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kutsyy 05-03-2013 01:31 AM

First time chartering in BVI flotilla with kids
Hi all,

Sorry for simple and general questions, but I really need help on where to start.

We are thinking about chartering with sunsail BVI flotilla in July. We have 2 kids (10 and 12) and we've sailed San Francisco Bay (J105).

Since we've never chartered before I am thinking about going with flotilla. We also want to stay extra week after the charter on Virgin Gorda. I already ordered cruising guide to bvi, but if you can point me to any other info, it would be great.

In particular, questions I have:

given that we have kids, recommendation for provisioning (I do have 18 page order menu from Bobby's, I just need to fill it in :) )?
can we fish from the boat and eat that fish?
what should we bring with us (we are bringing snorkeling).
what extras should we get from sunsail?
should we look into other companies?
any other recommendations/comments?

Thank you,


snmhanson 05-03-2013 02:05 AM

Re: First time chartering in BVI flotilla with kids
Your kids will have a blast. I don't think a flotilla is a bad idea for a first trip down. Navigation is generally not too tough down there, but a "guided tour" will give you the lay of the land and prepare you for your next trip. As far as provisioning, I'd focus on getting plenty of breakfast and lunch food. We often eat dinner ashore. If you want to eat dinner on the boat I guess just get dinner food as well. We can usually find a place to re-provision every few days, but you may not have that flexibility in a flotilla. In any case, you are not going to starve in the BVIs if you run light of food. Fishing off the boat is fun, but be very careful what you eat. Many of the reef fish can give you ciguatera poisoning. We have never gotten it, but from what I hear it could completely ruin your trip. Unless you are an expert at identifying types of fish I would just catch and release - or at least bring it in to shore and have some of the local experts advise you on if it is an acceptable fish to eat. For extras you might consider some water toys. Maybe kayaks or SUPs, depends on what your family is in to. As far as charter companies, I am sure you can find a perfectly acceptable boat at Sunsail. If you aren't set on the flotilla you could look into some of the smaller companies such as TMM or Horizon. Voyage is also a good choice if you want to sail a cat. Finally, I would consider whether you really will want to be land-based for the second week. There is a lot to see around the BVIs and one week on a boat is not nearly enough time to see it all. You may want to consider keeping the boat for a second week and venturing off on your own. You should be perfectly comfortable sailing there after one week with the flotilla. If it was me I would probably be itching to set off on my own after a week with the flotilla. Remember, you can always go to Hawaii or Mexico and stay at a resort, condo, villa, etc... Not many other places where you can be in a different harbor every night on your own boat.

Hope that helped!

Yorksailor 05-03-2013 02:21 AM

Re: First time chartering in BVI flotilla with kids
Sailing and navigating are all very simple compared to the Bay...A flotilla would be very restricting. Not necessary if you have the sailing skills, ie can raise the sail and get to the next anchorage that is 3-5 miles away.

We are there at the moment and rarely eat out because of the cost. The Bitter End on Virgin Gorda has a great water sports program so the kids would really enjoy the place...


denverd0n 05-03-2013 09:18 AM

Re: First time chartering in BVI flotilla with kids
I believe that if you want to fish you will have to have an additional license. Ask Sunsail about that, they will know.

kutsyy 05-03-2013 10:26 AM

Re: First time chartering in BVI flotilla with kids
Could you give me some ideas on what to eat for breakfasts and lunches? For dinners, can we get take out from restaurants and eat on the boat? It is disappointing about the fish :(

As for flotilla, I am not worried about sailing part, but since we've never chartered before I thought it would help us to understand what to do (i.e. what do we do when we come to a new bay?) also to have someone in case of emergency (we do have 2 kids who never slept on the boat before). Schedule seems to be restricted and not exactly what I would do, we are really into say snorkeling (not doing diving from the boat, at least this time) and not that much into say seating in the restaurants (I can do that at home), but I am just worried to go without knowledge that there is someone who is checking on you. I am been too paranoid?



OxKaufman 05-05-2013 03:47 PM

Re: First time chartering in BVI flotilla with kids
Hi. I live on Tortola and have sailed extensively around here. I say skip the flotilla, just plan your trip around the cruising guide. You're pretty safe catching and eating fish caught north of Tortola. Make sure you have a license or they might grab your boat. You can call me to chat about your trip at (773) 609-3311 or (284) 443-7111. I'm traveling to the States on Wednesday or would meet you down here.

nodders 05-08-2013 01:04 PM

Re: First time chartering in BVI flotilla with kids
We charterred for the first time in February, using conch charters out of Road Town. We were a bit concerned about going out on our own, it being the first time we had chartered. Our fears dissapated with 10 minutes of departing road town.

Very easy sailing, line of sight navigation, generally protected waters, lots of balls to hook up to if you are uncomfortable anchoring etc. Our departue tinme seemed to coincide with a whole bunch of other boats going in the same direction which we didn't like, so we changed our route and loved it! The guide book is great and all you really need other than some decent charts (we used Garmin charts on our Ipad and they were great).

jimgo 05-08-2013 03:26 PM

Re: First time chartering in BVI flotilla with kids
I've visited The Bitter End Yach Club twice now, and if you decide you want a land-based vacation that includes sailing, that's the way to go. I've been told that they have some of the best food on Virgin Gorda, too, though I've only eaten there so I can't tell you for sure (though it was pretty good).

Tanley 05-08-2013 03:39 PM

Re: First time chartering in BVI flotilla with kids
You'll get a lot of good responses here, but if you haven't found it yet also check out There's a forum that's very specific to the BVI's:

Traveltalkonline: Viewing forum: British Virgin Islands

Tim R. 05-08-2013 04:36 PM

Re: First time chartering in BVI flotilla with kids
Don't do the flotilla. If you have sailed SF Bay, you will be fine. I doubt the flotilla would be any benefit to your children. We just got back from our St. Patty's day charter. We did 1 week on the boat and 3 days on Tortola. Tortola was great to explore and we loved the Sugar Mill Hotel. Beautiful small boutique hotel. Here is a link to our re-cap and video:

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