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Trip Report - First time bareboat charter & first time in the BVI #299159
04/05/2023 04:28 PM
04/05/2023 04:28 PM
Joined: Jul 2022
Posts: 1
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Daniel Young Offline OP
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Daniel Young  Offline OP
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Joined: Jul 2022
Posts: 1
This is my first post to this very helpful forum. I thought I’d share my experience as a first time bareboat charter and first time cruising the BVI - add my small piece to the knowledge pool.

3/25/23 - 4/1/2023 (Saturday to Saturday)

Just our family, me, my wife, and two teenage daughters. I had quite a bit of sailing experience on Lake Michigan some 25-30 years ago, but never as a skipper. Our family did a week in the Bahamas with a Captain in 2018, did ASA101, 103, 104, and 114 during that trip. Then we bought a 30’ Sabre and had 3 and a half seasons of experience on Lake Michigan. Not experts by any stretch, but I felt confident enough to bareboat. Wanting to further my resume, I chose the BVI as it is known as good/easy cruising grounds for a first time bareboat charter.

Navigare Charter, 40’ Fountaine Pajot Lucia.

My objective (other than a warm climate Spring Break) was to have a successful first bareboat charter. We kept the scope of cruising pretty tight - opting to spend more time in fewer locations. This is what we ended up doing:

Saturday night - didn’t board until 4pm, so ended up spending the night in the Nanny Cay Marina. The upside is that we had all night on shore power to cool the fridges down after loading with food.
Sunday - beat our way East to Cooper Island, Manchineel Bay. BoatyBall.
Monday - beat our way kind of toward Gorda Sound for a couple hours, then motored the rest of the way. Spent two nights in Leverick Bay. One BoatyBall, one FCFS.
Wednesday - close haul straight to Anegada, beautiful sail - it was actually too short. Spent two nights at Anegada. One BoatyBall, one FCFS.
Friday - Beam reach - almost all the way to Brandywine bay (didn’t feel like running the last few miles, so motored). Another beautiful sail. Used a ball provided by Brandywine Estate Restaurant, ate dinner there, had the bay to ourselves. Perfect last night location.
Saturday - motored back to Nanny Cay

Hearing about the crowds and how hard it was to get a Boatyball reserved, my biggest concern was having a spot to spend the night. We aren’t party animals, so being up a little before 7am to reserve a ball wasn’t a concern. I had a Verizon travel plan, so I had cellular connectivity. 6:59am, finger at the ready…7:00am, click, click, reserved - every time, no problems. By 7:01 am, they were all taken. Don’t know if it was luck, but it seemed to work fine.

In hindsight, we didn’t even “need” the reservation. Every destination is so close, we would arrive by between noon and 2:00pm and there were always FCFS balls available. But, this being our first BVI experience, having the Boatyball reservation relieved a lot of pressure - I would probably do it the same way next time.

Second concern was - “is my sailing resume going to be sufficient?” Heard stories about having a Captain come with on the first day. Everyone at Navigare was awesome, super nice. The briefing was pretty underwhelming. I didn’t feel “tested” during it at all. He just wanted me to know how to operate all of the systems. They definitely made me feel comfortable. No trial Captain necessary. "Animal" took us out of the slip Sunday morning, backed up to a pontoon, hopped off, and we were on our way.

Everything on the boat worked fine. But, not a single cup holder? Weird. Crazy French. We ran the generator for about 90 minutes every evening and for maybe 60-90 each morning just to cool the refrigerators and charge devices. We only used maybe a little more than quarter tank of fuel. And used only half the fresh water - it was just the 4 of us, but we each took a shower each evening - the girls were great about conservation.

Provisioned at Bobby’s Grocery at the recommendation of Navigare office. Torry (sp?) picked us up, took the scenic route to the store - crazy “roads” fantastic views, helped us shop, helped load up the car, showed us his home, brought us back to the boat - awesome experience. Thanks Torry!

***Biggest lesson learned*** - being back winded in a mooring field and having the mooring ball bang against the hull ALL NIGHT. In all of my research, I never came across this let alone solutions (if it is in Simon’s Virgin Island Cruising guide, I guess I missed it). After having basically no sleep on our first night out, Manchineel Bay, I searched “banging mooring ball” and learned all about it - including a solution, which I won’t go into here. But, you need to look it up if you’ve never had the experience. Simon’s guide does talk about being back winded in certain anchorages and possibly using a second anchor to keep your bow into the swell/waves. No mention of banging balls.

Food experience was WAY better than I expected (not sure why I was expecting generally marginal). Coco Maya & Brandywine Estate RIDICULOUS (meaning very good). Wonky Dog, Potters, Big Bamboo all great. We were going to go to Saba Rock for lunch one day, but Barry came by our boat twice “advertising” for North Sound Bistro - a new place that we never saw anyone at. Barry was so nice, we decided to give it a go. Such a great location and the grounds were super cool. Our lunch was outstanding - especially the Lobster Roll. Great people all around (as was everyone we encountered on the trip). We ended up going to Saba Rock afterward just to check it out (had a drink and conch fritters). It’s going to be tough to compete with the uber coolness and established popularity of Saba Rock, but I would highly recommend giving Barry’s place, North Sound Bistro, a try.

