About Tom Virden

Founder, Boatbookings.com

Coronavirus restrictions easing in the Mediterranean

All of the major Mediterranean charter destinations, including France, Italy, Croatia, and Montenegro, have made announcements this past week about when they will re-open their ports and yachting industries. There will be a summer yachting season in the Med in 2020!

Croatia reopened on 15 May, Greece on 25 May, and Italy on 3 June. For complete details, please see our regularly updated Coronavirus Yachting Planning Guide for up to the minute status of the Mediterranean ports.

Our Boatbookings Brokers receive daily updates from key yachts and marinas throughout the world. Please contact us for any questions you may have and for help planning your Summer 2020 Med charter or a Caribbean charter for Christmas or New Years!

The BVI – 6 Months after Irma – A Charter Paradise Springs Back to Life!

We just returned from a trip to the BVI, so that we can report first person on the progress that has been made since Irma hit these beautiful islands in September. Bottom line, the BVI was hit hard by hurricane Irma, but has bounced back quickly and still offers all of the fabulous reasons why it has become one of the top charter destinations in the world with fewer crowds!

Overall BVI Charter Readiness

Throughout the BVI there is a buzz of activity as resorts, restaurants, and bars spring back to life. Newly planted palm trees are everywhere. Restaurant owners are painting and re-roofing their beloved establishments. The foundations for chartering are all back in place and working:
Yachts – fleet owners quickly fixed the yachts that had minor damage, ordered replacements for those that were total losses, and moved yachts from other ports in the Caribbean. There are plenty of yachts for charter in nearly all categories.
Provisioning – Provisioning stores are open for business and well stocked. You should be able to get everything you need.
Beaches and Snorkeling – There is no problem finding a great beach or snorkeling area on any of the islands. Coral and Fish were unaffected by the storm, and the beaches have been brought back to life. White Bay (JVD) and Devils Bay (Virgin Gorda, next to the Baths) are pristine and gorgeous. The beach at Deadman’s Bay is fine, but many of the palm trees have been destroyed and there is work being done on the Peter Island Resort so it’s not as pretty as it once was. That will no doubt be improved as the Peter Island renovations are sure to bring in new Palm Trees.
Trees and Plants – Irma was the most powerful storm to ever hit North America – with sustained winds above 180 MPH. This force blew nearly every leaf off of every tree and bush, and destroyed many of the tallest palm trees. The green islands were completely brown right after the storm and many buildings that were unnoticeable now are clearly visible. The good news is that these plants are growing back quickly, and most will soon be in full foliage. Many of the missing palm trees are being replaced by imported new ones, which will take a few years to grow back to their original height. But the good news is that nature renews quickly, and has made major progress already.
Resorts – All resorts on the island are still essentially closed – including sailor friendly ones such as Bitter End and Peter Island. So many of the amenities they offered – spas, massages, fancy restaurants, etc. are harder to come by. On the positive side, Oil Nut Bay, which used to be exclusive and off limits to charterers, now serves a daily lunch and if you eat lunch you can use their pool and beach facilities for free, including their hobie cats. Well worth a visit!
Bars and Restaurants – Excellent news here – most of the famous beach bars are now back open, including Pirates, Myetts, Foxy’s and the Soggy Dollar. The Soggy Dollar Bar has been completely rebuilt, including bringing in many new palm trees. The Painkillers haven’t changed, and there are fewer day tourists from other islands so you can actually get a seat on the beach or chat with the bartender. They released an amazing book that chronicles the rebuilding process they went through. As mentioned above, most resort restaurants are still closed, so upscale dining is not what it once was, but will be coming back by next season. Corsairs on JVD is being completely rebuilt, so for now it’s best to dine at Foxy’s. Willy T #3 has been ordered and will soon be replacing Willy T #2, which is sadly still beached at the Bight.  ** New – we have a page that lists all BVI resorts, bars and restaurants that are open and closed, for each island **

Status of the Major Islands

Tortola

Road Town is still visibly damaged and recovering from the storm.  You can still see many destroyed catamarans and monohulls in the harbor (see above).  Cane Garden Bay sustained damage but Myetts is back open with live music, food and drinks.  Sopers Hole and the West End is best avoided, although Pussers is back open while it continues to rebuild.

Norman Island – 1/2 of Pirates is open and in great shape!  The second half is being actively worked on and should be open very soon. You can definitely get fritters and great drinks at sunset. As mentioned above – Willy T’s is still beached, but a whole new boat has been built and is arriving soon.

Peter Island

Because the Peter Island Resort is essentially the only business on the island, the fact that it is closed means that the island is a bit desolate. Deadman’s bay is not as beautiful as it once was because many of the palm trees are gone (see above), and there are signs warning people to stay away from the resort.  There are still plenty of sea turtles to see, but I’d be reticent to stay there until the resort re-opens – which is currently scheduled for late 2018.

