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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Any one have any tips for sailing Spanish Virgin Islands. I'm heading out this week from Fajardo. I'm familiar with BVI and Windwards, but have never been to this cruising ground. I'll probably sailing as far east as Jost Van ****, because the girl has a love affair with BVI, but I'm interested in any must sees in SVI. Thanks!
 

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We did it just after Thanksgivings in 2012. We stayed in the SVI the whole time, but had a good time. Some points:

-- Everything to the east is uphill most of the time. (Keep that in mind if you really go all the way to JVD). But it's downhill on the way back. Van Sant's "Thornless Path" book has some good route pointers to cut down on the upwind slogs.

-- At least in 2012, there were no places to dock a sailboat of any size in the SVIs, short of going back to Fajardo. That means if you need to refill water, you get to schlep it in jerry cans. That can get old pretty fast. A watermaker would be nice.

-- The nicest beach on Culebra (Playa Flamenco) is not the best place for a cruising sailboat. But there's a footpath to it over the hill from the small beach on the northern west coast. (I don't recall the name off hand.)

-- In 2012, several of the restaurants on Culebra were closed. It looked like they were getting ready to reopen. Hopefully they did. The week after thanksgiving, Culebra had pretty much rolled up the streets.

-- We really enjoyed Vieques. If you are there during a new moon, do not fail to take a bioluminescent bay tour. Esperanza has some nice restaurants and bars, but not the best anchorage. Sun bay, just to the east, is a good anchorage, but access back to Esperanza could be better. (You can dinghy out out between bays, but it can get a bit rough).

-- If you are chartering, SailCaribe in Marina Puerto Del Rey is one of the best charter companies out there.
 

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If the weather is calm enough, there is a band of small islands that separate St. T. from PR, ocean side, that are great places to stop. Fantastic snorkeling and fishing, crystal clear water and very few boats. I believe they are called the "cordillera", but I don't have a chart handy.
 

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We spent a week this season. Good anchorage at pretty Ensenada Sun Bay, between the bioluminescent bay and the town of Esperanza. You can dinghy to the bio bay from there, but can be choppy going around the point at punta negra, and (obviously) dark on the return. Try to rent a car to tour the island. Worth a trip to the old fort.

In Culebra we found Ensenada Honda to be great. We anchored near town but there are a lot of other anchorage choices within. Walk thru town to the ferry terminal and take the first shuttle bus out of town to the beaches. Bahia Tamarindo for the turtles, then walk to Flamenco Beach just to see it.

Culebrita looked inviting as we passed by, but north swells when we were there prevented us from anchoring.
 

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We sailed between St. Thomas/ St.John and the SVI in 2011. We used free moorings in Ensenada Sun Bay, Vieques, and on the south side of Culebra, on the south side of Culebrita, and inside the harbor at Culebrita. We anchored in Ensenada Honda for access to restaurants, provisions, and water in Dewey. The Dinghy dock will sell you water which you can ferry to your boat in jerry jugs that you can buy from the chandlery down the street.

A note of caution: Bahia Salina del Sur, Vieques, was indicated in our cruising guide and on our Garmin electronic chart as an anchorage, but inside was a large white "no anchoring" buoy advising of unexploded ordnance. We didn't need any other encouragement to move on!

Recommend you get the Virgin Islands cruising guide by Seaworthy publications. As of 2011 it had the best coverage of the SVI. We also carried the more familiar Guide to the Virgin Islands by the Scotts. We also had a GPS with Eastern Caribbean charts for peace of mind in negotiating the reefs by Culebra and Culebrita. BTW, Culebrita was our favorite spot in the SVI.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the great advice guys! Had a great time out there. After reading your comments and going through the chart briefing at SailCaribe, we decided to stick to the SVI the whole time. Culebrita was a great day stop. Isla Palmino was also a nice little island, but we found that although it looked like a hopping destination during the day, the bars/restaurants all close up at 5:00 as they are only open when the ferry from El Consquistador resort is running guests over there. Ensenada Honda I enjoyed a lot too - Dinghy Dock was a great place for some after dinner cocktails and partying. SailCaribe had informed us that they had two boats drag moorings in the last few months, so we just anchored most places, unless we were there just for the day. This was apparently a terrible year for the biobay and we were dissuaded from doing the tour by locals, but luckily we saw it in our own anchorage in the dinghy wake returning from Esperanza. All in all, I think it was one of the best cruising grounds I've done for a 7 day trip. It had multiple destinations without the burden of checking in and out of immigration 3 or 4 times like I've dealt with in the Windwards, but also got some really different scenery everyday, unlike spending a week a bouncing around the Sir Francis Drake Channel. Two thumbs up for SailCaribe as well, great outfit.
 
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