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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Chartering > Our first bareboat charter BVI 2014
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Topic Review (Newest First)
07-30-2013 01:53 PM
newtoav
Re: Our first bareboat charter BVI 2014

I got back two days ago from my first BVI charter, and I had many of the same reservations the OP has. The short answer: Just go, it's really quite easy sailing, the islands are close by and there is lots of infrastructure (mooring balls, charter company help, other boats) to help you if you get into a tight squeeze. You seem to be better prepared than most, and you know what to expect having been there before!

The longer answer, touching on some of the topics here in the thread:

1) The islands are really tightly grouped together. From Road Town, the tech support boats can be at any of the islands (except Anegada) within one hour. That's a real safety net, should you need it (but you most likely won't).

2) Moorings - we found the moorings to be in good shape, generally. Some had the floater for the eye hook missing, and picking up the line was more of a challenge, but in general they were fine. Granted, it's low season and we had lots of choice. Picking a mooring up is straightforward, it's all about giving the 'hooker' time to do their bit, and that means stopping the boat right next to the mooring ball and keeping it there. Easier said than done initially, but after some practice, not hard. There were days we picked up three moorings, so you do get to practice.

3) The wind blows steady and pretty hard sometimes. We didn't see more than 20kts, but that is not an insignificant amount of wind - I'd recommend being comfortable reefing, and reefing early to be conservative and enjoy the ride.

4) Mechanical failures - we had a failure in our standing rigging (!), which prevented us from sailing for a day. Our charter company came out and fixed it in about 30 minutes. It's nice to be close to base.

5) Line of sight, charts and grounding - Getting familiar with the chartplotter / GPS and your own charts is important - but it's really not hard to navigate the islands. Running aground if you are even just a little careful should be avoidable entirely. It seems like OP is a very careful person, and you won't have trouble with this.

6) Anegada - no one has mentioned it, but it's so totally worth it if you like beaches and peace and quiet A little more tricky getting into the harbor, but not terribly. And worth it. Oh, and beautiful.

7) We had other issues, a blown bilge pump, a lost (and recovered) dinghy, burned out anchor light. You know what - it's all part of the adventure. Just go with a good charter company that can help you out of a tight squeeze.

8) Other sailors - everyone out there was incredibly helpful, whether helping us look for our dinghy (long story) or giving us navigation tips, etc. You won't be alone!

Hope this all helps - have a blast!

Jorge
07-30-2013 07:39 AM
Zanshin
Re: Our first bareboat charter BVI 2014

If you know how to anchor, then I would recommend using your ground tackle rather than a mooring ball in the BVI if you have a choice. Many of the anchorages now have so many mooring balls that finding a spot to anchor outside of the mooring ball field is quite difficult (I anchor in 50-60 feet of water in The Bight on Norman Island, deeper than most charer boats have sufficient chain for).

The reason is that the mooring balls are not always well maintained by Moor-Seacure and because so many charter boats will run over the pennants and mooring lines and fray the lines. Many boats have broken their moorings in light weather and benign conditions. Below is a picture of a mooring that I took after I watched an (empty) charter catamaran break free of its mooring in about 5 knots of wind and managed to get aboard and get it moving before it hit any other boats. With the help of some other boaters we moored it elsewhere and the charterers who returned after dark had a bit of trouble finding their cat!



Companies such as Moorings now require that at least one person capable of driving the boat remain aboard at NPT Moorings such as at the Baths on Virgin Gorda, where Moorings lost a boat a year or two back due to a broken mooring.

Some anchorage in the BVI have bad holding and a mooring ball is a great thing - Great Harbour on Jost van Dyke to name one.

The waters are so clear and warm in the BVI that diving on the visible portions of a mooring system make a pleasure out of a necessity.
07-29-2013 06:11 PM
CaribDream Everyone is super encouraging. I really appreciate it. I am really looking forward to this.
07-29-2013 06:08 PM
CaribDream
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cap'n Russ:1066053
I would much rather pick up a mooring than drop anchor, if I had a choice. Even though I've anchored many times, I am constantly on the lookout for my anchor slipping. Even when sleeping, I will automatically wake up every 2-3 hours to check on the anchor. In a slip or on a mooring, I sleep like a baby. :-)
I agree. The captains on crewed charters I have taken always said they personally would rather be on their own tackle. But being relatively new, I'm with you - I would feel a little better about being on a mooring. Maybe once I have all the sea miles these pros have I'll feel differently.
07-29-2013 02:50 PM
Cap'n Russ
Re: Our first bareboat charter BVI 2014

