What to Pack
Rule number one is to PACK LIGHT! Most guests wear a bathing suit all day and usually go barefoot on the boat (in fact, the crew will ask you to remove your shoes when coming aboard). Ashore, shorts and T-shirts are fine, even for dining out. A sweatshirt or wind breaker is nice to have for windy evenings. The stereo on Happy Time has an iPod input you may use. Guests are encouraged to pack in duffle bags (without wheels) because storage space on the yacht is limited.[/one_third]
Sun Screen Protection and Seasickness Prevention
It is essential to bring and use a good sunscreen when sailing the islands. Wearing hats is encouraged as well. The crew will advise you before your trip about which sunscreens are recommended so as not to damage the fabrics on the yacht.
Even though the sailing conditions are usually gentle and the ride on Happy Time is very stable, many people find it helpful to bring seasickness prevention medications, either over the counter medications such as Bonine or Dramamine, or prescription medications such as Transderm Scope patches.
You will need a current passport to enter the British Virgin Islands. No visa is required for U.S. and Canadian citizens.
Discuss this important topic with your charter broker. Trip insurance is especially recommended for June and July charters.
Tipping the Crew
A tip of 15 to 20 % is standard on crewed yacht charters.
ARRIVAL AND DEPARTURE INFORMATION
In the Virgin Islands, Happy Time can pick up and drop off guests on St. Thomas or Tortola. If there is already a charter booked the day before or after your trip, the starting and ending locations will be dictated by the previous or following charter. However, if the day before or after your charter is open, you have your choice of locations. Here is some information that may help you decide.
The advantage of meeting and leaving Happy Time on St. Thomas is that there are numerous flight options to the St. Thomas airport (STT) with non-stop flights from many US cities, including Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Miami, Minneapolis (Sun County Airlines), JFK, Newark, and Washington, D.C.
The main disadvantage is that by starting from St. Thomas, you must sail upwind farther to get to the most popular anchorages, and depending on where you wish to anchor, you may end up motor sailing more at the beginning than if you started your week farther upwind from Tortola. Also you will end up clearing in and out of BVI customs in West End on Tortola and back into US customs in at Cruz Bay on St. Johns when you return. That is not a big deal, and the crew will make the process super easy, but it does take a little time away from your sailing.
The pick up and drop off location on St. Thomas will be at either American Yacht Harbor in Red Hook or at nearby Compass Point Marina, both on the eastern end of the island.
To make your arrival seamless and easy, our crew will arrange private taxi transportation from the airport to the marina. We have selected Americus Jackson as the preferred taxi provider for Happy Time because of his delightful personality and because of his commitment to high quality, professional service. Americus will greet you at the airport baggage area and will drive you to the marina in his immaculately clean, air conditioned van.
The advantage of starting and ending your trip on Tortola is that you are right in the heart of the best sailing spots and anchorages, and you have less upwind sailing compared with sailing from St. Thomas. Also, you clear in and out of customs at the airport so you don’t have to fool with it on the boat. If you start and end your trip on Tortola, you will probably not want to bother sailing to the USVI.
The disadvantage to starting and ending on Tortola is that there are very limited flight options into and out of Tortola, and the ferry service between St. Thomas and Tortola is not as dependable as it could be.
The airport on Tortola is called Beef Island (EIS), and to get there you basically have to go through San Juan (SJU) and switch to a commuter prop plane. The airlines that currently fly between San Juan and Beef Island are Air Sunshine, Cape Air, Seaborne Airlines and American Eagle. Currently, Seaborne tends to have the best fares and flight schedules. Sometimes a private charter flight from San Juan is cost effective as a scheduled flight if there are six people traveling together.
Ferry service between St. Thomas and Tortola runs between Charlotte Amalie (10 minute cab ride from the St. Thomas airport) or Red Hook (25 minute cab ride) and Road Town or West End on Tortola. Here is a web page that lists the ferry schedules. The schedules are subject to change without notice, however.
On Tortola, the pickup and drop offs are usually at one of three locations:
1. Trellis Bay at the eastern end of Tortola. You can actually walk or take a 2 minute cab ride from the Beef Island airport to Trellis Bay. This is a nice anchorage in itself, or you can motor about 10 minutes to an even more scenic anchorage at Marina Cay.
2. Village Cay Marina in Road Town at the center of the southern coast of Tortola. This is a short walk or really short cab rode from the ferry terminal. Beautiful anchorages are less than an hour sail away.
3. West End (Soper’s Hole). This really does not offer any advantage to a Red Hook pick-up or drop off, so this would not be recommended except for unusual circumstances.