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“All the right stuff”
Review of Sunsail

Sunsail
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
16 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“All the right stuff”
Reviewed March 9, 2014 via mobile

Third sailing charter, first with Sunsail. Very good experience mostly owed to Sunsail's focus on catering to the once-in-a-while charter crowd. Planning the trip was simple and the help from Becky Mann was a welcome help in picking the boat and the schedule. The online services were well thought out, particularly the provisioning which was the smoothest I've experienced yet.

The base was impressive with the right amenities for the last minute oversights and a decent restaurant (or two or three?) for dinner the night before our departure.

The staff are ready: ready for you to arrive, ready to get you set, ready to get you home and ready to get you back to the ferry. Was good to have them looking out for us.

We chose the 384 cat, perfect for two couples. Everything worked and the boat performed very well.

Visited March 2014
Helpful?
Thank CoreyGlynn
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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79 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
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English first
Seattle
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Things to consider when chartering a boat”
Reviewed February 27, 2014

We chartered through Sun Sail on a Jeannuea 32 which they kept calling the "Baby Boat" which was slightly insulting. The boat was mostly well maintained but there was one thing that really detracted from our enjoyment. The boat had no dodger which meant that at anchor when the trade winds are blowing at 15-20 knots it's very uncomfortable to sit outside cause you can't hide behind the dodger. When you charter a sailboat be sure it has a dodger. Sun Sail did not mislead us in any way, but we wish we'd noticed the ommission from the list of what was on the boat.
Don't have much good to say about Jeanneau boats- they are cheaply made production boats built for charter. Never thought I'd see particle board on a boat, but that's what most of the interior was.
We were also disapointed in a couple of safety measures in that there was not adequate anchor chain for safe anchoring in more than 20 feet of water. That's normally OK but not always. Please make sure you ask about the amount of anchor chain and rode and make sure it's enough to give you the 5 to 1 scope they tell you to use! Our radios did not work so we had no music and we couldn't get weather info from the VHF. Again, the VHF working is kind of important safely wise.
My husband are I are experienced sailors and had fun, but knowing how much better it could have been with a couple of improvements we were disappointed.
However, the boat was clean, the staff was very friendly and hard working and the area is beautiful. Just know the questions to ask!.

Visited February 2014
Helpful?
5 Thank Beverly J
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Level Contributor
37 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Sunsail deserves an A+”
Reviewed February 22, 2014 via mobile

We chartered a Sunsail 36' for a week, and it was excellent. The base is amazing with so many helpful staff and lots of amenities. Close to rite way for provisioning, and the liquor store.

This is the best way to see the islands!

If you're planning on chartering Sunsail or Moorings is the way to go! Thanks for a great vacation!

Visited February 2014
Helpful?
3 Thank Coca905
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
49 reviews
10 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 59 helpful votes
“First, but not last, trip to the BVI”
Reviewed February 17, 2014

My husband convinced me to go on a one week Flotilla in the BVI. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this trip!
We left on a 6am flight from Ottawa, caught the connection in Newark and arrived to St. Thomas at 3pm. Quick taxi (5 min ride cost $50 for 4 people! ) took us to the ferry terminal. Word to the wise- book your passage BEFORE you leave. We booked through RoadTown fast ferry online a week ahead of time. Good thing, because space is limited on the ferry and the last one leaves at 4!
We ventured to several ports so I will give a few notes about each:
Day 1- Wickhams II in Road Town- the starting point. We arrived late and weary after 12 hours of travel. I would suggest to those coming from Canada to arrive on Thursday or early Friday if possible. You can't get on your boat until 6pm though. We ate at Charlies for dinner. Overpriced, VERY slow service. But the food was very good. But we waited 1.5 hours for our dinner and when you are tired it seems like an eternity.
We had provisioned the boat through SunSail which I highly recommend. The prices are no different than had I bought all the same stuff at the grocery store in Road Town. We forgot a few things on our list and we walked across the street to the grocery store in town- prices generally in the BVI are 25% higher than what we would pay for similar items in Canada. However it was far more convenient to have someone else stock our fridge for us!

