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  #11  
Old 12-22-2007
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Check out traveltalkonline.com. Lots of first hand experience there and friendly people.
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  #12  
Old 12-22-2007
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All the above advice is great. I have used Ed Hamilton with great results. I have also gone it alone with Morring and Sundsail and Conch.

Like others before me 34 feet is ok but can potentially be a rougher ride in the trades with 6 foot seas the norm in the Drake Channel late in the day. The extra HP in the engine from the larger boats also can be an advantage,

We have tried different boats as this was a test for us to see what our next boat may be. It actually eliminated every boat we were on. While we like the cruising amenities the charters provide such as the broad swim platforms aft and the huge galleys, it does not fit with the blue water sailing we intend to do inj the future.

If you can charter from St Vincint to Grenada the second time you charter. BVI is the best for your first time as the sails are mostly line of sight.

Dave
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  #13  
Old 12-28-2007
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I just returned from Tortola. We had perfect weather and very nice winds.
This is the third time I've chartered with TMM. This is a very good company
with nice clean boats. Poke around a bit and you'll find some great places to drop the hook and stay the night.
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  #14  
Old 01-03-2008
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BVI Cruising Advice

We (two adults and children ages 10 and 15) just returned from Tortola after leasing a 32' Beneteau from the Moorings during the week of December 26 through January 2, 2008. Here are my impressions from a first-time, bareboat cruiser with minimal sailing experience.
1. The Moorings were overwhelmed. Although the boat was delivered clean and in good condition, the 9:00 a.m. cruising briefer never showed-up, so the briefing was conducted by the receptionist at 9:45 a.m. She did a good job, though, but it was essentially a PowerPoint presentation.
2. The provisioning for our boat was not delivered until about 11:30 a.m., even though ordered weeks ahead of time. Many items were missing. There was no QC exercised by the Moorings. They delivered and left it to us to check that everything was there. It took until about 1:00 p.m. until we received everything.
3. Our boat briefer rushed-through the boat operations. He, too, was over whelmed. The Moorings then sent someone else to go over the boat, and we soon learned that this was his first day. He insisted that the boat's GPS was not a GPS. That all it was only an electronic map. This took another walk back to the office to request a knowledgeable person.
4. We finally left the Moorings at 3:00 p.m. and raced for the Bight at Norman Island. With the winds at 22 knots coming straight down the channel, with only the genoa up and motoring at 2500 rpm, we made it there in 1.75 hours, which was just in time to get one of the three mooring balls left at 4:45 p.m.
5. Given that this is the busiest week down there for chartering and the high Christmas winds during the week, (we heard that the previous week was just great) it was always chancy trying to find a mooring. This added to the trip's anxiety when going from place to place. You had to arrive early, but this depended on the location, number of available moorings, and the day of the week . . . especially as we approached New Years.
6. While away from the Moorings, I needed an explanation as to how to properly reef the sails. I should add that the Christmas winds down there during that week were incredible. Just about everyday they were 20 to 25 knots and the waves anywhere from 5 to 7'. The surges at night howled! In any case, when I called the Moorings from Soper's Hole for customer service, I received voicemail. It took many calls to get through to someone. When I finally did, it took a real effort to understand the guy due to his thick native accent and fast-paced of speaking. He was knowledgeable and very helpful, though.
7. Given the high winds and waves, we spent a lot of time motoring about. I attempted to go from Little Harbor on Jost van Dyke to Trellis one morning, but had to turn around. The waves had to be at least 7', and the bow kept on plowing into the oncoming waves. The trip would have taken 6 hours or so given the head winds if I were to keep the engine at 1800 rpm.
8. When you are doing a lot of motoring about, cruising seems like nothing more than a rich man's campout. The 32' boat is the smallest I think the Moorings has, and we only saw a few of them out during the week. Given the winds, I would recommend nothing smaller than 37' for a family of 4.
9. Be aware that the taxi situation on the islands is very expensive. They charge by the person, and many cab drivers will request whatever they can get. Unfortunately, many of them have a lousy attitude, too. While moored at Little Harbor for two days, we spent about $100 per day in cab fare just trying to get to the beach at White Bay. One time, we took a cab driven by Foxy's son, who was rude, truculent, and impolite as if he was doing us a big favor.

In closing, I would definitely go back . . . we did manage to get in one good day of sailing (our last day) when the winds were more like 10 to 15 knots. And, it is a great place to sail. I would lease a larger boat from another outfit, possible Horizons at Nanny Key. We heard good things about them. Given my sailing abilities at this point, I would not take a chance with the Christmas winds again. I would go later in the spring or early summer.
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  #15  
Old 01-03-2008
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Hmm... 5-7' seas with 20-25 knots of wind... sounds about perfect sailing weather to me... I go out in those conditions all the time.
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  #16  
Old 01-03-2008
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The charter companies always recommend going upwind in the channel, and then doing the downwin Trellis Bay/Marina Cay to Jost run on the north side of the island Perhaps that was one of the things glossed over during the briefing at Moorings. I spoke with a couple of people from Sunsail who have been amalgamated into the Moorings operation in Road town and it seems that it has now become too large and unwieldy. I hope you didn't try to take a mooring off Cooper's Island - that place rocks and rolls even in a dead calm.
I'm looking forward to going back this coming weekend!
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  #17  
Old 01-03-2008
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I've been there 4 times, May, July, October, November (4 different years); I've never seen a week with 20kts+ the entire week.
3 of mine were bareboat, the last was fully crewed. Of the bareboats the first 2 with Sunsail, third with Voyage; all catamarans so I can't help ya with boat selection. We did provision thru Sunsail the first time, and had the same missing stuff, substitution problem. Found out they use a local grocer (Bobbies, available online) so from then on just went to the grocer direct.
As to cab's, wouldn't know. I was on a boat - if I wanted to go somewhere I sailed there.
Moorings do indeed fill up early, planning where you are going and getting there are part of the fun to me. Besides, I don't drink unless tied to something so the earlier I caught a ball....

