where the only light day was to be the first, and we went all the way to Anegada, as far upwind as we could. The rest of the week was a downwind romp in strong winds, very enjoyable, while most of the rest of the boats were bashing upwind, day after day. Let the wind dictate your schedule......hard for land folks to get used to.....but there you go! As a generalization, the best two "sails" you will experience, are the ones to and from Anegada.



I provision online about fifteen times a year and it works pretty well. There are always some things that are out of stock and some others that get substituted, but you should, at least, order the heavy stuff. There is a mid-sized Riteway a couple of hundred yards west of Conch, and you can fill in over there. I generally use Riteway for most everything (the big one is in town), but there are also Bobby's and OneMart, which may have the best deals for produce. Specialty drinks may need to come from Caribbean Cellars or Tico's. But, don't waste a half day of potential charter time, out shopping! All deliver, for a small fee.



Most of the charter companies are staffed by very nice people, and Conch is no exception. Their motto is "Best Deal on Keels", and they do use older boats, but a well kept older boat should not be a negative.


It will help, when checking in, if you know your boat's name. It can be a sticking point if you don't.


It's our winter, so bring a sweat shirt or a wind jacket, but particularly if it's not windy, you are far more likely to bring too much than too little. Shorts, T-shirts, a Polo or two, bathing suits and flip flops about cover it. Maybe a pair of tennis shoes. Plus, what you wear, coming down. The water is warm! One guest once brought along a pair of high heels for each day!!! Don't be that person. Might it be easier to rent SCUBA gear than bringing it down?


Regarding land tours, plan on renting a car for a day, in Anegada, and do so a day or two in advance. If you make more than a couple of stops (You should!), it will be cheaper and give you more freedom. Make sure you see Loblolly Bay, Cow Wreck Beach Bar, and Anegada Beach Club; if nature interests you, drop in at the Anegada Iguana Head Start facility.



If it is rough, you may prefer to see the Baths from land, rather than swimming in. Sail to Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour and stay for a few hours (there is a charge) and taxi over to the Baths. You can see the Coppermine, as well. Don't go to Spring Bay, since that's where those of us who live here go!


North Sound, Virgin Gorda, is a lovely place, even after Irma, from which it's recovery still has a long way to go. With regard to Irma, Anegada, Cooper, and Norman Islands are totally fine. Jost Van Dyke is in good shape, having lost a lot of the classic palm trees, however. Tortola and Virgin Gorda have many areas that are fine, and a good number where rebuilding has barely started. But there is plenty to do and see. You can zipline on Tortola, and if you are a tennis player, try the Tortola Sports Club, in Road Town. One other side trip would be to take Gumption's nature tour of Necker Island, one of Sir Richard Branson's two islands here. It's pricey and worth every penny, but you should start looking into reservations well in advance.


Make friends with your outboard. Be sure to go over that with Conch.



Have a great time on your visit! Be safe. We lose people every year (several already, this season), and usually lack of foresight or outright stupidity on the part of someone or other is to blame.


Thanks for the tip on checking in and great insights overall! We’ll try not to add to the tally of the lost.
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Old 20-01-2020, 17:19   #15
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Re: BVI Charter Tips & Tricks

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.
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