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post #1 of 48 Old 09-01-2017 Thread Starter
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BVI First Time Concerns

I'm sure this has been addressed, but am having trouble locating any specific information. I am looking at doing a bareboat charter in the BVIs through Conch Charters on their Benetau 323 next June. Right now, it would just be my wife and I doing the charter. Experience wise, I have ASA 101, 103, and 104. I sail regularly on inland lakes. I owned a Catalina 22 for three years and now have a Catalina 25.

My concern isn't sailing a boat that size....I did my 104 class on a Catalina 30. My main concern is mainly docking/anchoring/mooring. The crux of my question is when doing a charter, what is the ratio of mooring to anchoring to docking while out on charter? We utilize mooring balls on the lake I sail, so I am relatively comfortable picking up a mooring ball. However, I rarely anchor so that gives me some concern if I need to do it on charter (and when I do anchor it is for a short period of time). Docking I think I will feel comfortable.

From what I have read, most of the popular places have moorings but you have to get in relatively early to get a spot. Should I be expecting to anchor a lot and should it give me any concern? Anything else I should consider? This will be my first charter.
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Re: BVI First Time Concerns

BVI.. you can figure about 100% mooring unless you arrive a bit late to a popular mooring field.. then, have a plan for moving to the next bay and a different mooring. The availability of moorings varies during the seasons.

I know you're not comfortable dropping anchor.. but get shallow, put out plenty of scope, after it sets, bear down a bit. I always trust the anchor way more than any mooring. I don't sleep as well on a mooring for sure. The worst thing about anchoring in the BVI's is all the fricken mooring fields.

Docking.. you'll be at the dock twice. when you arrive, and when you leave.
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Re: BVI First Time Concerns

On our trip to BVI we did mooring balls every night. I didn't want to anchor because I was unfamiliar with bottom conditions there. For all I know, I'd drop the hook on a coral reef and get assessed a big fine. We had one night when we got the last mooring ball in the field (at Trellis Bay), but we were arriving late. Unless you're there in holiday season, it should not be a problem.

Docking is a non-issue, as long as you have the skills to slowly pull up to the fuel dock. Upon returning Sunsail required that I do this, and their guy just jumped on to take her into the slip. At the beginning, they also pulled the boat out of the slip for me because it was windy and the bow was getting pushed over in the wrong direction. So if you're uncomfortable pulling into or out of the slip, just ask them to do it for you. They'd probably prefer it that way because they'll get you out of the fairway and into the slip a lot faster then if you do it yourself.
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Re: BVI First Time Concerns

If you are not comfortable anchoring then this cruise you should anchor every night. I would include every lunch stop but many are great snorkeling spits like The Indians where you r required to pick up a mooring ball.

Treat a charter boat as a Rent-A-Car where it's doesn't really matter it you run over a kerb. Use it to. Learn many facets you can't on your home puddle. I would include getting outside the islands into some rough water. Damn fine experience.
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Re: BVI First Time Concerns

Mark has some good advice on using the time to get comfortable with new things. I will put my anchoring technique down below, but you must have done it in 104. The only caveat is that you should ask/understand what ground tackle is available aboard. At least one bareboat I had in the BVI (I think it was Horizon), forbid anchoring. Sure enough, the ground tackle wasn't very substantial.

If you arrive in most mooring fields before 2pm, you'll like get a mooring. An exception is Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke, the home of Foxy's, where noon is the likely deadline. But you can anchor in 50 ft of water just south of the mooring field. Many do. I have several times. Or move around the corner to Little Harbour. Personally, I prefer to sail in the morning anyway, so I can enjoy where I'm going in the afternoon.

Here's my anchor method.

First, determine your scope. What's is the distance from the top of your bow roller to the sea bed at High Tide. Note, this is not the number on your depth sounder. Ask if the depth sounder is set to display water under keel and add your draft, if it is. The this has to be adjusted to high tide, plus the distance from the surface to your bow roller. This is 1X scope.

Motor into the wind, to your drop location. Coast up to it. It's least stressful, if you find a spot that does not have another boat in your lee. If that's not possible, be sure to allow enough room to fall back on your rode and not end up on top of their anchor, if possible. Not always possible. Drop 2X scope.

Let the boat drift back in the wind. You will likely end up sideways at some point. When the bow begins to point back into the wind, you've straightened out the rode, so it's not all bunched on top of the anchor (presumably). Let out another 2X and wait again for the bow to come around. At this point, put the engine in idle reverse to insure the anchor sets. I'm sure you learned to take a bearing on something. I also like to see the SOG on the GPS go to zero, keeping in mind that swing may show a tenth of knot, on and off.

If she is set, then shift to neutral and let out a total of 5X for all chain rode, or 7X for rope (you already have 4X out). Sometimes, it doesn't set on the first try. Don't feel like you might if you botched a docking. Failed sets happen regularly, pull it up and try again. Once the full scope is out, then back down on the anchor with your engine in higher revs, to be sure it is set well. You may want to set a snubber, prior to this high rpm set. More scope is always better, but if you have neighbors, it more appropriate to leave it to these, as that's what they should be doing and moving in unison is necessary.

Stay aboard for at least 30 mins to be sure all is good. In the BVIs, you should be able to snorkel over most anchorages and see your set visually too. I also recommend downloading an anchor alarm on your smartphone or tablet. One with a persistence line will show if you are dragging.

