Because of RVing, we made a new friend around 1.5 years ago. Like us, he RVs full-time, but he used to live on a sailboat. After months of talking about it, we finally decided that we would go on a sailing trip together. Me and Wes knew that sailing would eventually be our next adventure, so this seemed like a fun vacation to help us decide if we would really enjoy it.
So, in June of 2017, we took a 10-day sailing charter in the British Virgin Islands with our RV friend and two other couples.
This ended up being one of the best trips I've ever taken. Plus, I was still able to earn a great income even though we were sailing and on vacation for the majority of the month as you can read in How I Made $121,861.28 In June While Sailing to Beautiful Islands.
We've been to the Virgin Islands numerous times, but we had never been to the British Virgin Islands, and this was our first sailing trip.
Actually, I had never even been on a sailboat before.
Here are some of the places we went on the sailing charter (pictures are at the very end of the article):
- Road Town, Tortola – This is where our sailing charter began and ended.
- Virgin Gorda – We went to the Baths, which I had wanted to visit for a while, and they were amazing. We also anchored in Savannah Bay for two nights. There was a lot of climbing on rocks, beautiful water, and more. We visited the North Sound of Virgin Gorda and went to Bitter End Yacht Club (we moored there) and Saba Rock.
- Anegada – Everyone on our charter was looking forward to visiting this island. Anegada has beautiful, secluded beaches, like Loblolly Beach, which we spent a day at. We visited some of the great snorkeling areas and saw a stingray, and we even saw flamingos! We stayed here for two nights, and it was amazing! This was our longest sail, and we even had a dolphin swimming with us as we sailed.
- Sandy Spit – This island is tiny, with not much on it, but it is surrounded by beautiful blue water. We anchored here for the night and went to Foxy's for drinks and hiked to the Bubbly Pool.
- Norman Island – We moored at Norman Island so we could go to Willy T's, which is a floating party bar where you can jump off the top of the boat and into the water.
- The Indians – We went snorkeling at The Indians and were able to experience some of the best snorkeling I have ever done. There were tons of fish, and we even saw a large barracuda and a puffer fish!
- Beef Island – We tried to visit Cooper Island but all of the moorings were taken. So, we sailed over to Beef Island for the night and anchored by ourselves.
- Cooper Island – We woke up early to sail back to Cooper Island. This was a beautiful places to spend our last day on the charter. Even though it was the slow season, the mooring balls filled up by noon, and many sailors were “parking lot stalking” and waiting for sailboats to leave. Get there early if you go! While we visited we saw a sea turtle and dolphins.
We were on a Sunsail 51 – 4 Cabin Monohull Yacht, and some people might think that’s crazy for seven adults. However, no one complained about the space, and it really ended up being plenty of space for our group.
Getting to the sailing charter.
Because St. Thomas is the largest and usually the easiest airport to fly into, most people tend to fly to St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and then take a ferry to Tortola, where Sunsail and other charter companies are located.
Our trip actually started by first flying from Portland (that's where we left our RV) to Dallas, then to Miami, then to St. Thomas.
After arriving at the STT airport, we took a five minute taxi ride for about $10 (for the both of us) to the Charlotte Amelie ferry dock. We then hopped on the Road Town Fast Ferry to go from St. Thomas to West End, Tortola. This took around 45 minutes and cost about $100 for the two of us. You can find ferry information here.
After we arrived and went through customs to clear into the British Virgin Islands, our Airbnb host picked us up from the ferry dock because the driveway to her Airbnbs was incredibly narrow, steep, had very sharp turns, and most taxis could not do it. We completely understood when we arrived!
We stayed at the Airbnb for a few nights (it had AMAZING views), waited for some of our friends to arrive, then headed over to Sunsail, where we would bareboat charter a sailboat.
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As I said earlier, we were on a Sunsail 51 – 4 Cabin Monohull Yacht. Sunsail is one of the biggest sailboat rental companies in the world, with locations all over.
This was a Jeanneau sailboat, around 50 feet with four bedrooms and four bathrooms.
While all of the cabins were on the smaller side, everyone was able to sleep and have their own space, which was nice. We didn't have to refill the water tank the whole 10 days, we had plenty of diesel to run the ACs at night time (it's hot in June in the Virgin Islands), and we had plenty of space for food.
Who sails the sailboat?
Like I said at the beginning of this post, our RV friend used to live on a sailboat, so we made him our captain. This meant we were able to bareboat charter our sailboat, and sail on our own.
Wes also took on some of the sailing responsibilities because he has taken an 8-day sailing course and has also sailed with his uncles a few times.
So, the rest of us put our lives in their hands, and it went well!
If you are interested in a sailing charter, but you don't know anyone who sails, Sunsail (the sailboat charter company that we used) will provide a captain for your trip for an additional cost.
