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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest > General Discussion (sailing related)
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Old 05-29-2011
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Cruising Virgin Islands

We're looking for suggestions for a short cruise to the Virgin Islands. We'll be jumping off from Fajardo in Puerto Rico and have only about 7 days total. We'd probably stop at Culebra on the way out and optionally Vieques on the way back which would use up perhaps 3 days of the total. With the time remaining we'd like some suggestions within the USVI or BVI. Our guests will be two 16 year old boys. I realize that this question is pretty generic without knowing their (to be determined) likes and dislikes. We do know that they are both SCUBA certified so at least one dive would be a possibility. Basically, we'd like to hear about any 'must see' spots. Thanks for any suggestions.
Pete
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Old 05-29-2011
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i was on viegues about 40 years ago when the marine corps used it as an artillery range,there my be unexploded shells left so be careful,the water there is fantastic,you can see the bottem at 40 ft and it looks like 5,i'm sure its changed a lot since then,plz post an update when you return
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Old 05-29-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sawingknots View Post
i was on viegues about 40 years ago when the marine corps used it as an artillery range,there my be unexploded shells left so be careful,the water there is fantastic,you can see the bottem at 40 ft and it looks like 5,i'm sure its changed a lot since then,plz post an update when you return
Thanks. One can take the ferry from Fajardo to either Culebra or Vieques for $2 ($1 seniors). We've been several times by ferry. I believe the dangerous areas are restricted so there's not much chance of stumbling on unexploded ordnance these days.
Pete
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Old 05-29-2011
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thats very good to hear,like i say i'm sure a little or a lot of things have changed before it wasn't uncommon to see goucho's minding their herds and i believe there was only one small village on the entire island,if possibe plz post some pic's when you get back.thanks ken
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Old 05-29-2011
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Bioluminescent Bay

If you overnight on Vieques, Mosquito Bay is a must see. Last time I was there, you could only do this on a guided tour, where they use electric powered boats. On a good dark night, it's spectacular. They let us swim in it, and up close the waves of light look more like diamonds. It's one of those remember for a lifetime sort of experiences.

You want to time it for a new moon if possible. Failing that, no more than a crescent moon. I don't think the tours even go out on a full moon.


Island Adventures Biobay Tours, Vieques Island - Puerto Rico
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Old 05-29-2011
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If you leave from Culebra, a trip to Jost Van Dyke is between 30 and 40 nautilcal miles depending upon your departure point and course. You can easily do that during daylight hours if the wind cooperates.

Unless you need to provision, I would skip the USVI and Tortola and go to JVD first to visit Foxys, White Bay (Soggy Dollar), and other points of interest. You can clear customs in Great Harbour. At least you could a few years ago. I doubt that has changed.

After that, make time for diving on the Rhone, which is just off Salt Island. There are plenty of other places of interest in between (The Baths) depending on available time.
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Last edited by CaptTony; 05-29-2011 at 10:24 PM.
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Old 05-30-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptTony View Post
Unless you need to provision, I would skip the USVI and Tortola and go to JVD first to visit Foxys, White Bay (Soggy Dollar), and other points of interest. You can clear customs in Great Harbour. At least you could a few years ago. I doubt that has changed.
Do I detect a bias in Capt Tony's recommendations? Methinks, the man likes his beach bars! (But there's nothing wrong with that.)

Where to go depends on what you're looking for -- if you want to spend time in a small town with little to offer other than a well known beach bar, a harbor full of charter boats on $30 moorings, and lots of drunk yachties, then head on over to Jost van Dyke.

On the other hand, if you're looking for peace, quiet, natural beauty, great walks ashore, $15 moorings, great snorkeling....St. John's your place. Best spots are the bays on the south coast and Francis/Maho Bay on the north coast. In these bays it's possible to dinghy to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean and have dinner ashore in the inexpensive restaurant of the Maho Bay Campground. Watermelon Bay, also on the north side of St John is also a great place.

I'd also recommend Christmas Cove on the west side of Great St. James (?) Island on the SE corner of St. Thomas. Moorings here are free and it has some of the best snorkeling in the VI (around the small island between the mooring fields and at the north end of the cove.)

If you're looking for some "big city" action, anchor for a night in the harbor at Charlotte Amalie. Duty free shopping, several good bars and many good restaurants ashore. Old Danish-era architecture gives the place a nice feeling when there are not too many cruise ship passengers around.

Culebra is a fun stop for a night. (I recommend dinner by dinghy at Mamacita's on the canal just west of the bridge). Culebrita is also a good place to visit in settled weather, low winds, and no swell from the north.

Distances are manageable from the east end of PR, if the trades aren't blowing very hard. My memory suggests that it's 20 miles to Culebra, 20 more to Charlotte Amalie, 12 more to St John -- all to windward.

