Chartering the U.S. Virgin Islands

Author:
Publish date:
A solitary sailboat glides past Trunk Bay on St John

A solitary sailboat glides past Trunk Bay on St John

It’s easy to spend an unstressed week enjoying the natural beauty of the waters around St. John and St. Thomas

Shoulder to shoulder with the British Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgins are made up of four main islands (St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix and Water Island) and then another 50 or so smaller cays.

USVI19-map

The main island is St. Thomas, which is a major gateway to the Caribbean with a busy airport and a ferry system to the BVI. Frenchtown on Charlotte Amalie Harbor, where CYOA charters is based, has a party vibe, with passengers from cruise ships mingling with the salty sailors haunting the bars and restaurants. At Red Hook, on the other end of the island, there’s a busy harbor with charter bases for Island Charters and Sail Caribe, along with a host of independent operators.

On the horizon and only six miles away, St. John is a wealthy island, home to many celebrity residences. Most of St. John has excellent anchorages on the north and south sides. Caneel, Maho and Francis bays are beautiful, and the old Annaberg Sugar Plantation ruins are fun to visit.

There are no marinas, but Cruz Bay has some of the best shopping—visit Mongoose Junction or take a drive to the other side of the island and shop at Skinny Legs bar where you can enjoy an umbrella drink and memorialize the experience with lots of T-shirts.

Maho Bay on the western bight of Francis Bay is fringed by a white sand beach that extends 60 feet out into turquoise water where it joins a reef. Curious turtles surface all around and dozens of stingrays glide just below the surface.

Almost two-thirds of St. John is protected as a national park and that includes the surrounding bays. Anchoring is not permitted in many of these, so mooring balls ($20 per night) are provided. You’ll find many quiet spots to enjoy excellent snorkeling.

Although it’s easy to spend an unstressed week just hanging around the USVI, charterers out of St. Thomas often spend at least a few days in the BVI, says CYOA’s John Jacob. 

A typical Virgin Islands sunset, seen from Waterlemon Cay

A typical Virgin Islands sunset, seen from Waterlemon Cay

DON’T MISS

Coral World Ocean Park on St. Thomas

The Annaberg Plantation on St. Thomas

Snorkel with sea turtles in Maho Bay

The floating bar in Coral Bay on St. John

EXPERT TIP

Jay Pennington, CYOA Charters:

“Spend a night at Honeymoon Beach, in Druif Bay on Water Island. Believe it or not, this spectacular anchorage is less than a mile from our base. Perfect for the first or last night of charter. There’s a great roped-off swimming area, and it’s home to two beach bars.”

EXPERT TIP

Jim Veiga, owner, Sail Caribe: “Waterlemon Cay / Leinster Bay on the north side of St. John offers a protected mooring field (US National Park Moorings). Snorkeling around Waterlemon Cay is spectacular. It is unique in that it offers both shallow water and deeper water coral reef structure that attract a large variety of fish from small typical reef species to large grouper and snapper.”

OTHER BAREBOAT CHARTER COMPANIES

 Island Yachts /  Virgin Islands Sailing

October 2019

Related

valleytrunk3

BVI Chartering in the Pandemic

The week before I flew out to the British Virgin Islands for a bareboat charter, I was having a few second thoughts. The islands had broken out of their Covid-enforced tourism hiatus in December, but the conditions of entry seemed a little stringent: a negative Covid test within ...read more

01-LEAD-windfarm

Sailing Amid Offshore Wind Farms

Here in Europe, the general feeling about green energy from offshore wind turbines has moved on after an initial surge of general skepticism. Concerns raised over cost, threats to seabirds, wind interference and the rest have to some extent been answered, and it’s hard to argue ...read more

LunaRossaPrada

VIDEO: Luna Rossa Wins the Prada Cup

The show has gone on despite last week's Covid panic in Auckland, and the "underdog" Italians are victorious. After being bested by INEOS Team UK in the round robin section, they seemed to have an uphill battle ahead of them going into the finals. However, the Italians have been ...read more

FB-BHM-Cuffe-2048x

Sail Black History Month Series: Paul Cuffe

Paul Cuffe was born on Cuttyhunk Island, Massachusetts, in 1759. His mother was a Native American woman named Ruth Moses, and his father was Kofi Slocum, a formerly enslaved man from the Ashanti Empire, located in modern-day Ghana. They had 10 children including Paul. His ...read more

Ryan-Finn

Point of SAIL: Ryan Finn on Solo-sailing a Proa Round Cape Horn

In this episode of Point of SAIL, Principal Editor Adam Cort talks with solo-sailor Ryan Finn, a veteran bluewater passagemaker looking to re-create the famed New York-to-San Francisco clipper aboard the 36ft proa, Jzerro. Although Finn was forced to abandon his first attempt ...read more

NewZealand

ACE Postpones Prada Cup

New covid cases in New Zealand have slammed the brakes on the selection series for the America’s Cup, forcing the postponement of Prada Cup racing and calling into question the remainder of the series. The America’s Cup Event (ACE) has put out a statement on their position as ...read more

LunaRossaLeads

VIDEO: Italians Lead in Prada Cup

After a dramatic first weekend of Prada Cup racing, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli leads INEOS Team UK four wins to none. The magic number here seven: two more good days for the Italians or four nearly perfect days for the Brits. The Italians went into this series as the underdogs ...read more

03-Cockpit-Render

Balance 442 Performance-cruiser Design

A look at the thinking that went into the new Balance 442 performance-cruiser To say there’s a lot that goes into creating an all-new boat has got to be one of the world’s great understatements. And the job only becomes exponentially harder when boats get smaller, rather than ...read more