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I use the Navionics app while boating at home (and the online free charts at http://webapp.navionics.com) for planning trips so I figure I'll use these tools to preplan for our charter in the Caribbean. Anyone have experience preplanning their charter routes? What should I consider? Where are your favorite spots in the BVI?
 

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I have used Navionics charts on an iPad to plan trips to the BVI and also for navigation (not really needed but easier for me than learning the boat system). No experience with online versions though.

We like

Anegada - great beaches, restaurants and bars. Good beach snorkeling (at Flash of Beauty on Loblolly Bay). Relaxed and not crowded.
White Bay, Jost Van Dyke. The young adults like all the action. Not relaxed, busy....

There are so many more places. TravelTalkOnline is a good place to read and ask for recommendations.
 

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Anegada was my favorite spot. We rented a “car”, which was actually an old pick up truck and drove around the island. Cow Wreck Beach was my favorite beach on the island. The reefs were decent for snorkeling, but not great. It was a drift dive where the current would bring you down the beach.

It seemed a lot of the charterers would race from Island to Island and only spend part of the day at each or even just a few hours at each spot. I preferred going to fewer spots, but taking the time to explore them. If you don’t see it all it gives you a reason to go back.
 

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Not for nothing, those of us lake sailors don't generally get decent winds/sailing like the BVIs do all the time.When the wife and I went, I wanted to Sail first, and swim/explore second, so that's what we did.

Pre-planning takes some of the "fun" out of the adventure. With the exception of Anegada, the sailing is completely easy and line of sight. Anegada is due north compass heading from Virgin Gorda, so sail about 3-4 miles north of it on a clear day and you'll start to see Anegada on the horizon. See chart for pin (which is well offshore and west) to steer for entrance in, channel is quite well marked but also shallow.

Given the last time we were down we chartered "small" at 35 feet and "mono" we actually had to wait for winds to drop to 27 knots to make the longer trip up to Anegada. We did stay there 2 days to explore.
 

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I don't know how much 'pre-planning' one can do for the BVI. I think the wind, weather, and crowds will have a lot more to do with when and where you moor than any plan you might choose. Pick up a copy of the VI cruising guide and play it by ear.
As the kindergarten of sailing destinations, it doesn't require any difficult sailing or pre-planning. Relax, that's what limin' time is all about. The charter company should supply all the info you could ever want, during the check-out.
 
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I haven’t checked them all, but it seems most charter websites have suggested itineraries. Having chartered in the Virgins perhaps 10 times over the years, we’ve covered the BVI, USVI (including St Croix), and the SVI. Some of our destinations required more experience than others and I would agree with capta that the BVI generally is the “kindergarten”, so if you simply want to chill out, stay with the BVI and skip the check in process for visiting St John, which otherwise is a real treasure (unless you like beach bars.)

So,other than the standard itineraries suggested by the charterers, we especially liked visiting the Baths after taking a slip at Virgin Gordy Yacht Harbour and staying overnight. You can get water and provisions on site. You can take a taxi to the Baths and visit them in a more civilized (i.e, dry) manner. You also have a couple of good restaurants available by taxi, Like Coco Maya and Top of the Baths (at least as of 3 years ago.). Norman Island is a fun stop, with a decent restaurant and an interesting hiking trail. Anegada is also a fun stop, but is not “line-of-sight” going out. Little Harbour on Jost Van Dyke is a quieter alternative to Great Harbour (Foxy’s) and you can take a taxi to White Bay to check out the scene, including dinner (reservations) at the Sand Castle.

All that said, you’ll need to get updates from the charter base on the local scene after the horrific hurricanes a few years ago.
 

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"Kindergarten" it maybe for some, but there's plenty of great sails there.

Preplanning helps you get the lay of the place but overplanning may reduce your fun.
You might be able to get to the next anchorage in 2 hours and grab the first mooring ball.... But it may be much much better to do some longer sails, stop for lunch, do an afternoon sail. The trick with this is to be prepared to use the anchor because the moorings might already be taken. Anyway, anchoring gives you much more experience than just picking up a yellow blob and paying through the nose for it. :)


Mark
 

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We were in the BVIs right after Irma, in Feb 2018, agreed with Fallard, check locals for what is really open, but I imagine most of it is back now.
 

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It's good to have something of a plan, so you have an idea of how best to maximize your time there. But, stay flexible and adjust to the conditions and your whims, if that makes sense. It makes sense to do some research now before you go, especially since the Hurricane damage.

