Bareboat Charter

Back now from our bareboat charter to the British Virgin Islands.  “Bareboat charter” means that Joe and I chartered a catamaran (Leopard 38) and operated it ourselves.   The opposite of this is chartering a yacht and then having  paid crew sail and  operate the boat.

Here is a map of the BVI’s:

This trip, we invited friends, Larry and Lori, to come along for the fun.  They were great fun; and we had many laughs together!

Getting to Tortola, specifically Wickhams Cay II, takes a bit of patience.  This trip involves a plane trip (or two) to Miami, then another plane trip (or two) to St. Thomas.  Then you grab a cab to the Ferry Dock, a Ferry ride from St. Thomas (in the US Virgin Islands) to Roadtown (which is in the British Virgin Islands). Exit the Ferry, then you grab another cab to the Charter company to pick up the boat.

Prepare to enjoy the concept of being on “island time.”  This is where you R-E-L-A-X and just go with the flow.  Feeling stressed from travel?  No problem…. just grab a cold drink, preferably one with rum and fruit juice involved and just chill.

The charter company, with a bit of pre-planning from you, will have your provisions all ready and unpacked on the boat.  Oops, turned out this was asking too much of our company, so I needed to inquire as to the snafu.  Finally, provisions arrived and put away; we were now one step closer to leaving base.

Joe and I came with our own boat checklist, and we made a list of questions and issues for the boat briefing the following morning.  Good thing we checked as our fresh water level was down a tank, so I grabbed a hose and topped it off.   By this point, you are eager to take off from base and start your charter.

Off we go!  First night was spent at Norman’s Islands, aka “The Bight.”  We love to moor on the left side of the mooring field and snorkel around the point.  We skipped snorkeling at the Caves this time.  Night time fun was at the William Thornton, called the “Willie T” for short.  The Willie T is a wild place, where Painkillers and Rum Punches flows and fun is all around.

The next morning, Joe and I motored over to the Indians, which features the best snorkeling in the area.  Be sure to get there early  to pick up a mooring ball.  This is the place where schools of tropical fish swim all around you, contrasted to the colorful coral reef.  For me, there is nothing more soothing than snorkeling over a reef.  Here is a picture of Larry and Lori snorkeling:

Next stop, Diamond Cay on Jost Van Dyke, which is the location of Foxy’s Taboo and the Bubbling Pool.  We learned that the Bubbling Pool was not so bubbly in July, contrasted to this picture taken last November:

For first time visitors, just ask for directions at Foxy’s Taboo.  Expect roughly about a 3/4 of a mile hike to get here.  Go at high tide if you can.

Foxy’s Taboo features good food and nice staff.  The nice young man remembered us from last November, my encounter with the sea urchin in the Cay must have been memorable!  LOL  If you go here in the month of July, bring bug spray to help with the voracious mosquitoes.  Everyone but Joe got bitten, we even had a contest to see who had most bites on their legs or arms.

The next day, after anchoring at Sandy Cay, one of my favorite spots, Lori and I decided to explore the island trails.  We also spent time looking for shells and beach glass.  Success on both scores!  After this stop, we decided to search for the allusive sea horses in White Bay.

White Bay was shallower than expected, and after a rather boring snorkel whereby we all agreed the sea horses were a myth, this was a pretty spot to spend the night.  During our snorkel, it poured, but this didn’t deter the amorous couple on the beach doing certain shocking things that belong in private. Enough said.

Next stop is Marina Cay, where of course we had to search out the Web Cam on the end of the dock.  You stand in front of the British Phone booth and they upload an image every 15 seconds.  As soon as I find our pictures, I will upload it to show you.

Virgin Gorda Sound  is one of my favorite spots.  We moored at Leverick Bay,  and then took the dingy over to Mosquitos Island, which is owned by Sir Richard Branson.  We have our favorite quiet spot on a beach, plus nearby is my favorite place to hunt for beach glass and shells.