What did we eat on the sailing charter?
The day we got the sailboat, we spent some time getting provisions for the trip. It took a few hours and a couple of grocery stores. We went to the Rite Way in Road Town as well as OneMart Superstore.
Rite Way was more comparable to a grocery store in the United States, with many of the same food and displays I am used to seeing in the states.
In total, for seven people and 10 days, we spent $3,808.40 on food, groceries, restaurants, pina coladas, and more.
We could have spent way, way, way less money on food, but we splurged on a few experiences, such as going to Saba Rock and having two lobster dinners in Anegada. We also overprovisioned and ended up giving away a ton of food and alcohol to another group who were about to start their chartered vacation. Honestly, our best meals were actually on the boat, as we had many great cooks (this goes to you, Scott and Nicole!).
Plus, I realized that everything just tastes better on a boat (like how I think everything tastes better in an RV).
Did I get seasick on the bareboat charter?
I have a stomach that gets upset quite easily. I don't get sick in the RV, but oddly enough, I do get carsick whenever someone other than me or Wes drives.
Much to my surprise, I didn't get sick at all during the 10-day trip. Actually, many of the people on our trip got seasick, so I was really surprised when I didn’t.
If you normally get seasick, there are many things you can do to try to prevent it, such as taking Dramamine or Bonine, wearing a sailing bracelet, getting a seasickness patch, and so on. People on our sailing charter tried a combination of all of these.
What did I love about the BVI sailing trip?
I loved everything about the sailing trip. Honestly, I could have spent the entire 10 days just on the boat. However, the British Virgin Islands are beautiful and deserve to be explored.
- Being able to create our own schedule. We could decide where we wanted to go each day and what we wanted to do.
- Being able to explore multiple islands. We went to so many different islands without feeling rushed because we were on our own sailboat.
- Having places to ourselves. Because the British Virgin Islands are such a popular place for sailing charters, we were constantly around people, especially when we were mooring or anchoring. However, we did get to experience a few nights with very few people around, once all by ourselves. It was very peaceful!
- Seeing beautiful places. The sunsets were amazing, and we experienced some amazing snorkeling, great hikes, and more.
I know I keep saying it, but really, everything was amazing. I definitely recommend going on a BVI sailing charter trip of your own.
Looking for more sailing charter tips?
Here are my other tips for your sailing charter in the British Virgin Islands:
- You have to pay a customs fee for both entering and leaving the British Virgin Islands. These were each paid at the ferry dock since we took a ferry. From what I’ve read, the fee seems to vary, and our entry and exit fees were around $20 per person each time.
- You do need a passport to visit the British Virgin Islands.
- When going back to the St. Thomas airport to fly home, you have to arrive very early. When we were there, the minimum check in time was 180 minutes prior to departure, and just checking bags or getting boarding passes required 90 minutes! We have heard about people that, despite making their flight, were turned away because they weren't there before the minimum check in time.
- I recommend using soft-sided luggage, like a duffel bag or soft backpack, on the sailboat. Sailboats don’t have a ton of storage space, so being able to stuff your luggage into a small cabinet is key.
- For internet on the sailboat, I used my iPhone as a hotspot and signed up for ATT's International Day Pass. It was $10 for each 24 hour period, and I was only charged for the days that I used to service, and I was able to use my same cell and data plan from home. This allowed me to check in on the business every so often and the connection was solid.
- Bring clothespins so that you can hang your clothes on one of the life lines.
- Taste the water you are buying before buying $75 of it. We bought a ton of water so that we wouldn't have to go shopping for the rest of the trip, and after we got on the sailboat, we found out that the water was bad. It tasted like pizza (I'm not kidding). The seven of us turned it into a joke because, man, that stuff was really gross. #pizzawater
- Go through your checkout list before you set sail. You want to make sure that you have everything you need in order to sail, that everything is in working order, and so on. We were missing some wine glasses, and I'm glad we did a check before we set sail! The important things in life, right?
- Put something on your dinghy, like a handkerchief, that makes it look different from the others. Nearly all dinghies look the same, which can make it hard to easily find yours. One day, I was trying to tell everyone that we got on the wrong one, and it turns out we were on someone else’s dinghy for a 30 second ride.
- Leave the heavy makeup, hair curlers, straighteners, blow dryers at home, but do bring all of the underwear you have.
Most of all, be polite and have fun on your sailing charter in the British Virgin Islands!
Well, there you have it! This was really one of the best trips I have ever taken, and writing this trip recap and review has made me a little emotional thinking about all the fun we had.
Are you interested in going on a sailing charter in the British Virgin Islands or somewhere else in the world? Why or why not?
Here are some pictures from our sailing charter in the British Virgin Islands. Some of the pictures are from our friends who were on the sailboat rental with us, such as Jake and Liz.
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