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MBAC Staff Around the World: Sailing in the BVIs

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SAiling in the BVI's

Recently MBAC Instructional Coordinator Paul Lang experienced his dream of chartering a boat and sailing in an exotic location.  In this article Paul shares the story of his experience that could inspire you to do the same.

Story by Paul Lang:

I’ve wanted to go on an exotic sailing vacation since learning to sail for the first time more than 20 years ago. For one reason or another, I never got around to planning a sailing-specific vacation over all that time, but after hearing countless stories about other sailors’ trips to locations with warm weather, warm water, and steady winds I finally decided last year that it was time to organize a bareboat charter to the British Virgin Islands.

In most locations sailing charters are available either as a bareboat charter or a fully crewed charter with a chef. A bareboat charter is what the name implies – you are renting a bare boat without crew. We went with this option and booked a 48’ catamaran from The Moorings and chose to have them provision the boat for us. This means that when we arrived we stepped onto a boat that was ready to go and already stocked with our food for the trip.

My wife Robin and I were joined by our good friends Rick, Mike, Marisa, Amoret, and Sascha, making for a total of seven people on the boat. Of the group I was the only one with a significant amount of boating experience, but everyone was willing to learn and help where possible.

At first glance, the Moorings 4800 catamaran we chartered was a little intimidating due to its sheer size (especially its width), but I found it to be an easy boat to manage, even without a lot of knowledgeable crew. Because all lines are lead to the steering station I found the 4800 to be surprisingly easy to sail.

We had a lot of windy days on our trip, but I found I could set, reef, and trim sails by myself. Under power, the 4800 is very easy to maneuver. With twin engines the boat has the ability to spin in place using, making it easy to fit the boat into confined spaces with a lot of control.

Most of the sailing I’ve done has been in and around California where many of the great sailing destinations are far apart and the ocean is relatively cold. The British Virgin Islands (BVIs) are a popular location for bareboat charters because the island chain is basically a perfect sailing destination. The year-round water and air temperatures are both about 80° F, the wind is consistent, and the distances that have to be sailed between destinations are very short.

In the BVIs it was amazing to sail where there are so many places to visit within a short distance. We stopped at two or three places each day and we didn’t usually sail or motor for more than a few hours at a time.

On our first full day on the boat we visited the Baths, snorkeled at George Dog, and picked up a mooring in front of Bitter End Yacht Club. Mike and I went kiteboarding while the rest of the crew went to happy hour at Saba Rock.

The water was warm and clear and every place we visited was beautiful. Sacha made a comment at the end of the first full day that summed it up. “If the whole trip was just today, I’d be happy.” The crew already felt like the trip exceeded their expectations, and we still had six more days to go.

The rest of the week flew by and we explored as much as we could. We met countless great, friendly people and probably spent more time in the water swimming and snorkeling then we did on land.

Even though we moved quickly I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface of the BVIs. After waiting a few decades to plan my first sailing charter vacation, I’m already looking at the calendar and trying to plan our next sailing vacation.

Paul Lang is the Instructional Coordinator at the Mission Bay Aquatic Center in San Diego, California. Want to go on your own bareboat charter vacation? Begin your journey by taking a sailing class at MBAC.

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