The British Virgin Islands are a compact group of islands that made a conscious decision years ago to do everything they could to attract sailing based tourism. In this they have spectacularly succeeded. I do not know how many charter boats there are here, but the answer is “a lot!”
Most of the activity is in the “bareboat” charter fleet. If you rent a “bareboat” you get the boat, without crew or supplies. You have to drive it yourself. There is also a large market for “crewed” boats where you just show up with your luggage and the captain takes you where you want to go.
The islands appear to be among the most prosperous we have visited. While we were waiting for our fishing licenses to be processed, we glanced through the local newspaper. There were multiple large display ads, looking for workers. One was a full page ad in the main news section of the paper to hire a butcher! A half page ad from a local resort looking for a wide variety of skills from chef to chambermaid. If you are anything from a heavy equipment operator to a sailboat captain, somebody on this island needs your services. It seems there is no excuse for not working if you live here! The official unemployment rate is in the neighborhood of 2.5%.
In addition to the standard check-in at customs and immigration, we also needed to stop by the Fisheries Office to get our temporary fishing permits, and then to the National Park Office to get a permit to use the moorings they place at the various diving locations around the islands.
For a couple of days we have pulled into a marina. Our primary reason for coming here is to replace our 10 year old outboard engine. We have wanted to replace our reliable, but aging, 8HP 2-stoke Yamaha with another 2-stroke engine because of their simplicity, lightweight, and robustness. Unfortunately, 2-stroke engines are no longer available in the USA. After reviewing options, we ended up getting a 15 HP 2-stroke Yamaha. An engine that has been in production for more than a decade, and is probably the most common outboard engine in the world–so parts are everywhere. The dealer is located here at this marina, and will be dropping off the shiny new engine tomorrow morning at our boat.
Other benefits to being in a marina: big laundry machines, decadent showers, and easy loading of the boat with provisions.
Our plans here are to load up with supplies, and then head to the easternmost island in the BVI, Anagada about 20 miles away. We’ll do some deep water fishing there, and explore the other islands as we make our way back toward Tortola in a week’s time to pick up Karen’s friends Bill & Cindy who will be staying with us for a week. Then, our clock starts to run out. By the beginning of June the tropical Atlantic Ocean begins to get warm enough that hurricanes start to become a significant risk, so it’s back north we go!