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Minnewaska 11-13-2012 12:46 PM

Bvi - usvi- svi
 
We're really noodling on a plan for the winter. Scheduling is probably going to require we book close to departure and have seen threads on LateSail.com. I would be interested to hear more about them or other places you think are good for last minute booking or deals.

We love the BVI and probably default to going back. However, we've been thinking that a USVI trip may be easier and marginally less expensive. We can fly direct to STT and would be more comfortable getting right aboard. We usually grab a hotel before or after a BVI cruise or both, to avoid stress getting to the ferry or connection flying from Tortola.

Another thought about USVI is seeing St. John's, which we've passed often but never landed.

We're also intrigued over sailing to Calebra off Puerto Rico. It doesn't seem far, but I'm not sure about typical passage conditions. Is anyone familiar with this? I wouldn't think we would have to deal with customs going from USVI to Puerto Rico, but island rules can vary. Do charter companies object?

TakeFive 11-13-2012 02:19 PM

Re: Bvi - usvi- svi
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Minnewaska (Post 947744)
We're really noodling on a plan for the winter. Scheduling is probably going to require we book close to departure and have seen threads on LateSail.com. I would be interested to hear more about them or other places you think are good for last minute booking or deals.

We love the BVI and probably default to going back. However, we've been thinking that a USVI trip may be easier and marginally less expensive. We can fly direct to STT and would be more comfortable getting right aboard. We usually grab a hotel before or after a BVI cruise or both, to avoid stress getting to the ferry or connection flying from Tortola.

Another thought about USVI is seeing St. John's, which we've passed often but never landed.

We're also intrigued over sailing to Calebra off Puerto Rico. It doesn't seem far, but I'm not sure about typical passage conditions. Is anyone familiar with this? I wouldn't think we would have to deal with customs going from USVI to Puerto Rico, but island rules can vary. Do charter companies object?

We're sailing out of Tortola (Sunsail) this January - our first all-sailing vacation down there. We thought briefly about Island Charters or CYOA, but decided for our first time to do Sunsail, with their "double reef week" discount.

We've done land based vacations on St. John 2 of the last 4 years, and LOVE the island. For those vacations we stayed at Maho Bay/Harmony Studio eco resort, which has a nice anchorage and very reasonably priced dinner pavilion. It's not at all fancy, but getting a multi-course dinner with salad bar and ice tea for ~$20-24 is almost unheard of in a resort area. Their art/glassblowing demonstrations and lessons are also really cool. The network of interconnecting boardwalks to get around the property is very cool to see. The resort has a very neat, summer-camp like vibe about it, which may or may not be to your liking.

I mention this only because Maho Bay resort has lost its lease for the land it sits on (not for lack of trying by the resort owner) and the land is in the process of being sold, presumably to a more commercially minded resort developer. The eco resort will close May 2013. So if you have any interest in visiting this trendsetting resort, you would want to do it on this trip.

Zanshin 11-17-2012 04:59 AM

Re: Bvi - usvi- svi
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by TakeFive (Post 947774)
...I mention this only because Maho Bay resort has lost its lease for the land it sits on (not for lack of trying by the resort owner) and the land is in the process of being sold, presumably to a more commercially minded resort developer. The eco resort will close May 2013...

That is very sad news, despite (or perhaps because of) all those steps to get to the top of the hill for meals and to get to the shuttle bus I love that place. Mahoe will not be the same once that the eco resort disappears!

firecracker 11-17-2012 08:47 AM

Re: Bvi - usvi- svi
 
Hello, when arriving to culebra from st thomas or st croix you have to clear customs.
watch out for the reef south of culebrita

Minnewaska 11-17-2012 09:03 AM

Re: Bvi - usvi- svi
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by firecracker (Post 949604)
Hello, when arriving to culebra from st thomas or st croix you have to clear customs.
watch out for the reef south of culebrita

I was afraid that was the case. Odd for US citizens traveling from one US territory to another, though. Have you had to do so?

firecracker 11-17-2012 09:15 AM

Re: Bvi - usvi- svi
 
It is because st thomas and st croix are duty free. uscg now requires a cruising permit thats ia good for one year, meaning jan to dec. It dont cust much. Once you have it you can check in over thw phone on arrival.there is a station at the airport. I recomend you get the permit before hand.

TakeFive 11-17-2012 10:03 AM

Re: Bvi - usvi- svi
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Zanshin (Post 949572)
That is very sad news, despite (or perhaps because of) all those steps to get to the top of the hill for meals and to get to the shuttle bus I love that place. Mahoe will not be the same once that the eco resort disappears!

Maho Bay's design has nothing to do with the problem. They continue to be profitable under the current lease. The land owners decided to sell and put an out-of-reach asking price on the property. The land has been on the market for 4-5 years. They've tried to get nonprofit foundations who are committed to the environment to buy the property, but the price is apparently too high.

FarCry 11-17-2012 03:47 PM

Re: Bvi - usvi- svi
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by firecracker (Post 949615)
It is because st thomas and st croix are duty free. uscg now requires a cruising permit thats ia good for one year, meaning jan to dec. It dont cust much. Once you have it you can check in over thw phone on arrival.there is a station at the airport. I recomend you get the permit before hand.