Btw, here are pictures of Joe and I on this trip.  In case you are curious, yes, I am a blonde:

Here is Captain Joe, aka my DH.  Notice how happy we are?

At this point in the trip, we needed to get Larry and Lori back to Wickhams Cay II so they could catch the taxi to the ferry home.  We stopped for one last night at Cooper’s Island and had a tasty dinner there.  The snorkeling is great there, too.

Here I caught Lori on her kindle:

We said goodbye to our friends and then turned around and sailed back to Virgin Gorda again for our final 3 days.  Lori ad Larry were troopers, but I could tell they were happy to see normal flushing toilets again (marine heads require a pump flush handle and switch) and regular showers again (instead of showering on the swim step).

Joe and I love to spend hours at various beaches, just relaxing, snorkeling and beach glass hunting.  I came home with lots of beach glass this trip.  We also visited Saba Rock, and also had a nice meal there.   Also visited the Bitter End Yacht club, Cane Garden Bay, and Cooper Island before sailing back to the base at the end of our trip.

It was a wonderful trip and I can’t wait to do it again!  Next trip planned is tenatively set for next spring in the Bahamas.

Back now to the land of quilting and arts!  It is good to be home.  Hugs, Carla

7 thoughts on “Bareboat Charter

  1. Carla, sounds (and looks) like you had a fabulous trip! I am so envious! I love the beach, but not sure about sailing so much! LOL

    And hunting for beach glass is one of my favorite things! I just finished a quilt made from fabric ‘crumbs’ and named it “Beach Glass in a Box” because all the little pieces of different colors reminded me of beach glass!!

  2. Whose that skinny blonde on the boat? Sounds like you had a wonderful time. That’s what vacation is all about…good friends, beautiful scenery, lovely beaches, sea glass and your partner…ahhh That’s the life!

    Glad your home. I missed your blog posts.

  3. Carla, I love that you tell such a nice story about your vacations, It makes me feel like I’m right there with you. I’m happy you had a “pain” free time this year. You look like a teen in your photo.


  4. This is great – I am heading down there to bareboat with a 42′ catamaran in August for the first time, and we’re just starting to plan the itinerary ( Did you have your itinerary set before you went, or did you just end up mooring wherever you felt like ended the day?

  5. No, we never go with an itinerary… usually just an idea of favorite spots. Heads up- we were eaten alive with mosquitos at Foxy’s Taboo on Jost Van Dyke. Take bug spray, too, for the no-see-ums.

    Btw, White Bay on JVD was very shallow- even for a cat.

    The Bight is a good first stop. Don’t miss the Willie T while there. Pick up a mooring ball on the very left side of the bay (as you are coming in) and you can snorkel off the end of the cat. Be sure to visit the caves and don’t miss the Indians. We usually wake up and zip over to the Indians and then have breakfast. Mooring balls fill early- usually by 8 or 9 am. If you are lucky, someone will be leaving if you go later in the day.

    Shouldn’t be too crowded since it is Hurricane Season and we noticed it is not as busy thanks to the economy. Thus said, get to where you want to be early and you will always find plenty of mooring balls.

    If you at in Virgin Gorda Sound on a Friday night, don’t miss their bar-b-que buffet at Leverick Bay. Make a reservation and they will save you a table. I am not a buffet fan, but found this one to be excellent! Free water and ice, too.

    Saba Rock also is a nice stop… great dinner stop, plus you can see the large fish in the water at night. Free water and ice if you moor there overnight.

    Cooper’s Island has some nice snorkeling plus a good restaurant. We stay here the last night because it is a straight shot into Roadtown to return the boat the next morning.

    The Dogs also has some nice snorkeling, too. It is a day mooring spot.

    Btw, typical cab prices are as follows:
    From St. Thomas Airport to the Ferry- $10 per person (include bags). Then, when you get to the ferry dock on Tortola, we usually pay $4-5 dollars for a cab to the Sunsail or Moorings base.

    Enjoy your trip! Have a painkiller for me! Carla

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