Day 2- Saturday- Wickham's Cay to Virgin Gorda@ Spanish Town. We had a captain with us for the first day to familiarize my husband with the boat. He took us first across the channel to Peter Island and then up the channel to Spanish Town. In 20-25 knot winds. Very rough water!! I turned a few different shades of green! LOL! At Spanish Town we docked at the Marina. For our catamaran (38 foot) plus electric is cost us $160 for one night. Very expensive. There is wifi there which you get the password to when you pay your docking fee. A nice bar at the end of the dock is the usual meeting spot for the flotilla 5pm briefing. There is laundry facilities, good showers and an excellent provisioning store. If you want to see the Baths I recommend taking a taxi from port rather than swimming in from your boat. There are a limited number of mooring balls at the Baths and you are not allowed to bring your dingy anyway near shore. We swam in from the catamaran and there is a strong undercurrent which made it a hard swim! The taxi from port is 5 minutes and costs $10.
We had dinner that night at a restaurant called The Rock. The food was excellent but again, took over 1.5 hours to get served and this was with us having pre-ordered earlier in the day!

Day 3- Sail from Spanish Town to Saba Rock in the North Sound of Virgin Gorda. This is also home to the famous Bitter End Yacht club. When you get there you are on a mooring ball (unless you show up after 3pm and then you will be stuck anchoring). On the west side of the harbour are SabaRock mooring balls, and on the East Side are Bitter End mooring balls. They cost the same - $30 a night. HOWEVER, if you grab a Saba Rock ball they will give you a free bag of ice and refill your water tanks for FREE. You do not get this with the Bitter End ball. The balls are marked- SR or BE. There is a great bar/restaurant on Saba Rock. This is where the briefing will be on this day. You can also go over to the Bitter End but bring your wallet- meals and spa services over there cost $$$$$$$$$

Day 4- Sail from Saba Rock (past Necker Island, home of Sir Richard Branson) to Marina Cay. This was my favourite sail but my least favourite stop on the flotilla. We did a dawn sail and arrived to Marina Cay by 10am. It is the shortest sail of the week. Marina Cay is boring, unless you are really into snorkelling - there are a few great reefs within the harbour. There is a quaint little shop on the island and a ferry that goes every hour over to Trellis Island for more shopping. The island has a great beach so if you are bringing kids they will love it. We ate at Pusser's that night and again- almost 2 hours to get our food. The owner though apologized and gave us a free bottle of rum to take back home.

Day 5- Marina Cay to Jost Van Dyke. Great sailing conditions. Jost Van Dyke is the funnest stop on the tour. Jump in the dingy and go over to White Bay for a PainKiller at the Soggy Bottom beach bar. This is also the BEST beach on the entire trip. Arrive early, grab a lounger and spend the day. The flotilla moors in Great Harbour, home of Foxy's. It was nothing like I imagined it would be. Small little shop to get a t-shirt. Quaint bar. Never tried the food. There are services in Great Harbour - a bakery, ice cream shop, small provisioning store. Stay away from mooring balls close to the ferry lanes!

Day 6- JVD to Norman Island. This sail takes you back down the Channel. We had fabulous sailing with 15 knot winds. I highly recommend making a stop at Sandy Cay along the way if you want a beach stop. Soper's Hole (west end Tortola) is also en route if you want to stop for provisions, water, ice, etc along the way. We moored up on the west side of the harbour- look for a ball close to shore but far away from Willy T barge bar. The Pirate's Cove bar/restaurant has wifi and the best ribs I have EVER tasted!! Customers are welcome to spend the day in their loungers and kids will enjoy the little beach.

Day 7- you are given the option of a free sail or going back to base. We sailed over to Peter Island into the Great Harbour. What a beautiful spot. We took a vote and decided to go back to base at the end of the day because we had a lot of cleaning/ packing to do and thought we could do some laundry at base. However, next time we go will stay the night here and motor across to base the next morning as FYI- there are NO laundry facilities at base. We had dinner at the hotel restaurant and the food was FABULOUS.

Other points on this trip:
You can get free WiFi everywhere EXCEPT Jost Van Dyke. You can purchase "World Wifi" for $125 a week for 5 devices but I understand from others it is extremely slow. Stick to the free stuff and go without on the one day of your trip.
You have to really watch your water consumption. We had a catamaran. 4 adults. We conserved (caribbean showers in the ocean, washed dishes only once a day, flushed only when absolutely necessary) and our tanks made us to the last day (we actually ran out while washing dishes docked at base). However the catamaran has larger water tanks, if you take a monohull you will more than likely need to refill once along the way. Plan for it.
There are some lovely hotels on the route. If you feel the need for a bigger bed and nice long hot shower, book one in advance. Think about the hotel on Saba Rock, or the Scrub Island Resort in Marina Cay.

