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The 2018-2019 Cruising Guides to the Leeward Islands

New release: The Cruising Guides to the Leeward Islands!

By Chris Doyle

CGNLI-18This 15th edition (2018-2019) is split into two guides, The Cruising Guide to the Northern Leeward Islands (ISBN 978-0-9978540-3-9) and The Cruising Guide to the Southern Leeward Islands (ISBN 978-0-9978540-4-6). The Cruising Guide to the Northern Leeward Islands picks up where The Cruising Guide to the Virgin Islands ends, covering the islands of Anguilla, St. Martin & Sint Maarten, St. Barts, Saba, Statia, St. Kitts, Nevis, Redonda, and Montserrat. The Cruising Guide to the Southern Leeward Islands picks up where The Cruising Guide to the Northern Leeward Islands ends, and covers the islands of Antigua, Barbuda, Guadeloupe, Marie Galante, the Saintes, and Dominica. If you are sailing south, there is a section covering passages into the Windward Islands (Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenada), which are covered in The Sailors Guide to the Windward Islands.  

These guides are an essential tool for all cruisers sailing this region. Chris Doyle spends months sailing these islands to updateCGSLI-18 each edition. Included are over one hundred up-to-date color sketch charts, full color aerial photos of most anchorages, island pictures, and detailed shoreside information covering services, restaurants, provisioning, travel basics and island history. Information is linked to the author's website where you can download the GPS waypoints given in the sketch charts, learn of essential updates, print town maps, and obtain links to local weather, news, and businesses.

A free 17 x 27 inch waterproof planning chart of the northern and southern Leeward Islands is now included in each edition!

Retail $31.95 each

BVI Post-Hurricane Irma #BVIStrong

The BVI is open for business

A little more than two months after the passage of two major hurricanes the BVI is well on the way to recovery and preparing for the upcoming season. Airports are open, ferry services back on schedule and almost all of the charter companies are either open for business or will be by early December. Dive operators are reporting that the underwater ecology is largely intact and as enticing and beautiful as ever. Many hotels and guest houses are open or opening soon and over 75 restaurants are up and running. The following video “The BVI is open for business” is courtesy of Virgin Island Motor Yachts ( 

For a complete BVI Sailing and Anchorage report as of 11/1/17 from the crew of the Allende covering Norman Island, Peter Island, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, Jost Van Dyke & Sopers Hole click here.


Relief Efforts:

As images of ravaged communities throughout the Caribbean cease to dominate the media, we need to keep them in our minds and hearts by supporting the relief funds throughout the region, many of which are listed here.

Thank you for your continued support!

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Hurricane Irma update #BVIstrong

In the aftermath of the strongest Atlantic hurricane in recorded history, communities throughout the islands of the Caribbean are coming together to rebuild in order to be ready to support the upcoming winter season. Charter fleets are repositioning vessels, beach bars are scrambling to rebuild, supply chains are already re-established and slowly, but unfailingly, the vision of the future is looking optimistic. In the BVI, it is reported that 8,300 people have been displaced and in a briefing earlier this week, Premier Dr. Orlando Smith stated that public and private agencies have been assessing damages to the BVI under a comprehensive disaster management strategy, as the territory plans its reconstruction.

According to Smith's statement, based on the initial assessments, the following have been identified as high priority areas. These include: utilities, construction, wholesale and retail trading including motor vehicle repair, transportation and storage, information and communication, public administration and defense, education, human health and social work and debris/waste management. "We continue to look at accommodations and food services as well as finance and insurance as areas of ongoing importance and support to help residents get back to normalcy," Smith said in a statement. 

According to The Moorings & Sunsail, they are already busy repositioning fleets in order to be ready by December to meetHurricane Irma radar anticipated demand. Dream Yacht Charters, who lost 60% of their fleet are moving boats in from other bases and will be operational for the season in both St. Martin and the BVI with 20 new boats. TMM are also projecting that they will be operational before the start of the season with a limited fleet as will Horizon Yacht Charters and BVI Yacht Charters.

So what will it be like to charter in the islands this winter? For many of us who have been sailing the islands for many years, we remember with fondness the coves and anchorages throughout the islands before chartering became mainstream. Limited infrastructure, but the same beautiful anchorages, coral reefs and friendly people. Some of the restaurants and bars may not be open but it is a great time for all of us to show our support by taking a sailing vacation and spending a little money doing what we love to do, sail the warm waters of the Caribbean islands.

Your help is still needed, relief efforts are still underway, hundreds are still without housing and need our support. As the images of the ravaged communities cease to dominate the media we need to keep them in our minds and hearts by supporting the relief funds throughout the region, many of which are listed on our website. As we make contact with the various charter agencies, restaurants and bars throughout the islands we will be listing updated information and operational timetables on our website.

