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First charter and visit to BVI #210619
12/05/2019 06:24 PM
12/05/2019 06:24 PM
Joined: Dec 2019
Posts: 72
Vancouver, BC
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bernk Offline OP
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bernk  Offline OP
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Vancouver, BC
Hello from cold and rainy Vancouver, Canada!

I have dreamt of sailing in the Caribbean for many years, and have recently decided to make 2020 the year to make that dream come true. I was pointed to this forum as the place for info on the BVI.

Right now I'm looking at chartering a bareboat yacht mid November of next year. I'm planning on a 7 night cruise of the islands with my girlfriend. We're both most interested in the natural aspects of this trip, and less so in restaurants, night life, etc.. I'm used to some pretty remote and secluded places here in BC. Is there any room for that in the BVI…in November? I'm somewhat set on that month in particular, but if someone has compelling reasons to avoid it I would love to hear them!

If anyone has experience based recommendations for flights from Vancouver to the BVI I would love to hear them. Is flying to STT the best option? Is saving a couple hundred bucks each worth the hassle and unpredictability of the ferries?

I'll continue scouring the wealth of this forum, but if anyone is willing to share some wisdom directly it would be much appreciated.

Cheers!
Bern

BVI Sponsors
Re: First charter and visit to BVI [Re: bernk] #210622
12/05/2019 07:35 PM
12/05/2019 07:35 PM
Joined: Jan 2007
Posts: 27
USA-Connecticut
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rwy36 Offline
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Hey Bern,

I think you'd be able to find some seclusion in the BVI in November as long as you're willing to anchor. Moorings are more convenient (and expensive) and will likely provide the seclusion you're looking for (at least generally). The BVI is a popular destination though so you may end up with one or two neighbors! The weather may also limit your options.

On the flight side I would recommend flying into St. Thomas (STT) and taking the ferry over to Road Town. We're on the East Coast of the US and flights into STT are both faster and cheaper than flying into San Juan then Beef Island (Tortola's airport). That might be different from Vancouver though.

Good luck!

Bill

Re: First charter and visit to BVI [Re: bernk] #210624
12/05/2019 07:45 PM
12/05/2019 07:45 PM
Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 190
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Kegoangoango Offline
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Sometimes in November you can get extra nights for the price of 7. I use Virgin Island Sailing for my charter broker. Broker's don't charge for their services. The charter company pays them and the price to you, whether you go direct to the charter company or through a broker, is the same. VI Sailing has a lot of information on their website and are very helpful answering all our questions the first time we chartered in the BVIs.

*I do not have any financial interest or gain by this recommendation.*

Re: First charter and visit to BVI [Re: bernk] #210628
12/05/2019 08:38 PM
12/05/2019 08:38 PM
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,285
USVI
LocalSailor Offline
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Any "hassle or unpredictability" of the ferries can easily be avoided by chartering in the USVI in St Thomas. The St John National Park offers a number of anchorages/moorings that are very quiet and natural with no commercial facilities ashore. It is an easy sail to the BVI as the 2 Island Countries are only separated by a very short distance. It can be a wonderful combo and best of both worlds.
There are quiet places in the BVI, November, except for the American Thanksgiving week, is generally not seasonally busy, and the St John anchorages are much less visited that month as well.

Re: First charter and visit to BVI [Re: bernk] #210637
12/06/2019 01:33 AM
12/06/2019 01:33 AM
Joined: Dec 2019
Posts: 72
Vancouver, BC
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bernk Offline OP
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Thank you guys. I should have been a little more specific: I'm more than happy to anchor and am used to doing so here in BC, where we have 14 foot tides and tidal rapids that flow at over 15 knots. Moorings would be cool, but I'd prefer to avoid docks/marinas.

Kegoangoango, thanks for the recommendation. I'll check 'em out, but I'm looking for a smaller boat since it'll just be the two of us. I've found a couple 30-something footers that would be perfect. The majority of my experience is on my Sabre 27.

