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Mollie's Blog

Navigating the British Virgin Islands

November 19, 2018 by Mollie The Dog

Chartering a yacht in the British Virgin Islands is an amazing adventure that you will not soon forget.  Known for their line of sight navigation, the BVI has become one of the most sought after charter destinations in the world.  A first time charter can still be a little intimidating though, for anyone new to the area. Often times we hear our charter guests say that they would probably do things a little differently the next time back. Granted, there’s no right or wrong way to navigate in the BVI, but certainly we can give you tips that might make your charter vacation go a little smoother.  

Tip #1:  Plan to Arrive at your Destination Early

This is especially important in peak Charter Season.  The moorings at popular islands fill up quickly. Why not arrive at your destination early and plan your day around the new location.  That way you won’t be stressed if you pull into an anchorage as the sun is setting and find that all the moorings have long since been taken.  There’s nothing worse than trying to anchor in the dark.

Tip #2:  Put Your Tender to Work

Don’t think of your charter in terms of ‘just your yacht’...instead plan your itinerary as a ‘yacht with a tender’, especially if you follow tip #1.  You’ll get so much more out of an itinerary stop if you plan to use your tender for more than just going ashore to a dinghy dock. I am sure there will be times when not everyone wants to do the same activity.  Why not drop the beach lovers on that sandy white beach for the day and use that tender to scope out a new dive or snorkel side at a nearby deserted island. That way everyone is happy!

Tip #3: Consider Upgrading to a RIB

Or better yet, consider adding a RIB in addition to the dinghy.  With a good size RIB your guests can safely and comfortably travel further from that protected anchorage providing many more opportunities to experience far more activities than sticking around the yacht.  A RIB is also a must if you want to add any of those pull toys to your charter fun. Island Time at Nanny Cay has just the RIB to enhance your charter itinerary and they can even arrange to have it at your yacht when you arrive.  

Tip #4: Be Flexible When Planning your Itinerary

Especially if this is your first time chartering in the British Virgin Islands, there are going to be stops along the way where you wish you had another day at that location.  Weather can also be a deterring factor for certain activities on some of the islands. Stay flexible! If you don’t quite get it all done this trip, there’s always the next time!!  There will always be far too many things to see and do than there are days in a charter.

Tip #5: Follow the Islands

Plan your itinerary counter clockwise in order of the islands.  If you check out our sample itinerary you’ll find that we did just that.  Most of the islands in the BVI are fairly close to one another which limit any long runs if you plan your stops from one island to the next.  You’ll save time and gas this way allowing you to pack far more into your itinerary.

Tip #6: Consider Your Sea State

Any good captain takes into account the weather before making a run for the day, but don’t forget to consider the sea state and the comfort of your charter guests as well.  Sometimes it’s better to make changes in an itinerary than take chances, especially if you have uneasy guests aboard.

Tip #7: Light up your Boat at Night

You’ll thank me for this one! Take some kind of distinguishing light for your yacht and turn it on before you go ashore.  Don’t count on being able to find your charter boat in the dark when you are returning late at night. It’s far easier to spot that string of lights from a distance rather than going boat by boat with a flashlight... if you even remembered to take it with you. Some of those anchorages have over 30 moorings and trust me, in the dark all the boats look alike!

If any of these suggestions make sense... great!  In the end, it’s all about what works for your group. Be sure and check out our Charter Planning Guides for more valuable information about the British Virgin Islands.


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