Thank you for your support of the relief efforts.

Click here to see available relief funds.

Simon Scott, Publisher

Toad Hall on her side

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Hurricanes Irma and Maria

Paraquita Bay Tortola BVI ReutersAs Hurricane Irma carved its vicious path of destruction across the Leeward Islands and then continued her course to ravage the Virgin Islands before heading for Cuba and the Florida Keys, the communities of the Caribbean islands, still reeling from the impact, stood strong and defiant as the wheels of various relief efforts started to turn. Within days Hurricane Maria plotted yet another course of mayhem across Dominica and then on to the Virgin Islands as a Category 5 storm before taking aim at Puerto Rico.

Thousands of homes were lost or damaged and communities throughout the Caribbean continue to struggle to provide fresh water, housing and basic supplies to the thousands of displaced residents.  As images of the devastation emerge around the world people are asking what they can we do to help.

As sailors, charterers and vacationers many of us have over the years enjoyed the pristine sailing waters of the Caribbean and accepted the warm hospitality of the local communities. Now it is our turn to support them to get back on their feet. We have taken a quick review of the various relief funds that have been set up throughout the region and listed them below. There are numerous broad based relief funds that work with community leaders and there are individual GoFundMe efforts established by small companies to help rebuild their businesses. We ask you to join us in supporting this ongoing effort by donating to the fund of your choice (see below).

Beyond the reality of today we should consider how we can continue our support after the media images cease. The cruising grounds haven't changed substantially as a result of the two catastrophic storms. The infrastructure that supports chartering will quickly re-gather strength and vitality, charter fleets will be replenished and therefore the best thing that we can do is to continue to cruise the islands this coming winter season, book a charter or plan a cruise to these beautiful islands and spend a little money doing what we all love to do, sail in the warm waters of paradise. Let's make tomorrow a vision of hope and optimism for our friends in the Caribbean. We at Cruising Guide Publications are following the rebuilding efforts of our friends throughout the islands and will be posting updates and timetables by island on our website.

We thank you for your support.

Simon Scott, Publisher

Global Relief Funds:

See addtional BVI aid sites here.
Additional informational links to help you find a way to help:


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Hurricane Irma Relief Efforts in the BVI

After suffering a direct hit from the category 5 Hurricane Irma, the BVI is still in a state of emergency. Thousands lost their houses, their businesses, and some were hurt or killed. The relief effort is underway and here are some links to follow to see how you can help:

The Director of Tourism for the British Virgin Islands Sharon Flax-Brutus shared

BVI Relief Website:

BVI Irma Relief:

Salty Dawg Rally BVI Relief Fund:

Jost Van Dykes Preservation Society:

BVI Volunteers:

There is also a BVI safety check site that is specifically to help friends and family post the status of loved ones in the British Virgin Islands:

There is an organization called Sailors Helping: “Our goal is simple. Work with the resorts and marinas to understand the needs of their employees; source and deliver the materials needed to get them back on their feet; and provide opportunities to pick up a shovel, a hammer, or a trowel and help our friends that need it most build their homes back up one brick at a time. We’ll provide information on fuel, water, safety and provisioning supplies so cruisers can get there safely and on to their next location without worry. Think a massive flotilla meets habitat for humanity!”

Here is a good list of ways to help victims of Hurricane Irma in all the various islands that were hit:

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Hurricane Irma

As reports start to come in about the devastation that has been caused by the passage of Hurricane Irma, the second most powerful Atlantic hurricane on record, we see the tragic impact of its landfall on the island of Barbuda in the Leeward Islands, leveling most of the buildings on this low lying island. St. Barts and St. Martin were next in Irma's path, causing major damage and claiming nine lives. Yesterday afternoon, Irma came ashore in the British Virgin Islands at about 2pm, delivering the full force of a Cat 5 hurricane with a 12’ storm surge. Buildings and infrastructure were destroyed, charter fleets decimated and communications remain down. The USVI and Puerto Rico were next in line as the storm moved west towards the Bahamas, Cuba and Florida.

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Dominica Needs Help


On August 27th, 2015, the Commonwealth of Dominica, a small island of only 289 square miles in the Caribbean, was hit by Tropical Storm Erika, resulting in widespread catastrophic damage and death.  

Twenty people are confirmed dead and others are still missing. Damage to homes and local businesses has left hundreds homeless and many without a means of income. Many major bridges were destroyed and the roadways have been rendered impassible.  Access to essential services including communications, electricity and clean water have been severely disrupted.  

To compound matters, the main airport on the island was severely damaged, keeping much needed relief supplies from getting to those who so desperately need relief.   

Dominica Marine Association is appealing to the international marine and yachting communities to assist us in any way possible.   

