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Trip Report-Jan 27-Feb 4 #183372
02/07/2019 02:05 PM
02/07/2019 02:05 PM
Joined: Nov 2016
Posts: 56
Texas
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CestLaVie Offline OP
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Thought I would provide some general thoughts about our trip to BVI this past week without a detailed, daily travel log. Mostly a collection of the high points and general observations that might impact those making the same trek in the coming weeks and months.

We routed through Charlotte Amalie on St Thomas due to the lack of service to Tortola by our carrier (American). Olga's Fancy Hotel was quiet nice-clear, quiet and reasonably priced if you are not looking for a resort. If you are not a fan of stairs, however, Olga's might move down your list. No problem for us, but moving our gear up and down the multiple level of stairs was not the highlight of our trip. That said, we would be glad to stay there next trip.

Fast Ferry ride from CA to Road Town was, to say the least, sporty for the first 30 minutes. Once in the shadow of St John and then Tortola, ride substantially improved. We only wish the mood of the people at the Ferry, both in CA and in Road Town improved as much. After eight trips to BVI, I was surprised to find staff at most of the entry and transit points, at best, borderline rude. Equally, our "greeting" at the Moorings was equally less than welcoming. Once past the arrival desk, however, the mood of most of the Moorings team was considerably improved. Throughout our trip, we found the overwhelming majority of locals we encountered to be less than welcoming or friendly. We did have a couple of cab drivers in Anegada to be most gracious. Also, kudos to an older gentleman at the fuel dock at Great Harbor in Jost Van Dyke who gushed appreciation for our presence, noting "if it was not for you (cruisers), we (the locals) would still be living in total destruction." This was the first and only local we encountered who shared any genuine recognition of the tourist trade as it impacts their daily lives. Workers in most of the local shops and provisioning stops seemed almost put out that we were making purchases in their shops. Restaurant workers were generally a bit more friendly.

Our party of four couples thoroughly enjoyed the week on a Moorings 4800 that was in overall excellent condition, inside and out. No major issues with the boat throughout the week. The Moorings also had a 15 hp Yamaha on the dinghy as compared to the 9.9 hp version we had generally experienced in the past--made a real difference as we moved our load of eight folks through the various ports.

Restaurant prices throughout the islands seemed to have substantially increased their prices over our past trips. As noted in prior reports on this site, Pirates was grossly overpriced. $35-40 entrees under the tent on Marina Cay seemed equally stout. The bargain seemed to the the Friday evening BBQ at Foxy's. Wonky Dog was again the highlight of our meals. Not cheap, but definitely worth it.

For those looking for restaurants in St Thomas or Tortola, be advised that most of the better restaurants are closed on Sundays in both locations. French Quarter Bistro in Charlotte Amalie was the exception and we had a great meal there.

Liquid provisioning ordered in advance through the Moorings and Caribbean Cellars was quiet cost effective as compared to making similar purchases at RiteWay, Bobbies, and the local small provisioning shops. I would highly recommend that you order your water, beer, wine and liquor through your charter provider or Caribbean Cellars to the extent possible.

Grocery provisioning at both RiteWay and Bobbies at Cane Garden Bay was reasonably priced and the selections of almost anything you could want was extensive.

Moorings/anchoring--while at the arrivals ferry terminal at Road Town, we ran into a good friend who was in the departure side of the facility. He advised that every ball was taken early in the afternoon in every port he visited the week prior to our arrival. As we sailed Monday afternoon, however, we found ample room in Norman, Marina Cay, Great Harbor Jost Van Dyke, and Norman at the end of our trip. Cooper and Anegada mooring fields looked like a Walmart parking lot on a friday evening. We saw the BoatyBall moorings at Cooper and Anegada, but as noted in many previous posts, not a snowball's chance in Hell that you could reserve one. We passe up Cooper due to the lack of moorings and space for anchoring and ultimately had to anchor at Anegada.

