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Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas #138517
08/22/2017 11:40 AM
08/22/2017 11:40 AM
Joined: Oct 2012
Posts: 251
Chicago, IL
Showdavid Offline OP
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Showdavid  Offline OP
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Chicago, IL
Traveling with wife and 3 kids, ages 8 - 12 this February. I've chartered out of BVI's every time but just wondering if it's worth the hassle to get to Tortola or just charter out of St Thomas, spend a day or two in the USVI's, then head over to the BVI's for more fun and excitement.


Dave
BVI Sponsors
Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: Showdavid] #138518
08/22/2017 12:41 PM
08/22/2017 12:41 PM
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 269
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windward2c Offline
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Everyone will have a diff take bc that BVI vibe cant be created b4 you get there but the question prob comes down to how long is your charter? If you have a 14 day charter, doesnt really matter does it but I often only get 5-7 day trips and while it takes a little more effort to get to Tortola, as soon as I hit it the vaca starts whereas when I have chartered out of USVI is really nice but just waiting till I get to BVI. Just MHO smile.

"these are the issues worth grappling about in life!!!"

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: windward2c] #138519
08/22/2017 01:26 PM
08/22/2017 01:26 PM
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 844
USVI
LocalSailor Offline
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LocalSailor  Offline
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USVI
There is plenty of fun to be had before you get to the BVI - cheaper too - no beach bars to spend money at, no feerry costs, US groceries, and no daily C&I fees - kids 8-12 are just as likely to enjoy the sailing and moored activities and adjust to boat vacation in the USVI - it is not necessary to rush to White Bay - the frat party will be there when you arrive anyway.

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: windward2c] #138520
08/22/2017 01:27 PM
08/22/2017 01:27 PM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 6,074
Maryland
Twanger Offline
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Twanger  Offline
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Maryland
PROs

If you live in the US, STT is easier and cheaper to get to.

It's not really all that far to the BVI - From CA it's a 2.5-hour sail to Jost to clear-in. An hour closer from Red Hook.

No ferry rides required to get to your boat!

Fewer luggage transfers (read opportunity to lose luggage).

You can cruise the USVI for free.

You can cruise the SVI for free.


CONs

You're farther from the charter base, so you might be more on your own if you have a boat problem.

It looks like it's going to cost more than it used to for a USVI boat to cruise the BVI, than a BVI-based boat. Rates just changed, and I have not chartered since the rate change. Maybe others can help out here.

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: Showdavid] #138521
08/22/2017 02:49 PM
08/22/2017 02:49 PM
Joined: Feb 2003
Posts: 410
Charlotte, NC
DEL Offline
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DEL  Offline
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Charlotte, NC
It's been awhile since I sailed out of Charlotte Amalie, but here is how I would sum it up. Pros: no ferry hassle, north side of St John is very nice. Cons: must (no option) immediately sail into the prevailing winds (was called "Seasick Alley" when I did it), very limited dining options ashore on St John. The time factor depends on whether St John appeals to you more than the anchorages in the BVI that might be on your "to do" list.

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: DEL] #138522
08/22/2017 03:18 PM
08/22/2017 03:18 PM
Joined: Sep 2010
Posts: 5,501
Massachusetts
maytrix Offline
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I'm not sure the costs to cruise the BVI are really significant given the costs to get into Tortola and charter directly from there. Lower provisioning costs and no ferry costs might balance out with higher cruising fees.


Matt
Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: Twanger] #138523
08/22/2017 03:35 PM
08/22/2017 03:35 PM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,211
GJ, CO S/V Long Overdue
sail2wind Offline
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" if it's worth the hassle to get to Tortola"

I don't consider a 2 hour sail a hassle. A night at Christmas Cove on the way home is very memorable.

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: sail2wind] #138524
08/22/2017 04:10 PM
08/22/2017 04:10 PM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 6,074
Maryland
Twanger Offline
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Twanger  Offline
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Maryland
Quote
sail2wind said:
" if it's worth the hassle to get to Tortola"

I don't consider a 2 hour sail a hassle. A night at Christmas Cove on the way home is very memorable.


^^^^^^^ THIS ^^^^^^^

We always stop there, and somebody always sees something cool while snorkeling there.

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: Twanger] #138525
08/22/2017 05:05 PM
08/22/2017 05:05 PM
Joined: Jun 2015
Posts: 41
Toronto, ON
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Bgs Offline
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Toronto, ON
What are the normal 1st stops out of CA?
It is the first leg out of St Thomas and around the corner that always seems like a wild ride in the ferry, Is it a similar route you are sailing?

Out of Road town, it feels like 75% either go to Norman, Peter, Marina cay, Jost or Cooper first day.

