FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - BRITISH AND US VIRGIN ISLANDS
SAILING CONDITIONS: Wind in the BVI's usually out of the northeast to southeast at 15 – 25 knots. In November, winds should be out of the east to northeast allowing us to sail our catamaran on reaching legs at 10 to12 knots. The ride will be wild, fun, and memorable. Currents generally flow in a westerly direction and the tidal range is approximately eight inches.
TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS? You can fly into Beef Island, airport code EIS or to St. Thomas airport code STT. Some people stay over in Puerto Rico and fly to the BVIs the next morning. Generally, you will arrive late afternoon/evening, the night before we set sail. If you plan to use airline miles you need to act quickly. The airlines only allow a certain number of the seats. Over the years, I have found these hard to get.
CATCHING THE FERRY? If you choose to fly to St Thomas, (which is the route I usually go due to the lower cost of the airline tickets), you will need to book your ferry to the BVI. There are two ferry docks, one at Charlottte Amelie, a 10 minute taxi ride from the airport, or Red Hook, about 25 mins normally, but can take considerably longer in rush hour. I usually plan to catch the ferry from Charlotte Amelia, but if my flight is delayed for any reason, there is a late ferry from Red Hook. If you have any questions regarding ferry arrangements, please contact me.
HOW WILL OUR BOAT BE EQUIPPED? The 45-50 foot catamarans usually comes with four queen size double berths, 4 private heads, and is complete with bed linens, pillows and towels. There is a large galley-up for wide panoramic views with an oval table that also converts to a double bed. Other electronics and facilities include; Sound System with Ipod hook-up, flat screen TV, Refrigerator and Freezer & Ice maker, 72 qt Igloo cooler in the cockpit, Cabin Fans, Air Conditioning with a 6 KW Genset and Propane Barbeque Grill.
WHO WILL BE OUR YOUR SKIPPER? Each boat will have an experienced skipper who has sailed the BVIs. He is a U.S.C.G. Captain, ASA Sailing Instructor, or a BVI veteran.
SHOULD WE TIP THE SKIPPER? No, our flotilla skippers are not skippers for hire. They do get a stipend for being responsible for their assigned boat. Commercial skippers expect 10-15% of the charter fee as a tip. Our skippers do not. You might want to kick in and buy them a dinner ashore – but you are not required to do so.
WHO DOES THE COOKING? Everyone shares equally in cooking and cleaning responsibilities.
WHO DOES THE FOOD SHOPPING AND PROVISIONING? Your boat’s skipper is charged with developing the week’s menu and ordering your food. We will pass around a questionnaire to determine what you prefer. Your food should be on your boat when you board.
DO I NEED ANY SAILING EXPERIENCE? No prior sailing experience is needed to join the flotilla.Your skipper will show you everything you need to know regarding operating your boat. After a couple of days at sea, all hands will be able to sail and pick-up moorings balls easily.
DOES OUR BOAT HAVE TO FOLLOW BOAT ONE? Your boat is not required to follow Boat One. Boat One is the flotilla lead boat and will sail a set itinerary. Generally, all the boats in the flotilla end up at the same anchorage in the evenings so we can keep “tabs” on everyone. Each day your boat will decide what they want to do that day – we call it “skipper’s choice.”
WILL MY CELL PHONE WORK IN THE BVIs? Most cell phones work in the BVIs – the $4 per minute roaming cost is the problem. AT&T seems to be the best and the lowest fees. You have to arrange ahead of time for your cell phone to work while in the BVIs.
WHAT ABOUT INTERNET AND Wi-Fi ACCESS? There is WiFi on the boat and is included with your charter costs. Other free Wi-Fi hotspots in the BVI's include the Voyage Base and the Bitter End. There are also several Internet Cafes along the route.
CAN I GO SCUBA DIVING WHIILE WE ARE SAILING THE BVIs? SCUBA diving is available at several sites in the BVIs. We offer three SCUBA dives, at two separate sites. A two-tank dive at The Wreck of the Rhone and a 1-tank dive at either The Chimney or Coral Gardens. Do not bring dive equipment, you can rent everything and we do not have the room on the boat for the dive gear. The dive boats will meet us at the dive sites. Your boat skipper can help you coordinate your SCUBA dives.
