Skip to main content

How to Save Money on Chartering by Delivering

Crewing on the delivery of a charter boat can help you gain experience and see different parts of the world—if you’re up for it

Crewing on the delivery of a charter boat can help you gain experience and see different parts of the world—if you’re up for it

Cruising from Guadeloupe to Grenada, heading more or less south with the wind east-northeast, basically on the beam the whole way—yup, sign me up for that! That’s how I approached a recent delivery charter of 12 days and 400 miles, including a few loops and harbor hops. With only three of us aboard a 43ft cat with a full-sized fridge, that made ice, what was there not to love?

The genesis for the trip was the fact that Dream Yacht Charter in Guadeloupe needed to move a Bali 4.3 to its busier base in Grenada. The one catch: it was the last two weeks of October (hurricane season) and Maria had just stomped over Guadeloupe’s Les Sainte Islands, devastating Dominica, our first stop. Of course, I didn’t know this when I signed up four months earlier. But that knowledge wouldn’t have stopped me anyway, as it was a great (and inexpensive) way to cruise a good swath of the Caribbean, including islands I have been longing to see again for some time.

In fact, one-way chartering, often helping a charter company move a boat, can be a fantastic way to see a larger part of the world affordably, as many companies will provide a deep discount and some may even pay for fuel. Not all charter companies offer this, as they would rather pay licensed captains with experience and insurance. However, for those that have large fleets to shuffle around in order to leverage their various busy seasons, this may be an answer to chartering on the cheap, if you’ve got the time, skills and attitude. Contact your charter company and ask, or have them put you on a standby list if you’re flexible.

Four Things to Consider

Although you don’t need to be a delivery captain to enjoy one-way delivery sailing, you do need to know what you’re doing. If you’ve just completed your second sailing class training and feel that the British Virgin Islands would be a challenge, then you aren’t quite ready to deliver a vessel, even if it is a charter boat. Expect the charter company to check your cruising resume thoroughly—as they should.

Many charter boats need to be moved at inopportune times of the year, like at the start or near the end of hurricane season, so your “vacation” may not be guaranteed. Weather can also be a mixed bag. We expected 20-25 knots with 6-8ft seas, but what we got (for at least two days) was 35-40 knots of wind and seas up to 8-12ft. If that sounds like something you’d rather never experience, think twice about this option, because these boats need to move on a schedule, and it’s not always going to be when you’re feeling up to it.

When crossing between bases and possibly on longer stretches, you’ll also need to be completely self-sufficient if something goes wrong. There’s no “four-hour charter guarantee” like when your chartering coastal, so be prepared to roll up your sleeves and/or get creative with the locals. In our case the boat did very well except for two things. First, after a sufficient two-day thrashing, something in the starboard holding tank jiggled loose and clogged it up. (I never allow toilet paper in the heads, but who knows what the last charter group was up to?) We ended up enlisting the help of a local in Bequia to dive the boat for two hours and get things moving again. It cost us four beers and $200, but was worth every penny.

The second issue was that our batteries drained overnight (don’t trust those battery readouts!) in Mustique on the morning of a national holiday. Our only option, therefore, was to make quick friends with the crew of an inter-island ferry, which loaned us some jumper cables, a forklift battery and an engineer to get going again. That cost me a bottle of rum and another $50. Again, money well spent.

Beyond that, know when to say when. I ran the trip like a delivery for the first three days until we reached St. Lucia (because we needed to make our southing early if we were to enjoy the Grenadines). However, after that I knew enough to pull into Rodney Bay Marina to fuel up, rest and give the crew a break. We rented a car, drove around the island and enjoyed a ridiculously expensive lunch at the insanely romantic Ladera Resort overlooking the Pitons. It not only changed the mood on the boat, but after that our days were shorter and easier.

In the end, our passage read like a cruising guide through (some) Leeward and (most) Windward Isles: Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia, Bequia, Mustique, Tobago Cays, Union Island, Sandy Island off Carriacou and St. George’s in Grenada. Along the way there was some work to be done, but there was plenty of fun to be had as well, not to mention plenty of sightseeing to enjoy. When I posted a photo while lying atop our flybridge sunpad, enjoying a cool white wine after having snorkeled with turtles, well, let’s just say, it was clear that this was no ordinary delivery. Seriously, there was nothing not to love. 

March 2018

Related

fa70b13c-8eec-4c35-b30f-f89e497b469a

Crowdsourcing Age-of-Sail Weather Data

Although big, multi-million-dollar projects like the Large Hadron Collider and the human genome project with their legions of PHD’s tend to grab headlines, there’s still a part of play for the “citizen scientists” of the world. Amateur birders have long contributed to an ...read more

01-LEAD-Ultime-race-Yvan-Zedda,-OC-Sport-Pen-Duick

Ultims to Race Solo Around the World

For years now, maxi-trimarans, both solo-sailed and fully crewed, have been racing the clock on their own around the world in an effort to set ever faster records for the world’s fastest circumnavigation under sail. Back in 2000-01 there was also a no-holds-barred ...read more

P1-01-LEAD-018_CARYNBDAVIS_AMISTAD

Juneteenth on the Water

Discovering Amistad and Mystic Seaport Museum have partnered to organize their third annual Juneteenth festival, featuring concerts, speakers and a reflection on the lasting legacy of racial injustice in America. Declared a National Holiday in 2021, Juneteenth celebrates the end ...read more

Lead-2021-01-17-vue-03-34-av-tb-01

New Multihulls for 2022

Lagoon 51 In keeping with many of the more recently launched models created by French multihull builder Lagoon, the Lagoon 51 is all about comfort, “en plein air,” in particular, as the French might say. Topside, a whopping 80 percent of the boat’s flybridge is given over to ...read more

bermuda

How to Spectate on the Newport Bermuda

The biannual Newport Bermuda Race starts on Friday with the first warning signal at 1 pm. Whether you’re tracking a loved one’s progress or just spectating an event that draws pros and weekend warriors alike, there are plenty of ways to stay up to watch. The starting line will ...read more

03-Hyeres-220429_SOF2022_SAILINGENERGY_1933_3184-copy

US Sailing Strikes Gold in Hyères

After being skunked or nearly skunked at multiple Olympiads, could the US Sailing Team (USST) now under the direction of Olympic veteran Paul Cayard, be finally turning it around? If its performance at the 53rd French Olympic Week regatta in Hyères, France, where the team posted ...read more

P1480042

New York City’s Newest Fleet

120 children enrolled in Brooklyn Boatworks’ STEM and life skills-focused program launched their hand-built optimist prams on June 14 from Pier 2 in Brooklyn Bridge Park. The launch is the culmination of years of student work, with boats in process before the pandemic caused the ...read more

AdobeStock_197518370

Charter: Off the Beaten Path

So, you like to charter in the Caribbean with its warm waters, swaying palm trees, steady trade winds and strong rum drinks. What’s not to love? It can be easy, though, to get stuck in a rut when chartering year after year in the same place. Sure, the British Virgin Islands are ...read more