We are out of Sea Cows Bay this December, first time not coming from RT.
We have enjoyed TMM and Sunsail, but CYOA seems intriguing, not to mention the stories of stars off St John.

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: Bgs] #138526
08/22/2017 06:48 PM
08/22/2017 06:48 PM
Joined: Jan 2016
Posts: 408
Georgia & South Carolina
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Deepcut Offline
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Biggest factor to me of coming out of CA is the more exposed sea, especially for 1st day/1st timers (or even my wife of many trips on her first day). Certainly some advantages such as skipping ferry and provisioning costs. Many people feel strongly one way or the other,and not a "correct" answer.


Wes
s/v Sea Tiger (Lagoon 42)
Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: Bgs] #138527
08/22/2017 08:29 PM
08/22/2017 08:29 PM
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 373
Apex, NC
agrimsrud Offline
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Apex, NC
There are several most excellent first stops out of stt. It's about two hours to Maho/Francis. Also about two hours to the south Shore of St john bays. The choice comes down to wind and wave direction. Both are very nice choices. We have also gone stt to west end if we're starting in the morning. That's about 2.5 hours. Then we go to Norman after clearing in.

Cost wise you will have to run all the numbers. No ferry costs and no hotel stay before and after on stt. But higher cruising fees. Cheaper and better provisioning. And IMHO better equipped boats on stt. Give it a try!


Life's short - sail more!
Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: Deepcut] #138528
08/22/2017 08:59 PM
08/22/2017 08:59 PM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,211
GJ, CO S/V Long Overdue
sail2wind Offline
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BG, instead of rushing to Jost or West End make your first stop Maho and make a great dinner on the boat. The anchorage is beautiful, the snorkeling is great, and a protected harbor <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif" alt="" />

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: sail2wind] #138529
08/22/2017 10:09 PM
08/22/2017 10:09 PM
Joined: Oct 2014
Posts: 1,521
Ontario, Canada
warren460 Offline
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Ontario, Canada
Where do you provision in stt? I have not been impressed by pueblo or cost u less vs riteway in Tortola.

Thanks


Warren
S/V Scuba Doo
Lagoon 450
Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: warren460] #138530
08/23/2017 09:11 AM
08/23/2017 09:11 AM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 6,074
Maryland
Twanger Offline
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Twanger  Offline
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Maryland
We usually charter from CYOA, and we use their provisioning.
The ladies usually do a run to K-Mart for booze and a few last minute provisions.

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: Deepcut] #138531
08/23/2017 09:14 AM
08/23/2017 09:14 AM
Joined: May 2017
Posts: 58
Fayetteville, Ar
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Fayetteville, Ar
For us it's pretty easy. We arrive in STT at 1:27, catch the 2:30 ferry to RT. Check in at Sunsail is at 6:00. By then we have had time to do some lite provisioning and dinner. Our flight was half the price of flying into EIS. Depart at 3:45 the day after we return our charter without having to rush around. Just our experience, we have always chartered out of Tortola.

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: warren460] #138532
08/23/2017 11:18 AM
08/23/2017 11:18 AM
Joined: Jul 2012
Posts: 373
Apex, NC
agrimsrud Offline
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Apex, NC
Quote
warren460 said:
Where do you provision in stt? I have not been impressed by pueblo or cost u less vs riteway in Tortola.

Thanks


We use Plaza Extra at Tutu Plaza. Mostly a real store.


Life's short - sail more!
Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: agrimsrud] #138533
08/23/2017 11:57 AM
08/23/2017 11:57 AM
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 1,105
Saint Thomas, USVI
CaptainJay Offline
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CaptainJay  Offline
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Saint Thomas, USVI
Cost U Less is great for big groups. Price Smart will give you a day pass. You can use Fine Food Afloat to order provisions. Or VI Fresh Foods has online ordering and delivery. The Fruit Bowl has good produce.

Moe's Market in Red Hook is a really nice store. They are opening a location less than a block from Frenchtown on the water front this month. You will be able to take a dinghy or walk from our base.

Pueblo is solid for basics. Food Center has a very good selection. Plaza Extra is also a solid choice.

Jay

Last edited by CaptainJay; 08/23/2017 11:58 AM.
Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: CaptainJay] #138534
08/23/2017 01:32 PM
08/23/2017 01:32 PM
Joined: Oct 2004
Posts: 1,569
Virginia & Charleston, SC
RickG Offline
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Virginia & Charleston, SC
I am seasick prone, but don't have a problem crossing the Pillsbury Sound. There are some rollers usually coming from the south, but they are long period and fun. The south side of St. Thomas has not been an issue for us.

