Charter Capital of the Caribbean

Sailboats, gleaming, beautiful boats--a sailor's dream! Big and not-so-big, bareboat and crewed, you-name-it, it's here in the BVI!

crewedcatalogueannemariesloopicon2.jpg (6726 bytes)Let the mainsail fill, like a great wing, streaming past tropical isles!
Tighten the jib sheet, close-hauled, and steer with the mainsheet until the helm is balanced, and let it sail itself, straining with the wind and at one with the sea.

Or let an experienced crewed-charter captain sail the boat. Click on the image of the Anne Marie 2 to go to information on Crewed Charters.


Below: Anchoring, Charter CompaniesCommunications, Cruising GuideItinerariesLocation of Charter Boats, Marine Forecast, Provisioning, RatingsSleep-overs & Getting ThereWeather.
Sailing Guide: Bareboat & Crewed Charters, Day Sails, Stay & Sails, Sailing Schools, Online Course.

tmmbareboatvacationslogoicon.gif (2327 bytes)Chartering is the means for the boatless masses to acquire the basis for engaging in the leisure sport of the wealthy. Ironically, the modern day rig of the old-time privateers, i.e. the Bermudan or jib-headed sloop, noted for its speed and handling, is the favored charter boat today.

And fine craft they have evolved into from the flow of racing technology to the cruising fleet. Easy to sail with roller furling and lines running back to the cockpit, these sailboats are also designed for spaciousness and livability above and below, with easy access to the water via ladders and swim platforms built into the stern.
conchcharterslogoicon.gif (4298 bytes)The finest designers in the world compete to incorporate fabrics, features and convenience into these elegant seagoing homes.

Charter Companies. The charming logos you see here will take you to various BVI charter companies, which often have descriptions of their fleets with rates.

Three couples can charter this magnificent sailing yacht, a luxurious, three-cabin sloop with fine polished wood interior for as little as $52 a person each day from BVI Yacht Charters.
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Beneteau 393

Charter Company Ratings. A Cruising World Guide and its older Charter Scorecard describes and rates charter boat companies.

Charter Companies and their Location in the BVIs.
Most BVI bareboat chartering companies are in Road Town Harbour and nearby locations on the Sir Francis Drake Channel or inland side of Tortola.
Barecat Charters at Fat Hog's Bay.
BVI Yacht Charters, Ltd. at Port Purcell in Road Town.
The Catamaran Company at  Wickham's Cay in Road Town.
Conch Charters at Ft. Burt Marina in Road Town.
Footloose Charters at Wickham's Cay II in Road Town.
Horizon Yacht Charters at Nanny Cay.
The Moorings at Wickham's Cay II in Road Town.
at Maya Cove.
TMM Bareboat Vacations (email) at Road Reef in Road Town.
Virgin Traders at Nanny Cay.

Sleep-overs and Getting There.
Many companies allow charterers to sleep over the night before a cruise. Also, companies may provide transportation to and from the airport or ferry. Check with your charter company at booking. Locate your charter company and go to the Tortola Tour map to find that location. Here how to get to and from the BVI and more useful information about customs, currency, etc.

Provisioning. Planning a week long or so cruise? Here's some advice. Crystallize your dining habits. Pack and carry with you light non-perishable favorites that may be hard to obtain. Determine the number of meals to be eaten out, expecting to have some exciting dining-out adventures.

Plan in some quick and easy, flexible food options, such as breakfast or lunches. Expect to purchase fresh baked goods, pastries, condiments and deli items in places like the North Sound, Cane Garden Bay, Jost Van Dyke, Soper's Hole, Virgin Gorda's Yacht Harbour and Anegada. See Groceries & Provisions in the BVI for details. Remember RTW, Riteway's wholesale outlet, is near Virgin Gorda's Yacht Harbour for serious mid-trip provisioning.

MaverickSeaFareCover2.jpg (5690 bytes)Plan the meals to be cooked onboard, considering Caribbean style cuisine for some portion of the dishes, seasonings and purchases. A must-have little book for this is Maverick Sea Fare: A Caribbean Cookbook, whose receipes are all the result of the onboard experience of a charter chef. See a review here.

Fortunately, many charter boats carry a special bundle of tropical spcies and condiments from Sunny Caribbee (if not, ask to be sold yours--see Greg, who is always pleasant to deal with--he'll fix you up!).

For tried and true entrees or side dishes, consider cooking enough for more than one meal at once or even preparing them at home, then freezing each item separately in baggies themselves stuck in a little cooler that is itself frozen and then carried on the plane.

Buy major provisions, bulky liquids and initial fresh baked goods at the Riteway Supermarket, The Ample Hamper, K-Mark Gourmet Galley (see Groceries & Provisions in the BVI). Expect to consume double what you ordinarily do. Refrigerate only the next couple of drinks ahead at a time.

