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kirkb 06-06-2010 21:25

BVI to Puerto Rico
I am charting a boat in Tortola at the end of March. I am booking airline tickets now. I can save a few dollars by picking some folks up in Puerto Rico. Since I have one kid coming and one kid leaving I can save about $150 by sailing to the airport. (I am that cheap, plus it sounds like a fun challenge)

What is the sail like between the bvi and Puerto rico. Are the seas rough? I have only sailed in the bvi and Puget Sound. (Read no blue water but having an excuse to make a crossing is very appealing)

I understand the wind blows from the north east. If it is too much east, it seems like the trip back could be long. Is it difficult to get back to the bvi? How many days does it take?

Is the crime worse than the bvi? I remember having a layover in Puerto rico years ago and there were bars all the windows.

I need to spend one night in San Juan does anyone have an anchorage or doc they suggest?
On Bing this dock looks close to the airport but I have no idea what it is like.
Dock link: Bing Maps

Zanshin 07-06-2010 02:22

Going from the BVI to Puerto Rico is not bad, as you will be running downwind with following seas. Getting back to the BVI is going to be a lot tougher. Plus you will need to clear out of the BVI, into the USA and then back into the BVI so it might make more sense to have the flights go to St. Thomas and pick them up from there - the sail is quick and the flights to St. Thomas are significantly cheaper than those to the BVI.

colemj 07-06-2010 04:52

You will easily spend at least $150 on fuel, marina, customs (you will need to repay all those fees all over again in the BVI's) and taxis and take 2-3 days out of your vacation by "passagemaking" on a schedule. That type of vacation isn't what most people charter for.

Also, be sure to be upfront with the charter company about your plans to sail to San Juan. The North coast PR is rougher with a lot of commercial traffic. They might not be so keen on that plan and you will be taking a great risk by doing it if they say "no".


Hud3 07-06-2010 04:59

Ditto on what Zanshin and Mark said. There are so many more interesting and rewarding places to sail in the limited time scope of your charter. What you're contemplating, to be blunt, doesn't make sense.

s/v Moondancer 07-06-2010 05:37

I used to live, on a boat, in BVI and I did pick people up in the USVI but I never contemplated going to Puerto Rica which is a 180 mile round trip. The 90 miles back to windward, usually motor sailing, is a hard slog for a charter crew and certainly not worth the effort to save $150.

The north shore of Puerto Ricio is wide open to the Atlantic and when there are storms in the Atlantic it can become very unpleasant and comes under small craft warnings because of the incoming swells. Not a way to start a family charter.

However, the Spanish Virgins are a very nice place to cruise but are not as 'charter convenient' as the east of USVI and the BVI.

Spend the money it will be more fun!

RayW 07-06-2010 06:36

I agree with the above. We charter in the BVI quite a bit and have found the cheapest is for me to fly into Tortola, clear customs at the airport, pick up the boat and then head over to Sopers Hole to pick up friends and family that ferry in from St Thomas (they clear customs there). Ferry cost about $25 (I believe). Last time we were there they told us in the boat briefing to be sure to clear in and out of customs because a family was dropped of at St Thomas for a flight, never clearing out of BVI customs, and they along with the boat and captain got to spend 3 extra days and $5,000 for the mistake.

sailingaway221 07-06-2010 07:05

I'm guessing you mean MArch next year?

That time of year it could be a long beat straight into 20 - 25 knots from PR back to BVI...hpwever often people think that Vieques and Culebra...out of PR between PR and USVI are worth the trip...I don't think you'll save the 150 by going there to pick them up....The taxi from San Juan to Fajardo is 75.00...the sail back from San Juan HArbor to Fajardo is nasty if it is windy....basically open atlantic on the north shore of PR.....
\And the predominant wind from PR to BVI is on the nose....trades are Easterly until the end of August.....then lighten off through DEcember....Besides...gentlemen don't sail upwind!

gbanker 07-06-2010 07:15

All the above have given good advice. No way to know what the weather (winds) will be when you want to make that upwind trip from PR to the Virgins. Can only add my opinion and that is not to do it. Either pick them up in St Thomas (you can anchor near the airport) or better yet, have them take a ferry to Sopers Hole, West End.

kirkb 07-06-2010 08:48

Thanks for the advice. (I did get permission to go to the spanish virgin islands. Footlose and CYOA are the only ones I found that will do it. )

Ok picking them up from the airport does not sound like a good idea. How about just going to culebra - just for fun. Is that still not worth it? Again, there is some draw to some kind of adventure... Perhaps Anegaga will be enough. Is that too much work also?