I would much rather pick up a mooring than drop anchor, if I had a choice. Even though I've anchored many times, I am constantly on the lookout for my anchor slipping. Even when sleeping, I will automatically wake up every 2-3 hours to check on the anchor. In a slip or on a mooring, I sleep like a baby. :-)
07-29-2013 02:34 PM
denverd0n
Re: Our first bareboat charter BVI 2014

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaribDream View Post
I think my main worry for the first time is accidentally misreading a chart and running aground, or getting into heavy weather. I will be the first to admit that at this stage of the game I consider myself a fair weather sailor.
It's pretty easy to avoid running aground in the BVI. If you've been through the ASA classes then you've learned more than enough about how to read a chart. You just need to use a little care, pay attention, and remember that the chartplotter is only an aid to navigation, it is not a substitute using your eyes and your brain.

As for weather, it's not likely to be bad, but one of the things about the BVI is that everything is pretty close by. See bad weather coming? Head for a secure anchorage and sit tight while it blows over. No big deal.

I would also say that I think most of those who are new to picking up a mooring probably over-think it. I know we did. In reality, it's pretty easy. The biggest trick is to get the boat to stop where the person at the bow can grab the pendant with the boathook. The first couple of times my wife either didn't give it enough reverse (so the boat went past), or gave it too much (so that we started backing away). Again, no big deal; we just went around and tried again. After a couple of times she had it down perfect.

From then on picking up a mooring was easy. Pull up, stop, pick up the pendant, thread a dock-line through it, cleat off, done. Piece of cake.

I'm sure everything is going to go fine for you and by the end of the first day you will realize that all of your concerns were for naught.
07-29-2013 02:12 PM
denverd0n
Re: Our first bareboat charter BVI 2014

Quote:
Originally Posted by CaribDream View Post
Could you go into more detail on the mechanical issues? This is the type of stuff I would love to hear about in other's experiences.
I'm not the one you were asking, but... My wife and I chartered with Sunsail in the BVI last November. We had a problem with the alternator on the third day. The battery wasn't charging when the engine was running. Called the base, they sent someone out, problem fixed within an hour or so (loose ground wire). Absolutely no big deal.
07-29-2013 02:04 PM
CaribDream
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cap'n Russ:1066022
I've found it immensely helpful to use a pair of FRS walkie-talkies for coordination between the helm and the bow during anchoring or picking up a mooring. I took my sister and her family on a week-long bareboat charter using a Beneteau 393 and the radio made talking my sister through setting the anchor, something she had never done before, far more productive and successful. Something that wouldn't have happened if we had had to shout at each other. :-)
I've heard many like this means of communication. When we did our ASA training, our school taught us to have a well thought out system of hand signals for anchoring or picking up a mooring. The benefit here being that one isn't dependent on another 2 electronic pieces functioning properly, and they can sometimes be hard to hear in adverse conditions. But, everyone has their preference and I can certainly understand why some would prefer radios.

I think my main worry for the first time is accidentally misreading a chart and running aground, or getting into heavy weather. I will be the first to admit that at this stage of the game I consider myself a fair weather sailor.
07-29-2013 01:46 PM
Cap'n Russ
Re: Our first bareboat charter BVI 2014

I've found it immensely helpful to use a pair of FRS walkie-talkies for coordination between the helm and the bow during anchoring or picking up a mooring. I took my sister and her family on a week-long bareboat charter using a Beneteau 393 and the radio made talking my sister through setting the anchor, something she had never done before, far more productive and successful. Something that wouldn't have happened if we had had to shout at each other. :-)
07-26-2013 03:41 PM
MarieTheBitter
Re: Our first bareboat charter BVI 2014

you will be absolutely fine...but you'll probably witness a Credit Card Captain or two providing you with mooring-side entertainment, especially if you go to Trellis Bay for a Full Moon party... yes, "Ruby", I am talking to YOU

if I may add from my own experience, if you have good friends you think will be able to tolerate being stuck on 40ft. of boat with you (and each other) for a week, try and convince them to go. We did just that for our last two trips and it was "the best vacation ever" all around.

Having designated "hookers" and some extra galley help really is a great thing. Just set expectations correctly...a bareboat trip is not a luxury cruise, more like camping on water.

Make a tentative itinerary or list of "really want-to-see's" with lots of alternate destinations based on where whim and wind take you, and RELAX.

If you do your own provisioning, Rite Way is awesome, and Tico is great for drink orders.

The little store in Great Harbor on Jost or the market in Cane Garden Bay are great for stocking up mid-trip.

Have FUN!!!
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