Re: First charter and visit to BVI [Re: bernk] #210666
12/06/2019 01:05 PM
12/06/2019 01:05 PM
Joined: Jun 2011
Posts: 1,285
USVI
LocalSailor Offline
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@BernK -- check private messages

Re: First charter and visit to BVI [Re: bernk] #210671
12/06/2019 02:32 PM
12/06/2019 02:32 PM
Joined: Dec 2015
Posts: 339
Ottawa, Canada
UncleLuff Offline
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Hey Bernk, Fellow Canadian here. Is there any reason why you choose BVIs? Cause if you are interested in seclusion you may want to consider Spanish Virgin Islands out of Fajardo. I have never been (yet!) but i understand that you will often find yourself completely alone at anchor especially during off season. Not a lot of restaurants and bars and complete opposite to what the BVIs are now. It is also a lot harder to get to the BVIs as Local Sailor mentioned. Depending on what time of the year you go you would find a lot more flights via Toronto direct to San Juan.

Good luck!

Last edited by UncleLuff; 12/06/2019 02:33 PM.
Re: First charter and visit to BVI [Re: bernk] #210680
12/06/2019 04:44 PM
12/06/2019 04:44 PM
Joined: Dec 2007
Posts: 2,039
Charlotte, NC
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NCSailor Offline
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November is the rainiest month of the year. It’s also still hurricane season. That said the water is still warm and it’s much less crowded. We have done November many times but we do the end of the month into early December. Still low season rates. Flight options are more limited at that time of year as most airlines are still on a low season schedule.

Re: First charter and visit to BVI [Re: bernk] #210681
12/06/2019 05:01 PM
12/06/2019 05:01 PM
Joined: Dec 2019
Posts: 3
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BateauSoleil Offline
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Hi Bernk,

Nice to hear from another Vancouverite! We have a boat down in the islands and are back and forth to Vancouver several times a year. The connections to the BVI from YVR are challenging to say the least. Delta through Atlanta and United/AC through Chicago (red eyes) seem to be the best, and there are many more options from Vancouver to SJU than STT. If you do that you can then connect to beef island as easily as STT. We will often use InterCaribbean on a separate ticket for the cheapest end-to-end routing, although that can be risky if they have any issues. We have been lucky with them, but others have had challenges. You usually can't find their flights on portals like flights.google.ca so book on their site directly.

We take the ferry about 1/3 of the time, depending on what flight connection we have, but honestly, we prefer the little bit extra cost to save the hassle of the ferry, especially since you will have likely just come off a red-eye and 2-3 flights already!

As for the islands, we are currently in Fajardo, PR after spending the last month in the BVI, USVI and Spanish Virgins (all in November). We still love the BVI and with everything so close, you can see a lot in a week. It is also early in the season, so as mentioned by others, you can still find some peace (except for US Thanksgiving). However, you will have a hard time not finding neighbours in your bay, and some are hard to anchor in because of the quantity of mooring balls (which are generally $30/night).

As mentioned by others, St John has some very quiet bays, especially on the south coast which are beautiful and can be deserted. North coast bays will have more people, but are also beautiful. Probably not going to fill a week, but chartering out of the USVI can work, and then hop over to the BVI. FYI, we use the US CBP App to check-in without having to visit a customs / immigration office in the US. It is available for Canadians and Americans, but I am not sure if you can use it for a charter. Check with your charter company. It saves a ton of time vs. visiting Cruz Bay if coming over from the BVI. You can also use it to check-in to the Spanish Virgins from the USVI. Of course going into the BVI, you still will need to check-in regardless.

