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Donna_F 08-18-2011 08:12 PM

BVI: Alternative to Full Provisioning
We have booked our first BVI charter for April 2012 and I'm beyond excited.

I received some good provisioning advice while hanging out in the chat room earlier, but something just dawned on me.

Rather than loading up the boat with tons of food for the week, is it naive to think that I can get away with buying some essentials to get us going (and for emergencies when we can't get to shore) and then buying food where the locals buy food on the various islands that we visit? They have to buy food somewhere, correct?

Our preferred way to travel is to wander around neighborhoods, eat where the locals rather than tourists eat (OK, we will be going to Foxy's) and see how people in other countries live. Isn't there street food available? We have no desire to sit on the boat 24/7 no matter how blue and crystal clear the water is. Why spend all that money to isolate ourselves with the same couple for seven days? Nice as they are.

So, to all you cruisers who call the islands your second (or first) home, is this realistic?

tempest 08-18-2011 08:33 PM


In the past, I have brought a bag full of dry goods; staples like coffee, tea, sugar and I bring some parmalet. ( I need my coffee in the morning )
I stop at costcos before I go and get some tins of chunk chicken, and maybe tuna, some mayo, A box or two of linguini and a can or two of clam sauce...A block of cheese, crackers, nuts, salami..etc..whatever you like that will hold up. granola bars..and so on.
One year we actually brought a whole tenderloin of beef that we froze.

After that, I've had no problem filling in on various stops. Celery, onions, eggs, bread etc.
We'd make chicken or tuna salad sandwiches for lunch underway....Breakfasts on board as well. Most dinners we had on shore somewhere..Lobster on Anegada!!
but we usually have a pasta night on board.

jackdale 08-18-2011 09:19 PM

From my experience, the only other place to provision other than Roadtown was Spanish Town. The prices are higher.

I would stock up at Bobby's which can be done online.

Eating out every night is very doable. Did that last time. Willy T's, Bitter End, Anegada, Cooper Island, Last Resort. (5 day power boat course.)

wingNwing 08-18-2011 09:44 PM

I don't know BVI specifically, but assume that like other Caribbean islands, if the locals eat out it will mostly be "takeaway" (what we call takeout) rather than sit-down dinners - funky looking roadside stands. Or find out where the boatyard workers eat lunch - we got turned on to some fantastic roti hut in Trinidad that way.

Otherwise, I'd just provision breakfast and about 1/2 of lunches & dinners - load up on twice as many appetizers and munchies, and less full-on sit-down meals, as you think. You're right, you'll meet more locals, be more spontaneous ... and honest, you can't starve to death in a week.

Donna_F 08-18-2011 09:55 PM


Originally Posted by wingNwing (Post 764151)
I don't know BVI specifically, but assume that like other Caribbean islands, if the locals eat out it will mostly be "takeaway" (what we call takeout) rather than sit-down dinners - funky looking roadside stands. Or find out where the boatyard workers eat lunch - we got turned on to some fantastic roti hut in Trinidad that way.

That is more like what I have in mind. The provisioning line item is over $800. I can't see even four of us eating that much food in only 7 days.

A suggestion was to take our own dried herbs and spices, which I will do. Maybe as Tempest suggested I'll also take coffee and tea (must.have.morning.tea). But I really hope that it's possible to buy local food as we go, prepared or not.

Great idea about asking at the boatyards.

Zanshin 08-19-2011 12:46 AM

My first boat was an ex-charter boat and I spent at least a month at the docks at the old Sunsail base and was amazed at the amount of food taken off the returning boats, I am certain that the cleaners supplied their families almost exclusively from charter boat contents. Most of the time charterers will end up going to a restaurant and bar instead of cooking aboard after a long day of painkillers and other beverages on the beach and won't use their onboard provisions.
There are well-stocked stores within walking distance (and carrying back distance) of the docks at Road Town, Nanny Cay, Soper's hole and Spanish Town. Less large stores with somewhat higher prices are close to Hodge's creek, Leverick Bay, Great Harbour on Jost van Dyke and at Anegada.
I usually stock up on heavy liquids and beverages and then do the rest of my shopping on the fly while in the BVI.

Minnewaska 08-19-2011 02:18 AM

I wonder if you get the bottle of Pussers if you don't provision?

We've found that the provisioning package is pretty good, but wasteful if you plan to eat out. You will go to the grocery to top off with at least beverages, so just get what you need then, or buy a smaller provisioning package. The grocery store in Roadtown is also expensive, as is everything in the islands.

eddie nelson 08-19-2011 06:59 AM

Subscribed. Had the same questions Donna. We were going to go April of 12 but just changed it to the first of June. Much better rate and the kids are out of school. Oh and they give you 10 days for the 7 day charter.

Minnewaska 08-19-2011 07:18 AM

Another thought on eating at restaurants in BVIs. There are many of them of varying quality. However, I can't recall ever eating at one on any island that I would really consider to "eat where the locals rather than the tourists eat". I have done that local program on many out islands in the Bahamas, and fully agree that it is a more memorable experience. A cheese burger and fries at Willy T's isn't very local, although, you don't really go there for the food anyway. While the BVIs are certainly built entirely around tourists, most tourist places are not like Disney. As I think about it, I'm not really sure how welcome you would be to wander into some real local parts of the island. I'm sure you can do it safely, but you need to know what you are doing. BVIers are not British and, while there are plenty of god fearing good people, there is clearly notable corruption there as well.......

EGLLaw 08-19-2011 07:47 AM

As a recent BVI first timer to an about to be first timer, I agree with others that provisioning packages can be overkill and wasteful. My family of four did the split provisioning (i.e., all meals and snakes except two dinners), only ate out twice and still had TONS of food and beverages leftover; however, as a first timer I don't think I would do it differently. As a first timer to the BVI, I think there is something to be said for the convenience of pre-ordering (at least a minimal provisioning package) so that you and your crew can get comfortable with the boat and all the "shinny" things that are sure to grab you attention as you make your way around the islands, instead of worrying about going shopping for provisions. Regardless, there is no wrong/ right decision. it is an awesome place ... Have a great trip!

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