Aug 12, 2021

Charteringby Marc Robic

If chartering is something you’ve been dreaming about, this 3-part article is really for you and I hope will encourage you to give it a try... BUT be forewarned...it can be addictive!

I’ve been bareboat chartering in the Caribbean for over 3 decades every 2 or 3 years, during the last 17 years with my First Mate Claude. Returning many times to some of our favourite islands, such as the British Virgin Islands (BVIs), St-Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) and Grenada. We’ve also sailed to the dual island of St-Martin/Sint-Marteen, St-Barth, Antigua, Anguilla and a few US Virgin Islands.

Over this time, the boats, along with the charter companies have evolved by huge leaps by making the process more efficient. Local service and product providers have also evolved to help serve the charter companies and their guests. From pre-ordering all the groceries and drink, to be delivered onboard prior to departure, to making sure the process of introducing you to your well equipped charter boat and performing very informative chart briefings, most charter companies do an excellent job.

But despite all of the charter companies’ well laid out processes, there is still much to prepare ahead of time. In our case, we hate leaving things to chance. So we start planning about 6-8 months before. Once we know where we want to go, we pick tentative dates that will be flexible enough to match with flight dates and times.

There are two types of chartering: “Bareboat” where you take full command of the boat, and “Crewed” where a Captain is onboard with you (he must be paid, fed and given a berth). Some Captains may also have a First Mate that acts as deck hand, cook and tour guide. There are also sailboats and motor boats.

It is also important to note that most charter companies take extremely good care of their fleet with scheduled regular maintenance and haul-outs. So, do not be deterred from chartering an older boat and safe some money at the same time.

For the sake of this article, I will focus on bareboat chartering and sailboats which are what we always do. But most of the advice will apply to whichever type you dream of doing. I will also focus on Caribbean destinations.

Where to go

Each region, worldwide, is classified based on level of experience needed to rent a bareboat in their respective waters. Most of the Caribbean is classified as Level 1 (easiest, line of sight navigation) to Level 3 (more experience required with longer more exposed distances between anchorages). For first timers of any experience level, I recommend selecting a Level 1 location, such as the BVIs (British Virgin Islands). All sailing is within eyesight of land, most bays and anchorages are extremely safe and secure, many offering mooring balls if you prefer not to anchor. Every island caters to the charter industry, so you and your guest/passengers will feel extremely safe anywhere in the BVIs. And NO, there are no real pirates, only pirate caves to explore.

The sailing is great, water super clear and warm, swimming and snorkeling amazing and every island offers up its unique charm, beach bars and restaurants. And the people are amazingly warm and welcoming. The BVIs are also a great destination for families with children.

The first thing I always recommend is to prepare (and maintain) a Sailing Resume. I do update mine after every charter and you will be required to fill one in or provide one. Some of the information asked will be:

• How many years have you been sailing or boating?
• How many times as Captain in charge?
• What size boats have you captained?
• Do you currently own a boat (what make, model and size)?
• How many times have you anchored?
• Can you do minor mechanical repairs if required?
• Have you ever had a boating accident?
• What other related skills or experience do you have?

Resumesample Sailing Resume

Needless to say, you must answer these honestly. But remember, regardless of how little experience you have, the charter company WANTS to rent you the boat. You will be paying for insurance anyway, so there are no worries or reasons to exaggerate your experience. Imagine if something serious happens and they discover you lied about your experience!

In some cases, for first timers, the charter company may put a Captain on boat for a half or full day simply to confirm your ability. But that’s really not a bad thing, as the local knowledge he/she can share during that time, can be a great source of hidden gems or an upcoming current activity charter companies may not know about at time of chart briefing. Local knowledge is invaluable, especially for first timers in the area.

I remember one year, we met a local Captain working on another boat and he mentioned this amazing “Jump Up” beach party that was going on the next night in Leverick Bay on Virgin Gorda. We changed our itinerary in order to be there and it was one of the highlight evenings of that trip. Great music, dancing, food and drink. We still remember it fondly.

Jost Van DykeWhite Bay, Jost Van Dyke – party

One important consideration is who will be going? If it’s just you and your First Mate, the choices and decisions will be easier. If you are going with another couple or friends, then decisions such as boat size, model, on board amenities and budget will have to be considered. In our case, we always book a boat that will provide each couple their own head. So no one has to clear out their toiletries after each use and each couple uses ONLY their head! In our case, unless we are alone, we book catamarans, so each couple actually has their very own hull.

