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post #4 of Old 10-20-2004
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Last minute charter in BVI''''s

Foulies?? You''re in the Caribbean mon, don''t need no foulies!
Just kidding, personally when we went in late May we did not bring any and did not miss them. Did get very wet one morning though. When we went I allowed each of us to pack one (1) carry-on bag each. It was a struggle with the wife and kids (girls 10 and 7) but we still came home with stuff we didn''t wear. Made travel through the airport so much quicker.
You didn''t mention the sex of your kids, these suggestions may be more applicable for boys, but certainly my girls enjoyed them as well. They were not old enough to go off on their own as I''m about to suggest you consider though. Since we had the kids, we concentrated on family activities more than the bar scenes that seem to be topics of most charter reviews I read of the BVI''s.
I get the impression (from your (sadly) comment) you might want a little privacy for you and your wife. Here''s some suggestions I think would help.
Family together stuff. For sure go to the Baths (amazing) and the caves (good to quite good). While you''re in the area of the caves, get to the Indians (great snorkeling) early. It was my experience that if you get to a spot relatively early you''ll have some hours of uncrowded time to enjoy. I also found another area to spend time was in the area of Sandy Spit, Green Cay, and Sandy Cay. We spent two days in that area. Snorkeling is very good off Sandy Spit once you get through the dead coral right off the beach. The trail on Sandy Cay is worth hiking for a little exercise and good view from the top of the hill.
Now for some private time with your wife. We also spent some time in North Sound. There is a variety of activities available there. First, the resort allows use of their facilities for charterers. Send the kids ashore to use the pool etc. you and your wife have the boat to yourself. Second, There is also an amazing reef system to the North and East of the sound. I have never really seen anyone comment on this reef area in reviews, but its spectacular and the water is the clearest of anywhere we snorkeled. Take your dingy through the passes either side of Saba Rock and head along Eustatia Island into the area labeled Eustatia Sound. If your kids are adventurous they could spend all day exploring this reef area, again leaving time for you and your wife on the boat. During the time of year we were there this was a trip straight upwind (safety in case of dingy problems) Third, there are a variety of rental toys available from the resort. You and your wife, or the kids if they''re able, could use these to explore the sound area. There are a number of easily accessible (by water) but totally private small beachy areas around Prickly Pear Island.
We had a great time in all these areas. Finally I''d like to comment (my opinion only) on charter companies and some things that improved our trip. 1)This is an expensive trip with a family, don''t cheap out and save a relatively insignificant $500-$1000 chartering from second tier company and ruin the trip with a problem boat. 2) We had a boat with three staterooms, (Sunsail Jeanneau SO40). It was nice for each girl to have their own room. 2b)We provisioned online directly with a store, not through the charter co. I think that worked pretty well. We still went to the store ourselves for perishables and things where we were concerned about constant refrigeration(meat), but the heavy lifting (drinks)had been done. 3) Insure you get a good (RIB) dingy with a 9.9 or better motor. You''ll want a dingy anchor too. The ability to plane in a RIB opens up many possibilities for independent dingy exploration by you or your kids (the privacy thing again!). 4)Pack light, I read somewhere to set out all your stuff, then leave half of that behind, and you''ll still have too much. From our experience that''s accurate. 5) If you have handheld GPS and VHF bring them. GPS is not really needed, just cool. The VHF will be appreciated if you or you kids are off in the dingy. 6) The binoculars on our boat were poor, next time I may bring my own, depending on luggage room.
Obviously there are many more places/things to see/do (and we did) in the BVI, but on our trip, with kids, these were the things we really enjoyed. Of the things I mentioned the Caves/Indians would be the only one we''d skip next time. This not cuz they weren''t good, we just would want to try something new.
One more thing, we booked a night at the motel on site at Sunsail the night before and the night after the charter. For us it worked out well providing ample time to provision, relax, and get on island time!

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