On 2/9/10 4:09 AM, “MICHAEL” wrote:
Just returned from our bareboat charter in BVI .We were there for 9 days.It was great,though the wind was light 5-10 knots for the last few days but was 30knots for the first couple ,a little much for us beginers we we did ok.I was glad to have used your site to familiarize myself with some things. There is nothing like hands on .
I will be looking through the site more ofeten as i will like to learn more bareboating secrets about provisioning the boat etc.I hope to do a larger cat next time.we did a 38 footer that was 11 years old ,it had some issues that we know to look for next time like the fridge seal did not seal at all on the hinge side. The dingy davit mounts were soft and the side lifting the stern of the dingy caved in. The dingy motor ran rough and would not rev high enough to plane off,which if i was not on vacation was a easy jetting fix im sure.We will look for a yacht with ice maker ac and generator next time and one without so many toe stubbers to get from room to room. Looks like a 44 footer or larger. Will this be a harder boat to handle?
You’ll really enjoy a 44 footer – I’m assuming you’re thinking of the Lagoon 4400. Very nice boat! We’ve chartered a 46 footer before and once you get to a 38 ft catamaran the step up is not that much difference. Just be aware of the momentum that’s all. But be prepared for all the extra room and living space on the back deck.
I’m noting your comments about chartering an older boat. If you’re going on a vacation it’s just better to spend the little extra money and get a nice newer boat.
Have you played the Cat NED sailing game?
You might consider joining us in Tonga at out Post Graduate Sailing Flotilla in August 2010.
Friday 2nd October 2009
Early to rise in Savannah Bay – and a swim to shore. Again, this morning we spent a few hours on the beach at Savannah bay snorkeling, playing beach bats, and strolling along the 750m long beach.
We then set sail for Spanish town again were we picked up more ice. We discovered a free wifi service in Spanish town and so a few or us down loaded emails for the weeks work to come.
Inside Spanish Town harbor, I spent about 10 minutes teaching catamaran maneuvering under power techniques to one of the crew who is going to charter a catamaran on a sailing vacation in Corsica in May next year. Under normal circumstances in Spanish Town Harbor this would be impossible but due to extremely light traffic in the summer months we were able to do this. The biggest difference that he learned was that when maneuvering a Catamaran, you don’t need water flowing over the rudder to gain maneuverability like a monohull. With a catamaran, the slower you go the better. And so the lesson was more about puling the throttles back and using the correct setting of the forward and reverse on the engines and to watch the relative movement of the boat and adjust the throttles to match what you want – always electing to reduce power (if possible) rather than to increase power on the opposing side. For more information on maneuvering a Catamaran under power see the Catamaran Sailing Confidence Clinic.
Additionally – early in November 2009 we’ll be releasing the NauticEd Catamaran Maneuvering Under Power Game. If you’re wanting to learn to sail a catamaran then this is the game for you – it’s fun.
Catamaran Maneuvering Under Power Game
We then exited the marina and set sails for Salt Island, the agreed upon rendezvous point with the other Catamaran Annie K. We had decided to go ashore there and collect some table salt from te salt ponds and enjoy the beach. The wind was cranking perfect at about 15 knots out of the east and so we enjoyed a really nice and fast broad reach to Salt Island.
Unfortunately, upon arrival, Annie K waved us off reporting that the island had been inhabited by absolute pigs with broken glass all over the beach, fire pits everywhere, trash and polluted salt ponds. Almost like people living there did not want others to share in any island beauty and elected instead to spoil it for everyone inclusive of them selves. So – I guess they achieved success in that we did not drop anchor and instead moved over to the easterly neighboring island, Cooper Island.
Cooper Island BVI's
Manchioneel Bay Cooper Island is fantastic. Although in low season the restaurant is only open for lunch. However there are lots of mooring buoys there and a really nice little beach. The wind was out of the east and so the conditions were calm and protected.
Some of the guys (self inclusive) found a coconut and broke out into a game of modified touch rugby. After about an hour, with a few injuries sustained we all retired back to the boats.
We elected to spend the night in Manchioneel Bay because of the short 6 nautical mile sail in the morning back to Road Town.
Thursday 1st October
Savannah Bay BVI: There is nothing like a swim ashore and a morning run on a white sandy beach and that is exactly what I did on Thursday morning. We’d anchored in about 15 ft of water which meant the boat was about 200 meters from shore which made for a nice swim. Then I ran 4 lengths of the beach. Ahhhh.
Savannah Bay BVI's. Makes for a really nice morning run.
After the run and fruit with yogurt for breakfast (which by the way is a really easy breakfast when you’re on a charter boat) a few of the others came ashore.
