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eddie nelson 08-11-2011 07:35 PM

Chartering the US VI
I know everyone talks about chartering threw the BVI but has anyone chartered threw the USVI. I was thinking it would be easier to charter in the us and not have to worry about the ferry. It would be nice to just fly straight their and taxi to our charter. Any suggestions? I had a guy tell me it would be easier to charter out of Red Hook. Im planning on going the first of April.

FarCry 08-12-2011 09:40 AM

There are three charter companies on St Thomas.
1) Island Yachts in Redhook which charters only Island Packets
2) VIP a little further west. No idea what is in their inventory at this time
3) CYOA much closer to the airport. They have a mix of monohulls and cats

In a PM I would be glad to answer any questions and provide my opinions on each of the operations I have listed above. I would be glad to give you some itinerary suggestions for St Thomas, St John and the surrounding smaller islands.

You might also consider going to Traveltalkonline dot com in the forum section and do a search with the name of each of the companies listed above to read comments that are posted as well.

fallard 08-14-2011 10:26 AM

We've chartered twice in the BVI and 8 times in the USVI over the past dozen years. There are 3 reasons we've chartered out of the USVI for the past 6 years straight:
1. You can get to St. Thomas on a "real" airplane (no need for a puddle jumper) and you avoid the possibility of missing the last ferry from St. Thomas to Tortola if your plane is late.
2. The USVI has some really nice, QUIET bays with extensive hiking trails and with Park Service moorings at $15/night on St. John.
3. Our preferred charter operation is family-run Island Yachts in Red Hook. Their Island Packet Yachts are a cut above the Beneteaus and Jenneaus IMHO. Also, Red Hook has services (grocery, liquor, restaurants, dive shop, pharmacy, Subway, etc.) literally at the Yacht Harbor.

There is a downside to chartering out of the USVI, which is the necessity of customs/immigration stops if you go to the BVI--which you should, especially if you haven't been to the Virgin Islands before. You don't check out of the USVI, but you do check in (and out at the same time) in the BVI at either Jost van Dyke, Sopers Hole (West End), Road Town, or even Spanish Town). You also must check back into the USVI at Cruz Bay if you are going back to Red Hook). The BVI check in/out process is a minor inconvenience, but can take an hour or two, including boat handling. The USVI check in is quick, but typically involves mooring in Caneel Bay and taking your dinghy into Cruz Bay.

A couple of other points: If you've seen the BVI, you can stay with the USVI and avoid the customs scene altogether. St. John, which is mostly a national park, provides excellent snorkeling and--compared to the BVI--relative peace and quiet. Also, we're comfortable with the Island Packets, particularly when the wind picks up, but they are relatively heavy and are not likely to be mistaken for racing boats. Another option out of the USVI is the Spanish Virgins.

eddie nelson 08-14-2011 12:38 PM

Hey fallard thanks for the info. We have never been to VI so i want to check everything out. How long of a sail is it from Red hook to Anagada? And which area of the bvi would be the easiest to check into customs? Farcry told me that the rolex and bvi regattas are the week that we are going (March 30-April 10), so im sure there is going to be considerably more boat traffic. We are looking for mostly secluded snorkeling areas with the occasional dinning.


fallard 08-14-2011 01:23 PM

Anegada is best approached from Virgin Gorda to get a good angle on the wind. If you were to charter from Red Hook, with a charter starting at noon, a 9 miles motorsail (close to the wind) would get you to a good first night stop would at Leinster Bay. You can snorkel at Waterlemon Cay when you arrive. The next day, you might hike to the Anneberg sugar mill ruins before heading out for a 20 mile trip (motor/motor sail) into the wind to get to Thomas Bay/Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor, where you need to check in with customs/immigration. You can anchor or moor out or take a slip in the Yacht Harbor. The skipper goes alone and brings signed copies of paperwork and passports for each crew member and pays the cruising, immigration, and BVI park (day)mooring fees. Early the next morning, you would hustle to get a day mooring at The Baths and spend a couple hours at this "must see" place. You can't land your dinghy, so be prepared for a short swim in from a dinghy mooring to shore. Great snorkeling and beaches at either end of the rock formations.

Next, you need to decide if you want to sail 20 mile sails to Anegada, where you ought to stay 2 nights. This would allow you to explore the snorkeling on the north side. But if there is a significant breeze, you might find the current on the North side uncomfortable for snorkeling. At least you can enjoy the extensive beach from the mooring field at Setting Point all the way past Pomato Point. We really liked the pricey Caribbean lobster at the Anegada Reef Hotel. You can also get a decent fish dinner at Neptunes Treasure.

