Charter Starter

Most North American sailors choose the Caribbean for a winter sailing vacation. There are good reasons: a well-developed chartering infrastructure; a variety of discrete cruising grounds to choose from; great sailing conditions; numerous flights to Caribbean locations; lots of charterboats.Here are essential considerations when planning your charter.1. The
Author:
Publish date:
Social count:
0
sm.1007.FE.Lee.chameau

Most North American sailors choose the Caribbean for a winter sailing vacation. There are good reasons: a well-developed chartering infrastructure; a variety of discrete cruising grounds to
choose from; great sailing conditions; numerous flights to Caribbean locations; lots of charterboats.

Here are essential considerations when planning your charter.

1. The timing of your charter affects everything from the cost of the boat to the seasonal sailing conditions to the cost and availability of air arrangements.

2. Keeping in mind your comfort level and the experience of your crew, consider this: the Virgin Islands are the "easiest" cruising ground, requiring only short passages between islands and line-of-sight navigation. The waters of the main drag—the Sir Francis Drake Channel—are protected by islands on both sides. In the Leewards and Windwards, you leave the bunny slope; anchorages are farther apart, and passages between islands are unprotected.

3. Consider what size boat you need (and feel comfortable handling). The smallest charterboats available are two-cabin monohulls in the low-30-feet range; the largest are 50-foot sloops and catamarans with four to six cabins.

4. Consider your budget. The boats in some charter companies' fleets are less than three years old; other companies offer well-maintained older boats (and lower prices). Turn to page 97 for SAIL's annual listing of charter companies in the Caribbean and Bahamas to compare prices for a 40-foot monohull and a 38-foot catamaran in high and low seasons.

5. Do your homework. Get hold of a cruising guide to the area you're interested in; read the articles posted on sailmagazine.com (click on Charter Cruising) for personal takes; check out suggested itineraries on charter company Web sites.

6. Call the charter companies whose base locations, prices, and fleets interest you the most; expect to get information on boat availability, sailing conditions, and anything else you need to know.

7. Once you've chosen a company, a destination, and a boat, the fine-tuning phase begins. Here are some pointers:

  • If you're hoping to use frequent-flyer miles in the winter, call right now.
  • Most charter companies have either an in-house travel agency or agents they work with. They often offer good prices, and their experience in booking Caribbean flights means that they may be aware of better connections.
  • Trip insurance is a good idea. Learn why in the charter section of sailmagazine.com.
  • Most charterers choose to arrive at least a day before their charters start (and sometimes stay on a day or two at the end). Your charter company will be able to help you find a hotel that will let you have a room for less than a week.
  • All charter companies will order provisions for you from an extensive list of supplies. You can also choose to self-provision, keeping in mind that it will cost you some time (and taxi fares). Ask about the availability of reprovisioning along the way before you make the decision; cruising guides have useful information on this.
  • Pack light, in a soft-sided bag; you don't need much on a boat. The essentials: a bathing suit (maybe two), sunscreen, boat/water shoes, a T-shirt to snorkel in, something to wear ashore during the day (the islands are generally conservative), something to wear for dinner ashore (some resorts require that men wear jackets).
  • Cell-phone calls are costly in the islands. Your charter company may be able to tell you how to get a better rate if you think you'll be making many calls.

Related

GG17-SAONA47-DX0796

Boat Review: Fountaine Pajot Saona 47

Here’s a riddle: What is less than 50ft long, has two hulls, three big cabins and four decks? Answer: The Fountaine Pajot Saona 47. In fact, it may even be five levels if you count the large engine rooms. This boat is a “space craft” in every sense of the word.DESIGN & ...read more

RichardBennettMIDNIGHT-RAMBLER3249x202

Storm Sails: Do you Need Them?

Many sailors embarking on ocean passages will take along the obligatory storm jib and trysail, with the vague idea that they may come in handy. Few sailors, however, have a real understanding of how and when to set them.It doesn’t help matters when we hear from seasoned sailors ...read more

IntheWater(1)

Boaters University Unveils Rescue Course

Boaters University has just announced its latest online course, Safety & Rescue at Sea, taught by Mario Vittone, whose name you might recognize from the pages of our sister publication, Soundings Magazine and his Lifelines blog.Mario Vittone is a retired U.S. Coast Guard rescue ...read more

IMG_20170920_132819

How to: Installing New Electronics

I had been sailing my Tayana 42, Eclipse, for a few years without any installed electronics on board. I’d gone pretty far up and down the New England and Mid-Atlantic coasts with paper charts, the Navionics app on my Android phone, a hand-bearing compass and the ship’s compass. ...read more

02-Douglas-Adkins---Coriolis---Orcas-Island-KevinLightPhoto

A Phoenix-like Concordia

Cutting a fine wake on the cobalt-blue waters of West Sound on Orcas Island, Coriolis sparkles like a diamond. Her lovely silhouette is offset by emerald forests that frame the ocean, within spitting distance of the border with Canada. Seen up close, this Concordia yawl is a ...read more

IMG_1051

The Latest Boat Trends from Dusseldorf

The world’s biggest boat and watersports show, held in Düsseldorf on the banks of Germany’s Rhine River each January, is the place to scope out emerging trends in the boat design and building.What would be the new trends for 2018 and beyond? Hint—sophisticated electronics figure ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comGood ConnectionsI wish I’d had a dollar for every time I’ve cobbled together an electrical fitting with a “that’s good enough” shrug. An old shipwright once taught me that “good enough is not good enough” ...read more

tides2

Gear Test: Tides Marine Sailtrack

Gravity is an important force at work on a sailboat. It keeps the boat upright, it makes the anchor drop to the bottom, and it makes the mainsail slide neatly down the mast to be flaked and put away at the end of the day… until it doesn’t.In the case of dropping the mainsail, the ...read more