BVI Sailing Itinerary
Following is a seven night sailing itinerary, complete with pictures and commentary, highlighting the most notable places in the British Virgin Islands. If you will be sailing for up to 10 nights, then you may want to add a trip to Anegada into the mix. Please note that if planning to sail to Anegada, some companies require a written request be submitted together with your sailing resume in order to be exempt from contractual restrictions.
The BVI have been dubbed, "Nature's Little Secret" as they are simply breathtaking and arguably, the most popular of all Caribbean destinations. All bareboat charter companies in Tortola provide a British Virgin Islands sailing guide aboard each yacht. However, if you'd like to plan your sailing itinerary before you arrive in Tortola, order a copy online!
The BVI map below, is a guide outlining our suggested, 7 day, bareboat sailing itinerary.
Your bareboat vacation will begin at noon and the British Virgin Islands await! If well prepared, you should get off the dock in Tortola between 12:00 and 2:00. The first stop on your BVI sailing itinerary is an easy reach to The Bight at Norman Island. Stop off at "The Caves" for a leisurely snorkel in our warm Caribbean waters or sail on for lunch in "The Bight". *
By the time you reach Norman Island, chances are your crew will be ready to visit the William Thornton Floating Bar & Restaurant. The "Willy - T" serves lunch from 12:00 pm until 3:00 pm. Dinner is served from 6:30 to 9:00 pm. and the bar is open from 11:30 am, until the last man standing quits ... or the bartender turfs him out!
A sailing landmark in the British Virgin Islands, the William Thornton offers good fun, great food, and wonderful staff. Call on VHF channel 16 for reservations.
Forewarned is forearmed, so keep your kids out of the Willy -T bar once things start rocking if you'd rather they didn't discover what a body shot (islands syle) is! Anchor in The Bight or pick up a mooring ball. Have a great evening and wind down from your flight! Tomorrow you'll be sailing the British Virgin Islands!
BVI Itinerary - Day 2
Ah Paradise! The sun is rising, the frigate birds are soaring overhead and hopefully you didn't overdo it at the Willy -T last night. You are ready to start your British Virgin Islands sailing adventure!
The "Indians" provide a great snorkelling and scuba site just a stone's throw away! If you're not up to physical stuff yet, proceed to Peter Island and save the Indians for your last day of sailing.
At Peter Island, set your anchor at Dead Man's Bay. Enjoy a lovely swim at this world class beach or partake in a sumptuous buffet lunch at the beach bar. Its expensive by some standards, but well worth it if you bring a healthy appetite! Their deserts are a gastronomic delight!
Grab your snorkel gear and check out the sea grass beds right below your yacht. With any luck, you will spot a sea turtle or two, lazily snacking on the sea grass. Turtles are harmless and easily spooked by curious humans, so please keep your distance and let them dine in peace.
Despite what some (misguided) sailors may have you believe, Dead Man's Bay at Peter Island is not recommended as an overnight anchorage. Sudden wind shifts and swells are common and can make overnight anchoring miserable. Sailing is fun! Don't spoil your BVI yacht charter holiday with sleepless nights!
Salt Island is fun to investigate. There's a natural salt pond located inland and a very tiny settlement of British Virgin Islanders who used to collect sea salt. Unfortunately, the last remaining resident, Norwell Durant, passed away in 2004.
Salt island, BVI is home to the Wreck of the Rhone and is a favourite dive site. The Rhone was a British Royal Mail steamship which foundered during a hurricane in the BVI in 1867. The British Virgin Islands and the Rhone were made famous in 1977 as the location for the movie, "The Deep". This is an interesting wreck and much of the Rhone can still be clearly identified.
For the evening, sail to Cooper Island and pick up a mooring ball. Try to get there early to ensure a mooring is available*. Do Not Anchor! Many bareboat sailors who've attempted to anchor in Manchioneel Bay have found themselves adrift in the middle of the night due to hinkey wind shifts and poor holding. If there are no moorings available, sailing to Trellis Bay or any safe anchorage is your best option. The Cooper Island Beach Club has a very nice restaurant and bar too!
*Tips on mooring ball "reservation etiquette" for uninitiated bareboat sailors.
BVI Folk Lore
The following "rumour" is firmly entrenched in British Virgin Islands sailing lore and has been handed down as fact:
When sailing past Peter and Salt Islands on your way to Cooper, you'll see a large, high rock formation to your starboard side called Dead Chest Island. You may have heard the song, "15 men on a dead man's chest ... yo ho ho and a bottle of rum". In buccaneer days, a dead man's chest referred to a coffin. From a distance (and depending upon the number of pain killers you've ingested) Dead Chest can look a little like a coffin ... I suppose??? (Bit of a stretch really, but if you squint ...)
British pirate; Edward Teach, or Thatch (nobody is certain of his name) a.k.a. Blackbeard, sailed the British Virgin Islands and made his home in Soper's Hole between 1715 and 1718. When faced with a mutinous crew, Blackbeard concocted a devious plan. His scurrilous scheme promised the crew a feast on "Dead Chest Island". He sent 15 of his most dissatisfied men ashore with a keg of rum and plans for preparing their BBQ. Blackbeard then hauled anchor and left the men to perish!
Aside: Blackbeard's men had to be pretty dumb or at the very least, pretty drunk to believe that their mangy faced captain was planning a feast on Dead Chest. Its just a great big rock sticking out of the water and one of the least inviting of any of the British Virgin Islands.
It is said that the bones of 14 men were found on Dead Chest Island, BVI some years later. There was nothing to protect the ill fated sailors from the scorching, Caribbean sun, no fresh water and no food. One man reportedly tried to swim to Peter Island. (Which is where a more kind hearted captain would have planned his BBQ!) Alas, the poor fellow's bones were discovered on the beach named in his honour at "Dead Man's Bay"!
Note: When sailing around Great Camanoe and notice on your chart of the British Virgin Islands, "Throw Away Wife Bay", don't ask ... I don't know!
BVI Sailing Itinerary continued...
* Definition: "Bight" - Recess in a coastline. Loop in a line.
For more information about sailing in the British Virgin Islands,
Contact our BVI bareboat broker!
Phone: (284) 495-4168 Tortola, British Virgin Islands
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Last Updated: November 17, 2013