On the way back to PR watch out for the reef sticking out on the south side of Culebrita / SE side of Culebra. It has some of BR's bottom paint on it!

If you're up for Capt Tony's haunts, you can still clear in and out at Great Harbor, Jost van Dyke.
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Old 05-30-2011
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If you visit St Johns beware of the restrictions on anchoring in the national Parks areas. Note the contradictions!

Quote:
Mooring permits are not required for any public moorings or National Park moorings and day use is free. Public moorings are not intended for overnight use and the National Park has a fee for night use. Mooring permits are issued to an owner of a registered vessel. In order to obtain a permit for anchoring or mooring an applicant is required to apply in person, through a resident agent or through any representative duly authorized to complete application procedures in the owner's behalf. A first time applicant is required to submit with the application a current colored photograph of the vessel and an affidavit executed by the applicant fully setting forth the facts to support the applicants claim of ownership. Source: Section 405-1 Application Instructions and Procedures for Mooring.
Max of 14 overnights a year in the park I believe.

I felt that I was being harrasssed in the USVI on more than one occaision. Benner Bay Christmas Bay and St Johns in each case I was anchored in a reasonable spot well clear of any channel and was told to move immediately [within 10 minutes]

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Old 05-31-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billyruffn View Post
Do I detect a bias in Capt Tony's recommendations? Methinks, the man likes his beach bars! (But there's nothing wrong with that.)
Jost Van Dyke can be a fun place to relax and party after a long sail from Culebra. The Soggy Dollar is well known, if not world wide, at least in this hemisphere. Every time I have taken a boat there, the crew has had a fantastic time and said they would go back for certain. But Billyruffn is right. If that kind of thing is not your "bag," avoid it and Great Harbour where Foxy's is.

By the way, there are lot of Soggy Dollar videos on Youtube if you are curious about the place.
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Last edited by CaptTony; 05-31-2011 at 08:53 AM.
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Old 06-01-2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TQA View Post
If you visit St Johns beware of the restrictions on anchoring in the national Parks areas......Max of 14 overnights a year in the park I believe.

I felt that I was being harrasssed in the USVI on more than one occaision. Benner Bay Christmas Bay and St Johns in each case I was anchored in a reasonable spot well clear of any channel and was told to move immediately [within 10 minutes]
Sorry to hear you were hassled while safely anchored. There are several nature reserves where anchoring is prohibited. You may have wandered into one of these.

There are restrictions, and in some places prohibitions, on anchoring around St. John. On the south side of the island anchoring is prohibited and use of the for-fee NPS moorings is required. In other areas, anchoring is permitted outside the mooring fields, but the $15 / night fee still applies. Boats over 65 ft are required to anchor, as the moorings are not rated for larger vessels.

The confusing statements about a permitting process probably have nothing to do with the NPS moorings. The system basically works like this: if a mooring is available you pick it up. At some time during your stay you locate the "pay station" in the bay (often a pontoon float with a green NPS flag on it) and make your payment (cash or credit card) into a lock box. No one will come around to collect, so if you want to cheat the system, it's really easy to do so. I think there is a limit on the number of continuous days you can spend on a mooring, but I've never heard of it being enforced. I spent 30 days or so in this areas this year and never once saw the NPS boats "visiting" moored boats. (I did see them get after a mega yacht that had put some of it's jet skis in the water). Of special note to senior cruisers -- if you have a NPS seniors card, available for those 62+ for a one time $10 fee -- you get a 50% discount on the mooring rate. You can get the card at any national park, including the VI park HQ at Cruz Bay, St John.

The move to moorings in the USVI has generally been made to help restore the seabeds in the park / nature reserve areas. The coves / bays around St John / St Thomas very often have sand bottoms which is covered by sea grasses. The grass is one of the major food sources for sea turtles and conch. The grass beds of Christmas Cove, for example, were badly torn up by dragging anchors (or people who like to set an anchor by seeing if they can pull it out of the sand with max rpm on the engine) -- you can still see long plow marks in many areas of the cove. Having observed theses bays over a number of seasons, I've concluded that the effort to "save the grass" is working and the sea life is responding. On an average day you'll probably see several turtles in most of these bays. This year I saw many more conch crawling around than ever before. This is particularily true for the bays on the south side of St John were anchoring has been prohibited for many years.

I'm generally take a dim view of government regulating things like where I can anchor my boat, but in this case I think the restrictions are in place for good reason and the results that were hoped for are being realized. One of the more memorable moments of my grandkid's visit to St John was seeing the turtles swim past the boat in Maho Bay. And, unlike many things for which the gov'mt charges a fee, the moorings in the National Park are of uniform high quality and are very reasonably priced, which is something I can't say about most public moorings elsewhere in the Caribbean.
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