Which brings me to the SVI. We just spent the last couple of weeks there, and really loved them. However, the conditions were not ideal with swell and wind direction with the storms in the Atlantic, so more of a crap shoot than the BVI or St John. We anchored in Culebrita, Culebra and on the south coast of Vieques, and all were amazing. Distances between are much longer though (longest sail was 22 nautical miles), so if on a one week schedule, I am not sure you would see as much. Also anchorages are not as empty as I expected. Culebrita was packed (but we were there for Thanksgiving), and Culebra was also busy in the main anchorages. Vieques was much more quiet.

Always happy to answer more specific questions on flight routings we have used!

Re: First charter and visit to BVI [Re: BateauSoleil] #210689
12/06/2019 08:27 PM
12/06/2019 08:27 PM
Joined: Oct 2014
Posts: 2,136
Ontario, Canada
warren460 Offline
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How long does CBP roam take to respond?

Last edited by warren460; 12/06/2019 08:27 PM.

Warren S/V Scuba Doo
Lagoon 50 (winner of best crewed yacht under 55 feet at the St. Thomas crewed yacht boat show).

https://www.cyabrochure.com/ebn/2307/pdyrX/6642/4///
Re: First charter and visit to BVI [Re: warren460] #210811
12/09/2019 01:22 PM
12/09/2019 01:22 PM
Joined: Dec 2019
Posts: 3
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BateauSoleil Offline
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It can take a while (we have sat in "pending" state for over an hour), so we submit our arrival as soon as we enter US waters.

Re: First charter and visit to BVI [Re: bernk] #210813
12/09/2019 03:03 PM
12/09/2019 03:03 PM
Joined: Mar 2017
Posts: 62
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If it is before 10:00 AM or after 5:00 PM then make sure that you check in to Red Hook instead of Cruz Bay in St. John. One of our check-ins was stuck since they were not open. You would think they could build this type of logic into the app but it has not occurred yet.

Re: First charter and visit to BVI [Re: bernk] #210973
12/11/2019 03:40 PM
12/11/2019 03:40 PM
Joined: Dec 2019
Posts: 72
Vancouver, BC
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bernk Offline OP
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I have to admit, the more I read the more I question whether I'm making the right decision by choosing the BVI as our charter destination. It seems like getting there from Vancouver is quite the hassle. This leaves me feeling like a week might not be enough to justify it, and…

The other thing is that my partner and I are both in our 30s, with me being past the hump and her still before it. We live more like we're in our 20s, though. No kids and focused mostly on adventures and good times. I'm starting to wonder if chartering in the BVI is maybe a little too…lazy for us? The thing that appeals to me most about sailing is the freedom. The fact that no infrastructure is needed to move from place to place and explore. I love being out on the water, but I love dropping the hook, swimming ashore and scrambling up a mountain to find a hidden lake with a waterfall all to ourselves even more! I don't think either of us would be content with just sailing from restaurant to bar to restaurant, and I'm kind of getting the impression that this is what the BVI is about. I hope my impression is wrong…is it?

I'd especially be interested to hear more from those familiar with my home area (i.e., the Gulf Islands, Sunshine Coast, Discovery Islands, etc.).

I have until the 20th to pay the deposit on the boat, so I'm starting to freak out a little. Any thoughts?

Last edited by bernk; 12/11/2019 03:43 PM.
Re: First charter and visit to BVI [Re: bernk] #210975
12/11/2019 04:31 PM
12/11/2019 04:31 PM
Joined: May 2002
Posts: 16,681
Tortola/ Sonoma, California
Manpot Online crying
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Manpot  Online Crying
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A sailing trip around the BVI's is whatever you want to make it..if you want to sail" bar to bar" you can most certainly do that. If you want to sail all day long you can certainly do that too. I would definitely not cancel..but then I fell in love with the BVI's and bought a house on the beach 30 years ago so I am biased.

