We recently toured the BVI to see what had changed for 2024 and what had remained timelessly and thankfully the same!
Timeless BVI – What hasn’t changed?
The good news – almost everything that makes the BVI the world’s most special charter destination is timeless and unchanged. We’ve been going to the BVI for over 30 years, and all the things we love – the gorgeous islands, pristine beaches, the snorkeling, the beach bars and restaurants, the amazing sunsets, all bring the same wonder and beauty as they have for decades.
A charter that starts in the Bight on Norman Island, passes through the Indians, the Caves, the Wreck of the Rhone, the Baths, Virgin Gorda’s North Sound, Anegada, Sandy Spit, and the beaches of Jost Van Dyke is still as amazing as ever. When we first bareboated in 1992, we visited Willy T’s, the Pirates, The Bitter End, Foxy’s, and the Soggy Dollar Bar, and, while they all were renewed after Irma’s destruction, we were thrilled to enjoy each one again in this year!
It’s a cat’s world, we’re just sailing in it. The most obvious change in the BVI chartering world is the size and type of yachts. While there are still plenty of monohull bareboats sailing the waters, the BVI is now a catamaran world. And the catamarans have become so much larger and more luxurious! Another change: whereas there are still plenty of Lagoon cats around, Bali catamarans are literally everywhere. Charterers are drawn to their walk-through salon that goes directly to the large foredeck, and their high-quality fit and finish.
We were lucky enough to spend a week aboard WINDWARD, with the delightful Aussie Crew of Jon and Tracy. The salon, kitchen, cabins, and decks were all spacious, comfortable, and impeccably cared for. Consider a Bali catamaran for your next BVI (or anywhere) charter, you’ll be impressed.
Power to the People. Not only have the catamarans become the predominant type of yacht, and much larger than 10 years ago, powercats are everywhere as well. Charterers choose these for their excellent comfort and fuel efficiency, without needing to hoist sails. Five years ago a powercat would be an anomaly, today they can be found at every anchorage.
The e-revolution is coming. Dropping in on our friends at Voyage Charters in Sopers Hole, we saw their take on the future of catamaran electrification. I think we can all agree that diesel generators are the most annoying part of sailing yachts – their noise, pollution, and smell are completely incongruous with the fundamental concept of sailing, yet every yacht currently needs one (or two) generators to power the aircon and amenities such as hair dryers. Diesel motors are also noisy and belch smoke when there is insufficient wind to power the boat.
Voyage has redefined this with their new series of electric catamarans such as the Voyage 480 Electric. The diesel motors have been replaced with virtually silent electric engines driven by batteries that can be recharged by solar panels, plugged in ashore, or by onboard generators. Generators are only used when the batteries are below 20% charge, meaning that you will not always need to hear the generator when you’re sleeping, even if you have the aircon on.
We also saw the impressive SOL Sunreef 80 Eco electric power catamaran. She’s gorgeous and virtually silent, with an electric drive train and solar skin. While she also, at times, resorts to backup generators, much of the time cruising and sleeping on SOL is virtually silent.
We expect to see much more of this in the future, as climate-conscious charters are demanding more sustainable options, and hope that soon all sailing yachts will be powered either by the wind or quiet electric motors.
Other Updates and Useful Information
Not crowded over Xmas. We arrived in the BVI on the 19th and finished on the 27th. Surprisingly, it did not seem crowded – the big crowds appear to come after Christmas. We also had no Christmas Winds, making it highly enjoyable to be there, although we sailed less than expected.
Amazing Sunsets on Anegada. It never seems to fail – we’ve been to Anegada countless times, and we’ve always had stunning, nearly hour-long, sunsets. This held true this year. Maybe it’s because of Tortola and JVD off in the distance that creates a weather pattern ideal for sunsets, but Anegada seldom disappoints!