It is impossible for the OP to get the permit for a boat he is chartering. Ideally the charter boat will already have the US Customs Decal Sticker on it https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/list/kw/BOAT%20DECALS

If the boat does not have the sticker, they will just have to go in to the office and pay the $35 fee. Not a big deal either way. To clear in with just a phone call, the boat must have the sticker and all aboard must be US citizens. CBP can still request that all persons present themselves or have the boat inspected. That doesn't happen often but it does happen.

FarCry 11-17-2012 04:06 PM

Re: Bvi - usvi- svi
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Minnewaska (Post 947744)
We're really noodling on a plan for the winter. Scheduling is probably going to require we book close to departure and have seen threads on LateSail.com. I would be interested to hear more about them or other places you think are good for last minute booking or deals.

We love the BVI and probably default to going back. However, we've been thinking that a USVI trip may be easier and marginally less expensive. We can fly direct to STT and would be more comfortable getting right aboard. We usually grab a hotel before or after a BVI cruise or both, to avoid stress getting to the ferry or connection flying from Tortola.

Another thought about USVI is seeing St. John's, which we've passed often but never landed.

We're also intrigued over sailing to Calebra off Puerto Rico. It doesn't seem far, but I'm not sure about typical passage conditions. Is anyone familiar with this? I wouldn't think we would have to deal with customs going from USVI to Puerto Rico, but island rules can vary. Do charter companies object?

Can't help you with any last minute deals. CYOA is about 10 minutes from the airport and most of their boats are available to take to the PR Islands. They do not object to their boats going there but they do have more requirements for boats heading that way then they do for boats staying in the USVI and BVI. Island Yachts (Island Packets only) is about 45 minutes from the STT airport. I'm not sure what their policy is for taking boats to SVI.

St John (no S) has beautiful beaches and is a much more laid back place to spend time than much of the BVI. Typically people spend more time eating on board as the shore is not very commercialized with beach bar/restaurants. The SVI is even more laid back than St John/USVI. On Culebra and Vieques there are gorgeous undeveloped beaches with great snorkeling. You must be more independent there as there is really no place to buy fuel or water for your boat and one must plan more accordingly for provisioning. You may be able to spend days in a bay with a beautiful beach and have nobody else around. It's all in what you are looking for. From CYOA to Culebra/Culebrita is about 15 miles and is usually DDW taking 2-3 hours. Coming back can be uncomfortable, to put it nicely. There are some converging currents making for very confused seas if there is a strong north swell running with a strong easterly wind. I've made the trip back and forth from Fajardo, PR dozens of times and it can be really pleasant from Culebra to St Thomas but that is the exception. My worst trips have taken more than 4 hours of green water rolling over the cabin top of 50'+ monos (including a 54' DS:D) and 43' cats to make that 15 miles against the sea and prevailing current. Watching the weather can typically negate that miserable scenario.

Enjoy your trip wherever you go.

fallard 11-17-2012 06:24 PM

Re: Bvi - usvi- svi
 
If you really miss the BVI, but want to sample the USVI, you can split your charter between the USVI and the BVI. Assuming you are starting from the USVI, you don't have to check out of the US, but you'll need to check in to the BVI, where you have to check out, but you do this at the same time. It isn't a big deal, but you'll pay for BVI cruising and park permits. You can check in at Sopers Hole (ferry terminal) or Jost van Dyke. It shouldn't take very long. We've checked in at Spanish Town, and that was more time-consuming, perhaps because they don't see as many charters.

Coming back to the US, you'll check in at Cruz Bay. The easiest way to handle this is to take a park service mooring between Lind Point and Caneel Bay and dinghy in to Cruz Bay--and don't forget your dinghy lock. The US insists you check in before landing on US territory and that everyone shows up (unlike the BVI), but it's free, unless you've tied up at their dock (which you can do, but isn't worth it, IMHO.)

Check with the charter base about the procedures for the SVI. As FarCry has said, its several hours from cruise ship heaven (Charlotte Amalie). If your charter boat doesn't have a chartplotter, you ought to bring a portable one of your own. I have used a Garmin Oregon with the Eastern Caribbean chart chip and it was well worth it for the peace of mind. The reefs around Culebra and Culebrita demand your attention.

The Seaworthy guide to the Virgin Island is recommended if you go the the SVI, but note that there are areas at the southeastern end of Vieques that may still be off-limits, despite what your guide or the anchor symbol on your chartplotter indicate. In particular, Bahia Salina del Sur had a buoy in 2012 indicating it was a "no anchor" area due to an unexploded ordnance hazard.

The good news about the SVI is that it is relatively uncrowded and very laid back. There are numerous public moorings and they are free. Fuel and water are inconvenient, unless you enjoy ferrying jerry cans, which the charter bases don't provide. However, you can buy jerry cans at the chandlery in Dewey on Culebra, where you'll also find decent provisioning and a number of restaurants. Your next best bet for restaurants is Esperanza on Vieques, which has a room to anchor but very poor holding. We gave up and picked up a mooring in Sun Bay, but be warned: it's a long dinghy ride in the dark when you leave the restaurant after dinner.

The SVI are blessed by the relative lack of development, which means there is a lot of natural scenery and few other boats, compared to the BVI. So if your baseline is the BVI, you might start off by sampling St. John first. If you like the relative quiet of St. John, you might then try the SVI on your next charter. BTW, the return trip from Culebra or picture-perfect Culebrita is an uphill slog. Forget your sails and use the motor, unless you have plenty of time and like to beat to weather for hours on end.


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