If one of the others is also an experienced sailor, they should provide a sailing resume as well. Most charter companies will consider the combined experience amongst all charter guests on board. I always include my wife’s experience anchoring and grabbing mooring balls, etc.

Now is the time to search and learn more about the BVIs. Charter company websites are a great source of detailed information. Many offering up recommended or suggested 5, 7, 10 or 14 days itineraries, allowing you and your guests to fully appreciate the most popular destinations with suggested activities along the way. Besides all the electronics like chart plotters, all charter boats include paper charts and local cruising guides for the area, a great source of information to read while underway or sailing to the next anchorage.

We’ve used many charter companies over the years and have our own opinion of each one. Some are big, like the Sunsail, Moorings and Footloose (all the same company) and offer many onsite (base) amenities like hotel, pool, restaurant, bars etc.

Others, like Horizon Yacht Charters and BVI Yacht Charters offer basic services on base, which suits us fine, as our goal is not to stay on base, but get out and enjoy our charter asap (see below for bareboat charter companies servicing the BVIs).

For the last 17 years, we’ve used mostly Horizon and BVI, depending on destination, boat and date availability. Because we are repeat customers now, we do get some extra benefits, which we appreciate, such as repeat customer discount and free sleep aboard the night before our charter date. So, instead of going to a hotel for one night, we get to unpack and familiarize ourselves with the boat the day/night before. Depending on how early we arrive, we may go do our own groceries that day as well. Definitely a run to the local liquor store is involved! All charter companies offer sleep aboard option at an additional cost, but do ask if you can have it for free. Most will be glad to do so.

Besides being mandatory, the pre-departure boat and chart briefing is an important and very informative meeting onboard your boat prior to leaving the dock (we’ll detail more about the briefing in Part 3). Since we get in the day before, we try and arrange our briefing as early as possible, which normally allows us the opportunity to leave before the normal noon departure time. (*most charters are from noon to noon)

Getting there from Canada

Once you’ve decided on the destination, the charter company and dates, it is time to request a pre-booking reservation package. The charter company will email you the “package” which will include the contract with all options, cost and payment structure, as well as the sailing resume form. At this point, you should have been looking at available flights to make sure dates work. Charter companies are well accustomed to moving dates up or down a day or two. So keep in touch with them until both flights and charter dates work.

We always book flights to arrive the day before and book return flights two or three days after the charter. We love staying at a hotel or resort to relax a few days before heading home. It makes getting off the boat more relaxing as you’re not rushing to the airport. Also, if your departure flights or connections are delayed for any reason, there’s less stress. Charter companies will be tracking your flights and re-schedule the taxi driver accordingly and make arrangements for someone to greet you and bring you to your boat regardless of how late you get in. So, truly no worries.

We fly in from Montreal. For added flight flexibility, we book flights to St-Thomas (USVI), usually via Atlanta or Miami. We then take the passenger ferry from Charlotte Amalie harbour to Road Town harbour, Tortola (BVI). From there, you clear British Customs and most charter companies will have a dedicated taxi waiting to take you to the charter base.

Budgeting

A few paragraphs before I mentioned some items to considered, one of which is budget. If you are going with others, it is critical to the enjoyment of all parties, that the budget be realistic for everyone. If the cost of a monohull is best for all concerned, then let it be. If the extra cost and comfort of a catamaran is more acceptable, then go with that. Just remember, you’ll be spending most of your time outside, sailing, swimming, snorkeling and enjoying all fresco dining and cocktails with friends and building great memories. Perhaps even discuss the next charter destination!!

 

Lagoon and BeneteauLagoon 420 catamaran, Beneteau 38 monohull

In Part 2, I’ll be going over the actual planning, from itinerary, activities, meal planning & how to manage day-to-day common expenses and budget onboard. I hope to be able to share or make available some templates my wife and I have created and have been using for many years. We’ll share other great sources of information that will keep you dreaming and planning your own Caribbean dream sailing vacation!

In Part 3, I’ll highlight the day to day activities of the charter with tricks and best practices to make the best of it for all. From the pre-departure boat and chart briefing to how to make sure any money issues are mitigated! Share some of our favourite places and anchorages and finally (sadly) the process of returning the boat.

I hope you enjoyed this Part 1 and that it has met the intended objective of demystifying bareboat chartering and give you the confidence to get this bucket list item checked off. In our case, we’ve checked it off but somehow it keeps popping back up on our list!