From the Moorings, I've usually taken a counter clockwise route around. Stops can vary with each trip. Everyone will have their favorite stops. You'll have to discover yours, that's part of the fun. That said, We usually did a morning stop and then an afternoon/overnight stop.

I've found that getting to your evening stop by 2 p.m. if you can, provides the best chance to more easily find an open mooring.
We're up early! We don't burn daylight, sleeping.

We've done the Baths on the 1st morning, ( if you don't want to swim ashore take a cab from North sound) then head to North Sound and the Bitter end, But the BEYC was destroyed and is in the process of rebuilding. Not sure what the mooring situation is. Someone here may have recent knowledge or call.

You can head to Anegada from there. get a ride to the beach, Get the Lobster dinner! Then around to Cane Garden Bay, I like the beach there and Myett's, but if there's a big swell or a cruise ship is in it's less attractive. Then Across to Jost Van Dyke. ( Foxy's ) Then Sopher's Hole for water, fuel, breakfast, shopping, Then the Indians for Snorkeling, then Norman Island ( and the Caves) ( Willy-T) for the evening, which gives you a nice crossing back to home port on departure day.

Norman, Jost, North Sound, all have nice hikes/walks. From the top of Norman Island you can see St. Croix. Have Fun!
 

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My suggestion is to do some research here, read the cruising guide (below is a link) and chose a few more destinations than you have time for. Each morning, over coffee, pick from it. While wind direction is fairly constant, wind speed really isn’t. I’ve been in everything from calm to a gale there. Depending on sea state and wind, you may want to be tucked behind the island in the channel, or go outside and around.

What you should see depends on your taste. Are you beach bars or sand bars? Both works. Personally, I suggest folks hit the more popular spots on their first trip. They are popular for a reason. When you inevitably end up in a conversation back home, with someone else who has been, it’s more fun to share the experience than say you skipped them. On the other hand, you can’t get to them all in one trip.

Let us know your style and suggestions will pour in. You can type this following phrase into a google search box and you’ll get countless threads on the subject here....... site:sailnet.com bvi

Personally, I’m not a fan of Anagada, unless you plan to layover there for more than a day. It’s tricky to get in and some charter companies charge more for insurance to go, or limit your coverage. Check yours out. For that matter, there are all kinds of variables with the charter ops down there. Ask away, if you have questions.

I think the kindergarten comment is unnecessarily disparaging. I go there on vacation, I have nothing to prove. The idea that most everything is line of sight and one can fully sail to their next island destination in a few hours is relaxing, while still sailing on vacation. In a week’s time, we sail everyday, but don’t need to sail all day. Enjoy the trip.

Cruising guide....... https://www.amazon.com/2017-2018-Cruising-Guide-Virgin-Islands/dp/0997854006

There may be a recent edition and you will have to research what’s open. We were there in Feb and most was open, other than on Tortola, which we avoid anyway. You should try to meet the guy on the cover, Foxy, before he dies. He’s a legend there. Very funny. He’ll literally tell you the same jokes he’s told for decades...... island dog.
 
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I have not and probably will not charter in the VI's... but I've sailed past / thru them and spent a couple of weeks in Tortola before I was a sailor.

A charter is a limited time with the same starting and ending destination... and in the case of the VI's lots of islands/anchorages to visit with usually great weather and wind. As Minni suggested get out a cruising guide... determine which destinations/anchorages appeal to you... guesstimate the times to get to that location from the one you are... and then wing it. Some like the shore side stuff of whatever flavor... others the great sailing... and some like both. If you haven't figured which you like... once you jump in you'll figure it out pretty soon... and you'll discover there is no right, wrong or best plan. Usually there are more appealing options than time permits... so you'll be thinking about going down again before you've even left!
 

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I think the kindergarten comment is unnecessarily disparaging.
I think you kinda missed the point of the comment.
For many, this is their first leap into the great unknown beyond their home cruising grounds and the thought can be just as daunting as it is exciting.
However, as you and everyone else has pointed out, most everything is line of sight and one can fully sail to their next island destination in a few hours or less. There are no major currents (Hell Gate anyone?) or tides to deal with. It is almost impossible to run aground unless you are completely incompetent, blind drunk or color blind, never mind can't read a chart or a cruising guide.
Almost all the sailing is between two island groups, therefore you just don't get the big ocean swells sailing the rest of the Caribbean can produce.
So, you may call my comment, which I completely stand by, disparaging, but I'd like to think it would bolster the confidence of those first-timers unsure if their skills are up to the task.
 

