Our weather is fairly predictable, but we do have hurricane season to contend with. The season starts June 1 and ends November 30. For more details, see British Virgin Islands Hurricane Information
Temperatures range from an average low of about 70 or 71 to an average high of 85 or 86. We have experienced temperatures in the low to mid 60's and highs in the low to mid 90's from time to time, but extremes like this are actually quite rare. Our average temperatures generally range from 78 to 84 degrees F. year 'round.
We frequently experience brief showers lasting a matter of minutes, followed by sunshine and steady winds. If out on the water, you can often see the rain heading in your direction. If the "rain curtain" is perfectly vertical, prepare to get a little wet. However, if there is an angle to the curtain, that is a good indicator that a bit of a squall may accompany the rain and you may want to put a reef in your main or douse it altogether. The greater the angle of the rain curtain, the more wind you may expect.
The Weather & Your Responsibilities:
It is incumbent upon all bareboat charter guests to check the daily weather forecasts to ensure the safety of your crew and the yacht. This is particularly important if sailing anytime during hurricane season.
Daily Weather Broadcasts:
- VHF Radio Weather Channel WX-3 or WX-4
- NOAA Weather forecasts are broadcast nonstop by St. Thomas radio
- ZBVI 780 AM Radio:
- A detailed marine weather forecast is broadcast daily at 8:05 am. Updates are broadcast throughout the day at 7:30 am, 8:30 am, 9:30 am, 10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:00 pm, 2:15 pm, 2:55 pm, 4:00 pm, 6:27 pm, 7:00 pm, 8:00 pm and 8:30 pm
Online Weather Reports & Storm Tracking:
You will find fairly accurate weather forecasts at Weather Underground
. Their reports can be dicey at times, but they are correct more often than not. They also have marine weather forecasts here
My preferred weather page is the Intellicast animated Caribbean satellite
overview. It lets you see exactly what you are dealing with and if you want a broader view, you can have a look at the Atlantic satellite
If you want to check out current wind conditions, see Windfinder
In the winter and spring, normal, easterly trade winds are generally around 7 to 15 knots and sometimes reach 20 knots.
In the summer months, wind speeds can become quite unpredictable and winds often die down to nothing or you may experience short gusts of up to 20 and sometimes even 30 knots.
The Christmas Winds:
In the winter months, we sometimes experience what are called the Christmas Winds which can occur anytime
between the beginning of December through the beginning of March, or thereabouts.
Some years, the Christmas Winds are a "no show" and our normal trade winds remain constant throughout the season. This phenomena is caused by high-pressure centers in the mid Atlantic, bringing with them gusting winds of generally 20 to 30 knots but which have been known to reach 35 to 40 knots and come in very short bursts.
The average water temperature is about 80 to 84 degrees year 'round. Temperatures can fall to about 76 degrees if a winter storm has visited the area. This happens infrequently but it can and does happen from time to time.
During the winter months, (November through March) you may encounter swells on the northern shores and anchorages of the various islands. These swells can be quite deceptive in size from the water but once on shore, you will better appreciate how formidable they can be.
Unless you don't mind sleepless nights, worrying about your anchor dragging or a mooring line breaking while you sleep, we strongly suggest you do not anchor or moor in a swell prone area. Ask your briefer if and where the swells are currently running and which areas to avoid for overnight stays.
Tides, Currents and Swells:
Tides are decidedly minimal in the British Virgin Islands
at 6" to 12" maximum, year 'round. Currents in the Sir Francis Drake Channel can be quite noticeable and run between 3 to 6 knots. Some of the anchorages affected by minor currents are Soper's Hole
at the West End of Tortola
, Marina Cay
at the East end of Beef Island
, Cooper Island
at Manchioneel Bay, Anegada
at the main harbour and sometimes in the North Sound
, Virgin Gorda. You should also be aware of rip currents
at some of the beaches.
If anchoring overnight, beware of ground swells on the North side of Tortola
, The Baths
on Virgin Gorda
, much of the west coast of Virgin Gorda and in several other areas during the winter months. Consult other sailors if in doubt about suitability of any overnight anchorages. Ground swells can make for very uncomfortable and restless nights ... pitching, yawing and worrying about dragging your anchor or breaking a mooring line.
Most importantly, read the cruising guide provided aboard. It will have plenty of information regarding the suitability of most anchorages, what to watch for and the best areas to anchor.
Severe Weather Recalls:
In the event of severe weather, the charter company reserves the right to recall yachts to the charter base
. Should a recall be issued, and regardless of where you are or what your plans may be, I'm afraid they will have to be postponed. This is a question of safety and unfortunately, you have no choice in the matter.
BVI Web Cams:
If you have some method of connecting to the internet while on charter, you may want to check some of the better webcams sprinkled around the islands.
Not all of them work all the time, but these 6 are the most reliable and will give you a pretty good idea of wind and wave conditions in real time. Be patient as they take some time to load ... particularly when using WiFi.