In this article, we outline why BVI is a great place for a first time captain to sail. For many of those same reasons, BVI is also a great place for a captain of any experience level to bring new crew members for their maiden voyage. On my maiden charter, I was truly ignorant as what to expect once leaving land. I didn't know much of what was expected of me other than cooking, and helping out as needed. I did not know anything about sailing catamarans, the location we were going to, or what to expect. Hell, I did not know what the boat even looked like until I asked the captain for permission to come aboard. As a crew member, looking back on all of the countries, and different types of sailing I have since experienced, I feel I was fortunate to have my first trip in the British Virgin Islands.
As the skipper, you will be in charge of all aspects of your journey and getting your new crew up to speed will be high on your priority list. As a member of the crew, your job will be to quickly learn a few key things to help the voyage. There are several things that can assist or hinder how the crew feels about the bareboat adventure, and how quickly they are able to come up to speed.
BVI is fairly easy to get to from the USA. There are multiple ways to travel via Miami, Puerto Rico, and USVI. You won’t’ likely worry too much about jetlag, or jumbo jet trips to the other side of the world. You can generally get there in less than half a day’s travel and allows you to maximize your time on the water.
Sailing is HUGE in BVI! The number of sail boats, charter companies, and sailing infrastructure is second to none. When you are the one who does not know what they are doing, it’s nice to be in a place with so much support and smoothly operating charter companies. Fuel, water, and food can all be easily provisioned or re-provisioned along the way, all lowering the stress level for all on board.
The weather in BVI is consistent, and great for sailing. Maybe more importantly, the weather is great for learning how to sail and accomplish all of the associated tasks that go along with being a crew member. I have loved some of my subsequent trips in open seas, big swells, and 30+ knot winds, but I’m so happy that those were not the conditions that started my crew education.
Choose your own adventure in BVI! BVI boasts over 60 islands in a 40 mile string that allow for endless sailing options. Some locations are less than 2 miles apart, and many of the common itineraries allow for a mix of sails from just a few miles, to over 35 miles from Anegada to a round of painkillers the Soggy Dollar Bar. Shorter sails can be great for repetition and practicing the fundamentals, as well as avoiding displeasure from a seasick crew on a longer sail. Longer sails can offer the chance to work on different skills and let the crew see what longer crossings and passages might be like. If you want to practice picking up mooring balls, or dropping the hook, you will have plenty of opportunity to do both. You also have your choice of quiet anchorages, and locations with beach bars and restaurants. Best of all, in BVI you can pick and or change you plan as you go to adjust to the needs of the Captain and Crew.
Everyone wants to have a great first experience on the boat. I think those of us who love to sail hope that those we take with us will also have an amazing experience and desire to return for more. BVI is by no means the only good place to have a first sailing trip as a crew member, but it is certainly high on the list of places that offer the opportunity to have a great experience in an environment that is conducive to having a great first experience.