Sailing the British Virgin Islands on a Crewed Charter

Ever wondered what it’s like to take a crewed sailing vacation through the beautiful British Virgin Islands? Follow along in this series as we describe our boat, the experience and the places we visited along the way!


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Sailing in the beautiful British Virgin Islands

Skimming over the Caribbean waters watching the colors change from deep blue to turquoise then back in your own private catamaran charter. Water so clear you feel like could just reach down to the bottom of the sea and touch the sand. Spending a week exploring some of the prettiest islands in the Caribbean while being pampered by your very own captain and cook…

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Sandy Cay, British Virgin Islands

We began our love affair with sailing in the Caribbean in 2006 when we embarked on our first sail with our friend Guy, who had his own sailboat and spent months at a time sailing through the islands. Prior to this trip we’d only navigated the waters of the Caribbean on a cruise liner, and had not yet been to the BVI. As you can imagine, by the end of the first day on that first sail trip, we were hooked.

We got home from that trip already longing to do it again. Unfortunately, being landlocked most of our lives, we have not learned to sail our own vessel – yet. So, we began looking at crewed charter options. After much research, we found a company that offered a fully crewed charter (captain and a cook) and pricing that included almost everything, including food and beverage. We talked some good friends into coming with us and booked our sail. The company we booked with was Festiva Sailing Vacations.

Fast forward a few years and we recently completed our 4th sail with Festiva – the latest one in the British Virgin Islands. Each one has been very different depending on itinerary, crew and the guests on the boat, yet each one has been wonderful in its own way.

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Little Dix Bay, Virgin Gorda

For this sail, we elected to book one of Festiva’s new Lagoon 450 catamarans. Our prior Festiva sails were on the just slightly smaller 440 catamaran which offered plenty of room for 3 couples, but we had 4 couples this time and opted for the 450 because it has one additional guest cabin. There are a few other differences as well, such as slightly bigger bathrooms in each cabin – complete with  small shower stalls.

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Lounge area in front of the steering wheel

The front lounge area by the nets is a little more spacious; there is a lounge area (cushions – kind of like a day bed) just in front of the steering wheel and a few changes including more room in the outdoor dining area. See boat configuration here:

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Configuration of the Lagoon 450

We were to board our Festiva catamaran at 5:00p.m. Saturday in Hodges Creek Marina on Tortola (see our Tortola Map for location). Hodges Creek is not far from Beef Island Airport (EIS), and although we have flown in to Beef Island in the past, this time we got a much lower fare flying into St. Thomas (STT) and took the ferry to Road Town, Tortola. Note: when determining the best price for your flight into the BVI, be sure to take into account the taxi and ferry fees from St. Thomas to Tortola, which can add up and, and whether or not you will have to book a hotel room the night before you sail.

After a day of playing on Water Island, we caught a 3:30p.m. ferry over to Road Town where a Festiva van was waiting to shuttle us and others to our boats in Hodges Creek. Upon arrival at Hodges, Festiva dock crew helped us move our luggage to our beautiful sailing home for the week.

Once boarded, we were introduced to our lovely crew, ushered to our respective cabins, given a quick introduction on where everything was and how to use it (especially the bathroom!) and then we all met up top for a welcome drink prepared by our wonderful cook.

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Our Welcome Aboard Drink – one of many delicious drinks enjoyed that week!

We were given the choice of spending that first night in the marina, relaxing, enjoying drinks and conversation as we had done on past sails, or to get the party started and head to Norman Island before it got dark.

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Pre-sail net lounging

The vote was a unanimous “Sail to Norman”!

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Sunset sail to Norman Island

We had a lovely sunset sail, anchored that first night in The Bight at Norman Island, enjoyed a delicious dinner on board and spent the remainder of our first evening at Willy T’s for a shot-ski or two and a little rambunctiousness.

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Enjoying the “shot-ski” at Willy T’s

We returned to our boat, laid in the nets up front for a while admiring the million stars twinkling in the skies overhead, then made our way to our cabins. Totally spent, we slept like babies that night, gently rocked to the rhythm of the ocean…


 Stay tuned for Sailing the British Virgin Islands on a Crewed Charter Part 2, where we’ll cover our stops at Cane Garden Bay, Jost Van Dyke and much more!


To find out more about a sailing vacation with Festiva, contact them through their website:
Festiva Sailing Vacations

And follow them on Facebook:
Festiva Sailing Vacations



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