Zanshin 07-06-2010 09:00

Anegada is a 'piece of cake' and on the way there you'll feel like you are doing your first real ocean passage since you'll be heading towards a destination you can't see until you are about 4 miles out. If your guests fly in to Beef Island you can anchor/moor in Trellis and pick up your passengers at the airport, a 5-minute walk to the dinghy and they'll be aboard the boat within 10 minutes of clearing customs and immigration in the BVI - that has got to be worth $150 :)

kirkb 07-06-2010 19:46

Is Culebra too much work for the benefit? Is it even a nice island to visit

colemj 08-06-2010 05:03

Culebra is very nice - free moorings, good snorkeling, lots of access to smaller islands, Dewey is a funky town. It is ~15 miles from St. Thomas and not too far from the BVI's. Heading back can be a beat, but it's a relatively short one.

Again, you are on vacation so why create additional hassles? Everything on and around Culebra you will get in the BVI's, except for the free moorings. Going to Culebra will require you to check out of the BVI, check into PR, check out of PR and check back into the BVI (you can probably get away without checking out of PR). If you stop in St. Thomas first, which is likely, you will need to check in/out of their also. That will mean finding customs and immigration - not always "in" when they are supposed to be, and paying the fees all over again.

You are planning this from the perspective of your land and work life - most of which needs "adventure" for escape. Trust me on this - just go to the BVI's, get on your boat and go the shortest distance possible to a nice anchorage and have a rum punch or painkiller. Then have another and just stare off into the distance.

Then you will understand what we are trying to tell you.


donradcliffe 08-06-2010 05:18

Culebra and Vieques are much nicer that the BVI, and there are a number of ferries per day from the mainland to Culebra--you won't save a lot, as the taxi ride to the ferry in
Fajardo will cost $75 (the ferry is cheap), but if you are the adventurous type, you will have a great time.

As mentioned before, the only downside is the bash back to the BVI--you will want to give yourself a couple of days flexibility on the return trip so you can pick the best weather. Its really only about 20 miles of open ocean from Culebrita back into the lee of St Thomas, and then semi-protected water from there to the BVI.

capt_douglas 08-06-2010 09:36

I'd reconsider San Juan and take Fajardo if I were to do that. As others have indicated it's 180+ miles round trip, with at least half that on the nose. It's a $40 taxi ride from Fajardo but may be less for the shuttle.

If you're set on San Juan then you can do a downwind run or a couple long tacks to San Juan then find transient dockage. Either way, it's going to be a long day.

How much time do you have? I'd plan on 2-3 days to get back into the BVIs.
Dockage costs? $2-4/ft/night (it's season, remember)
Fuel costs ('cuz you're going to motor some or tack big time to get back)?
Why would you want to bypass the Spanish Virgins when they're so close and so nice?

I'd think the $150 "savings" wouldn't be anywhere near that much.

Mundial 08-06-2010 10:27

Culebra is real nice. Nice beaches (Flamenco Beach), good snorkeling and nice restaurants. What we did sometime ago when we wanted to spend the holidays in Puerto Rico is we sailed to Culebra, enjoyed it for a couple of days, left the boat on a mooring for a few days and took the ferry to Fajardo ($2.50 each way). In Puerto Rico is more convenient to rent a car (if you can handle an agressive driving environment). You can rent from Avis at the Ceiba office, they will even pick you up at the ferry landing.
The sail back east could be tough depending on weather conditions.


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