Allende is a fully crewed yacht out of the BVIs owned and operated by Kristiann and Graham Gips. Their friends at Dream Yacht Charter asked them to write a report for bareboat charterers booked to sail in the BVI this season. Here’s one crew’s updated report on local conditions at the end of November.
Progress is being made in the British Virgin Islands. The biggest challenge and shock to charter guests is likely to come immediately upon their arrival to the islands and their charter base. Clean-up in the marinas is underway but it is slow work with many different owners, salvage groups and insurers involved. Roadways on Tortola are in poor shape and you should allow extra time for taxi transfers.
In Road Town, provisioning is unaffected; the local grocery stores (RiteWay, Cash & Carry, One Mart, Bobby’s) and liquor stores (TICO, Caribbean Cellars) are very well stocked. This includes fresh produce, imports and specialty items.
Outside of the major suppliers in Road Town, cash is king. Be sure you have enough cash on hand before setting out. We recommend staying flexible. To avoid disappointment, call establishments listed before setting firm plans.
Notes on Navigation, Moorings and Anchoring
Some navigation buoys are no longer on their charted location, and care is required when transiting channels or near obstructions. Notes on specific channels are mentioned in the respective sections below.
So far, every mooring we have picked up has been in good condition, although most have had significant marine growth after long periods of not being used. Until such time when all moorings have been properly inspected, sailors are advised to snorkel on their mooring to ensure it is in good condition.
We have found some anchorages deeper and others shallower than their pre-Irma depths (never more than 2-3’ difference). In some cases, we have found hard-packed sand with poor-to-fair holding where there used to be soft sand with great holding. Sailors should anticipate some variance from data on charts, and if possible enter unfamiliar anchorages in good light with a lookout on the bow. Additionally, we have heard several firsthand reports of tree debris entangled in ground tackle, so some care and perhaps extra time is needed when weighing anchor.
Norman Island has long been a favorite stop for a night or two on charter, and this should not change. As of December 2nd, a bar and restaurant in the Bight is open from 12-6 PM daily.
The Caves and the Indians are both still great snorkel spots. Mooring balls are available in The Bight, Kelly’s Cove, Privateer Bay and Soldier Bay. For those comfortable anchoring in deeper water or anchoring and tying a long line to shore, Benures Bay remains a peaceful spot.
There’s no change to Great Harbor’s many moorings, and it’s still a convenient stop near bareboat bases on the south side of Tortola. While Deadman’s Bay is still beautiful, the damage to Peter Island Resort property there is extensive. Crews are actively cleaning the property and we expect the view to improve quickly. The marina in Sprat Bay is currently closed.
Whelk Bay, White Bay and Key Bay are still nice, quiet anchorages in which to take cover from a northerly swell.
National Park Moorings are still in place at the RMS Rhone. The wreck of the Rhone is untouched. This is a great year to earn your scuba certification and put it to use. Because of the amount of debris and rubbish ashore on Salt Island we do not recommend shore excursions at this time
Cooper Island Beach Club does not plan to reopen until later in the season, as of now the property and the beach at Machioneel Bay is a construction site. The restaurant and bar may open sooner, check their website for the latest. Mooring balls are still available and we would favor the Cistern Point side for snorkeling. You can also anchor and enjoy the natural beauty at Hallovers Bay.
Fat Hogs Bay, Tortola
Many of the hurricane-wrecked boats in Fat Hog’s Bay have been moved away. Bareboaters can re-provision at RiteWay East End and use their convenient dinghy dock. A laundromat is located next door at the Kenneth Chalwell Marina. Free moorings are available at Penn’s Landing marina (follow the channel in to the right) with your dinner reservation at Red Rock. Water is available on the dock at Penn’s Landing for $0.20/gallon. The Red Rock restaurant and bar is open for dinner seven days a week. Red Rock offers tablecloth service on a comfortable outdoor patio and serves high quality food and drinks. Most impressive, they spray for mosquitoes nightly. Call Rick on Channel 16 or at (284) 545-6924 for docking assistance and reservations.
Support the local dive operators by arranging a dive at Ginger Island. Underwater life throughout the BVI are in good shape, with dive sites faring better than shallow snorkeling sites. Dive BVI and Sunchaser Scuba are both operating now; as always you should book in advance.
National Park moorings are for 90-minutes of day use only; but Fallen Jerusalem is worth a stop to snorkel. It’s an underwater version of the Baths, and the sea life here is spectacular.
Trellis Bay, Beef Island
Hurricane Irma washed Trellis Bay’s long-term liveaboards and abandoned boats ashore in Trellis Bay. While this renders the beach unusable, Trellis Bay is still a practical spot for airport pick-ups and drop-offs. Trellis Bay Market is serving both lunch and dinner, and the convenience store is scheduled to reopen with ice available on December 15th. Call (284) 341-6077 or (284) 540-9742 to confirm. Trellis Bay Market is also keeping the Full Moon Party tradition alive! Deep Blue Delivery Services is also operating and will cheerfully bring ice to Trellis Bay and nearby on-the-water locations. Call (284) 541-1397 in advance and they’ll do their best to serve you.
