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Old 02-25-2016, 05:30 PM   #1
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Living aboard in St Thomas or St John?

My wife is a nurse and has the opportunity for travel assignments in St Thomas and St John in the USVI. We have our first trawler under contract (I'll start another thread) and are curious about the possibility of spending the winter living aboard in the USVI while she works on one of the islands and I work remotely. From extensive googling, searching the cruiser forums, reading THT, and other sources, I'm getting very mixed reviews about the possibility and desirability of living aboard at St Thomas or St John.

Is it possible to live aboard and work ashore on either island? Any recommendations? A particular marina? While not as desirable (getting to work in bad weather), what about moorings or anchoring?

Any first hand experience in the past decade with either island, particularly safety?
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Old 02-25-2016, 06:46 PM   #2
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My first two thoughts are (1) Insurance: Can you get it and afford it, will you be around to hightail it to the nearest hurricane hole when needed? (2) How much money are we talking? The VIs are pretty expensive cost of living wise. (3) Other thoughts - and this is a personal thing - will you be happy? There is only so much to do...especially if she is tied up at work most of the time
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Old 02-25-2016, 06:48 PM   #3
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Yes you can live aboard there. Look into the Red Hook area. Living on a mooring may be you best bet.
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Old 02-25-2016, 06:49 PM   #4
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That sounded rather negative so I wanted to add this - I'm headed to the BVIs on Sunday and I think I could be rather happy working in the Virgin Islands at least for a while provided I had the cash to live comfortably and get back to the real world every once in a while.
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Old 02-25-2016, 06:51 PM   #5
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St. Thomas can be sketchy as far as crime goes. But if you are careful and don't do stupid stuff you should be alright.

A good friend of mine runs a couple of day boats out of there (Red Hook) and St. John for years with no real problems.
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Old 02-25-2016, 11:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by devorenm View Post
My first two thoughts are (1) Insurance: Can you get it and afford it, will you be around to hightail it to the nearest hurricane hole when needed? (2) How much money are we talking? The VIs are pretty expensive cost of living wise. (3) Other thoughts - and this is a personal thing - will you be happy? There is only so much to do...especially if she is tied up at work most of the time
Devorenm, those are very valid concerns. However, (1) we have figured out insurance and only plan to be in the islands in the non-hurricane season - not that the gulf coast of Florida is much cheaper for insurance in the summer. (2) Wouldn't be considering it if money were an issue. (3) I honestly don't know. But, at worst it's a 13 week job and then we come back to the States. The risk seems small. And she would only work three days a week. I see where you're coming from but these are the issues that we've talked about and don't worry me - the issues that we control and understand. The issues we don't control or understand are the unknown, what it's like to live aboard in the USVI.

Capt.Bill11, thanks, we will look into the Red Hook area.
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Old 02-26-2016, 02:28 AM   #7
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I'd say go for it. Not like you're committing to doing it forever. We left St. Thomas at 6:30 Yesterday morning. Obviously we were tourists, but we encountered nothing that would have made us hesitant to recommend it other than costs of living.

Bill mentioned Red Hook. I think American Yacht Harbor there is reasonable. There are several marinas in Benner Bay. I don't have a feel for their prices. Near Charlotte Amalie the prices are a bit higher, as in double Red Hook, but the moorings are still reasonable. Crown Bay Marina then is in between the extremes. I think 13 weeks would be a great chance to figure out if more was desired. I would also think she might get opportunities in Puerto Rico and some of those areas are enjoyable. I don't know how the pay compares.
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Old 02-26-2016, 05:40 AM   #8
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A good number of Eastern Caribbean boaters "go north" to the Virgins and spend years anchored out there. The problem is having a hurricane plan as it is too far north to escape to Grenada and Trinidad if a storm comes.
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Old 02-26-2016, 10:18 AM   #9
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These are good problems to have, go for it!
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Originally Posted by Panhandler View Post
Devorenm, those are very valid concerns. However, (1) we have figured out insurance and only plan to be in the islands in the non-hurricane season - not that the gulf coast of Florida is much cheaper for insurance in the summer. (2) Wouldn't be considering it if money were an issue. (3) I honestly don't know. But, at worst it's a 13 week job and then we come back to the States. The risk seems small. And she would only work three days a week. I see where you're coming from but these are the issues that we've talked about and don't worry me - the issues that we control and understand. The issues we don't control or understand are the unknown, what it's like to live aboard in the USVI.

Capt.Bill11, thanks, we will look into the Red Hook area.
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Old 02-26-2016, 10:57 AM   #10
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I misinterpreted your post as you still being on the fence about doing it at all which is what dictated my post. It sounds like you have everything thought out and if its only a 3 month commitment you are right the risk is quite low.
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Old 02-26-2016, 01:27 PM   #11
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Hi
My wife and I live in the Virgin Islands for 6 months each winter and have for the last 9 years. It is VERY easy to live aboard on a mooring or even on your own hook if you like..It cost very little. Besides a few dinghy being stolen I have never heard of a incident against a live-aboard on their boat down here..you can PM me if you want more information.
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Old 02-26-2016, 01:49 PM   #12
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A tip I have heard useful in the region is not to use the T/T ***** or any other identifiable markings on your dinghy. Otherwise the presence of your dink at the dock tells thieves that the mother-ship is unoccupied and an easy target
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Old 02-26-2016, 01:55 PM   #13
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Red hook has the Marina's and they are very pleasant. It'll be tough getting a slip though, except during hurricane season.

St john's has very limited options. Nothing permanent that I could see. The "harbor" gets very full at night.

Bcarli has better info than I, but I spent a very nice month on the hook off Charlotte Amalie in St Thomas. I had no problems.
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Old 02-26-2016, 02:47 PM   #14
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A tip I have heard useful in the region is not to use the T/T ***** or any other identifiable markings on your dinghy. Otherwise the presence of your dink at the dock tells thieves that the mother-ship is unoccupied and an easy target
That is good advice everywhere. Don't give thieves the information they need. Same as announcing in social media you're going to take a six weeks vacation which lets them know your home is likely not going to be occupied.
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Old 02-26-2016, 05:15 PM   #15
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Thanks, all. Great information! Bcarli, I appreciate the offer and will be getting in touch.

Devorenm, you are right that we are still on the fence. I certainly don't have everything thought out and I really appreciate the feedback.
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Old 05-09-2016, 04:57 PM   #16
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We just left St Thomas after a number of years living there. You can PM me if you have specific questions. There are no marinas in ST John. American Yacht Harbor in Red Hook is usually full during season (winter) Independent Boat yard and Compass Point are usually a better bet for finding a slip. The hardest part about living aboard is where to park your car (if you have one) or getting land transportation. Have some friends who started as "travelers" and now work as regular nurses in the hospital system. Good way to scope things out. Internet service is not up to mainland standards and power issues are always a problem and getting worse.
If you stay during hurricane season, depending on the marina, be prepared to get thrown out during a storm.
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Old 05-16-2016, 08:52 AM   #17
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We just left St Thomas after a number of years living there. You can PM me if you have specific questions. There are no marinas in ST John. American Yacht Harbor in Red Hook is usually full during season (winter) Independent Boat yard and Compass Point are usually a better bet for finding a slip. The hardest part about living aboard is where to park your car (if you have one) or getting land transportation. Have some friends who started as "travelers" and now work as regular nurses in the hospital system. Good way to scope things out. Internet service is not up to mainland standards and power issues are always a problem and getting worse.
If you stay during hurricane season, depending on the marina, be prepared to get thrown out during a storm.


Thank you! I will shoot you a PM soon. I appreciate your offer.
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