CAN WE GO FISHING? Fishing is available, but a fishing license is required. The fishing license takes about 5 days to get (island time), so please coordinate ahead of time. Deep Sea Marlin and bone fishing is available, but will be based on the number of folks wanting to participate. Your boat skipper can help you coordinate your fishing trip.
CAN I EARN A SAILING CERTIFICATION WHILE ON THE TRIP? Yes, we have American Sailing Association certified instructors serving as some of our boat skippers. They can help you earn your sailing certification depending on your current sailing experience. We offer ASA 101 Basic Keelboat, ASA 103 Bareboat Coastal Cruising & 104 Bareboat Chartering certifications. It is required that you have ASA 101 as a pre-requisite to the 103 & 104 classes. Ask your flotilla leader about the details if you are interested.
WHAT WILL THE WEATHER AND TEMPERATURE BE LIKE? During your time in the BVIs, you can expect the temperatures to range from 76 to 92 degrees. It can get quite cool at night so bring a sweater or sweat shirt. During the day – it can really heat up. The winds will mostly be 8 to 15 MPH from the east.
WILL THERE BE ANY STORMS AND IF SO WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT THEM? We will be sailing near the end of the hurricane season. We should not have any storms but if we do, the Voyage Charter company will pull our boat off the water if they feel it is not safe to sail. This should not happen. However, you can expect a daily squall to blow by fast with light rain.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE NEED TO KNOW CUSTOMS WE SHOULD BE AWARE OF?
Be polite and always greet the locals with a “hello” before asking them a question.
Be patient and realize that you are on island time – the locals do things slower than you may be used to.
The locals prefer it if visitors do not wear tiny swimsuits while in town – so cover up.
THE LANGUAGE? All the locals speak English, although it may not sound like it to the untrained ear. I have included some saying translated so you get the hang of it.
Saying: "Yuh tink a one day monkey want wife?"
Meaning: Do think you won't need my help in the future? (do not forget your friends)
Saying: Cockroach nuh business inna fowl fite
Meaning: 'Stay out of things that don't concern you or else'
MONEY ETC.: Most of the sailing bases have ATM machines and accept credit cards, and traveler’s checks. If your bring traveler checks do not buy them in $100 dominations. Some locations will not accept a $100 traveler’s check for a $10 or $12 purchase. I do not recommend bringing travel checks since ATMs are available if you run out of cash. Bring plenty of cash. I usually plan on a $100 a day to be safe. $500 to $600 should cover most cash needs. All of the restaurants accept credit cards. You should use your credit cards wherever possible to conserve your cash. You will need cash for such items as taxis, beverages, departure tax, customs fees, personal incidentals, and gratuities. My guideline is that whatever amount of cash you bring - plan on leaving it in the islands.
NEED A TAXI – CALL FRANK 284-443-5654! Taxi supervisor, Frank Ferrol, is a friend of your flotilla leader. You can call him whenever you need to arrange a taxi. Oddly, it seems to cost $10 one-way to go anywhere in the BVIs. Frank can even arrange an island tour if you need him to do so.
SEA SICKNESS: If you suffer from motion sickness, be sure to get a prescription before we sail. Patches work behind the ear or wristbands. However, you must have them on before the malady sets in. If you have never been sea sick – you do not have any idea what we are talking about. Don’t chance it – get help before you are sick.
Be sure to ask for seasickness medicine that does not make you drowsy.
I always bring a supply of ginger snap cookies to eat when someone gets sick. Also, I usually make anyone who gets sea sick steer the boat. This helps keep your head still and focus on the horizon..
A VALID PASSPORT IS A MUST: You will need a valid passport. If you do not have one, you need to act quickly since it usually takes several weeks to get a passport. As part of officially signing on to the boat, I will need your passport number. If you forget your passport and are denied entry, there is absolutely nothing I can do for you at that time.
WHAT RULES MUST WE KNOW ABOUT?
BVIs have a No Tolerance Drug Policy
No drugs – you and the Skipper will be arrested plus the boat will be impounded causing a $750,000 problem for all.
The Skipper will report you to the authorities if you are observed using banned substances on the boat.
No smoking on the boat