Watching the weather the week prior to our arrival, we had concerns about stronger than usual winds and bigger seas. However, the gods were smiling on us our week and we had the most pleasant weather and winds encountered in our eight visits to the islands.

Bottom line, we had a blast and will be back sooner than later.


Sailing is not a matter of life and death-it is more important than that
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Re: Trip Report-Jan 27-Feb 4 [Re: CestLaVie] #183373
02/07/2019 02:13 PM
02/07/2019 02:13 PM
Joined: Nov 2016
Posts: 56
Texas
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CestLaVie Offline OP
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Texas
Sorry for the followup post so quickly, but forgot one item that seemed relevant to this report. We made the trek to the Baths on Tuesday of our trip. We were fortunate to find a park service mooring, but discovered that changes have been made from our previous visits related to beach access. In the past, we have been able to get the dinghy to the shore, drop off passengers, and then head back to a dinghy corral. This past week, we found no way to get the dinghy though the designated swim area, thus requiring all our crew to swim from the dinghy corral to and from the beach. Next, we were faced with the reality of the way of accessing the path through the boulders that lead to Devils Bay. In the past, one could head directly to the boulder field for a round trip visit to the Devils Bay area. This trip, we learned that the high volume of the demon hoards heading to the Baths from cruise trips has resulted in a new one way trek. One must now walk up a substantial hill to the top of the Baths area, then pass through a ticket area, then down another hill towards the Devils Bay end of the Baths. That then allows a one way path through the boulder field to the beach where we started. Not being aware of this new configuration, we failed to take our national park receipt that came with the charter. Fortunately, the cruise ship crowd was light that day and the ticket office was closed, thus allowing us access to the trail with no additional fee.


Sailing is not a matter of life and death-it is more important than that
Re: Trip Report-Jan 27-Feb 4 [Re: CestLaVie] #183391
02/07/2019 03:46 PM
02/07/2019 03:46 PM
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Christo Offline
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Thanks for the info CestLaVie.

Wow, the Baths sound well and truly ruined! Does anyone know if the Theme-Park Style one-way system and ticket office is an all year round thing? Or just at peak times of the year / when all the lovely cruise ships are in town?

Presumably you could still swim round to Devils Bay and walk back through. Or drop weaker swimmers off at Devils Bay by RIB and pick them up at the other end.

Having enjoyed the Baths back in the day we said 'never again' a few years back when it became too mad. But...last January we had the place to ourselves and it was magic once more. This year we will have first-timers with us...so had kind of resigned ourselves to returning so they could see the place. Beginning to have second thoughts though now!

Any news on the construction of the gift-shop at the end of the trail? I've always thought that was what was missing from the place. Perhaps they could add a giant stair-lift into their plans so you could just sit down at one end and then be whisked through the boulders without having to waste any precious calories?

Re: Trip Report-Jan 27-Feb 4 [Re: CestLaVie] #183395
02/07/2019 04:08 PM
02/07/2019 04:08 PM
Joined: Feb 2001
Posts: 4,102
Toledo, OH, USA
Orange_Burst Offline
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I'm surprised at the attitudes you encountered. This past April most everyone was very grateful that we, as tourist/bareboaters, were back. We heard many praises and seen many smiles from locals everywhere.

Sad to hear that has changed already.


Colleen


[Linked Image]


Re: Trip Report-Jan 27-Feb 4 [Re: CestLaVie] #183399
02/07/2019 04:36 PM
02/07/2019 04:36 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 1,900
Charlotte, NC
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NCSailor Online content
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Charlotte, NC
Interesting comments about the attitudes. Our trip overlapped with yours. We also did the Moorings. I felt the people were more friendly than ever before and I have been visiting since 1990.

