The U.S. Virgin Islands (area code 809) are on the same system as the United States. Calls can be made at pay phones, as on the mainland, either collect or with a telephone credit card.
The British Virgin Islands, serviced by Cable and Wireless, also share the area code 809 and offer direct dialing, several USA Direct Dial telephones throughout the islands, coin and card telephones, and fax, telex and telegram services.
The customer care office is located on Wickham's Cay near the banks, or by calling (809) 494-3200. When calling a number within the BVI from the BVI, only the last five digits should be dialed.
Almost every boat sailing the Virgins will be equipped with a VHF radio. Apart from single side band for offshore communications, VHF is used for all local traffic.
The channels vary from boat to boat, but the most commonly used frequencies are listed below.
Channel 16: Channel 12:
Channel 6: Channel 27: Channel 28:
Channel 22A Channel 3:
Standby and international distress frequency Portside operations (Charter company to yacht)
Ship-to-ship, safety Radio Tortola W.A.H. Virgin Islands Radio
Channel 16 is used as acalling frequency, but the operator must switch to a second channel once contact has been established in order to keep 16 open.
How Can I Be Reached In An Emergency?
If you are expecting urgent business calls or if you should be needed for a medical emergency, it would be wise to leave the phone number of both Virgin Island Radio and Tortola Radio, and the marina from where you are sailing. The party will not be able to contact you directly unless you happen to be monitoring the radio, but they can leave a message and the list of yachts for which they are holding traffic would be read during traffic hours.
Virgin Island Radio broadcasts traffic every hour on the hour, 24 hours per day. They will place collect calls, credit card calls, third party calls, and take Master Card and Visa. Their telephone number is (809) 776-8282.
Tortola Radio (British Virgin Islands) broadcasts traffic at 7 and 11 a.m., and 3 and 6 p.m. daily. Telephone (809) 494-3425 (or 43425 if calling locally).
Can I Call Home From the Boat?
It is possible for VHF calls made from your vessel via Virgin Island Radio or Tortola Radio to be patched into the phone system.
As stated above, calls may be made through Virgin Island Radio with payment by several methods. Also, Tortola Radio will place collect calls for you. If you are a bareboat charterer, make arrangements with the marina prior to leaving. If you are aboard a crewed charter yacht, the skipper will assist you with radio calls.
Private yachts must make arrangements to open an account with either Tortola Radio or Virgin Island Radio if not using one of the above methods of payment.
For Virgin Island yachtsmen who need to keep in touch, cellular telephone service is now available. Cellular phones can be used for everything from checking in with the office, the family, or for local applications like ordering more provisions and making dinner reservations. Installed on many bareboat charter fleets as well as crewed yachts, this offers the yachtsman
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