All proceeds from this fund-raiser will go directly to the Dominica Red Cross, the Dominica Marine Association water taxi efforts, and to the office of Disaster Management.   

We would be grateful if you can find it in your heart to assist us in this great time of need. 

Yours respectfully, 

Hubert Winston 


Dominica Marine Association

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CGP Top 5 Things to do with kids on a BVI charter vacation

At the helm in the BVI

1. Unique Caribbean Attractions

National Parks, Museums, Botanical Gardens, Full Moon Parties…  

Tortola alone has the Joseph Reynold O’Neal Botanic Gardens, a shell museum in Carrot Bay,Sage Mountain National ParkMount Healthyold rum distilleries. 

Full Moon Party at Trellis Bay

Once a month, Trellis Bay has a full-moon party for families (unlike Bomba’s) that includes a family-friendly beach party with a West Indian buffet, local music, Moko Jumbi dancers and Aragorn’s fire sculptures. including Callwood’s Distillery in Cane Garden Bay, and a prison that is now a museumThe Baths has two trails to Devil’s Bay (one that is more like an obstacle course, the other is a nature trail), but each (inhabited) island generally has trails and some kind of historical items from shipwrecks, old family heritage, and distilleries.

 2. Watersports

Kids Kayaking

Most charter companies offer kayaks, inner tubes, and snorkeling fins and masks and more watersportsitems to rent when you’re at anchor and the kids want to play. 

There are several places to obtain lessons for your children in the BVI for windsurfing, stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) and sailing among other things. Places like Bitter End Resort in North Sound, Virgin Gorda have great programs for kids that can be really fun. Many resorts have amenities that extend to marina guests and include pools, beach bars, beaches, etc.

3. Caribbean Arts And Crafts

Fishwatchers Field GuideSailing trips are a great time to leave electronic devices behind and to get back to the basics. Books, drawing, crafts and games are all great things to think about collecting before you leave. Pick out a couple books that the kids don’t get until the trip. Think coloring books, how-to-draw books, colored pencils, (washable) markers, crayons, friendship bracelets, puzzles, and origami. Kids can draw fish, coral, flora and fauna they saw swimming or ashore, and identify them on waterproof ID cards—an excellent way to learn about the islands. 



4. Sandcastles And Ice Cream In Cane Garden Bay 

Little girl on Bitter End beach

Get the kids off the boat to stretch their legs and go exploring, play on the beach or grab an ice cream. It’s a great time to do this if you have some provisioning to do or need to get some water and fuel. Bring walkie-talkies you can keep in touch with your kids and arrange to meet at a mutually agreed upon time and place, or you can drop them off in the dinghy until they radio you for pick-up. 

Spend the day at the beach! Supply your kids with tools for building sand castles or water toys like paddle boards and snorkels. You can purchase waterproof bags for towels, sunscreen, bug spray, dry t-shirts, books, and anything else that needs to stay dry. My sister and I spent hours exploring! Just a dinghy ride around to another anchorage or walks down the beach can scratch the itch for adventure or exercise.

5. Family Fun Time And Learning

Finger painting aboard

Living all together on a boat for a week (or more) is an excellent chance for learning activities. Play word games,card games, make up stories, read pirate lore aloud or discuss family history while underway. Books such asAlphabet of Boats and ABC of Boat Bits can help teach the whole family to identify the difference between a ketch and a yawl, or identify the clew on a sail or the boom and the mast, allowing you to quiz each other. I loved family sailing trips as a kid because our parents had the time to play with us. 

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Halloween Sale

The First Time BVI Charter

10 Tips For Planning The Perfect First Time Sailing Adventure


Planning the trip

It has often been said that planning the trip is half the fun. From deciding which charter company to use, the type of vessel, sail or power, the process should be fun and the entire crew should participate. If possible get the crew together for a Painkiller party that gets everyone in the island frame of mind. Talk about expectations, activities, provisioning options, and meal planning.

The crewThe Pussers Painkiller

Make sure everyone is compatible and expectations of the trip are aligned. What is everyone’s appetite for enthusiastic sailing versus spending more time ashore hiking or beaching? If you have not sailed together before think about discussing the following points:

  • Sharing the cost of food and fuel
  • Keeping the boat tidy at all times and cleaning the head area after use
  • sharing cooking duties
  • respecting each other’s need for privacy and personal quiet time
  • use of the dinghy
  • participating in the running of the boat


Communications in the islands

Staying connected in the islands can be an expensive proposition, however there are a few tips that can helpSailing the channel you save money. If you take your cell phone with you the first thing to do is to turn data roaming off as it can cost up to $20 per megabyte in the BVI. If you have an unlocked GSM phone (ATT/ T-Mobile) then we suggest purchasing a SIM card which is available from Mr.SIM or direct through the local carrier LIME or Digicel. This will allow you to call home for less than 30 cents per minute. Phones can be rented on the island, although this option is expensive. You can also purchase a pay-as-you-go phone for around $40-$50 dollars.

