We're really noodling on a plan for the winter. Scheduling is probably going to require we book close to departure and have seen threads on LateSail.com. I would be interested to hear more about them or other places you think are good for last minute booking or deals.
We love the BVI and probably default to going back. However, we've been thinking that a USVI trip may be easier and marginally less expensive. We can fly direct to STT and would be more comfortable getting right aboard. We usually grab a hotel before or after a BVI cruise or both, to avoid stress getting to the ferry or connection flying from Tortola.
Another thought about USVI is seeing St. John's, which we've passed often but never landed.
We're also intrigued over sailing to Calebra off Puerto Rico. It doesn't seem far, but I'm not sure about typical passage conditions. Is anyone familiar with this? I wouldn't think we would have to deal with customs going from USVI to Puerto Rico, but island rules can vary. Do charter companies object?
Can't help you with any last minute deals. CYOA is about 10 minutes from the airport and most of their boats are available to take to the PR
Islands. They do not object to their boats going there but they do have more requirements for boats heading that way then they do for boats staying in the USVI and BVI. Island Yachts (Island Packets only) is about 45 minutes from the STT airport. I'm not sure what their policy is for taking boats to SVI.
St John (no S) has beautiful beaches and is a much more laid back place to spend time than much of the BVI. Typically people spend more time eating on board as the shore is not very commercialized with beach bar/restaurants. The SVI is even more laid back than St John/USVI. On Culebra and Vieques there are gorgeous undeveloped beaches with great snorkeling. You must be more independent there as there is really no place to buy fuel or water for your boat and one must plan more accordingly for provisioning. You may be able to spend days in a bay with a beautiful beach and have nobody else around. It's all in what you are looking for. From CYOA to Culebra/Culebrita is about 15 miles and is usually DDW taking 2-3 hours. Coming back can be uncomfortable, to put it nicely. There are some converging currents making for very confused seas if there is a strong north swell running with a strong easterly wind. I've made the trip back and forth from Fajardo, PR
dozens of times and it can be really pleasant from Culebra to St Thomas but that is the exception. My worst trips have taken more than 4 hours of green water rolling over the cabin top of 50'+ monos (including a 54' DS
) and 43' cats to make that 15 miles against the sea and prevailing current. Watching the weather can typically negate that miserable scenario.
Enjoy your trip wherever you go.