Savannah Bay BVI's
The weather was warm and the bay was very sheltered from the east. Plus the outer reef shelters the bay from any swells. Alexandra cam e ashore and we had some fun introducing her to small waves in the shallow beach.
Playing with Alexandra in the water in Savannah Bay
Granpa also had some fun.
Gramps and Alexandra
We bought the dinghy up onto the beach so that the waaves could not pull it back out in to the water and drift away. One way to stop this happening is to use the dinghy anchor and spike it into the sand. Under heavier waves we have in the past dug the anchor into the sand a little more to give extra holding power.
Using the Dinghy anchor to stop the dinghy from drifting away
And of course you need to pull the engine up out of the water to stop sand getting into the water intake and causing the engine to over heat. Tilting the engine up also protects the engine and the mounts and propeller etc. There is a tilt lever under the engine and behind the transom. It’s a bit difficult to operate when you first start using it but after a while you get familiar with its operation. To put the engine down you pull the lever again and it unclips the engine.
The Dinghy outboard tilts up and clips in with the tilt lever.
Savannah Bay was completely empty and it was a delight having such a beautiful place on the planet all to our selves. Then we pulled anchor and motored around to the other beaches in the bay. Very impressive! Around the corner to the east is another part to Savannah bay which is a little more inhabited with some cottages.
A few cottages on the east end of Savannah Bay
Another view looking west.
At the east end of Savannah Bay looking west.
To exit savannah Bay you must exit through the west end to clear the reef. But there is also another reef inside the reef that you must pay attention. The beauty of the bay may lull you into a false sense of safety so just read the guide and watch the charts, guide book and especially the depth sounder.
A short motor to the south on Virgin Gorda is Spanish Town where we topped up with ice for the cold drinks.
Filling up with water at Spanish Town.
At each place you have to pay for water and since we only had two days to go, we only filled one tank.
Spanish Town has a very nice marina with a full grocery store and chandlery. You can stay overnight in Spanish Town Marina if you like but it’s advisable in peak months to call ahead and make a reservation.
Empty marina in Spanish Town
However this time of the year the marina is almost completely empty. So we had our choice of spots. There is also an internet wifi in the marina which is free so you can down load email if you REALLY have to.
After a sort stop in Spanish town Marina we motored a mile south to The Baths were we spent the afternoon exploring the cave and swimming.
The Baths: One of the high lights of the BVI's
The Baths are NOT to be missed. Even with 6 visits to The Baths now I would still return. It is a giant rock field all tumbled on top of each other creating strange shaped walk throughs and fun sea water pools.
You can spend hours there exploring the caves created from the giant rocks piled on top of each other.
You can even be silly (Deb and Susan) and pretend to hold the rocks up.
Holding rocks up in the Baths on a yacht charter trip to the BVI's
And of course, the swimming is awesome to.
Swimming at The Baths in the BVI's
Here are some other random shots of The Baths – just for proof that they are not to be missed.
Get the picture?
Also not to be missed is snorkeling at the south end of the baths. The rocks continue into the water where coral has grown onto them populated by the most amazing colored fish life. In one place we found a small swim through under the rocks which was about 30 feet long also completely populated by fish.
Having spent an incredible day in The Baths, and having enjoyed Savanna Bay so much we elected to return there for the evening. A most spectacular sunset gave us an awesome end to another day in the BVI’s.
If you want to go to the BVI’s on a sailing yacht charter vacation – no worries – just get a NauticEd Sailing certification
Wednesday 30th September 2009
Bath time on a catamaran is pretty easy and fun for the little one. The catamaran galley is so big that there is plenty of room and the sinks are big. Consequently, Alexandra loved this time of day.
Alexandra Loves Her Catamaran Bathtub
The crew set out in the dinghy to explore the rocky coastline and came back quite impressed. Lee Bay is certainly a nice stop for overnight or an exploring lunch, not with a Northerly or Westerly Swell however.
We then motored through the Cut between Little Camanoe and Great Camanoe through to Marina Cay to meet up with the other Catamaran in our fleet. They had spent the night in the lee of Marina Cay and reported a very flat sea due to it’s protection from Scrub, Camanoe and Beef Islands.
Marina Cay in the BVI's provides a very sheltered mooring
We sent the dinghy ashore to grab a few bags of Ice at Marina Cay and then we moved 4 miles North East over to Great Dog Island were we had lunch and a swim.While waiting for the Ice, Kay tried her hand at maneuvering the Catamaran in amongst the buoys. She did well and got the hang of the dual engines and how maneuverable the catamaran is. NauticEd is currently building a flash interactive Catamaran maneuvering game which should be released by Oct 25th 2009. It will be embedded into the Catamaran Sailing Confidence Course.
