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Discussion Starter #1
My family and I are interested in chartering a boat in the BVI over Christmas. I have heard that the winds pick up at this time of year making for rougher sailing throughout the Caribbean. I am interested in hearing about the experiences of anyone who has sailed in BVI at this time of year. Thanks
 

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Christmas winds are definitely there. However, quite a bit of the BVI is somewhat "protected" and you can get around quite well without getting the crap knocked out of you. Your charter company should fill you in. Reef early, reef deep. Party on St. John tonight. Asta lavista, baby...
 

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''R'':

I realize mine is a minority report of sorts, but after just transiting the entire Eastern Caribbean, I have to admit one of the areas we found the least satisfying were the BVI''s. Great clear & warm waters plus good (or better...) sailing breezes, to be sure, but you can find these in many, many other areas of the Caribbean. I found a small ''critical mass'' of culture & interesting island heritage (compared e.g. to the French West Indies islands, or Trinidad), huge mooring fields check-to-jowl with boats (most of them charters - no offense intended) while anchorages were more difficult to find & remote anchorages especially difficult (but possible) to put the boat into. The people were great, but then they are almost everywhere.

Were I you, I''d consider chartering out of Martinque or Grenada or Bequia, provided I was allowed to sail up/down the island chain some distance. This will give you protected waters (in the lee of the N-S line of islands), vigorous but short ocean passages between islands, an intersting blend of French/formerly British island cultures, each unique in their own right, and a huge selection of interesting spots to visit ashore. Get a small scale chart of the E Caribbean and then plot the charter company locations. Le Marin on Martinque, the S end of Grenada and perhaps Bequia (in the middle of the St. Vincent & the Grenadines - SVG) would be my choices. But in return for this advice, you owe me a toast aboard the boat, preferably with a wonderfully tasty yet inexpensive French wine.

You are correct in wondering about the Christmas Trades, as they''re known. Prevaling winds that time of year are 15-30, tending ENE to ESE, but more the former. Just accept that the main will live with one reef; the furling jib should be a 110-120, which will be plenty & possibly even furled a bit. Enjoy!

Jack
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Most of your sailing will be in the Drake channel so you won''t be getting any seas to speak of, just reef if you need to....
The other problem you may have will have to do with finding a mooring for the night since Xmas week is one of the highest in charter season and the BVI anchorages are somewhat rare...so leave early, reef early and you''ll be fine.
Now if you really want to have a great vacation got to the Grenadines....
 

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If you can''t find a mooring due to the Christmas crowds, be prepared to anchor in 20-30 feet of water.

It''s hard to run aground in the BVI. It''s even harder to get 5-1 scope!

Fortunately, most of the charter yachts have lots of chain and windlasses.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Christmas is a great time for cruising in the BVI. Lots of boats are out and additional moorings have been added each year to accomodate the demand.
There is also plenty of room to anchor and plenty of wind. The usual trades blow at 10-20knots and the XMas winds may or may not appear. If they do the wind may blow at 25.
Easy solution is to reef the main and roll in the jib a little. Drakes Channel is protected from heavy seas and the sailing is excellent.
We have sailed there every year for the past 10 years and will be back again this year.
Bert Cohn
 
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