First stops out of Charlotte Amalie for us, depending on where we are headed, include Water Island, Christmas Cove, Maho/Francis and Lameshure Bay on St. John. Water Island has amenities and a great beach and Christmas Cove has Pizza Pi (seasonally) if you don't want to cook. Our #1 favorite is Maho/Francis and we spent four nights there in July.

St. John itself is an amazing sailing area. The National Park creates great unspoiled anchorages without crowding and little or no development on land. Not a lot of dining options, but we always have great cooks on the boat.

Another option for a fun change when the weather is good, head up the south side from St. John to North Sound, Virgin Gorda and check in at Gun Creek.

Cheers, RickG


St. John based 10/25-11/3.
Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: RickG] #138535
08/23/2017 02:05 PM
08/23/2017 02:05 PM
Joined: Nov 2014
Posts: 1,049
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StormJib Offline
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Unless you own your own jet with the ability to land and take off with your crew and all their gear? St. Thomas is always easier and less expensive. The downside of St. Thomas is St. Thomas has far, far fewer boats. If you can find the boat you need for your dates on St. Thomas go that direction. The first and last nights for us anchored off St. John always works for us.

Try to find a boat that works for you on STT. If that fails then you always have the massive overbuilt in inventory of boats on Tortola.

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: StormJib] #138536
08/24/2017 07:23 AM
08/24/2017 07:23 AM
Joined: Mar 2007
Posts: 372
Florida
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rfrimmel Offline
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Florida
I charter so that I can sail. The sooner I can get onboard and get the sails up, the better. Have always enjoyed chartering from CYOA.

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: rfrimmel] #138537
08/24/2017 07:34 AM
08/24/2017 07:34 AM
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 4,970
GA/NC
GeorgeC1 Offline
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GeorgeC1  Offline
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Keep in mind if chartering Nov through April that you need to have a plan B for St John if a north swell is running. It will take out the North Side anchorages.
G

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: Showdavid] #138538
08/24/2017 09:08 AM
08/24/2017 09:08 AM
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 2,726
VIRGINIA
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BEERMAN Offline
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Lot of variables with this comparison...we really like moving around the BVI's, but we've been looking into doing the STT thing ourselves. last trip on Orion we only spent 2 nights on STJ and that left us wanting more. Each trip we say that.

Charter cost wise, I did get a few last minute quotes from different charter companies this time and there are some cost differences between some of them, non refundable boat insurance fees most notably.

Comparing the sailing grounds....We have enjoyed circumnavigating STJ but I still know too little about what STT has to offer, such as bays to overnight in. We really like the mooring fields, beaches, snorkeling, hiking and simply the atmosphere at Maho, Francis and Leinster. We really like Coral Bay and Salt Pond when land based, the hike to Rams Head and Drunk Bay is cool especially during a full moon, so staying in these bays is on our list. BVI wins with many convenient mooring/anchoring options and of course beach bars, STJ john has very limited anchoring options on the south side which is exposed and there's no anchoring allowed inside the Coral Reef National Monument area.

Ferry to and from Tortola, adds up especially with a larger group! But they've never caused us to miss a flight on STT, we just have to be mindful to pick a late 1600hr flight and return the boat first thing in the morning.

Cruising taxes in BVI, these add up and now cost more for a US charter.

Flights from Dulles to STT are usually 1/3 to 1/2 less than EIS, and we usually fly direct into STT, which is very nice.

Food costs... sorry I don't pay that close attention to these costs, but I do know a case of Presidente is now $12 more on St John than in the BVI....sin tax bastards!

We have never been able to set sail the day of our arrival, that's because the earliest we've arrived on Tortola is maybe 1500hr and it takes time to settle in and do the check out. If we arrived at a STT marina at 1300hr I wonder if it's reasonable to expect to be sailing by 1600hr? Or do most sleep aboard the first night? If so, the extra travel time to sleep aboard on Tortola really isn't an issue.

Has anyone on a US charter experienced mechanical issues in the BVI's? and if so how was that handled by the charter company? We have had issues on several boats, once with Matrix we had an impellor go while on STJ, we were on a cat so we used one engine to get us back to the West End to be worked on. That was only a 20 minute trip, what if a US boat was in the North Sound or Anegada, how would those repairs be addressed by the charter company?

If we decide to charter out of STT, I think we would spend the majority of the trip in the USVI and do a couple of nights closer between Jost, West End, Norman etc.

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: BEERMAN] #138539
08/24/2017 09:30 AM
08/24/2017 09:30 AM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 6,074
Maryland
Twanger Offline
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Twanger  Offline
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Maryland
BEERMAN - Unlikely you could arrive at 1pm and be sailing at 4pm. Reviewing the boat check-list, getting yourself aboard, doing the sail-check, etc... it would be pretty difficult.