Refill water tanks of your boat at charter company locations on the inland side of Tortola (free from your own charterer). Other locations to refill water tanks include the Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour in "The Valley," Marina Cay, Soper's Hole and the North Sound at the Bitter End, Saba Rock, Leverick Bay, and Biras Creek.

Itineraries. Here are sites with itineraries with photos of visits to the BVI. This is a group at Quito's Gazebo on Cane Garden Bay.
Gary Kunkel has descriptions of his trips--at left is Mary Lou at the helm. See Ginny's BVI Sailing Notes.  Here's Susan's "Best Present." And a fun video with 'On a Boat' song.

Anchoring and Moorings. Moorings are increasingly popular to prevent dragging and to preserve coral. Plan to anchor about 3 PM in the BVI so to have moorings available in good light. Some prefer a spot further out, e.g. 75 yards windward of shore to keep bug-free while others like to be close in. Jost's Great Harbour (lots of dragging), Marina Cay (use Trellis Bay if full) and especially Cooper Island's Manochieel Bay (with no easy back up) fill up early, while there always seems to be room in the North Sound. Generally, a 5 to 7:1 scope is best. See list of anchorages with overnight moorings (18" white balls costing $20-30). See Mooring System for National Maine Parks (photo below:

Marina Cay Anchorage

Reading a Reef. Reef and other bottom colors impart information about depth (also consult a cruising guide or nautical chart):
10' or less--either very pale green over sand
                 --or light brown over rocks and coral.
15-25'--light green or turquoise/brownish over rocks/coral.
50' or more-deep blue/lighter over sand.

VHF radio uses the following channels:

Channel 16 for distress and hailing (then switch),
Channel 68 or 6 for general conversation ship-to-ship,
Channel 3 for weather,
Channel 12 for charter company-to-yacht operations,
Channel 27, 84 for Radio Tortola (4-4116), and
Channel 25, 85, 87 for Virgin Islands Radio (6-8282)
(both radio co. will place calls and hold messages).
Restaurants monitor 16 or 68 generally.
Cell phones are usually on boats to call the charter base (info). Cellular phones are available from Boatphone.
See general information on BVI phone and cell phone use.
Internet "harbour" hotspots sold here
. Also available here.
For marine emergencies, use channel 16 or 22A for US Coast Guard (499-6770) or *CG *24 (cell phone) or call 999 or 911 for VISAR (494-4357 or 494-HELP). See VISAR rescue.

Weather Patterns. The trade winds, controlled by the Bermuda High, dominate the weather.

  • During the November through January winter months, the prevailing wind is 15-20 knots from the northeast.

  • On and off all winter, the famous "Christmas Winds" blow at 25-30 for several day periods. These winds are induced from the pressure gradient between strong highs set up over the Eastern US/Western Atlantic and  lows in the SW Caribbean between Venezuela and the Panama/Columbia Coast (source: The Caribbean Weather Center).

  • Beginning in February and finishing in June, the winds move from northeast to southeast when 10-15 knots can be expected.

  • During September and October, the trade winds are unsettled and weakest. These months are considered the height of hurricane season, although the nominal season is June through November; however, the BVI is in an historically low expectancy area of the Caribbean.

  • KarlMerlein02ShowPoster.jpg (12951 bytes)Late summer through fall (August through November) is the BVI's strongest rainy season. However, rain squalls can occur at any time. Watch for approaching dark squall lines and drop sails and motor if in doubt. It's time for a free shower!

  • Average high temperatures range from 85 to 90 with the highest in July through October; average low temperatures are about 10 less.

  • See WindGuru for wind forecast.

  • Amazon Books The Concise Guide to Caribbean Weather (Second edition), 1998 hardcover, $19.95.
    See Island Sun report of its good reviews.

Marine Forecast. ZBVI radio 780 AM, out of the BVI live or via computer and CCT Boatphone, has marine and regular forecasts. Also, see the Intellicast 10 day forecast for marine and regular forecasts. Here are general Weather Patterns. More weather links are available here.

Crewed Charters. Imagine a gourmet meal prepared by your very own chef. And your own captain to take care of the sailing. Is this relaxation at its finest? Go to Crewed Charters for information.

Stay and Sails. Enjoy the best of both worlds--stay ashore part of your vacation and sail the rest. Go to Stay and Sails.

Online Cuising Course. The B-V-I Sailing School has an online cruising course here. Learn to cruise the BVI!

THE Cruising Guide. Cruising Guide to the Virgin Islands by Nancy & Simon Scott, from Cruising Guide Publications, is a most excellent book, with detailed chart-like drawings and a wealth of information. A work of art! See the B-V-I Bookstore for more books.

Go To Island Central Prefer to get oriented to the BVI? Find out what's happening? Smell the sea breeze--this way! Time to Tour! Got that boat, tropical islands, a steady breeze--let's start the sailing tour--it's as easy as clicking on that link.

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