The British Virgin Islands (BVI) is our pick for the best location to captain for your first time. It is an absolute sailor’s paradise. The sailing is fairly simple, the weather is consistent, and the support from the charter companies is better than anywhere else.
Here are six reasons we suggest BVI for your first bareboat captain experience:
1) Great Variety of Charter Companies
We believe that competition drives innovation and increases the level of service. With so many charter companies operating in the BVI, they all strive to entice customers and to get amazing reviews.
2) Great Variety of Charter Boats
Having massive bases with hundreds of boats helps ensure that your yacht will be well maintained and that if there is a problem, they’ll have the parts locally to fix it, or if worse comes to worst, the company can even give you a different yacht. It also means you can choose the correct type and size of boat for your crew’s needs. We have had multiple issues come to light during our boat briefings, and in the BVI, the charter company has always been able to resolve the issues promptly.
3) Predictable Weather
The BVI is known for consistent wind and beautiful weather, nearly all year long. With winds averaging 10-15 knots, you’ll have wind to sail without too much concern for heavy weather. Humidity is pretty high, but the breeze and ability to jump into the water whenever you want takes care of most of that issue.
The predictable weather also will give you the opportunity to practice many of the skills you learned during your certification in near ideal conditions. If there is a skill you need to work on, or something you want to try, BVI affords great sailing conditions to do just that.
For your first charter, we suggest avoiding hurricane season from June 1 to November 30. The odds of a hurricane are low, even during hurricane season, but for a first charter, play it safe.
4) Simple Navigation
On your first charter as a captain, you are going to have sensory overload. You’ll have to deal with travel to the boat, provisioning, boat briefing, chart briefing, pulling away from the dock, and getting acclimated to the boat and crew. The last thing you’ll need is tides, currents, shallow passages, complex anchoring, massive seas, and 14-hour sails.
The BVI is easy to navigate. There are hardly any shallow areas, you can (almost) always see land, tides/currents are of no consequence, and the charts are as accurate as anywhere.
5) Safe Overnight Mooring Fields
Somewhat similar to navigation but worth a bullet of its own – anchoring/mooring.
Salty dogs and those on a budget may tell you that anchoring is cheaper, and since you put the anchor down, you can trust it. The truth is, anchoring is an art, and it takes a lot of practice. For someone new to being a bareboat charter captain, we recommend the use of safe mooring balls/buoys and paying the money to use them overnight .
The BVI does a great job of putting mooring balls nearly everywhere. They also do a good job keeping mooring balls maintained and tested to ensure they hold as intended. Knowing you’re attached to a 20-ton block of cement should give you peace of mind that you’ll hold through the night regardless of the wind and sea conditions.
Word of advice: Not all mooring balls are safe. While BVI is one of the safest, some areas pay no attention to who installs or maintains mooring buoys, or their condition. If you use a ball, try to understand how it got there, inspect the buoy/hardware/lines, and put a little pressure on the ball with your engines (don’t back down hard like setting an anchor.) Simulate a 30-knot wind and make sure you’re confident before you head to bed.
6) Many Things to See and Do
On your first captaining experience, you’re bound to be excited to get out and explore. The BVI has something for everyone. SCUBA, snorkeling, hiking, bars, restaurants, beaches, and other natural wonders are everywhere.
Bareboat charters are an amazing way to see the world. As you begin as a captain, it’s important to ease your way into the journey. After a few trips, you’ll be ready for fog, lobster pots, 10-foot tide swings, 20 -foot swells, and other excitement that will threaten your boat and crew! In the beginning, play it safe, and go to the BVI where thousands of bareboat charter captains have gotten their start!
Blue skies and calm water!