Frankly I don't want that kinda pressure to hit a schedule while on vacation.

We arrive after noon, boat check, get installed on board, ladies go shopping while I guard and test the beer, we get dinner, sleep aboard, and depart the next morning bright and early.

As far as mechanical issues in the BVI... it's helpful to be a bit handy around boats. CYOA does not offer a chase boat, but they have people lined up in the BVI that can work on the boat if things go wrong. Once we pulled into Sopers Hole to have someone fix the generator... burnt crimp connector. I have generator impeller replacement time down to about 30-minutes. Generators hate me for some reason.

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: BEERMAN] #138540
08/24/2017 11:20 AM
08/24/2017 11:20 AM
Joined: Jan 2009
Posts: 269
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windward2c Offline
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The South Side of SJ actually does offer decent protection. Hurricane Hole is amazing, once you tuck into Lemeshur it is flat calm in prevailing, Rendevous can be exposed however. When you add the great bays on the North, SJ can entertain for at least 5 nights. Ironically ST has very few options north.

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: GeorgeC1] #138541
08/24/2017 11:28 AM
08/24/2017 11:28 AM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,211
GJ, CO S/V Long Overdue
sail2wind Offline
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Quote
GeorgeC1 said:
Keep in mind if chartering Nov through April that you need to have a plan B for St John if a north swell is running. It will take out the North Side anchorages.
G



George, we tucked into Maho in a north swell and been pretty comfortable <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/toast.gif" alt="" />

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: windward2c] #138542
08/24/2017 11:43 AM
08/24/2017 11:43 AM
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 2,726
VIRGINIA
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BEERMAN Offline
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VIRGINIA
Quote
windward2c said:
The South Side of SJ actually does offer decent protection. Hurricane Hole is amazing, once you tuck into Lemeshur it is flat calm in prevailing, Rendevous can be exposed however. When you add the great bays on the North, SJ can entertain for at least 5 nights. Ironically ST has very few options north.


Hurricane Hole has great snorkeling around the mangroves and a quick dinghy ride to Skinny Legs!

I didn't realize the Lameshurs had mooring balls! I just checked the NPS "Mariner's Resource Protection Guide", which are provided at the floating pay stations. It shows Little Lameshur 5 overnight balls, Great Lameshur 16 (wow!), Salt Pond 6.

From either Little or Great Lameshur you can access the Lameshur Bay Trail that takes you to the Petroglyphs on the Reef Bay trail. We've done this hike and also from Centerline Road a few times, it's cool.

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: BEERMAN] #138543
08/24/2017 11:59 AM
08/24/2017 11:59 AM
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 844
USVI
LocalSailor Offline
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There are mooring balls in Genti Bay to visit the Petroglyphs during the day.

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: LocalSailor] #138544
08/24/2017 06:32 PM
08/24/2017 06:32 PM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 10,211
GJ, CO S/V Long Overdue
sail2wind Offline
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Beerman, Salt Pond on the south side is also very nice and very protected. The snorkeling there might be the best on St John.

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: sail2wind] #138545
08/25/2017 07:38 AM
08/25/2017 07:38 AM
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Posts: 2,726
VIRGINIA
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BEERMAN Offline
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Quote
sail2wind said:
Beerman, Salt Pond on the south side is also very nice and very protected. The snorkeling there might be the best on St John.


I agree Evan, we've stayed in the Concordia Eco-Tents. We had the beach and trails of Salt Pond all to ourselves most of the time! Way back in the day me and some friends snorkeled around Booby Rock, long swim and we saw a really nice shark out there, it was the largest I've seen in the water!
[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: BEERMAN] #138546
08/25/2017 09:38 AM
08/25/2017 09:38 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 1,315
MD, USA
Dirichlet Offline
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Dirichlet  Offline
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MD, USA
There's some great info on this thread!! Salt Pond Bay/beach looks amazing. I'm working on a "family" charter for next year, and with our two kids and the in-law's two kids in-tow, it will be a lot easier to just charter out of STT.

Keep the info coming! <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Cheers.gif" alt="" />


... DIF all the time...
[Linked Image]
Re: Pros and cons of chartering out of St. Thomas [Re: Dirichlet] #138547
08/26/2017 10:16 AM
08/26/2017 10:16 AM
Joined: Aug 2015
Posts: 22
Rockford, Michigan
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hotdogman Offline
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Rockford, Michigan
We've chartered with VI Yacht Charters out of Benner Bay STT twice in the past 2 months. They are fantastic. We had an issue with the generator last month and they met us at Cane Garden Bay and swapped boats for us. It was a little bit of a hassle but an upgrade so we were happy. Had it been an issue that was easier to fix, BVI Yacht Charters in Tortola is a sister company that would've provided service.


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