Favorite conch fritters - Big Bamboo, no contest (we tried four other places).

Really enjoyed Anegada - very cool, strange place. But don’t expect to see flamingos even remotely close. Especially at the “flamingo look out” - where, with the aid of the provided telescope, we found 3 pink specks. We rented a car to drive around the island - on the North side, we stopped and could see maybe a couple hundred with the naked eye in the distance.

Took a “cab” (back of a small pick up with bench seats and an awning) from Leverick Bay to Coco Maya (Spanish Town area?) - more steep, narrow winding “roads.” Arthur, our driver, wouldn’t take any money, just asked if he could take us home. I texted him as we were finishing dinner, he was already waiting outside - this time with a real van. Great conversation and 5 very large cows in the dark in the middle of the road going who knows where.

Rented a car to go to the Baths from Leverick Bay - very happy we had the driving experience with Arthur the night before - kind of new what to expect. It was an adventure - definitely recommend. Arrived at the Baths about 4pm on Tuesday afternoon. It was just us and another family of four.

Also really enjoyed the consistent winds. Very different than the crappy gusty winds of Lake Michigan.

One last, humorous, story. Very first stop, Manchineel Bay. We didn’t have a lot of mooring ball experience. My wife was at the helm, still getting used to maneuvering a large cat under power (but ultimately much easier than our monohull). I reserved a spot on the south end so we didn’t have to go thru the field to get to the ball. One pass to locate our ball - none of the empty balls had our number - turns out our reserved ball was occupied by a crewed charter (it was about 2:00pm). Finally flagged a crew member - we circled back as they left. First approach - over shot the ball. My wife and I decided that if we mess up, just circle around and try again - so we did that - during which time (a couple minutes?) ANOTHER boat took our ball - WTF? - flagged them down - circled around while they left - picked up the ball, boat secure. The second boat that took our ball moved to another Boatyball - 20 minutes later they had to give it to the people who reserved it. Pretty annoying for everyone involved. Apparently, people use the Boatyballs as a day stop to snorkel the reef on the south end of this bay.

Anyhow, that’s about it.

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Re: Trip Report - First time bareboat charter & first time in the BVI [Re: Daniel Young] #299165
04/05/2023 04:54 PM
04/05/2023 04:54 PM
Joined: Jun 2020
Posts: 1,150
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MIDiver Offline
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MIDiver  Offline
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Great report. Yep - from one Michigander to another, the BVI is not Lake Michigan. Good thing. 😎. We skip Cooper every trip now as being backwinded stinks (we tie to the ball to prevent it but in our opinion Cooper isn’t worth it regardless). Glad you had a great time!!

Last edited by MIDiver; 04/05/2023 04:55 PM.
Re: Trip Report - First time bareboat charter & first time in the BVI [Re: Daniel Young] #299224
04/06/2023 10:29 AM
04/06/2023 10:29 AM
Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 208
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Kegoangoango Offline
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Kegoangoango  Offline
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Posts: 208
Good report and sounds like a great trip.

Re: Trip Report - First time bareboat charter & first time in the BVI [Re: Daniel Young] #299243
04/06/2023 12:30 PM
04/06/2023 12:30 PM
Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 31
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cbf Offline
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cbf  Offline
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Joined: Feb 2020
Posts: 31
Great report and thank you for insights and tips.

Re: Trip Report - First time bareboat charter & first time in the BVI [Re: Daniel Young] #299244
04/06/2023 12:51 PM
04/06/2023 12:51 PM
Joined: Nov 2021
Posts: 369
New Paltz, NY, Narragansett, R...
skipdastraw Offline
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skipdastraw  Offline
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Posts: 369
New Paltz, NY, Narragansett, R...
Did you try the conch fritters at Mad Dogs??? Curious because I've always felt theirs are the best I've had anywhere.
Sounds like you had a great trip and thank you for the report. Always fun reading others perspectives.

Re: Trip Report - First time bareboat charter & first time in the BVI [Re: skipdastraw] #299254
04/06/2023 02:20 PM
04/06/2023 02:20 PM
Joined: Dec 2005
Posts: 594
Michigan
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IWIWSE Online content
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IWIWSE  Online Content
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Posts: 594
Michigan
I agree about Mad Dog fritters, the best.