Re: Trip Report-Jan 27-Feb 4 [Re: CestLaVie] #183401
02/07/2019 05:21 PM
02/07/2019 05:21 PM
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 1,661
Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
JasonHelmbrecht Offline
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JasonHelmbrecht  Offline
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Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
Which of the better restaurants did you find closed on Tortola on Sundays? I've not had this experience. I consider the following great restaurants on Tortola that are open on Sunday: Gene's Bar & Grill, Brandywine Estate, Red Rock, Sugar Mill, Banana's, Da Coal Pot, Fantasia by Giorgio's, Taste of India. The only place I know of that's closed is Rooftop by Brandywine.

Re: Trip Report-Jan 27-Feb 4 [Re: JasonHelmbrecht] #183402
02/07/2019 05:44 PM
02/07/2019 05:44 PM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 5,365
An island state of mind
tradewinds Offline
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An island state of mind
Originally Posted by JasonHelmbrecht
Which of the better restaurants did you find closed on Tortola on Sundays? I've not had this experience. I consider the following great restaurants on Tortola that are open on Sunday: Gene's Bar & Grill, Brandywine Estate, Red Rock, Sugar Mill, Banana's, Da Coal Pot, Fantasia by Giorgio's, Taste of India. The only place I know of that's closed is Rooftop by Brandywine.


Don't forget the Elm!

Re: Trip Report-Jan 27-Feb 4 [Re: tradewinds] #183406
02/07/2019 06:14 PM
02/07/2019 06:14 PM
Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 909
Virginia
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charlie Offline
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Hmmm....did you and your crew greet everyone with a polite "hello, how are you today?" as an introductory remark? That is the first thing we say to anyone and everyone, including an empty front room at a small shop. Once at Village Cay marina's restaurant we were being treated by the best service, but a couple at a table next to us were rude, impolite, and expected service as if they were in some place in some big city like New York. Duh! No wait person came to their table and they were completely ignored. Heck, I didn't blame them, we ignored that rude couple too. Being polite to one and all is, in my experience, the basic key to friendliness and interaction in the Virgin Islands and everywhere else...So, hello, how are you today?

Re: Trip Report-Jan 27-Feb 4 [Re: charlie] #183407
02/07/2019 06:17 PM
02/07/2019 06:17 PM
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 1,661
Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
JasonHelmbrecht Offline
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JasonHelmbrecht  Offline
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Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
Originally Posted by charlie
Hmmm....did you and your crew greet everyone with a polite "hello, how are you today?" as an introductory remark? That is the first thing we say to anyone and everyone, including an empty front room at a small shop. Once at Village Cay marina's restaurant we were being treated by the best service, but a couple at a table next to us were rude, impolite, and expected service as if they were in some place in some big city like New York. Duh! No wait person came to their table and they were completely ignored. Heck, I didn't blame them, we ignored that rude couple too. Being polite to one and all is, in my experience, the basic key to friendliness and interaction in the Virgin Islands and everywhere else...So, hello, how are you today?

Good advise! Always say Good Morning, Good Afternoon, or Good Night when you enter a room. Even if the room appears empty, someone is probably listening.

Re: Trip Report-Jan 27-Feb 4 [Re: charlie] #183412
02/07/2019 07:30 PM
02/07/2019 07:30 PM
Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 2,618
VI,NY,AZ
sail445 Online happy
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sail445  Online Happy
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VI,NY,AZ
Charley ,
Village Cay marina is famous for their unpredictable service.
I agree that there are rude customers no matter where you go, but you’ll find service in general is way below par in the BVI.
When you entered Village Cay did someone welcome you? I’ll bet not.

Re: Trip Report-Jan 27-Feb 4 [Re: sail445] #183420
02/07/2019 08:24 PM
02/07/2019 08:24 PM
Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 909
Virginia
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charlie Offline
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We were in the BVI last May '18. Two nights at Maria's by the Sea. Village Cay restaurant was on our list and yes, everyone was nice, polite, friendly, and were pleased to share stories about Irma and Maria and how they were faring. The re-building was going on and so much positive vibe's were expressed. Oh, and we did donate some funds for re-building, not just on Tortola, but also for schools on Virgin Gorda. We are so ready for May and to help out again. Thirty years going to the BV and any help we can give is there for us...

