The More the Merrier
Bareboat charterers love to set their own schedules, but are often apprehensive about sailing in new areas where they may have to cope with an equipment glitch while far from home base. A flotilla offers safety in numbers and the comfort of a lead support boat.
Horizon Yacht Charters was wise to appoint Tai Helfeld and the aforementioned Ron as our flotilla captains. Tai is a 28-year-old Puerto Rican who started saving for her first boat before she ever set eyes on a beach or an ocean. A U.S. Coast Guard licensed captain by age 20, she served as our flotilla organizer and guide, and was equally fun and efficient. Together, she and Ron could navigate the shoals, bleed the errant fuel line, and whip up a beach barbecue, all while allowing individual charterers enough independence to consider this bareboating.
I found that flotilla cruising meant not only security, but also quite a bit of hilarity, as we got to meet other sailors from all walks of life and points of the compass. Floridian Rob Godwin and his four best pals aboard Endless Reach hosted our riotous after-dinner parties. These merry pranksters, on their annual all-boys cruise, stirred up fun and trouble wherever they appeared. Dubbed “The Bad Boys” after the first night of carousing, they morphed into “The Lost Boys” when they chose not to follow the established flotilla itinerary for a day or three.
Geoff and Mary Ann Hoffman from Denver had done many flotillas in the past. “We like joining a flotilla on our first trip to a new place,” they explained. “Then we return on our own to the spots we liked best.” The Lee family from Kentucky aboard their own Jeanneau 54, Perseverance II, had been sailing the BVI for many years and were attracted to the Horizon flotilla because it allowed them to explore more remote areas. Experienced sailors Doug and Denise Schow, physicians from Minneapolis, brought unequalled passion to both sailing—and each other. Aboard the Leopard 40 were David Harley and his crew of friends from British Columbia, taking a respite from the frosty Canadian winter to enjoy the tropical winds and waters.
State of Play, our flagship, was a Bavaria 50 with twin cabins aft, twin heads and a functional amidships saloon that featured a nav area and U-shaped galley. An oversized dining table served as a chart briefing area for our skippers. Forward of the mast, our yacht boasted an enormous guest suite with an island queen berth, a commodious head and a small crew cabin on the port side. This was ideal for chartering.