When you’re planning a charter you naturally focus on the most enjoyable big-picture aspects—researching the destination, working out where you’re going to spend each night, narrowing down the best snorkeling spots and so forth. And yet with bareboating, as with most other things in life, the devil is in the details. One thing I’ve learned during 20 years of chartering is that bareboats are just that; aside from bedding they come with a bare minimum of equipment, enough to satisfy safety requirements and let you cook, serve and eat a meal, but don’t expect more than that. You’ll be missing all those convenient things you’ve added to your own boat that you’ve come to take for granted.
Here are 11 useful things to bring on a charter vacation:
- Binoculars. Charter-boat binoculars are a joke—it’s as if every crew has made a point of dropping, scratching or generally abusing them. Bring your own, because you’ll use them. A lot.
- 12V-120V inverter. Always useful for charging camera batteries and other small electrics.
- USB cigarette lighter adapter. Along with the relevant charging cables for your smartphone and iPod.
- Handheld VHF. It’s a backup for the fixed VHF, plus I like to take it with me in the dinghy when going ashore or exploring in case of an outboard breakdown.
- Waterproof phone pouch or case. You don’t need these—until you really need them.
- Flashlights. I always pack a powerful flashlight; there’ll be one on the boat, but it won’t be a good one. Bring a head lamp too.
- Length of line. Throw a 25ft length of ¼in line in your kit. Trust me, it’ll come in handy.
- Fishing kit. A hand reel and a couple of lures is all you need. At the very least it keeps the kids occupied between anchorages. At the most, you may get a nice fish dinner.
- Knife sharpener. Charter boat knives are invariably blunt and if you like to cook they’ll drive you nuts.
- Condiments. If you’re lucky, there’ll be salt and pepper on the boat, but that’s it. If you intend to cook, pack your favorite herbs and spices into a Tupperware box and bring it along.
- Dry bag. You’ll be zipping between boat and shore a lot and a dry bag is the only way to make sure that things that are meant to stay dry, actually do stay dry.
You could doubtless think of a few other things you’d want to bring, but I’ve found this basic list ticks most of the boxes and has added a little extra to an already great vacation.
Footloose Charters, based in Road Town, Tortola, has added a Leopard 39 (Footloose 3900) three-cabin catamaran to its fleet. It’s available for bookings through spring and summer. In July, it will be joined by the four-cabin Leopard 44 (Footloose 444) catamaran. footloosecharters.com
At its BVI and Belize bases, TMM Yacht Charters is offering the remaining A (peak) season charter weeks up until March 31 at B (shoulder) season rates. As a bonus, there’s a 10 percent discount for charters of more than 10 days, and if you’re a repeat customer, you can take off an extra 10 percent. sailtmm.com