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  #1  
Old 12-16-2010
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Sailing conditions for BVI's in February question

We've chartered in the BVI's twice, once in November and once in April (Footloose and Conch). Chartering for the first time with Sunsail first week in February. Curious what the wind conditions are for this time of the year. Read that the Christmas winds could still be around with some higher wind speeds over 20 knots (I've sailed in much higher but the first mate gets nervous in anything over 12 -15). Also if anyone has chartered this time of year would be curious as to how crowded the harbors are (our experience was not very crowed in November but extremely so in April).

BTW the Tamarind Club is a great place to stay.
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Old 12-16-2010
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I was there last February. Winds were OK (I was instructing on a power boat.)

Mooring fields were busy. We were usually in by 2:30 - no problem.
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We were there mid-Jan 2007. Winds were ideal. Only once do I remember really having trouble finding a mooring, though there was some comnpetition for the short term moorings at the snorkel sites.
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Old 12-17-2010
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When I was down there for my ASA class (in March), I asked the instructor what the weather forecast was for the week. He said they get together every year on Jan 1 and decide on the weather for the whole year: 80-85 degrees, winds 10-15kts, chance of showers overnight. It was pretty much dead on the whole time I was there.
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Old 12-17-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rmeador View Post
winds 10-15kts, chance of showers overnight.
I think 15-20 and showers in the afternoon as well, but maybe that's just when I am down there.
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We are going to be down there January 31 - February 9 with two of our three kids on a 43' Beneteau from TMM. This will be the third or fourth February charter in the BVIs for us and the weather and wind is typically quite perfect. You can still get the occasional squall and rain but it is fairly rare and usually passes pretty quickly. You may possibly find a day or two of higher winds but generally I would expect winds in the 10-20 range. We did get a nice little low pressure disturbance one February which pushed winds into the 25 knot range for a few days with rather large swells. We spent the night stuck on a mooring ball at Leverick Bay and it wasn't fun. The next night we got a ball at the BEYC and then limped back to the channel the next morning in 8 foot swells. If you're in the channel, even higher winds aren't too big a deal as the swell doesn't get too big. Just don't get stuck in North Sound, the North side of Tortolla or Anegeda if a storm happens to comes through or you may have an unhappy first mate. Just pay attention to the forecast and the locals.

Concerning the harbors, depending on when you arrive there may be a route that you could take to avoid the crowds. Generally we've had good luck finding a ball, but we try to get to the moorages somewhat early in the afternoon if possible. We've only once not been able to find a ball when we arrived at Cooper Island towards the evening. We ended up going across the channel to Fat Hog Bay which was actually a fun little harbor and an easy taxi ride to Road Town. Nevertheless, I would still always have a backup plan - especially if you prefer not to anchor or if the moorage doesn't have good holding. Ask your charter company and they should help fill you in. And if you are going to do the baths, leave as early as possible in the morning or you are going to be waiting for a ball.

Have fun! Maybe we'll see you down there.

Matt
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Old 01-12-2011
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Captained my first charter with the Moorings in the BVI last March and the weather was fantastic.

My GF and I had a 39' Bene to ourselves and were welcomed to 20+ knts right out of the slip, was quite a surprise. The wind challenged us the entire trip and I was happy to see it actually. There was only one calm day, but sunny skies throughout except for a few stormy passer bys.

We had only one gale that interfered with plans, mainly Anegada. I just wasn't comfortable navigating the approach with an overcast and a mean blow pushing us on our aft quarter. So I scrapped the passage there and went elsewhere.

I don't know if it was the time of year or not, but as a kid chartering there with family many times I never remembered the weather being that active. We always went in late December though.

My suggestion would be to bookmark a couple of the local weather forecasting sites and pay close attention to them along with the WX every morning. Be mindful that the only local Radar is PR's. It didn't represent a lot of what we saw accurately at all. At the time there were no functioning offshore Weather Buoys either.

I would have all my weather sites tabbed in my browser and just open the whole bunch at once to suck as much Wifi as possible, which we found very difficult to get while moooring.

As for crowds, it was packed. However, my observation is a bit tained as the last time I had been there was when some of the islands were just getting power lines and chartering was kind of new to the scene. No cruise ships either. So I was of course a bit devastated when I saw how packed some of the places were that I ventured as a kid without seeing a soul.

It was a great trip though and we met a lot of great people.
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Old 01-12-2011
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Was there the first week of Feb last year. The week started with 20+ kts and 6 foot seas on the first day, with a quick daytime storm that came through. Kind of tough for vacation, I would have stayed near shore if I could do that over. Back to the standard 15kts and 2 to 3 ft seas the next day and it continued to die down all week. By our last day, we had to motor back to make our turn-in time with <5kt winds.

When its all for fun and the winds pick up, over reef the sails. You may know you get get her to hull speed, but when you have no where to go and all day to get there, might as well keep everyone comfortable. Or just stay at the mooring.
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Old 01-12-2011
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You should be ready for anything between 10-25 knots. The Sunsail boats, like most all charter boats, have relatively small sails and they are easy to reef.

In the mornings, you could take your dinghy by a live aboard cruising boat in the mooring field and ask what the forecast is. Look for an active cruising boat (i.e. someone who looks like they haven't been in the same spot for a month). Typically this will be a modern and/or well kept cruiser. These folks usually listen to Chris Parker in the mornings for the Eastern Caribbean forecast or have received the forecast over email. It's kind of a ritual for them and they love to talk about the weather. You don't even need to chat them up in the mornings. Anytime will pretty much do because the 3 day forecasts are accurate enough.

You can also bring a laptop and check a site like passageweather.com. Most of the harbors that you will be staying at will have WIFI to some extent. You may need to take the laptop in to shore to get a signal, but you should be able to get online just about everywhere.

If you show up in the late afternoon, prepare to anchor. Show up before 2:30 and you got a shot at a mooring. Show up at noon and you're almost sure to get one. Anchoring is always an option, but you need to make sure that it's set and holding tight.
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Old 01-12-2011
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It's the N swell that can cause the most issue. Some of the mooring fields can get quite rollie during Jan/Feb/Mar. Winds can and will be gusty at times, but thats true most of the year. Just sail conservatively and reef early.
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