Islands - Sailors Paradise
Did you know
that the water in the
Virgin Islands is sparkling turquoise? The sky is crispy cobalt? The occasional cloud is
fleecy white? The sun is happy yellow? The beaches are sugary ivory and the crew are
The only real way to capture the color and romance of the Virgin Islands is to see for
yourself! However, we've decided to give you a sneak preview, so please read on
The Virgin Islands lie in the West
Indies about 40 miles east of Puerto Rico. The typical Virgin Islands
cruising area extends from St Thomas to the west to Virgin Gorda to the
east, a distance of
approximately 45 miles. The Atlantic Ocean meets our island chain on the north side, and
the Caribbean Sea borders us on the south side. The larger islands within this area are:
St Thomas, St John, Tortola, Jost Van Dyke, Norman Island, Cooper Island, Peter Island,
and Virgin Gorda. There are many smaller and lesser known islands and cays. Just outside
of this area are St Croix to the south, Culebra to the west, and Anegada to the north.
Except for Anegada, the islands were born from volcanic activity, which means they are
mountainous and picturesque. The beaches are white, sandy beaches, and coral reefs are
active with abundant marine life.
Sailing here is easy! Since
the islands are close together, you'll be "island hopping". Navigation is by
line-of-sight. The water is clear and you can usually see the bottom. Changes in the color
of the water will also tell you a great deal about the depth and nature of the bottom.
There is a minimal tidal variation (approximately 18" max) and no fog! The rain
showers come and go, keeping the islands green. There is minimal commercial traffic
compared to many areas you may sail. The people speak English and the currency is the U.S.
Where the weatherman gets bored!
The Virgins are famous for year round cruising. The temperature ranges from 80's in
winter to 90's in summer. The sea temperatures hover at 80, plus or minus just a hair. The
prevailing winds are the tradewinds (from the east).
There's a slight wind shift to the north in winter with
wind speeds of 15 - 20 knots. In
the summer, the winds shift to east south east and blow10 - 15 knots. Christmas Winds
are stronger winds that may blow for several days at a time, anytime from December through
February. There really is no rainy season. We usually have short bursts of showers
and blue sky follows.
Hurricane season - Due
to the world's recent weather patterns, keeping an eye out for storms is a concern in
areas that fall in the Hurricane belt. CYOA does not charter in the most likely months
that these storms may pass (September and October). Though it is just as likely the
weather may be perfect, we do not recommend planning a once in a lifetime vacation during
this period of time.
CYOA will assist with your itinerary
planning. Since we know the area intimately, and have sampled many of the
snorkeling spots, over night anchorages and on-island offerings, we'll be happy to make
suggestions for what to do! Limein' is a favorite past time. When you get
here, you'll learn all about it!
Island customs are important to be
familiar with. If you understand a little about the people here, you will have a
better time. These are low key islands where the pace is slow. People are laid back. Be
dignified and respectful of their home. Slow yourself down. Leave the hurried, rushed,
competitive elements of your own life behind, and better yet leave your laptop and cell
phone home too! Slow down and relax - that's what vacation is about. Dress is casual, BUT
please wear cover-ups in town, no bathing suits or micro-outfits, as you will not impress
anyone. They are not appreciated. Save the skimpy outfits for the beach or your boat.
Customs and immigration
A valid passport is required for all persons visiting the BVI and returning
by yacht to the USVI.
Please be sure you put this item on a checklist along
with your plane tickets. U.S. citizens do not need to clear out of the U.S. when heading
to the BVI. Everyone must clear into the BVI upon entering. This is done in West End
Tortola or Great Harbor, Jost Van Dyke. Proper attire is required for visiting the Customs
and Immigration office. All charter boats, regardless of origination pay a cruising tax in
the BVI. You should budget this at $50pp/week and $50 for the vessel for the cruise. There
are several elements that make up the cruising tax and that is why it is estimated. When
returning to the U.S., a stop is necessary at U.S. customs. This is in Cruz Bay, St John.
A stop for customs and immigration clearance usually is about 30 minutes and the locations
are in spots that are enjoyable to visit.