How do we get there? There are two ways I’d suggest. First and usually cheapest (unless there is a sale on flights to San Juan, SJU), is to fly in to Cyril E. King Airport (STT) on St. Thomas, catch a cab to the Tortola ferry, then a cab to the base. Ferry and taxi’s will run about $100 r.t./pp. I can set up a cab and ferry tickets on St. Thomas for you if you’d like. Second way is to fly in to Beef Island Airport (EIS) on Tortola, and catch a cab to the base. Cab is about $22 r.t./pp and the Departure Tax is $20/pp (as of 01 July 2014 a $15 departure tax and a $5 port security fee are now charged) . I’ve done both, easiest being flying in to Beef Island, but cost is usually higher. You may look at flying to San Juan (SJU) and catching a Cape Air (www.flycapair.com) flight to Beef Island (EIS). Cape Air used to sell a book of 10 flight vouchers for $999 that are good for 1 year, so a round trip will cost you $200. Doing this, you avoid the ferry, taxi and departure fees on St. Thomas (roughly $120/pp), but pay about $44/pp on Tortola. Also, American fly’s to Tortola via San Juan.
How many people can we bring? The boat has 4 double bed cabins which will sleep 10, with the sleeping arrangements left up to you (the forward cabins have a berth in the peak that will sleep an adult).
What’s it going to cost me? Cost will depend on total number of people and days, with a good ballpark figure of $4000-4500/wk for boat (4 cabins for your use) and crew. When you decide these, contact me at email@example.com for a final price. Beyond the cost of the boat, you can figure on roughly $200 couple/week for food and drink depending on your desires, and your transfer fees. Cost sounds crazy? Go to the Sunsail site and price your desired trip on the 444 catamaran. In low season the base price is roughly$900 day, and then about $190/day for a captain, and the captain gets a cabin, leaving you 3. At that you are looking at $1090/day without figuring in any mooring fees (30/night), taxes, local fees, or other boat needs you may encounter during your trip.
I want to SCUBA dive while sailing. Last Stop Sports located near the base, has better rates by a few dollars, and are easy to work with. I suggest using Sail Caribbean Divers if your group wants to do a ‘Discover SCUBA Diving’ trip. The DSD is designed for those that have no SCUBA experience. They will pick you up, teach you the basics, and take you on a ‘first timers’ dive of 40′ . Very cool!
Food and drink, how do we do that? I would suggest bringing a cooler with meats, sea foods and cheeses etc… these tend to be the most expensive items on the islands. There are several local shopping choices on the island, and Footloose also offers provisioning that rivals the others in price, but variety tends to be less. I use Bobby’s Marketplace and Riteway Food Market, and have used The Ample Hamper as well. All deliver to the boat, prices are about the same. You can order online or catch a free ride from the base to Bobby’s or Riteway and do your own shopping. Along the way there are shops and opportunities to resupply if needed.
What should we bring with us? Any prescription medications for sure, your choice of pain reliever, suntan lotion, personal items. There is a First Aid kit on board with basics.
Communication. We have constant cellphone communication in the BVI. I have AT&T and have no trouble with service (usually). And depending on where we are, it’s even non roaming. I always add the ‘international plan’ to my phone before leaving just in case, as calls are $3.99/min without it. So be sure to check with your provider regarding coverage in the BVI, not the USVI. There are phones everywhere we go too, so you can’t hide easily. And yes, most places have wi-fi if you feel the need to communicate that way. Check here for a list.
WIFI While wifi is available most places in the islands, should you want or require 24/7 wifi service, you can have it on board! Renport has an office at the base and offers 7-8 day packages ranging $119 to $320, depending on the data usage/total users you want. They also rent all sorts of other ‘stuff’.
Money and access to it. The currency of the BVI is the US dollar. Credit cards are accepted most everywhere, but ask your company if they charge a ‘foreign service/exchange fee’ of any sort. While there is no ‘exchange’ of ANY sort, it’s a way the card companies now use to generate fee income. ATM’s are available in many locations, and travelers checks accepted as well. I’ve not tried personal checks ever.
When can we go? My only limit is the total number of owner weeks I have, and the season I can use them in. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your dates, and I’ll go from there. Never a bad time to be in the islands sailing!
Weather The weather is about the same year ’round. Check with the Weather Channel and keep in mind that off shore is easily 7-10 degrees cooler than shore due to wind and the fact that the islands are rock, and radiate the sun’s heat.