Re: Trip Report - First time bareboat charter & first time in the BVI [Re: Daniel Young] #299812
04/15/2023 01:20 PM
04/15/2023 01:20 PM
Joined: Mar 2023
Posts: 23
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Crew4Lemonade Offline
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Crew4Lemonade  Offline
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Posts: 23
Originally Posted by Daniel Young
Hearing about the crowds and how hard it was to get a Boatyball reserved, my biggest concern was having a spot to spend the night. We aren’t party animals, so being up a little before 7am to reserve a ball wasn’t a concern. I had a Verizon travel plan, so I had cellular connectivity. 6:59am, finger at the ready…7:00am, click, click, reserved - every time, no problems. By 7:01 am, they were all taken. Don’t know if it was luck, but it seemed to work fine.


Thanks for the report! Very informative and gave me some more restaurants to consider for our charter coming up in 6 weeks!

I am curious, which Verizon travel plan did you have? The one that is about $10 per day, or the more expensive 30-day plan? We were planning to use the $10-per-day plan, but some friends who used it on a recent cruise-ship vacation had issues with being charged exorbitant "international waters" rates any time they weren't standing on dry land (they were not travelling in the same area, however). I was hoping we would be okay because the islands are so close together in the BVI, but wondered about your experience. We aren't planning to be on our phones much, but would like to be able to use Boaty Ball if necessary in a couple locations and don't want to be surprised by big bills if we do end up making a call for some reason.

Re: Trip Report - First time bareboat charter & first time in the BVI [Re: Crew4Lemonade] #299823
04/15/2023 04:07 PM
04/15/2023 04:07 PM
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 735
Panama City Beach, Florida
xrayman67 Online content
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xrayman67  Online Content
Traveler
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 735
Panama City Beach, Florida
Originally Posted by Crew4Lemonade
Originally Posted by Daniel Young
Hearing about the crowds and how hard it was to get a Boatyball reserved, my biggest concern was having a spot to spend the night. We aren’t party animals, so being up a little before 7am to reserve a ball wasn’t a concern. I had a Verizon travel plan, so I had cellular connectivity. 6:59am, finger at the ready…7:00am, click, click, reserved - every time, no problems. By 7:01 am, they were all taken. Don’t know if it was luck, but it seemed to work fine.


Thanks for the report! Very informative and gave me some more restaurants to consider for our charter coming up in 6 weeks!

I am curious, which Verizon travel plan did you have? The one that is about $10 per day, or the more expensive 30-day plan? We were planning to use the $10-per-day plan, but some friends who used it on a recent cruise-ship vacation had issues with being charged exorbitant "international waters" rates any time they weren't standing on dry land (they were not travelling in the same area, however). I was hoping we would be okay because the islands are so close together in the BVI, but wondered about your experience. We aren't planning to be on our phones much, but would like to be able to use Boaty Ball if necessary in a couple locations and don't want to be surprised by big bills if we do end up making a call for some reason.

We have ATT. No issue with $10/day plan in the BVI. Have used it many times.

Re: Trip Report - First time bareboat charter & first time in the BVI [Re: Crew4Lemonade] #299847
04/15/2023 11:53 PM
04/15/2023 11:53 PM
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 833
Houston, Texas
louismcc Offline
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louismcc  Offline
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Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 833
Houston, Texas
Originally Posted by Crew4Lemonade

I am curious, which Verizon travel plan did you have? The one that is about $10 per day, or the more expensive 30-day plan? .


We've used the Verizon $10 a day plan on multiple trips and never had any issues. It is actually $10 for a 24 hour period and there is no charge for the days when the phone isn't used. Taking a unlocked phone and getting a local SIM is always an option which could be cost effective depending on the types of calls / amount of data that you plan to use.


Louis from Houston
Re: Trip Report - First time bareboat charter & first time in the BVI [Re: louismcc] #299856
04/16/2023 11:11 AM
04/16/2023 11:11 AM
Joined: Mar 2003
Posts: 4,043
Buffalo, NY
LauraTheTshirtGal Offline
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LauraTheTshirtGal  Offline
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Posts: 4,043
Buffalo, NY
we were somewhere in that mix, our charter was 3/28 to 4/5 so can agree to all , we did however get shut out of Cooper...the boat we were flotilla-ing with got there ahead of us around noon though (we stopped at the Baths) and all fcfs were gone and of course no BB...so we moved on to Peter for our last night. So I guess if you REALLY want to go to Cooper bad make sure you are on that dang website at 6:59 or hovering in the vicinity early morning lying in wait for fcfs to be vacated LOL

Re: Trip Report - First time bareboat charter & first time in the BVI [Re: Daniel Young] #299866
04/16/2023 12:57 PM
04/16/2023 12:57 PM
Joined: Jan 2017
Posts: 735
Panama City Beach, Florida
xrayman67 Online content
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xrayman67  Online Content
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Posts: 735
Panama City Beach, Florida
We must have passed you on your way to Anegada. We spent 3 nights in Anegada, then sailed back to North Sound and caught the Wednesday night Michael Beans show. Fantastic weather the entire trip! Great report!


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