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Greetings! My wife and I will be taking two other couples on a bareboat charter in the BVIs Dec 30-Jan 7 (very limited budget so we are squeezing onto a Beneteau 403). I did a week long charter in June 2002 and this will be my first time back so I am seeking some advice.

1. How crowded are the anchorages in high season? Is it hard to find a mooring ball or room to anchor?

2. I know the wind should be stronger at the beginning of January than in June. What are the seas like in the Drake channel in winter? How is the visibility in January when snorkeling/diving?

3. Do you have a favorite secluded anchorage during high season?

4. We are flying into St. Thomas at 12:30 pm. Would you recommend that we catch a 2:00 or 2:30 ferry to West End and grab a taxi to Road Town or wait until 3:30 or 4:15 and take a ferry direct to Road Town?

Thanks in advance for all your help! I'm sure I'll post more questions later. :)

Matt
State College, PA
 

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1. the anchorages can be crowded so don't wait until 3pm to roll on into a popular anchorage

2. winter months you can get some rolly anchorages due to swell so that will be more of a concern than the seas.

3. not telling (lol)

4. wait for the RT ferry...taxi from WE to RT is a fortune (can be $25 a person at least)
 

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If you must have a mooring, the earlier you arrive the better. 2pm is our deadline, which also works in most places in New England too, btw. In the BVI, you shoudn't be more than a few hours from your next stop, it would be silly to travel the length of the channel in one day, although, I admit to having done it. Sail in the morning and plan to spend the afternoon relaxing at your destination.

It might depend on whether any are late sleepers. A 40 ft boat should be adequate for 6, as long as they are all tolerant of differences. Sleeping schedules and preferences for how tidy they are (especially on vacation) can cause stress. Too often, someone feels like they are pulling more weight because they get up earlier to get the boat ready, they are doing all the cooking and cleaning, etc.

We traveled with a schedule one year. Everyone had a different job each day. One was yours to clean below, another to clean the cockpit, cook, etc. It worked okay, however, not everyone can cook. However you decide it should work, I suggest all have an understanding before you leave.

As far as anchorages, I wouldn't be concerned about dropping the hook at all, particularly in <20kt winds that should remain directionally steady, unless there is a storm. Just be sure you have enough rode for the depth. The water is so warm and clear that it is very easy (and advisable) to snorkel down to the anchor to be sure it is set well. I've known some that have set the tip with their hands and reboarded to back down on it again. Then relax.
 

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Good posts above but what I found out when chartering a boat with other folks is that it can be a problem with a single dinghy. Some folks want to eat on shore some want to stay on the boat.

We did two things to help with this problem. We rented a 2 person kayak and I brought my portable Icom VHF. This way we had 2 modes of transportation and could also coordinate shuttling with the VHF and anyone who remained on the boat.
 
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