Some bareboat charter companies servicing the BVIs
www.horizonyachtcharters.com
www.bviyachtcharters.com
www.sunsail.com
www.moorings.com
www.footloosecharters.com
www.dreamyachtcharter.com

For more, search: BAREBOAT CHARTER COMPANIES IN THE BVI for a full list and do visit www.BVITOURISM.com

 

Marc Robic

Marc and ClaudeMarc and, Claude

Marc is a member of the Canadian Power & Sail Squadron. He and wife, Claude sail their Catalina 270, Aquaholic 3, out of the Ile-Perrot Yacht Club in Montreal, where Marc spent 16 years as Harbour Master. They are regular Caribbean bareboat yacht charterers. With over 40-years experience, Marc is also an avid onboard do-it-yourselfer.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Related Articles

Tuesday, 22 June 2021 16:05

As bareboat charterers for many years now, most boats we’ve had the pleasure of renting had an electric head. Much to our enjoyment and that of our fellow passengers, they are super simple to...

Tuesday, 06 April 2021 15:36

The desire or rather, the argument, to convince my wife (AKA First Mate) to convert our icebox to a fridge came after our first two trips onboard our Catalina 270, Aquaholic 3, up to the Thousand...

Friday, 03 September 2021 09:17

If chartering is something you’ve been dreaming about, this three-part article is really for you and I hope will encourage you to give it a try... BUT be forewarned...it can be addictive!

Wednesday, 27 January 2021 00:17

This area is where YOU get to express your opinions. That can include your thoughts on articles in our Digest or on any boating matter. This issue’s piece comes from Marc Robic. Marc is a...

Tuesday, 25 May 2021 16:39

Last issue we got up with Montreal sailor Marc Robic who has accumulated a lot of tips and tricks for prepping your boat, especially as we emerge from lockdown.

Tuesday, 11 May 2021 17:39

Spring has finally sprung! At least it has weather wise here in Montreal, so it is with great anticipation and boyish giddiness that I loaded the car with all the “things” I will need for this...

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
Boats have been in high demand for the past two years and there’s no sign of this easing. ...
When we arranged to interview the designer and manufacturer to write a profile of the X Shore Eelex ...
The weather wasn’t cooperating for our test of the new Fountaine Pajot Isla 40. Rain, storm clouds ...
Last August, we were again invited to the Neptunus Yachts facility in St. Catharines, Ontario to ...
Cruisers Yachts’ 34 GLS is the latest model in the Cruisers Yachts line that includes a dozen ...
On a beautiful summer morning in July, I hopped aboard a new-owner delivery from the Outer Harbour ...
When company founder Marcio Schaefer designed the Schaefer 303, he managed to really dial in the ...
There is an unmistakable look to the Azimut S6 Coupe that will stand out in almost any marina. The ...
No longer an outlier or a flash-in-the-pan idea, electric boating is fast becoming a viable ...
Sea-Doo’s all-new Switch marries the performance of a personal watercraft with the versatility of a ...

Video Gallery

 

 

X Shore Eelex 8000By Andy Adams

100% Electric performance available now

When we arranged to interview the designer and manufacturer to write a profile of the X Shore Eelex 8000 for the June 2021 issue of Canadian Yachting magazine, it was on the understanding that we always prefer to actually drive and experience the boats we write about, and we were especially keen to drive the X Shore when BCI Marine here in Canada, got their first boat from Sweden.

There has been a lot of media attention around everything electric lately, especially electric vehicles, but so far, most electric boats are a concept, not yet a reality. The X Shore Eelex 8000 is a reality and a very impressive one at that.

Read More

 

 

Beneteau Oceanis 34.1

 

Beneteau Oceanis 34.1By Zuzana Prochazka

Boats have been in high demand for the past two years and there’s no sign of this easing. Sailboats, that can move with the power of the wind, have made an especially significant comeback probably because of the high prices of fuel.

Even more interesting is the increased interest in smaller models that have been doing well at recent boat shows. These compact cruisers have definitely held their own even among the 50-foot behemoths at the docks. A good example of this is Beneteau’s new Oceanis 34.1, the second smallest in the line. 

