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caberg 11-09-2012 04:00 PM

Abacos or BVI
Pros and cons for Abacos vs. BVI (Tortola) for first charter, aiming for mid-May for one week? It's wife, 5 year old, and me.

Our desires (in a perfect world), in no particular order:

* moderate winds (~15)--prefer less to more given limitations of having wife and young son on board.
* warm weather (80s)
* uncrowded anchorages and beaches
* or, the ability to pass by crowded spots and find something more out of the way that is quieter
* easy navigation
* more than 2, less than 5, hour hops between stops

We're less interested in what's on land (bars, restaurants, etc.), and actually prefer to get away from that stuff if possible (though a quiet bar on a secluded beach would get some business from us).

My research tells me that in and around Abacos can be very shallow, maybe adding a mark in favor of BVI. Other than that, I haven't been able to discern a large difference between the two areas.

So, what do you folks think?

Minnewaska 11-09-2012 04:44 PM

Re: Abacos or BVI
Night and Day, particularly for a sailboat. BVI wins hands down. More places like you describe than you'll ever get to in one trip. All nearby. Easy to fly to as well, unlike Abaco.

waterwks4me 11-09-2012 05:52 PM

Re: Abacos or BVI
Have to agree with minniwaska BVI definitely. So many places to sail to and explore. The Baths,Norman Cay, Bitter End, Foxxy's, etc

BGallinger 11-09-2012 06:29 PM

Re: Abacos or BVI
I looked into chartering in Abacos. I was shocked to find out they wanted a $4500 CASH (or certified check) damage deposit on the boat in addition to the $4500 rental for a week. Then I found out I was limited to going 10 miles north, and 10 miles south from the marina. I was really interested in a charter at Georgetown, Exumas but the reviews were terrible. Go BVI!

caberg 11-09-2012 07:45 PM

Re: Abacos or BVI
Okay, thanks for the feedback. From browsing around the forum and elsewhere, it did seem that BVI is the more popular charter destination. Just don't want to be overlooking anything. With wife and kid, the actual sailing is somewhat (unfortunately) secondary to having easy cruising grounds and nice, relaxing anchorages, especially for a first charter in new waters. I had the sense that BVI has the better sailing conditions, but wasn't sure about some of the other considerations. Part of the goal is to have so much fun that wife can't wait to book the next one.

As for getting there, it's about the same travel time to either Marsh Harbor or Tortola from where I'm at, and Marsh Harbor is actually showing cheaper airfare right now. Both places have Sunsail and Moorings, so I'd think that those would be pretty consistent from one location to the other.

Minnewaska 11-09-2012 07:57 PM

Re: Abacos or BVI
In BVI you can decide everyday what you're looking for. Secluded. Popular. Beach restaurant. They have it all within a couple of hours. Abaco is very limited by comparison and, while you can sail, it is more useful for the sport fisherman.

Tim R. 11-09-2012 09:00 PM

Re: Abacos or BVI
We have been to both and like them both for different reasons. I would say go to BVI. Although there are a limited number of what I would consider secluded anchorages there but more than the Abacos. The Abacos is very shallow and wind direction will likely determine your next destination. Most harbors in the Abacos are not clean enough for swimming. Boats dump overboard because there are no pump-outs. The BVIs have enough current running through to keep them fairly clean. Definitely easier sailing in the BVIs. Less land stuff and restaurants in the Abacos but still very beautiful. The eastern side of the islands have absolutely stunning secluded beaches with some great snorkeling.

Check out my website below for more info on both destinations.

fallard 11-09-2012 11:32 PM

Re: Abacos or BVI
The BVI are the classic bareboat charter grounds, but if you want uncrowded anchorages and don't care that much for the beach bar scene, you might consider chartering out of Red Hook on St. Thomas, USVI. You could explore the north side of St. John (Leinster Bay is one of our favorite stops) and the south side is even more secluded (Salt Pond Bay, Lameshur Bays). Your activities would be the beaches and you could take short hikes. You'd be mostly on your own for meals, however. You could pick up a mooring in Caneel Bay and dinghy into bustling Cruz Bay if you want restaurants. You could do a leisurely circumnavigation of St. John in a week.

The scene on St. John is more appropriate for a 5 yr old, IMHO, than a lot of the BVI. But if you are set on the BVI and sailing out of Road Town, you might take a mooring in the Bight at Norman Island and enjoy the beach by the restaurant. Moving east, you might consider Great Harbour on Peter Island, but your next stop might be Virgin Gorda. With a young child, you might consider taking a slip at the Yacht Harbor at Spanish Town and taking a taxi to the Baths, which would be the highlight of your trip. Another stop might be Marina Cay, which also has a family-friendly Pusser's restaurant and a kid-friendly beach, but the water isn't the cleanest here. Working your way around Tortola, another stop might be Jost van Dyke. You could pick up a mooring in Great Harbour and take a taxi to White Bay, where you could get a pain killer at the Soggy Dollar Bar and enjoy their beach. The 4-course dinner at the attached Sand Castle hotel is another winner. You could check out Foxy's at Great Harbour, where you can get a meal, but it's more of an adult scene in the evening. Given your interest in gentle sailing, you need to be aware that moving in an easterly direction on either side of Tortola is going to be a slog to weather. If it's very windy you might consider motoring if you need to go any distance in this direction.

Minnewaska 11-10-2012 06:53 AM

Re: Abacos or BVI
Lots of kids in BVI, but some of the restaurants are adult scenes at night. Most are quiet during the day. The cab to the Baths is a decent idea, because you must take a mooring if you sail there and there is a time limit as well, IIRC. I've never done it, however, so I'm not sure how you get one back. It is an absolute must see stop for adults and kids. Do not miss it.

Another good spot for kids is the Bitter End Yacht Club (not really a yacht club, its a resort) at the farthest eastern end of Virgin Gorda. You can anchor off it in sand or take a mooring. They show movies, rent hobies, kayaks too I think. Nice restaurant.

BVI is the most laid back place in general. You will find plenty of places to relax and get away from it all. That's what everyone is there to do.

caberg 11-10-2012 05:31 PM

Re: Abacos or BVI
USVI is a great suggestion. Thanks. We can get to St. Thomas by direct flight. Actually, if going to BVI, we'd fly into St. Thomas and then fly or ferry to BVI. I just hadn't read much about chartering out of St. Thomas, and around St. John. Initially it seemed like a limited sailing area (assuming we didn't want to clear in to BVI, which we wouldn't on a one week charter). But, maybe crusing around St. John would be a perfect intro to the area. Looks like mostly moorings in the national park anchorages, which is good, because who wants to worry about dragging in unfamiliar water?

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