Finally, a note about the flotilla leaders. They are employees of SunSail. We heard from the locals that they are paid only a fraction of the "flotilla fee", live on the boat 365 days a year and have to be available 24 hours a day to respond to the needs of the flotilla (engine repairs, etc). They only ask that if you have any provisions left over at the end of the week that you drop them off at their boat rather than toss them in the garbage. As I mentioned before, living in the BVI is very expensive! Our flotilla leader, Don, was AWESOME. Consider leaving them a tip if possible, it is never requested, but greatly appreciated.

Visited February 2014
Helpful?
8 Thank TLLcanada
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ottawa, Canada
Level Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Excellent as long as you know what to expect. (1 week flotilla BVI)”
Reviewed February 16, 2014

This was our first large yacht sailing adventure. We chose Sunsail because they have decent prices and have a flotilla option.

1. Sailing a big boat - Before booking this trip my first concern was - can I sail this 38 foot catamaran? My experience consists of mainly dinghy solo sailing, plenty of power boating and experience on lakes and rivers, and the CYA Basic Cruising Standard. Sunsail allowed me to take the cat provided I hire a skipper for the first day. The skipper showed me how to operate the boat properly, how to tie off a mooring ball, and how to control all of the systems on the boat. He stayed with us until after supper on the first day and then left. My First Mate and I learned plenty and it was smooth sailing all week for us after this short lesson. Skipper cost us $185, we fed him and kept him hydrated, fed him supper and gave him $100 cash for a ferry back and tip. Well worth it.

2. Sunsail as a company - When we arrived Sunsail was fairly organized. They were aware that we were coming and had a taxi waiting for us at the ferry terminal in Tortola. The boat was ready when we got there. The only small issue was they were not aware we had hired a skipper. This was quickly fixed. We were told by many that customer service in the BVI is never perfect but Sunsail / Moorings is as good as it gets. I believe this to be true.

3. The Flotilla - We were under the impression that this would be a very regimented tightly controlled affair. I had visions of us traveling as a pack and having fun racing etc. In reality the flotilla is just a loose group of fellow cruisers who will show up at the agreed upon bay before dark. The flotilla leader picks a route and people for the most part stick to it, but the coming and going is all over the place. This means you are on your own getting to your destination. Study the map provided and listen to the flotilla leader at the daily chart briefings and you will be OK. Also there is a digital chart plotter on board every yacht I visited as well as autopilot which makes things go nice and easy. The daily briefing was at 5:00 and 3 of the nights of the flotilla there was a group dinner. Because of the fact that restaurants in the BVI are painfully slow for the most part, and quite expensive, after the first restaurant night people stopped showing up. For us the real bonus of the flotilla was our flotilla leader "Don". Don was excellent. He made plenty of visits for chats, he knew the cruising areas inside and out, he is a master sailor, and he is a skilled mechanic. One of our motors would not start, I called him on the VHF, and he motored to me and had the issued fixed in under 15 minutes. He is a tremendous asset to Sunsail.

4. The sailing - The wind was 15 to 20 knots blowing from the east each and every day. The sailing was fast and fun. We all loved it. Once the ladies got used to the ocean waves they spent most of the time sailing on the tramp at the bow. We were able to squeeze 8 knots out of our big barge which was a ton of fun.

5. The stops - We stopped a Spanish Town (and the baths), Saba Rock, Marina Cay, Great Harbour ("Soggy Dollar" and "Foxy's"), and the Bight ("Willy T's"). Spanish town was a bit dull but all of the other stops were awesome. All but Spanish Town were mooring balls. The standard cost for mooring balls is $30 per night. Each place comes out in a boat after supper to collect the cash. You get a receipt. I have read other reviews that claim people try to rip you off or "pirates" try to collect another fee. This is all Bull. The BVI's are a very affluent place and there was no theft or crime to speak of whatsoever. I have been all over and this was the safest place I have ever visited. I had no issues leaving the boat for hours at a time with the door unlocked. Also other reviewers complain of bugs. This is nonsense. I did not see one bug the entire trip.

6. The food - We ordered all of our provisioning online through Sunsail. All the food was delivered the first night to the boat. I would suggest doing it this way as it does not cost much extra and the service is excellent. I tipped my provisions handler $5 and he came back with a 6 pack of Red Stripe for me as a gift! Very nice people. The restaurants for the most part are very slow but the food was consistently delicious. If you see a Rib Eye steak on a menu in the BVI order it. Trust me.

7. Overall - We loved the experience. We are already planning next years flotilla.

Visited February 2014
Helpful?
5 Thank Oldschooliscoool
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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