Virgin Gorda

The Baths and Devils Bay are still as gorgeous as ever, as shown on the picture at the top of this article. Unfortunately, however, Virgin Gorda was hit directly by the full force of Irma, and many parts are just beginning to rebuild.  The iconic Bitter End was a total wreck, and they are only now beginning to rebuild. Most of the resort will need to be reconstructed from the bottom up.  Saba Rock began reconstruction in April when we were there, and there are hopes it will go quickly, although no timeline has been announced.

Don’t be discouraged, however!  For a fantastic day by the pool in a luxury resort, head over to gorgeous Oil Nut Bay Resort, pictured above.  If you eat lunch there, you can use their facilities including the pool and beach toys.

Anegada

Surprisingly, Anegada shows the least damage of any of the main islands in the BVI. It’s basically back to normal. The restaurants are all open and fully functional and Cow Wreck Bar is happily serving Dark and Stormy’s.  When we were there, the harbor was full of catamarans, and the restaurants were full and lively.  Plus we saw the above magnificent sunset!

Jost Van Dyke

Foxy’s is open and fully functional, in fact we spoke with Foxy and he was in great form! The Saturday night barbecue was in full swing. In White Bay, the famous Soggy Dollar Bar has been fully reconstructed.  You have to play ring toss on a newly erected post instead of the famous old tree (see above), but the charm of the bar is still there and the beach is as beautiful as ever.

Summary

The BVI is up and running and still has all of the attractions that have made it one of the most beloved charter areas in the world. It took a massive hit, and is bouncing back.  It’s not perfect, however, and will still take many months to restore all of the resorts. It was special for everyone in our group to observe the power of nature, the resilience of the people, and the fundamental beauty of the islands. And we knew that every dollar we spent was helping with the rebuilding process. We highly recommend heading to the BVI as soon as you can – it’s fine and getting better every day!

Thinking of Chartering in Greece this Summer? See our new Greek Island Destination Guides to the key Islands

Screen-Shot-2014-05-15-at-3.50.04-PMOn a recent charter to the Cyclades and Saronic Islands in Greece (see our charter itinerary), we realized that there is very little information about many of the key islands that is geared for someone visiting by boat.

We’ve begun to change that, by creating our Greek Island Visitors Guide Series, with the first 9 already researched, edited and released.

So next time you’re in the beautiful Greek Islands and want to know the key ports, what to see, best beaches, etc, then click on one of these guides to help you plan your time. We have even included maps with all the key points marked (it’s amazing how many guides describe great beaches, but give you no way to figure out where there are!)

The guides so far are:

We hope you find these guides helpful, and please don’t hesitate to let us know if we’ve missed an amazing cove to anchor in, a splendid sandy beach, or a spot that can’t be missed. We’ll be happy to add it to the map.

Our Playlist of the Best Sailing Songs to play on your charter!

Nearly all charter yachts allow you to plug in your iPod and play your favorite tunes while chartering.  Over the years, we’ve compiled a playlist of nearly 8 hours of music that all go well while sailing.  It contains lots of songs from the “must haves” such as Jimmy Buffett and Bob Marley, plus lots of classic rock songs that are great to sing along with while sailing (or at happy hour).

Here are a few of our selections:

Back In the High Life Again – Steve Winwood
Big Yellow Taxi – Joni Mitchell
Blue Sky – Allman Brothers
Boat Drinks – Jimmy Buffett
The Boys of Summer – Don Henley
Bright Side of the Road – Van Morrison
Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
Caribbean Blue – Enya
Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes – Jimmy Buffett
Cheeseburger in Paradise – Jimmy Buffett
Could You Be Loved – Bob Marley & The Wailers

Click here to see our sailing music playlist and make sure you have great tunes on your next charter!

You may also be interested on our article about technology and yacht charters to understand what to bring and how to use them on a charter, and our list of great sailing and boating iphone apps.

Planning a Sailing Vacation in the BVI? Here’s our complete list of articles, guides and boat listings

Charting in the BVI - White Bay, Jost Van Dyke

We love the BVI, and love writing about it!  In fact we have so many articles, that we figured it would be helpful to list them all in one place for you.  So if you’re planning a BVI charter holiday, you can find virtually everything you need from activity recommendations, to itineraries, to suggestions as to when to go. As well as the best listing of boats for charter in the BVI.

BVI Yacht Charter Guide – Our main information page – provides an overview of chartering in the BVI, each island, things to do, how to get there, climate and itineraries.  No yachts listed.

Itineraries:

Charter Planning Information

Charter Yacht listings

And of course, there are numerous blog posts on BoatBloggings.  See our BVI News Posts here.