Re: Trip Report-Jan 27-Feb 4 [Re: charlie] #183424
02/07/2019 10:06 PM
02/07/2019 10:06 PM
Joined: Jul 2008
Posts: 2,618
VI,NY,AZ
sail445 Online happy
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sail445  Online Happy
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VI,NY,AZ
Charlie,
I absolutely agree about the situation they had with Irma and Maria.
After a disaster the attitude in general is appreciation of the people who helped them in their time of need.
Personally i was involved donating water and having it shipped on local boats from Fajardo PR (Marina Puerta Del Rey) used for watersports and tourism.
Being in the Caribbean for a long time like yourself I also know that millions of $$$$$$$$ have been donated by visitors to the BVI to help relieve the disaster of the Hurricanes.
The thing that bugs me is that the UK projects them and the money sent by the chartere was put into their pockets

Re: Trip Report-Jan 27-Feb 4 [Re: JasonHelmbrecht] #183441
02/08/2019 08:10 AM
02/08/2019 08:10 AM
Joined: Sep 2006
Posts: 284
Kannapolis, NC
ndfaninnc Offline
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Kannapolis, NC
Originally Posted by JasonHelmbrecht
Originally Posted by charlie
Hmmm....did you and your crew greet everyone with a polite "hello, how are you today?" as an introductory remark? That is the first thing we say to anyone and everyone, including an empty front room at a small shop. Once at Village Cay marina's restaurant we were being treated by the best service, but a couple at a table next to us were rude, impolite, and expected service as if they were in some place in some big city like New York. Duh! No wait person came to their table and they were completely ignored. Heck, I didn't blame them, we ignored that rude couple too. Being polite to one and all is, in my experience, the basic key to friendliness and interaction in the Virgin Islands and everywhere else...So, hello, how are you today?

Good advise! Always say Good Morning, Good Afternoon, or Good Night when you enter a room. Even if the room appears empty, someone is probably listening.

Absolutely good advise. I can only attest to Anegada and Tortola, but both of our trips last year we encountered no bad attitudes at all. Completely the opposite.



[Linked Image]
Re: Trip Report-Jan 27-Feb 4 [Re: CestLaVie] #183453
02/08/2019 10:55 AM
02/08/2019 10:55 AM
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Posts: 56
Texas
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CestLaVie Offline OP
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CestLaVie  Offline OP
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As a quick reply to the thoughts about the reception we perceived from locals during our trip to BVI. I have travel extensively through Europe, South America, and Asia, along with multiple trips to the islands and have witnessed the "ugly American" syndrome of far too many occasions, I can attest to the fact that far too many Americans visit foreign countries and expect the locals in those areas to speak English, serve American food, and bend to our customs. I, for one, am generally overly apologetic for not speaking the language of the locals and bend over backwards to accept the fact that I am the visitor, not the host. Added to that, our entire crew is from Texas, where we proudly welcome all comers. My observations on the less than positive experience we witnessed on this recent visit is a radical departure from our prior visits-thus the surprise with this reception.

As one brief example, three couples of our crew arrived at the ferry terminal in Charlotte Amalie. Traveling as couples, my wife and I approached the ticket counter together-something done in almost every setting at hotels, airports, or other facilities. The agent rudely snapped at us and told my wife to get back in line, that only one person was allowed at the ticket counter at a time. And yes, I had greeted the ticket agent with a polite and smiling greeting, as we were all happy to be there and headed off to our adventure in paradise. As noted previously, I was totally surprised with the "greeting" received at the Moorings reception desk. Again, we have used the Moorings exclusively for eight trips and have always found the staff to be welcoming. And yes, I greeted the staff member with a smile and a "hello" as we again thrilled to be finally at the first step of our trip. We received the same chilled service from the individual at the desk as we returned several times to wrap up some minor shortcomings in the supplies delivered to the boat. And yes, we tried to identify the shortcomings with a simple statement that we were missing a couple of items. We were not angry, demanding or otherwise "ugly American." We were attempting to get away from the dock and being held up by the missing items, so we did make more trips to the desk than we should have been required to, but we understand "island time" and tried to get with the flow. We did have an excellent boat briefing experience, as well as an excellent debriefing upon arrival back at the base, so I would not want to paint everyone in that setting with a broad brush.