Read More

Destinations

  • Prev
Cowichan Bay is a waterfront village with a row of shops, artisan products, marine supplies and a ...
Instant towns have sprung up in the past, especially on the BC coast. In the late 1850s, Victoria ...
Following the War of 1812, a battle that Canada narrowly won against the United States, the ...
You’ve weathered COVID and you’re ready to book your charter to paradise. You’ve done some ...
If you are looking for an interesting destination for a weekend trip or longer, Quebec City will ...
A holiday often is defined by the experiences we make in unique and beautiful settings. But what ...
St Vincent and the Grenadines is open to tourists and Horizon Yacht Charters are looking forward to ...

Cowichan BayText and Photos by Marianne Scott

Cowichan Bay is a waterfront village with a row of shops, artisan products, marine supplies and a variety of places to eat. It also has a delightful Maritime Centre. You can easily spend a day or more here at one of three marinas hosting transient moorage. The place feels like an old-fashioned fishing village.

We arrived at this quaint hamlet on a calm day when the sun burned off twists of mist and created undulating oval diamonds on the wavelets. From the water, the village looks enticing with its dense jumble of colourful character buildings, float homes and houses-on-stilts lining the coast.

Read More

Lifestyle

  • Prev
Boat names and puns go together like …. Well, like nothing else. Here’s a couple shared by our pal ...
Frequent Windsor racing contributor to Sailing in Canada Roger Renaud, caught this gorgeous ...
The Kingston Yacht Club (KYC) celebrated its 125th anniversary in the summer of 2021, in all the ...
A study on water levels projects an unprecedented drop of water levels on Lakes Michigan-Huron and ...
Ahoy me hearties. June is Sailpast month, so Keelly and her pal Tracey were themed out as (not ...
Last month, Canadian Country Singer Brian John Hardwood, released his new single “Rich”, featuring ...
Things are busy on the Trent already and it’s barely June. Mike Gridley sent us this shot last ...
From cottage boats to luxury cruisers, there have been a host of major design changes over the past ...
Thanks to Louise from Gyles Sails and Marine for catching us up on this weekend’s massive parts ...
The marine industry provides exciting opportunities for Canadians. Every month CYOB will introduce ...

Marine Products

  • Prev
Words of exasperation wafting across a marina often signal a boat owner fighting with a jammed ...
Chatting at the club bar last week, the subject of current boat projects popped up. One boater ...
Books to read while you’re semi-snoozing in the cockpit on a lazy summer afternoon. Some diversion, ...
With Albin Group Marine's new line of Cartridge Submersible Bilge Pumps, Aerator Pumps and Twinport ...
The Freedom LTE-A is a Dual Band MU-MIMO 2.4Ghz + 5Ghz WiFi transceiver with a built-in universal ...
Three books in a series of books by Canadian author Erik Skovgaard. These three books, as the ...
The little darlings can’t wait to get on the boat. Just make sure they have properly fitting PFDs ...
With a bold, fresh look and key features, the new JBL-R4500 is the latest in the WAKE Series of ...
When the twist-type connector was invented in 1938, production boats were made of wood and didn't ...
Luxor Marine & RV products offer boat owners an innovative architecturally pleasing range of ...

News

  • Prev
As bonus of my journalistic responsibilities here at CY Media, I occasionally get called upon to do ...
Professor Charles Spence, from Oxford University’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory, has researched ...
Cut out for adventure and marine activities, the NC 895 Sport offers seriously convincing arguments ...
The Canada Games, held every two years, alternating between summer and winter, are the largest ...
The Monaco Energy Boat Challenge (MEBC) took place in the principality July 8 to 13 and shows how ...
Parks Canada has just released an Up-to-Date Big Chute Marine Railway Status Webpage with weekly ...
Groupe Beneteau is launching a partnership with Quebec-based Vision Marine Technologies to develop ...
Portsmouth Harbour in Kingston was the site of this weekend’s Canadian Waszp Class Championship ...
A resistance force has mobilised in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. Threats of crowds egging Jeff ...
For more than 18 years since the launch of the first model, the Elan Impression line was one of the ...

RS Electric BoatsSailGP, the international racing series featuring high speed F50 wingsailed catamarans, is partnering with RS Electric Boats – sister brand of sailboat manufacturer RS Sailing – to use the Pulse 63 electric RIB as chase, coach and support boats.

RS Electric Boats will supply SailGP with four Pulse 63s, which were designed to be electric boats from the outset. The unique aerodynamic hull form is designed to support the weight of the batteries while allowing rapid acceleration, functional speeds up to 23 knots and ample range.

 

 

Read More