As to briefing's - they expect you to be knowledgeable about sailing/boat systems in general so the briefings are somewhat brief; if you feel the need for more perhaps you should hire a skipper for the first day, it runs about 150 bucks and depending on your resume they might require one.
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  #18  
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We were told that it was a very unusual week with respect to the high winds, but yesterday was picture perfect. Actually, it was The Moorings that recommended that we travel counter-clockwise around Tortola due to the heavy winds.
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  #19  
Old 01-03-2008
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Sail BVI Charter

We just got back from a charter Dec 8-16th. The place is typicaly empty between Thanksgiving and the week before Xmas when the rates go up. To me, this is the best time to go. For example, only 6 boats at Anagoda, 5 boats at Foxy's anchorage. Lot of empty mooring balls, no problem at the Baths either.

If you fly into St Tom, you can taxi to Redhook, and catch the ferry over to Tortolla.
Highly suggest you do your own provisioning in Road Harbor, Tortolla, - groceries are right near boats, and it's pretty easy.

I would worry about the size of the boat handling the seas, while bigger is better, it's more dependant on the skill or the operator. I think my wife would agree with that too.
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  #20  
Old 01-03-2008
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Roxbury my wife and I really enjoy the spring and early summer (before hurricane season) sailing in the VI. The winds and seas are calmer and there are open mooring balls all over. You might consider it as an option, plus I understand the charters are cheaper then also.

Zanshin, I live on St Thomas and have never been to a charter briefing, generally the local winds are south-southeast except in the winter when they shift to NE. It does make more sense to circumnavigate Tortola clockwise with existing conditions.

Below is generally the same forecast that reflects the previous two weeks. This year's conditions are very simliar last holiday season, the Christmas Winds are aptly named.

There is a race scheduled for this Sunday, it should be interesting.

COASTAL WATERS FORECAST
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE SAN JUAN PR
1036 AM AST THU JAN 3 2008

PUERTO RICO AND U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS WATERS

AMZ700-032230-
SYNOPSIS FOR PUERTO RICO AND THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS WATERS
1036 AM AST THU JAN 3 2008

.SYNOPSIS...WEAK HIGH PRESSURE WILL PERSIST ACROSS THE REGION
TODAY. A 1045 MB HIGH ACROSS THE EAST CENTRAL U.S. WILL SLIDE
EASTWARD THROUGH THE WEEKEND AND GRADUALLY WEAKEN OVER THE WEST
CENTRAL ATLANTIC...WHILE FORCING A COLD FRONT...CURRENTLY OVER THE
CENTRAL BAHAMAS...SOUTHEASTWARD INTO THE NORTH COAST OF HISPANIOLA
AND STRETCHING ACROSS THE CENTRAL ATLANTIC. THIS STRONG HIGH
PRESSURE WILL PRODUCE INCREASING WINDS LOCALLY FROM LATE TONIGHT
THROUGH SATURDAY...AND DRAMATICALLY INCREASING SEAS IN A
COMBINATION OF LARGE MERGING NORTHWEST AND NORTHEAST SWELLS.
HAZARDOUS MARINE CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO CONTINUE THROUGH
MONDAY.



AMZ730-032230-
/O.ROU.TJSJ.MA.F.0000.000000T0000Z-000000T0000Z/
CARIB WATERS FROM PUNTA VIENTO TO CABO SAN JUAN S TO 17N AND E TO
64W INCLUDING THE CARIB WATERS OF CULEBRA VIEQUES AND THE U.S.
VIRGIN ISLANDS-
1036 AM AST THU JAN 3 2008

.THIS AFTERNOON...NORTHEAST WINDS 10 TO 15 KNOTS. SEAS 3 TO 5 FEET.
ISOLATED SHOWERS.
.TONIGHT...NORTHEAST WINDS 14 TO 19 KNOTS. SEAS 3 TO 5 FEET.
ISOLATED SHOWERS.
.FRIDAY...EAST NORTHEAST WINDS 15 TO 20 KNOTS. SEAS BUILDING 6 TO
8 FEET IN NORTHEAST SWELLS...WITH NORTHWEST SWELLS IN THE
PASSAGES. SCATTERED SHOWERS.
.FRIDAY NIGHT...EAST NORTHEAST WINDS 18 TO 22 KNOTS. SEAS 7 TO
11 FEET IN EAST NORTHEAST SWELLS...AND MERGING LARGE NORTHWEST
SWELLS IN THE PASSAGES. SCATTERED SHOWERS.
.SATURDAY...EAST WINDS 16 TO 21 KNOTS. SEAS 8 TO 12 FEET IN EAST
NORTHEAST AND NORTH NORTHWEST SWELLS. SCATTERED SHOWERS.
.SATURDAY NIGHT...EAST NORTHEAST WINDS 17 TO 21 KNOTS. SEAS 8 TO
12 FEET IN EAST NORTHEAST AND NORTH NORTHWEST SWELLS. SCATTERED
SHOWERS.
.SUNDAY...EAST NORTHEAST WINDS 16 TO 21 KNOTS. SEAS 6 TO 9 FEET
IN EAST NORTHEAST SWELLS. SCATTERED SHOWERS.
.MONDAY...NORTHEAST WINDS 16 TO 21 KNOTS. SEAS 5 TO 8 FEET IN
EAST NORTHEAST SWELLS. SCATTERED SHOWERS.
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