At several of the stops for shopping for either provisions or clothing, we again experienced either no service or service that clearly reflected an attitude that we were more of a bother than a source of revenue. Again, this has not been our experience in our past eight visits. As I noted in the original post, I was extremely impressed by the gentleman at the fuel dock in Great Harbor on Jost who overtly stated his appreciation for our business and the role we, as charter boat visitors, played in the restoration of their community. We never expected the locals to kiss our rings and heap praise on us, but equally, we did not expect to be treated as a PITA.

It was not my intent to be overly critical of the locals, as this was one element of the report we made to reflect the overall trip. At the end of the day, we had an awesome visit and we will definitely be back ASAP


Sailing is not a matter of life and death-it is more important than that
Re: Trip Report-Jan 27-Feb 4 [Re: CestLaVie] #183461
02/08/2019 01:13 PM
02/08/2019 01:13 PM
Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 909
Virginia
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charlie Offline
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Virginia
Oh CestLaVie, I am so sorry for you and your friends for your encounters with such rude and uncaring people. We go down again in early May and I sincerely hope that we do not run into these unmannered locals. I will keep my eyes open and my guard up and try to keep my mouth shut. I hope your next visit is 100% better. Fingers crossed...

Re: Trip Report-Jan 27-Feb 4 [Re: CestLaVie] #183468
02/08/2019 01:38 PM
02/08/2019 01:38 PM
Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 360
Washington DC
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bailau Offline
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Personally I have never found the ferry people at STT that helpful or friendly. That is a part of the reason we now skip STT and fly into San Juan (SJU) which has a cheap direct flight from DCA. The other part is the flight connections hassle to get to STT and limited options from STT to EIS.

In May 18 we found the front desk at Moorings to be somewhat "indifferent" and just chalked it up to what the locals must be going through post hurricane...in October 18 they (Dale especially) were back to their normal selves...

I just think the hassle trying to get to base sets the wrong tone for anyone to start a vacation with especially the captains and I see one of our compadres on another topic seems to have that issue stuck on a tarmac to STT. I have found our trips are easier to start with by skipping STT...

will let you know more in 8 days...

Re: Trip Report-Jan 27-Feb 4 [Re: bailau] #183541
02/09/2019 09:40 AM
02/09/2019 09:40 AM
Joined: Nov 2014
Posts: 53
NY
Thistle Offline
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NY
I agree, skip the ferry entirely! I finally figured out the best alternative is to fly from the mainland to STT and charter out of St. Thomas. Skip the hassle, cost and time of getting to the BVI on someone else's transportation and sail yourself there. I love being on my boat and on vacation 15 minutes after landing in the islands.

Re: Trip Report-Jan 27-Feb 4 [Re: Thistle] #183547
02/09/2019 10:54 AM
02/09/2019 10:54 AM
Joined: May 2002
Posts: 15,947
Tortola/ Sonoma, California
Manpot Offline
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Re Ferry staff. I have found the crews for Road Town Fast Ferry to be very helpful recently..especially helping my wife who is not too steady on her feet. Twice the Capt has led her through C and I!! That said the desk staff can be a lot less accomodating..except Inter Island. I find the lady who usually sells tickets on Tortola to be charming and , for that reason, we will opt for them if time allows. Just my 2 cents..


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