Marina Cay / Scrub Island
Marina Cay is currently closed; no fuel, water or ice is available on the dock. The mooring field is untouched, but until the island is cleared and cleaned there are more attractive anchorages available. MarineMax charters will be operating out of the Scrub Island marina effective December 1st. They may be able to accommodate other boaters for water and ice in the future—stay tuned!
While some of the homes on Great Camanoe suffered considerable damage, the anchorages at Cam Bay and Lee Bay are in good condition. Snorkeling the rocks along the shore south of Lee Bay is very rewarding provided visibility is good.
The Dogs remain a fantastic daytime lunch / snorkel / dive location. We visited three of the popular spots and found the underwater world mostly untouched with the exception of shallows near the coast.
Great Dog – The dive site “Coral Gardens” on the southeast side of Great Dog is in good shape. The red NPT mooring balls appear to be in good condition. The coral and sponges are alive and well, and fish are plentiful. The beach on the southwest side is inviting and without much debris. On the west side of Great Dog, we picked up another red NPT mooring ball. In shallower waters, there is some minor damage to corals but there are still tons of fish around.
George Dog – George Dog remains a great opportunity for snorkeling and diving. There are red NPT mooring balls on the southwest side. From the mooring field, snorkeling is best towards the northwest point however the coral was increasingly damaged as you approach the point. The white sand beach on the southern point (“Kitchen Point”) is particularly photogenic.
The Baths remain a 5-star attraction, as beautiful now as ever. The path from Spring Bay to Devil’s Bay is passable, with some scrambling around a damaged ladder. Top of the Baths restaurant and bar is open and would make a great lunch stop.
Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbor’s fuel dock is open with fuel now Monday – Friday 8-4. Nearby, the stylish CocoMaya restaurant and bar is open for lunch and dinner Wednesday-Sunday.
Anchorages up the leeward side of Virgin Gorda are still pleasant. These include Savannah Bay, Long Bay and Mountain Point. The new Kodiak Queen dive site is an interesting stop, marked by two white moorings in Long Bay.
Leverick Bay Resort & Marina has made a big effort to reopen the bar, restaurant, Chef’s Pantry supermarket and the spa. Leverick Bay is the only attraction currently open in North Sound. Dockage is available and the team at Leverick Bay is working to return fuel, ice and water service to the docks soon. Radio on Channel 16 or call Nick and Monica at (284) 544-0558 for the latest updates.
The Sandbox, Bitter End Yacht Club, Saba Rock, Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and the Fat Virgin Café are all currently closed. Unless you have an appetite for viewing hurricane damage, we recommend sailing around Prickly Pear island to the North to visit Eustatia Sound. At this date, Eustatia Sound is a good alternative to North Sound. It has several stunningly beautiful anchorages. Cruisers should transit this area slowly, in good light and with a lookout posted on the bow.
Anegada is open for business. The channel markers are not on their pre-storm station but do mark a safe channel into the mooring field. We found depths of 2.5m in the channel and in some cases less than 2m in the mooring field area. We’re giving Anegada two thumbs up and recommending that visitors spend two nights here to allow a full day exploring ashore. Most every bar and restaurant is open — you’ll find plenty of entertainment options here. The Anegada Reef Hotel is selling ice.
Damage to the structures on Guana Island is visible from White Bay, where overnight moorings are available. National Park moorings are still in place at Monkey Point and snorkeling there is top-notch on days with good underwater visibility.
Cane Garden Bay, Tortola
There is lots of clearing up left to do in Cane Garden Bay. Myett’s has been hosting a pizza party at the beach bar on Sunday afternoons. The fuel station in Cane Garden Bay is not operational at this time.
Sandy Spit & Little Jost Van Dyke
Sandy Spit and Sandy Cay are both beautiful daytime stops. The mooring balls at Diamond Cay, Little Jost Van Dyke are still present, though building debris from the site of Foxy’s Taboo and B-Line Bar can be seen over the land. The trail to Bubbly Pool is not safe at this time.
Jost Van Dyke
Your friend Foxy is ready for your visit, and other establishments on Jost Van Dyke are working hard to do so. BVI residents and visitors are gathering in White Bay each Sunday for a flotilla and beach party — the home of the Painkiller lives on.
Soper’s Hole suffered significant damage to homes and marinas. Mooring balls are present and BVI Customs and Immigration services are available. Omar’s Cafe and Pusser’s Landing are both open; between the two restaurants you can get breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.
Nanny Cay, Tortola
Nanny Cay Marina is the most reliable location to pick up fuel and water. Restaurants, chandleries and a small RiteWay market are also open. Call Nanny Cay Marina on VHF channel 16/68 before entering.
Locations reported here will continue to change and improve week by week. If your trip is planned in January 2018 or onwards, please search for current reports before adjusting your plans.
We have already enjoyed several weeks of pleasant cruising in the BVI this season. Although there’s no denying that a massive hurricane season has knocked the islands down, they’re not out. Our interactions with service staff and local residents and have been incredible and you will surely feel a lift in your spirits when BVIslanders recognize you have chosen to spend your holiday with them.
To book a charter on Allende visit their website at www.sailallende.com.