You've likely travelled before, but if you've never travelled to the Caribbean
for a yacht charter holiday, there are a few things you may not have considered.
In case of emergency back home, be sure you provide those who may need to contact you with the name of your charter company, your boat name and phone number for Bareboats BVI
, which is (284) 495-4168. Once you arrive in Tortola
, you can call home to give them the phone number for your boat. The cell phone provided by the charter company will (in many cases) be much more reliable than your own. Sorry, we can't give you the number for your yacht in advance as the numbers change frequently.
In the event of an emergency, nobody, including relatives, can contact you if you don't have your cell phone and/or VHF radio on at all times. In the past, charter guests who have elected to turn off their phones and radios have undergone some very unfortunate experiences that could have been mitigated had they had them on.
Will You Need a Visa to enter the US Virgin Islands From the BVI?
Canadian, Bermudian and U.S. citizens may enter the U.S. Virgin Islands
aboard a private yacht provided they have a current passport with at least 6 months
remaining before the passport expires.
UK citizens and citizens from several other countries will require a visa to enter the USVI aboard anything other than a commercial carrier
... such as a ferry. Please check with your consulate to find out if you will require a visa before arriving in the BVI.
The Caribbean Luggage Demon:
Sadly and all too frequently, luggage has a way of going (temporarily) AWOL on its way to the British Virgin Islands. Nobody really knows why. It's a lot like the mystery behind how socks disappear into another dimension when doing the laundry.
To reduce the "luggage demon" impact on any one person, It is wise to pack half of your clothes in your partner's bag and the other half in yours ... and vice versa. Just split your clothes evenly and if one bag goes missing, you will both have half your clothing! Simple solution. I love using the law of averages to my advantage! :)
If both bags go missing, what can I say? You clearly didn't have your stars aligned. Welcome to the Caribbean! Let's just hope you pay attention to the notes in the packing
section regarding carry on luggage.
Make sure your name, home address, email address and cell phone number appears on your checked luggage tag.
Buy a second luggage tag, flip over the card (so you have a blank slate) and write the following: I will be in the British Virgin Islands from whatever date until whatever date. If my bag and I are separated, please contact Liane Le Tendre of Bareboats BVI at (284) 495-4168 or email her immediately at ... insert my email address here.
Once contacted, I will do everything in my power to help you and your luggage reunite as quickly as possible.
Be sure to pack essential items in your carry on and do not lose your luggage claim tags. Oh ... and use only TSA approved luggage locks
What to Wear While In Transit:
Cargo pants or shorts, featuring large front pockets with a Velcro or button down closure, in which to keep your cash, personal documents, airline tickets, credit cards, ATM cards, etc. Do not put these items in your carry on, your back pack, back or breast pocket or even in your purse!
Sadly, there are thieves pretty much everywhere these days and you can never be sure when a bump is just a bump at any airport! Sadly, I learned the hard way in O'Hare airport a few years back. :(
Like everywhere else in the world, we have thieves here in the British Virgin Islands. The problem is still very tame in comparison to most places, but crime (particularly theft) has been increasing in recent years.
There's a time and place for everything. You should ask yourselves if you really
need expensive jewelry or other valuables with you while bobbing around the Caribbean enjoying your sailing vacation? In all sincerity, it is best to leave all that stuff at home. If you simply can't bare to be separated from your valuables, do not leave them on your boat at any time
or in plain sight and always lock the boat if you have valuables aboard. Never leave valuables unattended on a beach. I swear those little land crabs have an eye for shiny objects. They seem to particularly enjoy gold and cash too!
The likelihood of theft aboard your boat is miniscule, but I would hate to hear that some nasty person stole your wedding ring or hubby's $20,000.00 Rolex. Please
consider leaving all of that at home.
Leave all but one credit card at home too. Visa and MasterCard are the most widely accepted in the islands. If you opt to bring two cards and if you are traveling as a couple, each of you should carry one card rather than having one person carry both.
What Not to Bring:
As in most countries, anything other than prescription drugs are illegal in the British Virgin Islands. Possession of ANY amount of drugs (including medical marijuana) may land you in jail. Not a pleasant experience. Your charter yacht and personal possessions could be impounded and a rather hefty fine may be imposed.