Great Dog Island - British Virgin Islands
We then moved over to George Dog island where the snorkeling is reported to be great and we were not let down. The BVI parks provide two mooring buoys on the south west of George Dog.
Excellent snorkeling at George Dog in the BVI's
We then snorkeled around the point to the North West of Kitchen point. We’d highly recommend the snorkeling here. There was lots of coral and colored fish. Other boats reported that the snorkeling off Kitchen point was also impressive. Some of the crew also found some impressive rock cliffs to jump off into the sea. If you’re chartering a yacht on a sailing vacation in the BVI’s do not miss The Dogs.
Excellent Snorkelling at George Dog inthe BVI's
Jumping from a cliff on George Dog BVI's
West Dog - The Dogs BVI's
After a very fun day at the Dogs we set sail for Savanna Bay on Virgin Gorda 2 miles South East of The Dogs. Savanna Bay entrance is not too tricky but you must follow the directions in the Cruising Guide as there are several reefs to miss.
Savannah Bay British Virgin Islands is truly awesome
However, once inside, wow, it’s a spectacular bay with three long beaches and clear water. Again with a swell from the north or North West this would be not advisable because it is completely open to those directions. If the weather conditions are right, Savanna Bay should not be missed. Several thatched shades are set up on the middle beach which is about 500 yards long. You can anchor about 200 yards off shore in about 15 feet of water.
At the end of the day we were rewarded with a stunning sunset. This picture was taken through the lens of sunglasses. Savannah Bay was one of the high lights of our sailing vacation.
Sunset in Savannah Bay
Tuesday 29th September 2009
A classic yacht chartering blunder was made on Monday. Instead of filling the tanks with water when the conditions were calm at the east end of Cane Garden Bay we elected to do it Tuesday morning because we were having so much fun on Monday. Overnight, a swell began running out of the North which made the water surge next to the dock. This created a very uncomfortable situation for refilling the water tanks. Even with spring lines, the boat was moving around quite a lot and created potentially dangerous situation. The lesson there was – when conditions are right do what you need to do.
The swell did create some fun waves over the reef and so on Tuesday morning we took the sea kayaks into the waves to play.
After refilling with water, we needed to get away from the dock safely. Simply engaging reverse would have sent us side scrapping the boat along the dock all the way back with the swell surge slamming us in. Not good!
Using a spring line to get off the dock with a catamaran
We used a classic spring line – reverse out method. We left the spring line running from the forward cleat aft to the dock and released all others. We positioned a buoy between the dock and forward hull, turned the wheel towards the dock and engaged forward on the engine opposite the dock. When the spring line was taught, the aft end of the boat begun rotating away from the dock due to the opposing forces creating a turning moment. We helped this with a little reverse on the dock side engine all the while keeping the buoy between the hull and dock and spring line taught. When the aft of the boat had rotated sufficiently away from the dock we engaged reverse on both engines, released the spring line and back quickly away from the dock.
This and more is described in the Catamaran Sailing Confidence Clinic
Clear, we then pulled the dinghy up on the dinghy davit and set sail for White Bay on Guana Island next to Monkey point. Using the dinghy davit is usually a good idea. It reduces drap on the boat and thus increases speed, reduces wear on the dinghy and boat cleats and reduces the jerking on the painter line as the swells pass. A Catamaran is well suited for raising the dinghy on the davits because the catamaran is so wide and having a dingy of the back presents no interference.
Dinghy Davit on a catamaran
The winds to Guana Island were 15 knots out of the east and just below the reefing threshold. It’s important to reef a catamaran at the designated wind speeds because since the boat does not heel over, the full area of the sail is always presented to the wind. More about this in the NauticEd Catamaran Sailing Confidence course.
We set out the two fishing rods and trolled for a yummy Tuna which I have caught on many previous trips to the BVI. Alas, we were skunked for the whole week on any fish. Not even a Baracuda!
White Bay on Guana Island
The sand on White Bay, Guana Island is so soft and almost silky like. Guana Island is a private island and so you can go on to the beach but not too much further. However White Bay made for a very nice stop for a long lunch. Unfortunately due to time we missed the snorkeling at Monkey point which has been very impressive on previous trips to the BVI where two mooring balls are provided for day mooring.
We then made tracks under power to Lee Bay on Great Camanoe Island. Lee bay is a small bay with a rocky beach.
Lee Bay on Camanoe Island
The rocky cliffs on each side are impressive and the swell was creating a blow hole into a cave next to our anchor point that made a very ominous whooshing sound with a shooting high blow of water. Its obvious that a swell out of the North could make this bay uncomfortable, however today it was slightly North west and laying down. We therefore elected to stay the night in Lee Bay.