Re: First charter and visit to BVI [Re: bernk] #210979
12/11/2019 05:14 PM
12/11/2019 05:14 PM
Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 1,214
Washington DC
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bailau Offline
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2nd Manpot as to it is what you make it

In Feb I took 8 guys down for a guys 60th and it was a cross of Weekend & Bernies meets the Hangover with 1 guy ended up in the hospital...tour included the best bars

In May went out with 7 college kids and had a great tour with no issues...tour included the best beaches

I wouldn't cancel it and like Manpot I am biased bc I could go anywhere and keep coming back to the BVI

i would recommend adding a day or 2 at the beginning to decompress a little...maybe San Juan PR? we do the DCA-SJU-EIS

Re: First charter and visit to BVI [Re: bernk] #210985
12/11/2019 07:03 PM
12/11/2019 07:03 PM
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 638
MD, USA
polaris Offline
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MD, USA
If you are looking for anchoring and some "remote and secluded" - you are clearly looking in the wrong place. Look at Belize!


Polaris
Re: First charter and visit to BVI [Re: bernk] #211006
12/12/2019 09:13 AM
12/12/2019 09:13 AM
Joined: Apr 2013
Posts: 379
dayhiker Offline
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My group is likely going to Guadeloupe for the next trip. It may fit what you've described. I'm not sure how quiet the anchorages will be, but there is definitely hiking in the mountains to huge waterfalls. There is French food too.

Re: First charter and visit to BVI [Re: bernk] #211015
12/12/2019 11:14 AM
12/12/2019 11:14 AM
Joined: Dec 2018
Posts: 216
Dana Point
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captdennyj Offline
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Burn,

If you are rethinking the BVI.....

You might check into sailing in the pacific area.

* Tahiti....you really need about 10 days....to two weeks , bare boating, Raiatea , Taha'a, Bora Bora, and Huahini.....( lots of peaceful and and beautiful anchorages.) .

The other, for a real getaway, would the the WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS OF AUSTRALIA, 10 DAYS. ( mostly cooked on board as there were very, very few places to eat ashore, no towns, just natural beauty, hiking and killer snorkeling. )

One week barebaoting, , if you are sailing, really goes way too fast . Slow down and enjoy and leave the stress back home.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- .

For Australia ...Too long of an airplane and travel time for just one week. ( Actually spent 30 days when visiting OZ, 10 days sailing, plus 4 day dive boat trips out to the Great Barrier Reef, and Coral Sea, and also land adventures. )

The above suggestions are a couple of our faves, and we find quiet anchorages, great snorkeling and fantastic sailing.....Tahiti ( 4) trips, and the Whitsundays (2) trips. We also love the BVI, but it was not peaceful and quiet in general and
we stay clear of the Caribbean during hurricane season or The winter Christmas Winds. ( BVI : we personally prefer late May before hurricane season, and the kids are still in school. Not so crowded. ( two week trips ) .

Just thought that might fit into your requirements.

Re: First charter and visit to BVI [Re: bernk] #211026
12/12/2019 12:46 PM
12/12/2019 12:46 PM
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Posts: 3
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Having owned boats in the Gulf Islands and the BVI, they are quite different, but both wonderful. For land facilities, think Saltspring Island, rather than Saturna! But still lots of exploring to be done. The one thing to remember is the sailing is MUCH better in the BVI. You can always sail as much as you want with (usually) robust trade winds compared to the varied winds in the Gulf Islands (that often evaporate in the summer when the weather is nice). The water temperature is also way nicer for that swim ashore, not to mention how much more you can see in the water. Yes, there is definitely a hassle factor getting there from YVR, but that is true of the Eastern Caribbean overall, if you could squeeze in a couple more days it would make all the difference!

Last edited by BateauSoleil; 12/12/2019 12:47 PM.
Re: First charter and visit to BVI [Re: bernk] #211670
12/17/2019 03:18 PM
12/17/2019 03:18 PM
Joined: Dec 2019
Posts: 72
Vancouver, BC
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bernk Offline OP
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Thank you all for the fantastic information and suggestions. I feel as though I've struck gold in finding this forum.


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