BVI Sailor's Packing List

Published by Swain Sailing School and Yacht Charters on Sunday, 5th October 2014 - 5:49AM in Sailing Tips


Must Have

Your passport

Other suggested items:

Hat with a leash or neck strap

Sailing gloves

Sunscreen (35+ spf is recommended for the first few days)


Text(s) (if you would like to have a set for reference)

ASA logbook (if you have completed the 101 before joining us)

Music player

Prescriptions/extra contacts/glasses

If prone to sea sickness, or unsure, you may want to pack motion sickness medicine e.g. Scopace, scopolamine (patch- usually by prescription), or bonine (over the counter).


If you're planning on bringing any electronics, the BVI uses the same current as the US (110v). There will an inverter on board to charge MP3 players/ipads, laptops, cell phones and other small electronics. There is an usb connection on board. The inverter cannot power a hair dryer.

Safety Equipment

The yacht is equipped with all required safety equipment, e.g. Pfds, first aid kit, flares, vhf radio, etc.

Water Toys

Snorkel gear is provided. If you have your own mask, you may want to bring it to ensure a good fit.

Kayaks, SUPs, noodles, can be ordered, free delivery to your boat through Island Surf & Sail. You can order on online or contact Nicoll with your order/questions. Mention that you are chartering through Swain Sailing School so that you receive your discount.

Linens and Towels

Linens and towels (wash cloth, hand towel and 2 bath towels per person) are provided.


The BVI is quite casual. A sundress for the ladies and a polo or tropical button down for the men is as dressy as you’ll need to be for dinners ashore. Bring several swimsuits/swim trunks. We recommend that you bring a pull over or windbreaker as  evenings on the boat can get "chilly" (relative to the very warm days) and a long sleeve, cotton shirt for sun protection. Also, a light rain jacket is recommended as brief rain squalls are common. Footwear is not required on the boat. However, if you prefer to wear sneakers or sandals, please make sure the soles are non-marking and have a heal and protected toe (flip flops are not recommended).

Attire and Gear Specific to Caribbean Coastal Passage Making Students:  

Light foul weather jacket and light waterproof (shell) pants are recommended.  Boots are not necessary.  A couple of pairs of cotton socks are recommended.  

Additional gear for passage making students:  

Headlamp (white and red LED lights are best)

Personal Handheld GPS (optional)

Provided: Inflatable PFD , harness and tether, jacklines, life raft, SPOT tracking

Cell Phones and WIFI

Cell phones may work in most areas of the BVI. Unless you have called your carrier and added and international plan, roaming charges may apply which can be upwards of $2/minute for calls and .50 cents per text. ATT offers a $10 per day international plan. WIFI service is generally available at no charge in most of the resorts and anchorages throughout the BVI. 

If you would like to have internet on your boat, you can reserve a 4G router and request your service package on line: .


Currency is the US dollar. ATMs are not conveniently located around the BVI. Credit cards (MC/Visa) are generally accepted everywhere (sometimes with a $20 minimum), but AMEX is not widely accepted. Having enough cash/travelers checks on hand will make things easier.

Specific to Passage Making Trainees: US currency is accepted in St. Martin, St. Barths, Antigua- most of the Caribbean. 


We are often asked what is appropriate for instructor gratuities. A range of $40-50pp for Basic Keelboat instructors and $200-250 per person is customary for our Cruising instructors.

Getting to Us

Our local number is 284 342-3519. Our office address is Waterfront #13 (across from the Ft. Burt Hotel).

Please include your flight arrival and departure details on your provision menu and we will arrange your taxi pick up and departure. If flying into Tortola (EIS), the fare will be around $15pp for a shared taxi or $40 for a private. 

 If flying into St. Thomas and ferrying to Tortola, there will be taxis outside the baggage area in STT to take you to the Charlotte Amalie ferry terminal. It's about a 8 minute taxi ride ($10-12 fare depending on how many pieces of luggage you have). There are several ferry operators within the terminal- all at the same counter. Take whichever is scheduled to depart the soonest.  If you do have an extended wait time before your ferry departs, there is a restaurant on the second level of the ferry terminal, the Petite Pump, that serves beverages and a full menu.  

Please note: We do not advise booking tickets in advance as you are then beholden to that operator and if a ferry is delayed or has mechanical issues, you will be waiting on their remedy. 

If arriving by ferry from STT we will arrange your taxi pick up. As we will not know which ferry provider you are on or if they are departing promptly until you have purchased your ticket at the counter, please call or text our taxi driver, George, at 284 499-2656 with your scheduled departure time once you have boarded the ferry. 

If flying into Beef Island (EIS), please provide your Airline, Flight #, arrival time.

Private Water Taxis

Private water taxi service is available between St. Thomas and the BVI.  It's an expensive option, but may work cost-wise for larger groups.  

Dolphin Shuttle +1 340.774.2628

Dohm's Water Taxi +1 340.775.6501

Ocean Dreams +1 340.690.2979

Provisioning onboard

We ask that you submit your provision menu one week prior to the start of your course. 

For Cruising (and Fast Track) trainees, please use this link to submit your preferences:

Live Aboard Cruising Menu

For Coastal Passage Making/Advanced Coastal Cruising trainees, please use this link to submit your preferences:

Provisioning Menu -CPM

For our 5 and 6 day Charter clients, please use this link to submit your selections:

5 or 6 Day Charter Menu

For 7 day Charter clients, please use this link to submit your menu selections:

7 day Charter Menu

If you have any food allergies or strong dislikes, please indicate that on the form in the comments section.

Drinks and Additional Items

For your drinking water, ice and additional beverages, there is a grocery store located in the marina. We recommend 3-4 gallons of water per person for the week. If buying the gallon jugs, it’s also good to purchase a couple of single bottles that you can refill and keep in the cockpit cup holders. If you do find that you need more water, there are water refill stations in most of the anchorages.

With regard to what to expect for your provisioning, plan for simple, balanced meals, i.e. standard breakfasts items, deli, chips and fruit for lunch. For the dinners provided: a protein on the grill, starch on the stovetop and side vegetable or salad. Hummus, nuts, chips and salsa will be provided for happy hour snacks. If you have any specific preferences (in addition to the provision menu) i.e. special herbs, additional snacks, you should be able to pick up a few wanted extras in the small grocery store just a short walk from our office.

In general, we like to prepare students for what to expect with their provision order and remind everyone that this is the Caribbean, the stores do not have large selections and often won’t have what is requested. We submit a standard menu to the provisioning service with the items requested by our guests. We have no control over how the order is filled. It is important that students go through the original order confirmation that will be provided to you when stowing provisions so that you know if there are any items missing from the delivery order before you set off, and then we can substitute/replace what is needed through the small grocery store around the corner from our office. This is part of the way of the Caribbean, part of the experience and it’s good to learn what to expect when you return to charter. We encourage students not to get turned off and stressed about it but plan for the possibility that some provisioning may need to be done to correct for missing items. Our staff will assist with shopping for any missing items. Anything included on the menu that is not delivered and needs to be purchased, we cover that expense as it is included in your tuition.

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