Eight reasons why the Virgin Islands is the best charter cruising area in the world!
Inspired by a recent email, here are eight reasons why, in our opinion, the Virgin Islands is the best charter cruising area in the world!*
1. Everything is close together
- There are few places in the world where you can raise anchor, travel less than an hour, snorkel a great spot, travel a bit more, visit a bar for lunch, play on a beach in the afternoon and then after another short hop, settle in for the night in a different location. Then repeat that again and again for an entire week, without visiting the same spot twice. That’s the Virgin Islands. Unlike the islands in the Windwards and Leewards, there are so many great spots in the Virgins in close proximity to one another, visitors can not possibly get bored.
Swim, snorkel, explore, dance… the choice is yours!
2. The sailing is protected
- For those who are not experienced seamen, and even for some of those who are, the inter-island passages in the Caribbean are tough! One of our friends referred to the runs between the islands as the “barfing straights.” Doesn’t that conjure up images for you? While neither of us have never been seasick sailing there, the passages are seldom what I would call calm. The opposite is largely the norm in the Virgins. While the waters in VI channels can most definitely be stirred up by the wind, they are largely protected from the open ocean swell, making traveling from anchorage to anchorage much easier. Also, remembering what I wrote about having everything situated close together, even if sailors do find themselves bashing into some less-than-comfortable waves, it seldom lasts much longer than an hour or so, not all day or night as happens down island.
3. There are calm anchorages everywhere
- When it comes to anchorages, I love the selection in the Virgin Islands. All one needs to do to have a good night’s sleep is check the wind and wave forecasts and then choose his/her anchorage accordingly. Unlike most of the Caribbean islands where there are few, if any, anchorages on the windward (eastern) shoreline, the Virgin Islands offer countless protected bays facing a variety of directions. Wind coming from the southeast? No problem, pick a spot on the northern coast of an island. It’s moved around to the northeast? Choose one on the south coast. No problem.
Yesterday afternoon at 3:00 PM, after completing our business in Long Bay, Charlotte Amalie, Rebecca and I decided that we had had enough of the swell working its way into the harbor. What did we do? We simply raised anchor and motored 40 minutes around the coastline to re-anchor in a perfectly calm and protected bay. You definitely can’t do that in most other cruising regions!
4. There are good mooring balls for those who are not comfortable anchoring
- Let’s admit it, anchoring can be tough and stressful for some people. While we have plenty of experience anchoring, not everyone out on the water does. Even those on charter who sail regularly back home often return to a dock each night. While frequently complained about by budget-minded cruisers (including us sometimes), the abundance of good mooring balls in the Virgin Islands is really a plus in my opinion. These balls allow visitors to the area to safely and securely stop for the night, without worry about dragging their anchor into a nearby boat. As someone who often has to share those same anchorages, I appreciate that!
Sitting on our “balcony” last night in our calm anchorage,
playing guitar and uke while watching the sun set.
5. There are delivery services which will come to your boat
- We recently had a charter inquiry from someone who was obsessed about ice. We were told by the broker that the client did not want to “spend hours everyday searching for ice.” Guess what? That never happens! Not only are there multiple shoreside spots which sell ice, groceries and sundries, there are even delivery services which will come to your boat to sell you things! Several of the marinas have their own boats which travel out to vessels in their anchorage, and there is the well-known boat Deliverance which services Norman and Peter islands, selling everything from booze to ice to cinnamon buns. No, you will not have to run around looking for ice.
6. There is nightlife, or there is not
- Looking to get your dance on? Check out Foxy’s on Friday nights, or the infamous Willie T. Prefer to have a spot all to yourself? Contrary to popular opinion, even that can sometimes still be accomplished. The best part of cruising in an area like the Virgin Islands is that, given the close proximity of all of the islands (yes, I said it again), cruising plans can pretty much be decided on a day-to-day basis.
7. There are great snorkel and dive locations
- Some people are under the impression that they need to travel to far, out-of-way places to experience great diving. That is definitely not the case. The grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence! Fantastic snorkel spots abound in the Virgin Islands and many of them have park-service mooring balls conveniently placed right overtop of the best locations. If exploring deeper water is more your thing, there are also numerous highly-rated dive companies that will provide rendezvous excursions, picking you up from your boat to take you to explore wrecks and other great spots in deeper water.
8. There are plenty of marine services in case you run into trouble
- No one plans to have trouble while sailing but as well know, things can happen. It’s nice to know that should trouble arise, whether it be of a mechanical nature or a medical one, help is not far away.
*Caveat: No, we haven’t sailed all over the world but we have been up and down the eastern Caribbean chain a few times. Take this opinion piece for what it’s worth.