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Whether it is kindergarten or not, Virgin Island sailing allows you to tailor each day for whatever you feel like when you wake up in the morning. You can get out of the channel and enjoy bigger waves if you want but equally stay in calmer waters. I did not read it as disparaging but suppose it would be possible to read it as suggesting that grown ups don’t sail there. We recently passed through on our way from Antigua back to New England and found it just as appealing as when we used to sail there more of the time.

For anyone who is wondering about North Sound on Virgin Gorda, the Bitter End Yacht Club does not exist in any physical form right now but everything is being built in Central America to be shipped in at the end of the year and they expect to be up and running by start of 2020. Leverick Bay is completely up and running (and Hog Heaven at the top of the hill, with arguably the best views in the Virgin Islands, is still doing the best ribs in the region). Saba Island is mid construction and apparently will be ready for the new season.

Soper’s Hole in the West End is still on its knees. The pervasive smell of sewage seemed to have abated slightly but really best skipped until they have a chance to sort themselves out.

USVI and Puerto Rico (including Culebra and Vieques) are completely up and running - the only real evidence of the hurricanes is the lack of green foliage. At Cruz Bay, the CBP office is still under construction (and customs house on JvD similarly)
 

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I think you kinda missed the point of the comment.

I'd like to think it would bolster the confidence of those first-timers unsure if their skills are up to the task.
Got it now. Probably a better way to describe that point, as I took it to mean, meant for children.

On the other hand, while many of us would navigate there with a beer in one hand, sandwich in the other and foot on the wheel, I know lifelong sailors that have never sailed outside protected water or ever picked up a mooring. Even competent sailors may find some of the cruising elements foreign enough that planning ahead has more value. I’ve personally sailed, in a gale, in SFD channel, which was spirited. Still, I would not be rigid, nor overestimate the degree of difficulty, which I get was your point.
 
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Capta, I didn't take the comment as disparaging... I'm on vacation, I want easy and fun. I go myself cause its easy, fun and I can still say, nope, we're staying an extra day, cause those rum punches were S-W-E-E-T!

Its fun to take a challenging sail to, but the spousal unit likely would not agree. BVIs = easy means wife = happy. Also the sailing ain't half bad if you wanna do that too.
 

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Speaking only about my experience...The first time that I chartered in the BVI..2005..I bought my own set of waterproof paper charts from Nautical Charts. They came as a set covering the BVI, USVI, and SVI. I had courses laid in with pencil for many scenarios.
There are a few incredibly positive things to be said about this...not the least of which is that it's good Seamanship to have a backup to electronics and Most importantly, to be informed of your waters and its hazards.
But I won't mention that. [HA!]
What I absolutely LOVE..this many years after 3 BVI Charters...is having these charts in my hand..with all of the routes, and corrections, and "Event" notes written on the charts the day that they happened...etc. INow that I own a boat, I may never be able, or want to, charter there again.
There is NO digital equivalent of this...and That makes me smile...
This is also a suggestion to keep a log...be sure to include the mundane and people related ...this is what will matter later.
Plan well...plan Sparsely...then only use it as a suggestion.
Being a good Captain, Anywhere, is exercising good judgement in a changing scenario..
Being a good Dad, or Mate, is making it look like it was never a big deal...it's about Fun...safely.
Patrick
 

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I doubt @capta can remember what its like to be doing ones first full week in unfamiliar waters, on an unfamiliar boat, with an excited mob of friends or family bouncing off the walls, just after he has thrown his Credit Card in the deep end with a HUGE fee if he bangs the boat up.

I know plenty of places to bang into there, plus drag the anchor... like, has *anyone* ever anchored in Road Bay and NOT dragged????????????? The fastest way to get from Customs to the Moorings base is to anchor outside Customs!


BVI's are good :)
 

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Pre-planning takes some of the "fun" out of the adventure. With the exception of Anegada, the sailing is completely easy and line of sight.
"In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."
-- David Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States, Supreme Commander Allied Forces Europe, Principle Architect of Operation Overlord and a guy who knew a thing or two about plans.

Accordingly, I plan each cruise, including cruises I've made dozens of times, until I think I'm ready.

Not sure I've ever actually followed a plan, but it wasn't because there was no plan. If nothing else, you won't find me trying to sail against the tide under the Agate Pass Bridge again.
 

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No plan has ever survived the first shot in battle. You prepare, but can’t plan.

Or as the philosopher, Mike Tyson, once said, “everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face”
 

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I agree, plan your trip and become familiar with your route before you go, especially if you are new to cruising.
 
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