Boat Charter in BVI

Mar 11th, 2015, 12:43 AM
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Boat Charter in BVI

Just starting our research regarding this trip. Planning a small group of 4 to 6 adults to charter a caterman (full service). My husband is retiring and this is his pick for his once-in-a-lifetime trip. We plan to stay for a week. Has anyone done this? What time of year is best for warm to hot weather, minimal rain, calm seas, no hurricanes? Are the waters rough for those prone to motion sickness? (None of us have ever stayed on a boat for a week.). How can we vet the charter company?
And any other general tips for traveling to BVI. Thanks!
cbctraveler is offline  
Mar 11th, 2015, 03:00 AM
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What a great way to celebrate a milestone!

I would suggest you visit the BVI forum on -- it's the largest collection of BVI sailing experts I've found on the internet. They'll make suggestions as to how to find the best and most reputable charter company.

In terms of planning your trip, I would suggest April or May. Before hurricane season, guaranteed to be warm, and a bit less crowded that peak season. Of course, there are no guarantees, so you might see rain, you might see choppy seas. But they don't call it the Drake Lake (the Sir Francis Drake Channel around which most of the islands are arrayed) for nothing.

In terms of motion sickness, I have some bad news for you. Neither a catamaran, nor calm seas, will ensure that those prone to it will be spared its effects. I've owned boats and sailed for over 20 years, and until last year, took a pill every time I got on a boat to avoid seasickness. Your best bet is to find a remedy that works before starting your trip (Practical Sailor magazine tested remedies by putting a seasick-prone subject in the front seat of a car with something to read -- their conclusion was that what works for one might not work for another.) I used meclizine (in the non-drowsy formulation of Dramamine II), and brought a 1000-pill bottle of it along with us when we moved aboard our boat for 6 months to sail to the Bahamas, but discovered a non-conventional remedy that fixed me up almost permanently except for the roughest crossings.
Callaloo is offline  
Mar 11th, 2015, 03:07 AM
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OK, Callaloo, what is your non-conventional remedy?
Sassafrass is online now  
Mar 11th, 2015, 03:08 AM
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A charter yacht broker is your friend. They know the boats, the crew, and match up your needs and desires. There are huge brokerages and smaller ones, for example,
eastenderusvi is online now  
Mar 11th, 2015, 04:58 AM
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The remedy I read about is putting an earplug in your non-dominant ear (i.e. if you are right-handed, your non-dominant ear is your left). It supposedly works even if you attempt it after you come down with seasickness. I tried it my first few days of living aboard, and it worked. Then I stopped it altogether, and just put a finger in my left ear and took a few deep breaths when I felt seasickness coming on (believe me, you KNOW the symptoms when it's coming!). This way, I, who got seasick just by walking on floating docks, managed for 6 months with almost no pills. Of course, I wasn't crazy enough to go out in heavy seas or rough passages without chemical backup.

Of course, your mileage may vary.
Callaloo is offline  
Mar 11th, 2015, 07:41 AM
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People do sailboat (both catamaran and monohulls) all the time and the BVI's are one f the most popular areas for doing sailboat charters - it's known as the sailing capital of the Caribbean. The islands are fairly close together so you are never out of sight of land and, as Callaloo said, they are clustered around the "protected" Drake's Passage.

Do go to the BVI Forum at Traveltalkonline for lots of great info from a host of BVI sailing experts. Also use their "Sponsors" link (found on the main menu page) and you'll find links to some very reputable sailboat charter companies.

Also, if you do a google search using such topics as "Sail Boat Charters, British Virgin Islands" or "BVI Yacht Charters" you'll find tons of information.

Now, to answer some of your other questions:

1) Although the official Atlantic/Caribbean Hurricane Season runs from June 1 through November 30 storms are very rare in June and July. Since those are among the warmest months and offer some great "sailing weather" there's no reason you should not consider going at that time as well as April or May as suggested by Callaloo.

