For visitors who have chosen land-based accommodation rather than a charter yacht, a day sail is often the easiest and best way to see what this sailing fuss is all about.
Day-sail operators usually take guests to a handful of popular sites: Norman Island, the Baths, and Jost Van Dyke are the most common. Each operator fosters a different kind of atmosphere aboard, ranging from party-hardy to family-oriented. If you have a large group, many operators will offer a private charter where you get to choose your destinations. Most operators offer both half- and full-day trips. Full-day sails range $100–125 per person, while half-day sails run $60–90. Most serve lunch on board. This is one aspect of your vacation that you should plan in advance; many day-sail companies book up, especially in high season.
Patouche Charters (Harbour View Marina, East End, 284/494-6300, www.patouche.com) wins the prize for friendliest crew and is an especially good choice if there are inexperienced snorkelers in your group. They offer a wide variety of trips, including sails to the Baths, Norman Island, Peter Island, and sunset cruises.
Departing from East End, Atlantis Adventure (Hodge’s Creek Marina, 284/495-9765, cellular 284/443-5096, www.atlantisadventuresbvi.com) offers guided snorkel and fishing tours led by experienced an seaman, Captain Roy. Trips to Anegada can be arranged.
White Squall II (Village Cay Marina, 284/494-2564, www.whitesquall2.com) is an 80-foot traditional schooner that takes day sailors to the Baths, Norman Island, and Cooper Island. It tends to book large groups.
Departing from West End, three different catamarans offer day sails to Jost Van Dyke, Norman Island, and other destinations: Aristocat Charters (tel./fax 284/495-4087, cellular 284/499-1249, www.aristocatcharters.com), Kuralu (tel./fax 284/495-4381, www.kuralu.com), and Mystique (284/494-0740, www.voyagecharters.com) all depart from Soper’s Hole Marina.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Virgin Islands, 4th edition