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SteveInMD 10-03-2012 08:31 AM

BVI budget
We're headed to the BVI in March. I'm trying to come up with a realistic budget. I can figure out the boat and air travel costs, but what else should I consider? Has anyone posted a spreadsheet with items to include in a budget?

Zanshin 10-03-2012 08:53 AM

Re: BVI budget
1. Food
Eating out in the BVI is not cheap and provisioning the boat can be rather expensive. There are only a couple of well-stocked stores on the island to choose from; some of the charter companies are either situated close to one (e.g. Moorings/Sunsail) or will drive you to one and there are services where you can provision online for delivery to the boat.

2. Alcohol
Is relatively cheap and plentiful and available everywhere

3. Ice
For those who like ice for their drinks or for further cooling down the fridge contents you will be in for a surprise. Ice is very, very expensive in the BVI. Usually it is only mildly frozen by the time it gets aboard and costs add up. Some places (Saba Rock comes to mind) will give you free water and a bag of ice included in the price of a mooring ball.

4. Mooring
Most charterers prefer to use mooring balls, which will run to $25 per night (it is recommended to dive on these to make sure that they haven't been chewed up by props). Some anchorages have little or no room for anchoring (The Bight - unless you have enough chain to anchor in 50-60 feet, which no charter boat does) and others don't have great holding (Great Harbour on Jost van Dyke, which now has mooring balls).

5. Dining out / Bars
pricier than the USA, about equal to mainland Europe in price, but the quality is often not commensurate with the price. High quality dining out is available but one needs to be prepared to spend a lot of money.

6. Beaches

7. Sunshine

I don't know what other requirements you might have for a boating trip to the BVI but for most charterers the items above are the costliest. On boat return day the dock workers collect enough uneaten food to feed their families for a long time as most charterers overprovision.

chucklesR 10-03-2012 09:57 AM

Re: BVI budget
Zanshin practically lives there, so his points are all good - especially the over provision part.
The boats do not come with even the simplest condiments, don't forget to add them to the list. Some charter's work with local groceries to pre-order and stock your boat. It costs a bit more but it's worth it to have more time on the boat and less shopping.

Only order for a few days at a time, space is limited.

From a dollar perspective figure on 500 bucks a person to eat drink and be merry for a week.
Add 60 bucks a head for every time you plan on eating out. If you want cocktails with the dinner figure on 9 bucks each. You can eat cheaper - but even a burger with fries will run you 12 bucks or more.

Beef, even hamburger will run you 10 - 20 a pound, eat chicken.

CLucas 10-03-2012 10:51 AM

Re: BVI budget
We chartered thru Sunsail and provisioned thru them -- while it was definitely more expensive than doing it ourselves, the convenience was definitely worth it (it was our first charter). Rather than ala carte provisioning, we ordered all breakfasts and lunches and one dinner for our 1-week charter. We found Sunsail to very *very* generous as far as the amount of food allotted per person, so could have ordered food for fewer days and still had enough. Convenience aside, next time we'll probably provision ourselves and stick to simple PB&J-type lunches and cold breakfasts -- it will save several hundred dollars (honest). In Tortola, best provisioning is Bobby's Marketplace. We wanted to add a few items beyond what we had ordered from Sunsail and Bobby's sent a van to pick us up from Sunsail base and drove us back after shopping.

Tim R. 10-03-2012 11:16 AM

Re: BVI budget
We will also be there for our second trip in March. What is stated above is true.

Flights are often cheaper to St. Thomas and then take the ferry across. This is a little more hassle though. Our round trip flight from Boston is about $1,200pp thru Jet Blue which provides direct service to and from St. Thomas.

Pack less than what you think you need. You will spend a lot of time in your swim suit. Buy food for breakfast, snacks and half your lunches. Also buy plenty of bottled water. You will likely eat out most nights. Buy a fall back lunch and dinner. Peanut butter/jelly and pasta just incase you want to eat on the boat. When eating out, stick to the local cuisine which is mostly chicken/fish, root veggies and plantains.

Bobbies and other markets have online provisioning and usually deliver right to your boat for you.

I highly recommend booking through Ed Hamiltons. They will find you the best deal and do a wonderful job coordinating your charter.

SteveInMD 10-07-2012 10:04 AM

Re: BVI budget
I've been working on my budgeting spreadsheet. Anyone planning a charter might want to consider the follow line items...

Travel Insurance
Boat fuel
Sleep Aboard on arrival day
Air travel
Hotel stay at end of charter
Transfers (ferry, taxi, etc.)
Meals ashore
Extras (tee shirts, scuba, fishing)
Internet connectivity

bobnpaula 10-17-2012 10:21 PM

Re: BVI budget
We will be in the BVI in Feb for our third charter there. Provisioning: think about what you typically eat for breakfast/lunches if weekend sailing at home, and multiply by number of days on charter. We like to order provisioning in advance and have it delivered to the boat, but we do a la carte ordering, picking and choosing items from the list. (don't do your ordering while hungry!) We supplement by carrying in our (large) duffel bag from home things like peanut butter, mixed nuts, coffee, tea, boxed rice mixes, cookies, cans of tuna, and other portable, non-breakable items. Most of these items are much cheaper at home. Zip lock storage bags are a good item to bring down, and pack the food items in, inside the duffel. We provision for breakfasts, lunches (sandwiches, fruit, yogurt) and 3-4 dinners on board, one of which is eggs of some sort (omelettes, scrambled) and salad. That is usually the last dinner on board, when we have used up the chicken/hamburger. Definitely order LESS THAN YOU THINK. Eating on board for a few dinners helps cut costs and is relaxing. There are some nights you just want to relax, hang out in your cockpit and watch the sunset and grill something, rather than jumping in the dinghy and heading for a restaurant. A mix of going out and staying on board works well. Again, underestimate what you will need. No chips left on the last charter day is better than two unopened bags of chips left that get taken by the cleaning crew... they are expensive down there! Hope this helps.

coupdemistral 10-17-2012 11:25 PM

Re: BVI budget
as a (less expensive) alternative to traditional charter companies, you may to want to check into boat sharing sites like They are relatively new but could end up offering a lot more choice that a Sunsail or the Moorings

fallard 10-18-2012 12:11 AM

Re: BVI budget
The Baths are a must see. You can try for a day mooring but there are more boats than moorings, so you might circle for a while. You may then take your dinghy into the dingy mooring and swim into the beach.

If your budget can stand it and you'd like to relax a bit more, you might consider taking a slip at Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour at Spanish Town. The slip fee will probably cost twice as much as a mooring (for a 40' boat) and showers are included. There is decent provisioning there and you can get water and ice for a fee. There's a casual eatery there where you can get simple fare but beware that this establishment is on "island time". You could hike to the Baths or take a taxi. We typically bring a backpack for towels, cameras, water, etc. and can take full advantage of the scene. You will find shops and a restaurant at the top of the hill by the Baths.

One of our favorite restaurants is "Top of the Baths", where you can enjoy a proper drink overlooking the Drake Channel and then have a great meal, properly served. It isn't cheap, but is fairly priced (maybe 50% more than Pusser's, which is not in the same league) for the this level of quality in the BVI. We would take a taxi back to the yacht basin if it's dark.

Donna_F 10-18-2012 11:40 AM

Re: BVI budget
We saved about half of the Sunsail cost by provisioning ourselves.

If you eat at a restaurant, be SURE to ask the price of the Catch of the Day before blindly ordering. Yikes.

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