By now you'd be running out of time for a 7 day charter and would miss some of the interesting sights in the BVI. If you want to go for Anegada, perhaps you ought to go for a 10 day (or longer) charter.

eddie nelson 08-14-2011 04:12 PM

I think your right about the 10 day charter. I will need to see about the kids missing school. I want to be able to take my time and relax. If I can't do Anagada I guess I'll have a good exscuse to go back!lol I should have some charts within the next 2 weeks so I'll have a better lay of the area and distances. Thanks again for the help.


fallard 08-14-2011 04:51 PM

If you've only got a week (7 full days, noon-noon), here's my suggestion for an itinerary.
Day 1 (early afternoon off the dock): Leinster Bay, St. John--snorkel, dinner aboard
Day 2 snorkel (Waterlemon Cay and off the beach); hike to Anneberg ruins, more snorkeling, later short hike to the east to overlook Leinster Bay and Tortola and the Drake Channel. Dinner aboard.
Day 3 sail to Great Harbour, Jost van Dyke for customs/immigration; skip Foxy's if you have young kids and move over to Little Harbour for a mooring and dinner ashore at one of the 3 waterside, very casual restaurants.
Day 4 Beat to Monkey Point, Guana Island for snorkeling and a lunch stop; sail/motor to Marina Cay for a mooring and dinner ashore at Pusser's. You can also snorkel off their beach. You can also get water at their dock.
Day 5 Beat to Thomas Bay (mooring) or better yet, Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor (slip with water available, which you'll need if you didn't top off at Marina Cay). You can take a long walk or taxi to The Baths from the Yacht Harbor. Wear your bathing suits and bring backpack(s) for towels, etc. You could beat directly to the day moorings for the Baths, but be prepared to circle awhile for an available mooring. You might then to the Spanish Town area for mooring or slip.
Day 6 Do the Baths from your boat on the way out and then stop at Deadman's Bay, Peter Island, for a lunch stop. Make sure you anchor is set if you go ashore. Read up on Dead Chest (island of Treasure Island fame as Deadman's Chest). Proceed to Norman Island for a mooring near the north edge of The Bight, where you can snorkel off your boat; hike and dinner ashore if you prefer.
Day 7 snorkel the Caves on your way out of The Bight and then proceed to Caneel Bay for a mooring and dinghy ride into Cruz Bay to check back into the US. Lots of shops and restaurants in Cruz Bay.
Morning of Day 8: Sail back to Red Hook to return the boat before noon. The mooring base will want you to meet you at the fuel dock.

If you do charter with Island Yachts, check out their sleep aboard rate for the day you arrive.

Your school age kids will love the Baths and the Caves and all the snorkeling. You can do Anegada some other time.

Also, check Google Earth, which has a ruler so you can figure out distances. Keep in mind that the wind has East in its label, so you will be beating or motoring when you go in a generally easterly direction. I found the Imray-Iolare map A231-232 to be very useful for planning and logging the trips I've taken to the USVI (except St. Croix)and the BVI.

eddie nelson 08-14-2011 06:26 PM

fallard tell me about the usvi. Just looking at a map of that whole area and it seems like there are a ton of places to sail to around st thomas. Have you ever been to tabago? Looks like a cool place to visit. Honestly it looks like an easy 7 or 10 days of sailing around the usvi. Hell i dont have to see everything in one trip and dont want to. Im thinking i need to save the bvi for another trip.?( got some time to think about it)


eddie nelson 08-14-2011 06:56 PM

I take that back fallard i like your itinerary the way it is. The possibilities are endless!

fallard 08-14-2011 10:15 PM

If you want to spend more time in the USVI, you should target St. John. Check for boating information, but your major choices involve the north side of St. John, from Lynd Point to Leinster Bay, and the south side, primarily Salt Pond and Lameshur Bays. Salt Pond Bay has a nice beach, sea turtles and a 1.5 mile hike to Ram Head, and is one of my favorites. The north side can be subject to swells--something you want to be aware of in the Virgin Islands--in places like Hawksnest Bay and to the east, as well as the BVI. It can be very difficult to handle a dinghy on a beach that is subject to the swells. You will find that an anchorage can be very rolly when the swell is running and make it difficult to get a good night's sleep. The charter bases can advise which bays to avoid.

You might pick up a cruising guide to the Virgin Islands by the Scotts or Steven Pavlidis. Your charter company will probably have a copy of the Scott guide aboard, but you will find it helpful for advance planning purposes. If you are considering chartering out of St. Thomas, you might allow an extra day to explore Charlotte Amalie. We typically stay over at a guest house type accommodation before heading home.

A final note: We started our Caribbean chartering in the Virgin Island and moved on to St. Martin (including Anguilla and St. Barts) and then Antigua, thinking we would keep moving along the Island chain to South America as time went on. However, we ended up back in the Virgins, which we find more accommodating to bareboaters. You can spend years exploring the USVI, BVI, and Spanish Virgins and not get bored.

As you move further south in the Caribbean chain, you will find higher winds and seas and longer distances between some of the anchorages. We find the winds in the Virgins are generally as much as we want to deal with.

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