WORLD With reports this month on A Reconnaissance Trip to the World's Most Popular Charter Destination, the Green Tech Solution to Repowering Charter Boats, and miscellaneous Charter Notes.
Tangling your dinghy in another boat's mooring pennant is not the recommended way to get to know your neighbor. Lesson learned.
air temperatures range between 68° and 85° year-round, with water temps in the mid- to high 70s, and most of local West Indian population is friendly if treated with respect. There are many flights from major US gateways to both St. Thomas, USVI and Puerto Rico. St. Thomas is home to several excellent charter bases, or you can hop onto a ferry and be in 'downtown' Road Town, capital of the BVI, in an hour. From Puerto Rico, the BVI's Beef Island airport is less than an hour's flight away. When it comes to charter boat selection, the BVI has more boats bareboats and luxury crewed yachts to choose from than any other sailing venue on the planet. Bareboats range from brand new yachts offered by top international companies, to 5- to 10-year-old boats offered by second-tier outfits. Considering all this, it's no surprise that this British Overseas Territory has long been acknowledged as the most popular charter destination in the world. As wonderful as the BVI is as a yearround sailing destination, there's no denying that the anchorages get crowded with bareboats — especially during the prime winter months. Mooring balls go a long way toward alleviating that problem, and there are now many more balls than during our last visit. Readers who've chartered here in the past may be interested to know that now there are even balls in White Bay and Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke. Mooring ball pennants don't exactly jump up onto your foredeck and attach themselves to a cleat all by themselves, however. There is a bit of technique involved, which is sometimes amusing to watch. Back in the days before mooring balls, one of the local sailors' favorite sports was watching knucklehead neophyte boaters struggling to sucLATITUDE / ANDY
A Busman's Holiday in the British Virgin Islands When some good friends invited my wife and me to fly down to the British Virgin Islands for a week of sailing aboard their cat Moonshine, it didn't take us long to decide: "Yes! Absolutely! Put some Heinekens on ice and we'll be right down." Having lived and worked in the US and British Virgins all through the 1980s, we consider that verdant archipelago to be sort of a second home. Yet it had been six years since we'd returned for a visit. While there've definitely been some changes lately, we were pleasantly surprised to confirm that the Eastern Caribbean's warm waters are as blue and inviting as ever, the easterly trade winds still blow steadily throughout the island chain — 18 to 25 knots while we were there — and shoreside infrastructure has been upgraded with the times without being completely overbuilt. Even if you haven't yet taken a sailing vacation in the Virgins, you've undoubtedly heard them recommended as an ideal introduction to Eastern Caribbean sailing and culture. Sailing distances are short between the islands of the BVI, with many protected anchorages, most of which offer overnight mooring balls ($30/nt) that help preserve underwater flora and fauna, while eliminating the stress of anchoring for charterers. In addition, English is spoken by all, the US dollar is the national currency,
cessfully anchor their rented craft. Almost invariably, the husband would stay at the wheel, sending his poor wife to the bow to wrangle the anchor and rode. He would then roar up to a choice spot, give the command to "Let her go!" while still moving forward, then crunch his tranny into reverse and accelerate backward, ripping the anchor from the seabed before it even began to set. This Keystone Kops routine would repeat itself again and again, with the dialogue between husband and wife becoming more colorful and intense, i.e: "No it's not my fault, you friggin' idiot. If it's so easy to set an anchor, then why don't you drag your fat ass up to the bow and set it yourself?" Sadly, the BVI's well-maintained fields of mooring balls have robbed us of such rich entertainment — but not entirely. In a popular spot like The Bight on Norman Island, bareboaters still put on an occasional show. There was one guy, for example, who raised his main while still hooked up, with the wind blowing 20 knots. He then disappeared below for 15 minutes or so while his little sloop lashed back and forth like a
The March 2014 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.