Here's our answers to Frequently Asked Questions about sailing charters in the British
Virgin Islands. This is a new FAQ, so please bare with us. If you have a question
that you think should be here but is currently missing, let us know at email@example.com.
This FAQ is divided into three parts
About the BVI
- What is bareboating?
Bareboating is renting or 'chartering' a sailboat without a crew, thus just a 'bare
boat'. Many chartering companies also offer crewed charters.
- What is required to charter a bareboat?
As far as I know there is no certification which is universally accepted like a driver's
license. Basically, they have to feel confident that with your experience, you can be
trusted with a very expensive boat. Most chartering companies require a sailing resume to
show your experience. Actual requirements seem to vary, but mostly they would like to see
at least experience crewing on a similar sized boat for a similar period of time. They may
require that you go through a test sail with one of their captains to demonstrate basic
proficiencies. Certification from a recognized agency such as US Boat or ASA is a plus but
rarely completely sufficient.
- Who should I charter from?
This is really a matter of personal choice. Because your expensive vacation is in the
hands of your charter company, it pays to do some research. The largest charter company is
the Moorings. SunSail
is a close second. Both of these are reputable companies with long histories in the
Caribbean although even they don't have perfect records. Check with other sailors on
rec.sailing for experience with these and other charter
companies. As people let us know about their experiences here at firstname.lastname@example.org, we'll post them here.
- Does it cost a lot to charter a sailboat?
The cost of a bareboat vacation can vary quite a bit. A top of the line 45 foot boat from
the Moorings (one of the most expensive charter companies) runs anywhere from ~$2700 to
~$5000 per week depending on the season. Six can cruise on a boat of this size in relative
comfort (in 3 staterooms). Split provisioning costs ~$20 per day per person. Airfare will
vary depending on where you are flying from. Most of the rest of the costs are up to you.
The bargain hunter may be able to save a significant amount of money by searching out
bargain packages that include discount airfare, traveling with a club that gets a group
rate, or picking an inexpensive charter company. Sometimes the owners of charter boats
(who get several weeks of free time per year) will sell the weeks they are unable to use
themselves. If you look hard, bargains are available.
- What about provisioning?
We have used the provisioning available through the Moorings and found it to be quite
acceptable. We prefer the split provisioning because it allows for a few dinners ashore
for those days when cooking a meal seems like a little bit too much work. Besides, it can
be fun to take a trip ashore to find that perfect chicken roti or stop in at the Anegada
Reef Hotel for some of their famous lobster. Yum! You can also supplement your food on
board by stopping by any of the grocery stores which can be found on several of the
About the BVIs
- Where are the BVIs?
The British Virgin Islands are a little over 60 miles east of Puerto Rico in the
Caribbean. Their nearest neighbors to the west are the US Virgin Islands. To the southeast
(and a bit farther away) is Anguilla and St. Martin.
- How do I get to the BVIs? Many airlines fly to Puerto Rico. From there you should
catch a Liat or American Airlines flight to the main BVI airport on Beef Island . From
there you can catch a taxi to Tortola where ferries run to the other BVIs. In the case of
both the Moorings and Sunsail, they provide transportation from the airport to their
location as part of the charter.
- What should I bring?
You don't actually need too much. The boats usually have everything required for sailing
and you will get provisions from local providers, so all that you need are clothes and
personal effects. Here's the list of items that we brought on
our last trip.
- When should I go?
The prices usually vary with the seasons. Although the temperatures do not fluctuate much
during the year, most people avoid the Caribbean during the hurricane season that usually
spans the months of August through November. Chartering rates are cheaper during these
times. High season for the Caribbean is mid December through April.
- What's the weather like?
The average high temperatures vary between 80 and 88 degrees Fahrenheit during the day
year round. It usually gets cool enough to make sleeping comfortable and is warm enough in
the day that you rarely need long sleeves.
- What's a painkiller?
There is a drink in the BVIs called the Painkiller. Its quite popular and as the
name suggests, it can be quite potent and very relaxing. If you'd like to get a
taste of the BVIs in your own home, try this recipe:
|4 parts pineapple juice|
|1 part cream of coconut|
|1 part OJ|
|Pusser's rum to taste|
|Serve over ice with generous portions freshly-grated nutmeg on top|
- Where is Anegada?
Anegada is the northernmost of the BVIs.
- How do I get to Anegada?
Anegada is the northmost of the British Virgin Islands. The most exciting way to
approach Anegada is on your sailboat. It is several hours sail north from the Bitter End
Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda. The entrance is a bit tricky because of the many reefs
surrounding Anegada. Most charter companies require a captain the first time you go to
Anegada, so you'll need to plan ahead. You should leave in the morning so that you get to
the entrance with good light for spotting the reefs. It is extremely important to get the
latest local information before you head out. The water in area of the Anegada moorings is
about 7-8 feet deep. The reefs stick up from there enough to grab even a shallow draft
boat. On different trips there we've been told about how the green buoy blew away in a
storm, so now there are three red buoys which should be treated as center markers etc...
You should definitely find out the latest local info before you find a reef by surprise
because of shifting navigation aids. The latest news is that the lost green bouy has
been replaced and the red bouys now have lights on them. This should make navigation
much easier, which will also make Anegada much more crowded. Go soon if you want a
- What should I do on Anegada?
One of the reasons that we like Anegada so much is that it is a great place to go to
do nothing. Above all, the best thing to do on Anegada is relax. Should you find yourself
there, we also suggest any or all of the following:
|As you approach, call the Anegada Reef Hotel on channel 16 and reserve a place for
yourself for dinner. Lowell's famous BBQ is not to be missed. Definitely the best lobster
in the Caribbean.|
|Check out the self serve bars scattered across the island.... No bartender, just fix
yourself a drink and leave some money behind the bar.|
|Head to the north side of the island to Loblolly Bay for a big beautiful beach and great
snorkeling as long as there is no swell from the north.|
|In the afternoon, Pam (from Pam's
Kitchen) will come out to your boat to sell you baked good. Stock up for a great
breakfast the next day.|
|Check out the wild Flamingos in Flamingo Pond in the interior of the island. You'll be
amazed that something with such awkward aerodynamics can actually fly!|
- What are some other popular destinations for a first major charter?
We like the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, but we've heard that Greece and Tonga
are also popular destinations with relatively consistent winds, simple navigation and
- Where can I get more information?
See our sailing
resources page or the cruising news group
Other questions? Mail them to us at email@example.com.