We took the dinghy ashore so that we could walk across the low saddle of the island to Cam Bay on the other side. The waves on the beach made for an interesting landing onto the beach with the dinghy. We had to wait for the swell surge then ride it in slightly behind the wave. We pulled up onto the beach and tied off around a large rock. Cam Bay was relatively unimpressive with washed up seaweed and some trash on the beach so we didn’t stay to long. There were some very impressive homes overlooking Cam Bay. The night produced a heavy but short lived thunderstorm and so there was a great scramble to close all the hatches about 3am.
Monday 28th September
On Monday morning the wind was out of the east. We left the beautiful White Bay on Jost Van Dyke and set sails for Sandy Spit which took about 2 tacks on a beat into the wind.
Sandy Spit at the East end of Little Jost Van Dyke
Sandy Spit is located at the east end of Little Jost Van Dyke and is a little sandy island all the way around with a few palm trees and scrub trees in the middle. Don’t confuse Sandy Spit with Sandy Cay which is much bigger and to the south. The guys challenged each other to a sprint run race around the island. It took about 90 seconds sprinting in the sand which was not easy. A cool dip off in the clear clear water was welcomed afterward. You can easily anchor at sandy spit on the west side in about 20 feet of water although be careful if there is a swell running. Sandy Spit is well worth a visit because of the sand and the clear water next to it.
Michael drinking underwater at Sandy Spit BVI
Next our friend Arun texted us to say that he had arrived and was waiting for us at our prearranged meeting place in Cane Garden Bay 2.5 miles to the South East of Sandy Spit with a fishing License in hand – yah!
Cane Garden Bay BVI
Cane Garden Bay is a really beautiful spot with a long beach and lots of nice vacation homes dotted up the steep hill behind. There is a grocery store, post office and lots of restaurants. The Bay is fairly well protected but if a swell is running from the north the swell can wrap into the bay. We picked up Arun, his wife Jo and their 2 1/2 year old daughter to add to our 1 year old.
The girls on the Catamaran trampoline in Cane Garden Bay
Annie K joined us a few hours later and we all spent the afternoon and night in the wide bay. The afternoon was spent playing in the warm Caribbean water.
Swimming in Cane Garden bay BVI
Only two other boats were moored in the whole bay. This is very different from high season where dozens (and dozens) of boats stay over night there. We highly recommend a stay in Cane Garden Bay (especially in low season).
For Dinner on Bobcat, Vanessa whipped up an incredible Mediterranean Tuna Salad which is a highly recommended staple to the yacht chartering lifestyle.
Mediterranean Tuna Salad
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To follow over the next week, are the chronicles of this year’s yacht charter sailing vacation trip by NauticEd staff and friends. Although we’ve sailed through out the Caribbean and Mediterranean, once again we elected the BVI. Mostly because this year we were bringing along many new comers who’d not visited the BVI’s before and this is a place not to be missed.
The beautiful beach of Savannah Bay in the BVI
September in the BVI’s is considered totally out of season. Most of the restaurants are closed and charter companies are down to skeleton crews. However we were looking this year for a quiet, out-of-the-way trip with few other boats to deal with and so despite being in the middle of hurricane season, this was an appealing location.
In the BVI’s there are many charter companies. This year we elected to charter with Sunsail. We have chartered 2 Catamarans. One Leopard 43 named “Bobcat” and one Lagoon 41 named “Annie K”. Our crew consists of 16 friends and family from Austin, San Antonio and South Africa. Included are our 1 year old daughter and a friend’s 2 year old daughter.
Friday September 25th 2009
Traditionally we have flown into Beef Island (Tortolla airport) via Puerto Rico which works well but if you do this you have to make sure that you have sufficient turn around time for your luggage. I’m not sure but I don’t think there has been 1 time that all bags have arrived.
This time however because of airline schedules we flew into St Thomas on the USVI, stayed the night at the Marriot Frenchmans Reef and Morning Star Resort with the ntension of taking the ferry from Charlotte Amarlie to Road Town on the British Virgin Islands main island -Tortolla.
The Marriot is about 15 minutes from the St Thomas Airport. The resort is very nice for a quick stay over. It has a lovely beach, a swimming pool and a tennis court. But we’re more excited about getting on our boats and setting sails tomorrow.
Beach at the Marriot Frenchmans Reef on USVI
There are a few strange creatures on the USVI.
Follow our week long BVI blog series posted every day for the next week.