2) If you are prone to motion sickness you should consult with your doctor for recommended preventatives. There are also many "home remedies" and a simple google search for "Motion Sickness Remedies" will yield lots of very useful information. A sailboat moves through the water and even on the calmest days you WILL feel the movement of the boat even when it is at anchor so this is something you should thoroughly discuss with all your traveling companions BEFORE you commit to chartering a boat. I don't have any problems with motion sickness but can tell you that if someone in your group does it will put a damper on your trip.

3) If you do decide to sail the BVI's you'll probably want to begin and end your charter on Tortola as that's where the vast majority of the charter companies are based. An alternative would be to begin/end on St. Thomas but that will entail your boat (and passengers/crew) clearing immigration/customs multiple times during your trip.

4) There's not a lot of room on a sailboat so pack lightly. You'll be living in t-shirts and shorts or bathing suits almost 24/7 and the only time you'll be in your "berth" is when you are sleeping. The rest of the time you and your travel companions will be "on deck" or in the "main cabin" which won't be very big - think maybe a 10' x 10' space with a table, a few bench seats and a galley.

Hope this helps.
RoamsAround is offline  
Mar 11th, 2015, 02:36 PM
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The Sea of Abaco in The Bahamas is very shallow 20ft, very large and very protected. It is effectively a huge swimming pool. There is little swell and only a chop in higher winds.

Cruise Abaco offer a very good charter service.

Good advice when on deck is to always focus on the horizon. Do it counsciously then over time your brain does it automatically. Negates the effect of the motion of the boat.
BritishCaicos is online now  
Mar 12th, 2015, 12:05 PM
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My husband, son, and I are doing this at the end of March. We don't have any previous experience so I can't give you any learned advice. One thing I have seen mentioned more than once is that while you vet the charter company also vet the captain and mate. In some cases, the captain is the boat owner. In other cases, the charter company has several crews they use on boats owned by others. You want to know exactly who the crew will be and if they are a good fit for you.
kamae is offline  
Mar 15th, 2015, 07:27 AM
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Callo - we have been sailing off the southern coast of California just since the fall of 2014. I am prone to seasickness and have been looking for a remedy because my love of the ocean and sailing is outweighing the sea-sickness.

Do you mean a regular ole earplug?


We are looking to bareboat for our 20 year anniversary in April of 2016.
Momddtravel2 is offline  
Mar 16th, 2015, 03:12 AM
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Momddtravel2, yes, just a regular old earplug (I usually have them on me anyway, because I go to a lot of concerts and find them handy). But make sure you have backup remedies, because everyone is different and responds differently to different remedies. I still use Dramamine II (aka Bonine, or meclizine) when the conditions are rougher than usual.
Callaloo is offline  
Mar 19th, 2015, 03:35 PM
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That's all great information! Thanks for the input thus far.
cbctraveler is offline  
Mar 19th, 2015, 03:37 PM
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I meant to ask--when inquiring with a charter company (we're also looking at VRBO) what should my top 3 questions be?
cbctraveler is offline  
May 25th, 2015, 02:25 PM
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Topping for more advice.
cbctraveler is offline  
May 26th, 2015, 06:30 PM
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Well, if you are asking about charter should find out if the broker has been to recent boat shows and actually has seen the boats and met the crews. They should ask you questions about your needs and wishes. The more detail you can give them, the more they can assist.
eastenderusvi is online now  
Aug 16th, 2019, 02:19 PM
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Anything to add to this discussion, 4 years later????I would appreciate any info for 7 adults looking to find a catamaran with a crew for February 2020 for a week.
deladeb is offline  
Aug 17th, 2019, 06:28 AM
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My recommendation stands of finding a charter broker who knows the boats and crew. There seem to be fewer individual brokers; many are now working for larger companies who can afford to increase their internet presence. However, if you google charter yacht brokers, you should be able to find someone with the ability to match you to a crew and boat. There is a huge difference between an owner-operated boat and a fleet boat with a hired captain...
eastenderusvi is online now  
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