Finally, don't be afraid to take a longer dinghy ride to position yourself in a less stressful anchorage spot. It kills me to see everyone all bunched up as close to shore as possible. However, the most protected spots have filled up with moorings, so you may see some fetch the further out you get.

Enjoy it. The BVIs are the simplest place to sail between islands that I can think of.
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post #6 of 48 Old 09-02-2017
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Re: BVI First Time Concerns

Minne is such a sook.
The real way to anchor off Foxys is to drive the boat very slowly, v e r y slowly until you hit bottom. Back up 10 feet and drop the anchor and jump into the dinghy go for beer.

What's so difficult about that??

Experienced people drive faster.

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Re: BVI First Time Concerns

I've never chartered before, so maybe I'm ignorant ...

But I would think the charter company would have information about common destinations and the like? If _I_ owned a charter company, I would have entire booklets on how to best enjoy your time on our boat in our cruising grounds. Since a lot of charter companies seem to have close associations with sailing schools (when they aren't outright the same thing) I would also expect them to offer combination packages: i.e. a 1-day anchoring course then charter the boat for the rest of the week.

Maybe I'm just more customer focused than most?
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Re: BVI First Time Concerns

Since you're using Conch you wont have to do any docking at all, even the first and last day. At least that was my experience with them. A staffer takes the boat off the dock with you aboard, and has you pick up one of their mooring balls, I'm assuming to make sure you know how. A dingy then comes and picks him up.

Same deal with the last day. You call them and they tell you to grab a mooring and a dingy drops off a guy that brings it in to the fuel pumps to fill 'er up. I've only chartered with them once, but I assume this is their standard practice unless they judged me as an inexperienced dock-crasher or something and gave me special dumb-dumb treatment.

That only leaves you with having to dock if you need fuel during the charter, which is highly unlikely unless you're doing a whole lot of motoring.

One piece of advice for you I wish I'd had: Bring lots of cash, or at least get all you'll need ashore before you shove off the first day. We erroneously assumed all the various islands would have ATMs. They don't.
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Re: BVI First Time Concerns

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnewaska View Post
Mark has some good advice on using the time to get comfortable with new things. I will put my anchoring technique down below, but you must have done it in 104. The only caveat is that you should ask/understand what ground tackle is available aboard. At least one bareboat I had in the BVI (I think it was Horizon), forbid anchoring. Sure enough, the ground tackle wasn't very substantial.

If you arrive in most mooring fields before 2pm, you'll like get a mooring. An exception is Great Harbour on Jost Van Dyke, the home of Foxy's, where noon is the likely deadline. But you can anchor in 50 ft of water just south of the mooring field. Many do. I have several times. Or move around the corner to Little Harbour. Personally, I prefer to sail in the morning anyway, so I can enjoy where I'm going in the afternoon.

Here's my anchor method.

First, determine your scope. What's is the distance from the top of your bow roller to the sea bed at High Tide. Note, this is not the number on your depth sounder. Ask if the depth sounder is set to display water under keel and add your draft, if it is. The this has to be adjusted to high tide, plus the distance from the surface to your bow roller. This is 1X scope.

Motor into the wind, to your drop location. Coast up to it. It's least stressful, if you find a spot that does not have another boat in your lee. If that's not possible, be sure to allow enough room to fall back on your rode and not end up on top of their anchor, if possible. Not always possible. Drop 2X scope.

Let the boat drift back in the wind. You will likely end up sideways at some point. When the bow begins to point back into the wind, you've straightened out the rode, so it's not all bunched on top of the anchor (presumably). Let out another 2X and wait again for the bow to come around. At this point, put the engine in idle reverse to insure the anchor sets. I'm sure you learned to take a bearing on something. I also like to see the SOG on the GPS go to zero, keeping in mind that swing may show a tenth of knot, on and off.

If she is set, then shift to neutral and let out a total of 5X for all chain rode, or 7X for rope (you already have 4X out). Sometimes, it doesn't set on the first try. Don't feel like you might if you botched a docking. Failed sets happen regularly, pull it up and try again. Once the full scope is out, then back down on the anchor with your engine in higher revs, to be sure it is set well. You may want to set a snubber, prior to this high rpm set. More scope is always better, but if you have neighbors, it more appropriate to leave it to these, as that's what they should be doing and moving in unison is necessary.

Stay aboard for at least 30 mins to be sure all is good. In the BVIs, you should be able to snorkel over most anchorages and see your set visually too. I also recommend downloading an anchor alarm on your smartphone or tablet. One with a persistence line will show if you are dragging.

Finally, don't be afraid to take a longer dinghy ride to position yourself in a less stressful anchorage spot. It kills me to see everyone all bunched up as close to shore as possible. However, the most protected spots have filled up with moorings, so you may see some fetch the further out you get.

Enjoy it. The BVIs are the simplest place to sail between islands that I can think of.
Ah yes, the late afternoon, sundowner charterbeater show at Great Harbor. Totally scoured bottom, no good holding. And in come the boats to take up the limited space, and, ultimately, drag down on each other, in various stages of intoxication.
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post #10 of 48 Old 09-02-2017 Thread Starter
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Re: BVI First Time Concerns

Well this certainly eased my fears. I guess I should be more concerned about other drunks than actually anchoring!

Guess I'll go ahead and book this charter and have some fun!
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