As we prepare for our yacht charter sailing vacation to the British Virgin Islands this month, I want to post a few emails that we are sending out to the group that is going. Below is one from my wife discussing provisioning. The name of our trip every year is called Bonga Bonga. Some years we do tee shirts. I’ve got one dating back to 1997 when we went to St. Maarten.
SUBJ: Bonga Bonga 2009
Here are a few tips we have picked up during our charter sailing trips – thought I would share.
- Towels – you get two towels per person for the week – that is for swimming and showering – I take a few cheap hand towels along, very nice to have later in the week when you towel is yuck. Some people take a beach towel along – numerous smaller ones seem to be a better bet.
- Daily I give the floor in the salon a wipe down – gets rid of the hair, crumbs and sand – best for this is wipes – either Clorox or Baby wipes, great for cleaning the counters too. We have been taking baby wipes along for years and swear by them. My used hand towel then becomes the door mat – helps tremendously with keeping the interior clean.
- Toilets – if even one toilet stinks the entire boat stinks – hang a toilet freshener in the bowl from day one and the problem is solved.
- Liquid body wash or soap – bar soap slips and slides all over your bathroom and when showering on deck it generally lands in the sea!
- BONINE – the very best motion sickness tablet – no side effects, you can drink etc. Don’t be tough and be uncomfortable – be a woosy and have fun – take a tab on day one and then if the weather gets rough you’ll be ok! Otherwise since we have a catamaran if you’re not too susceptible then you should not get sick.
- Floaties – up until our last trip you could still not buy Noodles for a reasonable price. It’s nice to have something to float on other than the boat fenders. So consider squeezing one in or a cheep blow up floatee. Vacuum suck the air out before packing since the airline will nail you for baggage these days.
- Sippy Cups – although your drink is safer on a Cat, the best bet is a sippy cup for less spills – bring the most outrageous cup – win award!
- Sunscreen – need I remind you.
- Snorkeling gear – there is gear at the charter base, so not worries borrowing any if you don’t already own.
- Zip lock bags – there is no Tupperware on the boat – zip locks are the easiest for food storage – left overs / cheeses etc. Only once have we been able to buy zip lock bags in the islands – so just in case I suggest taking them along.
- PROVISIONS – couple of take alongs – sometimes hard or impossible to get in the islands.
- Wasabi – I have bought 2 tubes as I have full confidence in my fisherman!
- Soy Sauce – for the endless sashimi
- Coffee – if you are fussy the coffee there is poor to pathetic – take your java along. We drink decaf, so we take an extra plunger as not to hog the coffee pot.
- Benadryl for any bites and /or itch ease. (Stingrays / eels – only kidding! Mosquitos/jellyfish)
- Cloth shopping bags. Use these for the freezer. Put similar things together so that you cn pull out and not find all the stuff in the bottom of the freezer at the end of the week.
Provisioning in Tortola
Don’t over stock, there are places along the way to pick up supplies.
Whenever we have bought beef – it has been the biggest disappointment – don’t waste your time. Eat fish – last trip we could not eat all G caught, and cold meats are great for lunch. But forget the steak, unless you get very lucky – then invite us over!
Chicken – the only time I am interested is if I can buy an already roasted chicken – great for salads / sandwiches – to cook on the boat takes to long, hot.
Pasta Sauce – a couple times during the week it is great to just whip up an easy pasta dish – I might take a fabulous pesto or two along in the suitcase.
We always seem to eat the most at cocktail hour, one days sample menu just to get your juices flowing.
Breakfast – FRUIT, yogurt, sometimes eggs and toast, cereal.
Snacks – chips and cookies
Lunch – Salad Nicoise
Sundowners – cheese and crackers, salmon, dips etc. (fresh bread is not easy to find – crackers rule)
Dinner – Artichoke pasta and Caprese salad. Chocolate!! Port!!
ICE is the big score every day – we go in search of it…..
Other than alcohol, nice to have iced tea and fruit juice along with lots of water.
Grant is the world’s expert on making tasty rum drinks. Rum, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, mango, passion. – ouch!
We always land up drinking wine with dinner – so stock up.
Fishing gear – we need one more Reel – anyone got a fishing reel – pls let us know.
Can’t wait – see you all in a couple of weeks. And – you all should really take NauticEd’s bareboat charter course and catamaran sailing course. It’ll make the trip much more fun for everyone.
Hotel reservations to follow..
Chartering a sailing boat on a sailing vacation? Take the NauticEd Bareboat Charter Clinic
Bareboat Charter sailing Course
Chartering a catamaran on a sailing vacation? Take the NauticEd Catamaran Sailing Confidence course.
Learn to sail, handle and maneuver a catamaran with confidence