Sunsail Flotilla- Relatively Unexperienced - Page 3 - SailNet Community
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post #21 of 26 Old 05-18-2016
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Re: Sunsail Flotilla- Relatively Unexperienced

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One of the funniest things I heard was someone saying instead of charts you could use the map that was drawn on the place-mats on the table because everything is so close.
I often use post cards that are aerial photos of passes in the So Pac because the charts aren't very useful. If a ship couldn't navigate a pass, it was labeled a 'small boat passage' and left as a blank area between the two island points or reefs. Also place mats with pictures of ports, such as the Carenage in St. George's Grenada, are very handy as they give one a good visual image of a place.
In Fiji I was able to get military aerial photos of all the passes, bays and lagoons of the outlying (poorly charted) islands I wanted to visit, a real boon. I think they were a buck a pic.
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post #22 of 26 Old 05-19-2016
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Re: Sunsail Flotilla- Relatively Unexperienced

There might not be any flotillas in the summer, and many of the places in the BVI shut down in August/September and October.

Those charterers I've spoken with tend to be a bit disappointed when having the charter company do the provisioning in the BVI. Sourcing liquor, water, soda and other liquids is easy, as Caribbean Cellars and Tico will deliver straight to the boat. The grocery store is a 10 minute walk from the Moorings base and is well-stocked with names and brands you are used to from the USA (the prices are higher). I've been around the Sunsail and Moorings docks as well as those for Horizon at Nanny Cay and am always amazed at the amount of groceries left aboard at the end of charters. Usually charterers will plan big meals and BBQs and then end up at happy hour somewhere and losing all energy to cook - so they end up eating ashore.

The BVI might be chartering and sailing heaven, but they rank at around the 3rd level of hell when it comes to getting there and back. For travellers from the USA there are 2 main options - fly to St. Thomas in the USVI and take the 1 hour ferry ride across to the BVI. The last ferry is cleverly scheduled to depart before you can get to the Charlotte Amalie ferry dock from a flight arriving at 4PM, that is assuming that the schedule is being adhered to. Don't buy tickets ahead of time, since one ferry company will not honour another's tickets; just get to the terminal and ask which ferry departs next.

The other option is to fly into Beef Island. The prices for those flights are adjusted upwards and the little hop from San Juan (SJU) to Beef Island (EIS) can cost more than the whole rest of the trip. A third possibility is to fly to St. Martin (SXM) and pray to the airline gods that LIAT is having a good day and will fly you across the 90 miles of ocean to EIS both on-time and with your luggage on the same flight. I've found that the gods don't listen to me when it comes to LIAT, though.


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post #23 of 26 Old 05-19-2016
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Re: Sunsail Flotilla- Relatively Unexperienced

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Originally Posted by Zanshin View Post
There might not be any flotillas in the summer, and many of the places in the BVI shut down in August/September and October.

Those charterers I've spoken with tend to be a bit disappointed when having the charter company do the provisioning in the BVI. Sourcing liquor, water, soda and other liquids is easy, as Caribbean Cellars and Tico will deliver straight to the boat. The grocery store is a 10 minute walk from the Moorings base and is well-stocked with names and brands you are used to from the USA (the prices are higher). I've been around the Sunsail and Moorings docks as well as those for Horizon at Nanny Cay and am always amazed at the amount of groceries left aboard at the end of charters. Usually charterers will plan big meals and BBQs and then end up at happy hour somewhere and losing all energy to cook - so they end up eating ashore.

The BVI might be chartering and sailing heaven, but they rank at around the 3rd level of hell when it comes to getting there and back. For travellers from the USA there are 2 main options - fly to St. Thomas in the USVI and take the 1 hour ferry ride across to the BVI. The last ferry is cleverly scheduled to depart before you can get to the Charlotte Amalie ferry dock from a flight arriving at 4PM, that is assuming that the schedule is being adhered to. Don't buy tickets ahead of time, since one ferry company will not honour another's tickets; just get to the terminal and ask which ferry departs next.

The other option is to fly into Beef Island. The prices for those flights are adjusted upwards and the little hop from San Juan (SJU) to Beef Island (EIS) can cost more than the whole rest of the trip. A third possibility is to fly to St. Martin (SXM) and pray to the airline gods that LIAT is having a good day and will fly you across the 90 miles of ocean to EIS both on-time and with your luggage on the same flight. I've found that the gods don't listen to me when it comes to LIAT, though.
I've reduced arrival anxiety in the Virgin Island by chartering out of Red Hook, St. Thomas. You fly a real airplane there and take a taxi to the charter base. I've chartered from Island Yachts at least 8 times and have ranged from the Spanish Virgins, to St. Croix, and the BVI, of course, including Anegada. Island Yachts has Island Packets, but you can also check out CYOA in Charlotte Amalie. The only drawback is the check in/out to the BVI and check back into the USVI, but that is not such a big deal. One of the benefits of chartering out of the USVI is the opportunity to explore St. John--something the BVI charterers usually miss.
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post #24 of 26 Old 05-19-2016
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Re: Sunsail Flotilla- Relatively Unexperienced

Our first charter after taking the ASA courses was a Sunsail flotilla in the BVI. It was great to have help with learning the territory, and taking the edge off some of the tension around mooring and equipment failures. Once away from the dock bigger boats are actually easier to sail than smaller ones, and the BVi are the perfect place to sail. Do it - you will learn a lot and have a great adventure.
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post #25 of 26 Old 05-21-2016
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Re: Sunsail Flotilla- Relatively Unexperienced

Will you have crew with you? Hope so as charter companies will not allow single handed.
I thought about flotilla, but decided I wanted the freedom to choose my own course and destination.
Someone here described BVI as cruising on training wheels, which is right on. The advantage of flotilla is meeting other people, which is not necessarily a difficult thing to do outside of flotilla sailing.
Do you know about the full moon party? Makes for a fun evening ashore.
If you charter from BVI and want to go to St. John, then make sure your boat is compliant with US MSD laws.
One of the best parts of my trip was the Cape Air flight from San Juan to Beef Island. Swooping around thunder heads at low altitude was fabulous, even though a few passengers were quite white knuckled and one woman was petrified. Remember a twin Cessna is to an airliner as a sailboat is to a cruise liner. Ther are reasons for both.
Flotilla or not, it can be great fun and a marvelous learning experience.
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post #26 of 26 Old 06-07-2016
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Re: Sunsail Flotilla- Relatively Unexperienced

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Originally Posted by fallard View Post
.....That means you should be able to read charts and read the water to stay off the reefs. The only popular areas where you need to read the reefs are the entrance to North Sound (Virgin Gorda), the area around Marina Cay, including the passage between the Camenoes, and--most certainly--the approach to Setting Point (Anegada).
.
And Trellis Bay....I have pics of credit card sailors trying to rock their 45' rental off whatever lies shallow between the Last Resort and the last mooring ball.

We have only been during full moons or New Years just to hit the beach parties.


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