Real guns, toy guns and water pistols are also illegal. Yep ... water pistols! So if you were planning to bring the kid's super soaker ... forget about it. What can I say? It's the law.
Pre-Travel Check List:
- Important: Notify your credit card company (before leaving home) that you will be going on vacation in the BVI. You don't want them to decline payments because they think your card has been stolen and is being used fraudulently!
- Let trusted neighbours know you will be away and the date you will be returning. Ask a friend or family member to keep an eye on your house, collect mail daily and cut the lawn or shovel drive as required. If nobody is available, be sure to ask the post office to hold your mail and suspend your newspaper delivery.
- Turn down your thermostat, unplug the water heater and turn on timed lighting systems if you have them.
- Check the TSA rules prior to doing your final packing to find out what their "rules du jour" might be. Leave your good Leatherman at home. If you have an old one and don't mind snapping off the knife blade, most TSA agents will let you carry that on the plane with you.
- Take a photocopy of your passport and bring it with you. Keep it separate from your original. Give another copy to a friend or family member at home. In a worst-case scenario, (such as losing your passport and the copy) at least your friend or family member can scan it or fax it to wherever you are.
- Does your medical insurance cover you while outside the country including medi-vac services. If not, you may want to look into it. See travel insurance.
Traveling and Your Health:
If you have any health issues at all, (and even if you don't) it is wise to carry your health information with you. Write out the following and give it to a travel companion.
- Your name, address and phone number.
- Name, address and phone number of an emergency contact person back home.
- Your blood type.
- Your doctor's name, address, office and emergency phone number.
- Name, address and phone number of your health insurance carrier and your policy number.
- List any known health issues or allergies and any medications you currently take.
- Bring a copy of your eye glasses prescription ... just in case they are lost.
Several years back, I had a dozen plasticized cards made up. I keep one in my wallet and always give one to a travel companion. Should the unthinkable happen, at least someone in your group has all your info at their fingertips. Older folks in particular need to consider these things! I have learned from first hand experience that being prepared could help save someone's life.
Seasickness, Insect Bites & Vitamins:
Studies suggest that taking at least 3000 milligrams of Vitamin C for 4 or 5 days prior to sailing can help prevent seasickness. Seasickness pills such as Dramamine may also be used.
Some swear that Sea Bands help to prevent motion sickness. I'm not completely convinced, but hey, that's just me. Salt free soda crackers and Canada Dry Ginger Ale work pretty well as an after the fact remedy for seasickness if someone aboard didn't know they were susceptible to it. But be aware there is no cure for seasickness other than getting off the boat.
Vitamin B1 is effective in preventing mosquito bites. Once in your system this vitamin gives off a scent that is not appealing to mosquitoes and other biting, insects. The scent is undetectable by humans. Begin taking vitamin B1 approximately one week
prior to arrival in the BVI.
Higher doses of 4,000 to 10,000 milligrams of vitamin C taken orally, immediately after a nasty bite can reduce allergic reactions and toxic effects of many different types of insect bites including spiders.
Follow up with 1,000 milligrams every few hours until pain or itching subsides. Gin, Vodka or rubbing alcohol applied topically to the affected area works well too. 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day can assist in reducing pain associated with insect bites.
Be aware that both Dengue Fever and Chikungunya virus (pronounced chicken-gun-ya) are present in the BVI. Both of these diseases are carried and transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no preventative vaccine, no cure for either one ... and both are very unpleasant.
Unlike Dengue fever, Chikungunya Virus can be spread if an infected person is bitten by the same mosquito that then bites you. So if you are near anyone who recently came down with the disease, be certain that all persons (including the person who is ill) wears mosquito repellent at all times during the first 7 to 9 days since coming down with Chikungunya. This will help prevent further spread of the disease.
Chikungunya is relatively new to the BVI. On your travels around the islands, if you see ANY containers with water just sitting around for any length of time, they could rapidly become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Please empty out the water and leave the container upside down.