Directly to the area characteristics
The main island Tortolist cannot be reached with direct flights from Germany, so crews have three transfer options: Either to St. Martin, mostly viParis (without changing airport!) With Air France or alternatively with KLM via Amsterdam. Then it goes on with the island hopper to Tortola. The third option is to fly to Puerto Rico and then transfer there. The advantage is that you can do this from Germany. However, the route also has a major disadvantage: Puerto Rico belongs to the USA, so you have to apply for an e-visa, and dPuerto Rico does not have an international transfer terminal, there is nothing left to do but enter, including time-consuming US border formalities and pick-up of your own luggage. Then the crew has to change terminals, check in the baggage again and go through US security checks. A time-consuming procedure. The destination of St. Martin is much more fixed.
All charter stations are located on Tortola: Road Harbor, Hodges Creek, Sopers Hole, MayCove - all of them are only a few kilometers apart, and you can get there in about 30 minutes by taxi. The offer is great. As almost always in the Caribbean, the kats are now clearly in the majority, but the selection of monohulls is also good. The price level in the BVI is slightly higher than in the more southern areas of the Caribbean, because the manageable and well-protected area is the favorite destination of all crews.
It is no longer advisable to sail over to the St. Martin area (almost 80 miles), which until a few years ago crews with a desire for long strokes did when their favorite ship in the area was fully booked. Since the BVI introduced a high tax for charter yachts from other regions in 2017 (16 US dollars per day per person), the effort is almost never worth it.
CHARTER PROVIDER IN THE CARIBBEAN
Weather statistics BVI
WIND & WEATHER
The best time to travel is from the end of the hurricane season in late November to April. During this time a fairly constant trade wind blows from east to northeast, mostly at 12 to 25 knots, it blows along the Sir Francis Drake Channel. Until mid-December the weather is a little more unstable than during the rest of the sailing season. From April to June there tends to be less wind. In December and January, the so-called Christmas Winds can occur, which are a little stronger and can then also come from northern directions. They are connected with the passage of thick clouds and heavy showers from this direction and are heralded by a sharp drop in air pressure.
Crews in tropical areas always have to expect sudden showers or thunderstorms with corresponding gusts, but these are not of long duration.
Most crews get weather reports via the usual apps such as Windy or Windfinder Pro. In the French territories one is in EU roaming. It can get more expensive off other islands, and many crews then use WiFi networks in bars or restaurants.
Photo gallery: Impressions from the BVI
The hurricane season officially runs from June 1st to November 30th.
NAVIGATION & SEAT CREW
The BVI are rightly considered the easiest Caribbean area. The waters in the Sir Francis Drake Channel between Tortol and the offshore smaller islands offer protection from the swell of the Atlantic and too much wind. The distances are very short, the next good place is always reached in an hour or two.
The area is relatively well buoyed and not too demanding in terms of navigation, there are only a few difficult approaches, such as the silting fairway to Anegada, the SavannBay on Virgin Gordo. When approaching such anchorages, crews have to rely on the so-called "eyeball navigation" because of the reef heads. It works according to the water color. Deep water is blue, green or turquoise water about five to eight meters deep, brown and gray water indicate stones or coral heads. It is also important that this is not possible against the sun, which may even be low. Accordingly, the journey must be planned according to the times of day.
When approaching harbors and fairways, it should be noted that in the Caribbean the lateral system for marking is the opposite of the European one (IALA-B): When entering the fairway from the sea, red buoys are found on the starboard side instead of green ones.
Most charter companies prohibit sailing in the dark. So you should make sure that you have reached the port or anchorage by about five or four o'clock. Exceptions are possible on request. In some cases, however, large distances to the bank areas must be maintained.
PORTS & ANCHORAGE
Most of the time, crews will moor to buoys, because many bays are provided with buoy fields, anchoring in between is almost always prohibited. The night at the barrels costs around 30 US dollars, the common means of payment in the district. The obolus is either collected from employees in boats, sometimes the skipper has to pay it on the beach in a bar or restaurant. Often there are also landing stages for the dinghies.
LITERATURE & SEA MAPS
"Cruising Guide to the Virgin Islands" by N. and S. Scott, approx. 40 euros, available from specialist dealers (e.g. Hansenautic). The nautical charts and the cruising guide from NV Verlag, sentence 12.1, are very good. "Virgin Islands" and "Cruising Guide Virgin Islands", 89 and 29.80 euros respectively.
AREA CHARACTERISTICS BVI
The northernmost Caribbean charter area combines many superlatives: It offers beautiful beaches in bays with palm trees and rustic beach bars, crystal clear turquoise water, perfect infrastructure and protected sailing. No wonder that the Virgin Islands are the most popular destination for German charter crews. If you do not feel like long strikes of 20 or 30 miles to the next island in the Passat including the swell and are afraid of the effort of clearing in and out, this is the right place, because you always stay in the waters of the BVI. Hardly any crew makes the laborious move to the US Virgin Islands. You seldom sail for more than a few hours, the focus of many crews is on relaxing, swimming and snorkeling and then spending the evening on the beach in restaurants or bars.
There are no pushy boat boys like there is in the Grenadines and practically no crime. The islands are famous for their quaint bars and parties, for example "Foxy's" on Jost van Dyke or the Full Moon Party in Trellis Bay. For those who like it a bit rough, "Bombas Shack" and the party ship "Willy T" off Norman Island are the right choice. The BVI stand for carefree Caribbean fun in a fantastically beautiful setting, also ideal for Caribbean beginners. The crews meet for happy hour at the bars on the beach, you immediately get into conversation with sailors from all over the world and then you go to one of the beautiful restaurants on the beach for dinner or a barbecue. The nautical area is easy, sailing is almost always on sight, there are only a few tricky reef passages.
However, this also means that the Virgin Islands are correspondingly well-visited. In the high season, the buoy fields and anchorages are quickly occupied, you are never alone, and those who arrive after 1 p.m. at popular spots such as Cooper Island or The Baths have little chance of a berth. The prices for yachts are also a bit above the level of the other destinations. In general, the price level in the Caribbean is significantly higher than in Europe, and the French islands often offer more culinary options further south.
Anyone who sails here for 10 to 14 days can easily manage the whole area, including the single long shot out to the flat coral island of Anegada. But there are also crews for just one week - the BVI are the only area where this is really still possible. Those who like it sporty can come to the BVI jumping regatta, but the cult Caribbean regattas can be found further south of the area.