Wi-Fi is generally available throughout the islands but you will need to seek out a local marina or restaurant and get a password for access. Speeds are minimal but usually enough to place a Skype call.

Currency & credit cards

The U.S. dollar is the local currency in both the U.S and British Virgin Islands. Major credit cards are widely accepted at the larger restaurants and marinas but not at the smaller establishments. Therefore you will need to bring adequate cash to cover these purchases and for nightly mooring fees that run around $30. ATMs are available at key locations but not everywhere so do not rely on them to replenish dwindling cash supplies. Inform your credit card company of your trip before you leave so they don’t shut down your card due to strange and exotic ATM location withdrawals.

Navigation in the islands

The Virgin Islands offer an ideal setting for a first time charter. The islands are close in proximity, the passagesEast of Jost Van Dyke are largely protected by the formation of the island chain and anchorages are abundant and protected. Most charter vessels are equipped with GPS plotters, however since the islands are closely situated, you will be navigating with a chart and Cruising Guide. You will find a chart of the area aboard upon arrival and you will receive a thorough chart orientation before departure. For a list of island waypoints check the Cruising Guide or click here. Spend a little time getting to know water color and relative depths as this will prove more useful than a GPS.


Fruit marketWhen planning a charter in the BVI there are a couple of options available to you. Allow the charter company to provision you from a pre-selected plan. This saves a lot of time but limits your personal choices. Different companies have different plans so ask for sample menus.

Provision yourself from one of the local markets like Riteway or Bobby’s Market. Riteway has a complete provisioning list and they will deliver it to your boat. This is a good option if you have special dietary needs or are looking for particular foods.

Food is generally speaking expensive in the islands and we highly recommend stocking up before the charter as food and drink items become increasingly more expensive on the smaller islands due to logistics.

For beer, wine, alcohol and soft-drinks, we suggest contacting one of the larger distributors like TICO who will deliver to the boat thereby saving you some precious charter time. Check the Cruising Guide Provisioning section for detailed listings of places to re-stock along the way. Don’t forget to order plenty of drinking water (at least a liter per day per person).

What to bring 

For a week’s charter you should try and fit everything into a soft sided duffle bag under 50lbs.You will spend your time in shorts, t-shirts and bathing suits so don’t overdo the wardrobe and leave all your good jewelry at home. Your charter company will supply most of the items you require but here are a few items that you should consider: medications & toiletries, sunburn cream, wicking sportswear with SPF protection, polarized sunglasses, camera and batteries, bug spray / mosquito repellent, a dry-sack for taking items ashore, books (electronic e-books if possible), Fish ID book or cards, baby wipes, LED head-lamp for reading, games, spices in plastic bags, nutmeg grinder (for Painkillers), and personal water bottles. Snorkel gear is supplied by most companies but if you have special needs, like a prescription mask etc. then consider bringing your own mask and snorkel and using the fins supplied.

The sailing itinerary

When planning your Virgin Island sailing trip it is important to determine the right balance between sailing activity, snorkeling, diving or shore-side exploration. How experienced are the crew? What is the general appetite for trade-wind sailing? Do you and the crew want to eat ashore every night? All of these factors will determine how you plan your itinerary. Whether you sail around the islands clockwise or counter clockwise doesn’t matter, I always seem to work my way clockwise, the important aspect is to rough out a plan on a Virgin Island planning chart and then modify it as you go along based upon weather and crew requirements. Flexibility is the keyword. Sample BVI itinerary

Island etiquette

Virgin Islanders are often rather conservative at heart and quite particular about dress. It is frowned upon toBright Scarf wear beach-wear or bathing suits into town or supermarkets. Topless sunbathing should be confined to the boat.

Great importance is set on greetings throughout the Virgins such as “good morning” or “good afternoon.” It is considered rude to approach people with a question or to transact business without beginning with the appropriate greeting.

Garbage disposal & overboard discharge in anchorages is a concern and your charter company will direct you in this regard.

Safety and security

The British Virgin Islands are consider a very safe area to cruise and there have been very few incidents over Snorkelingthe years. Normal precautions should be taken when leaving valuables aboard the boat. Sun protection is perhaps the greatest concern and the easiest to prevent. Always apply cream in the morning and throughout the day, wear sun-glasses and hats.

In the water, be careful not to touch coral, sea urchins or lion fish and don’t swim alone or at night. When using the dinghy at night, operate at low speeds and make sure you have a light visible.







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