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Old 07-07-2008, 18:38   #1
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Florida Keys bareboat recos? (itineraries, charter companies, guides)

Airfare prices are going through the roof so we're considering changing our Feb. '09 bareboat chartering plans from the BVI to the Florida Keys. I'm looking for any recommendations on any/all of the following...

1. Reputable charter companies in Miami or Ft. Lauderdale
2. Titles of your favorite, dependable cruising guides
3. Must visit anchorages, favorite marinas
4. Suggested itineraries
5. Any cautionary tales or pitfalls to avoid

Thanks so much for your input!!

Gretchen
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Old 16-07-2008, 08:51   #2
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Two companies I've dealt with, both seem pretty good, are Fun in the Sun in Ft Lauderdale and Florida Yacht Charter in Miami. I have yet to find a good FL cruising guide (the one that is most highly touted, by Frank Papy, I found to be mostly full of interesting yarns but of little value in choosing an itinerary). There is little to do north of Miami, the best sailing (imho) lies to the south. You can go inside (intracoastal) at least as far as Duck Key. My favorite route is through Biscayne Bay, anchoring around Pumpkin Key, the next morning out through Angelfish Creek, the next evening at the marina at Key Largo. After that, it's just a question of how much sailing you want to do each day, and whether you want to anchor or dock. You can go all the way to the Tortugas if you have time! You can also get some good info here (I think I got this from a Gord May post)

Cruising Guide

What to avoid? Water shallower than your draft (of which there is plenty!). Other than that and couterclockwise-rotating weather systems, you should have no problems...
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Old 16-07-2008, 09:04   #3
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I have used FYC 6 times, and always satisfied. I believe they will also allow you to sail one direction only to, or from Key West?
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Old 16-07-2008, 10:49   #4
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Gretchen, having sailed in both areas, I'd recommend sticking with your BVI charter. There is just no comparison for a sailing vacation.

I love the Florida Keys, but a sailing charter there does not compare to the BVI's.

Funny thing is, I fell in love with the Keys after a busted charter. The charter company (some outfit in Islamorada) was extremely rude about a repair to the boat, so I got my money back and we spent the week in a delightful motel and a rental car. Much better way to explore the Keys.

Another option might be switching to a Bahamas charter... fly into Miami or Ft. Lauderdale and just catch a hop from there. Much better sailing in the Bahamas than in the Keys.
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Old 17-07-2008, 06:00   #5
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Windrunner,

You might want to take a look at fares to the BVI again.

American Airlines just dropped fares to/from the Caribbean by about 20% this week. This based on my single experience buying RT tickets from Nevis through San Juan to Philadelphia and back, scheduled for September.

How air fares are set is incomprehensible, at least to me, so I don't know if you'll find anything good, but it might be worth your time to check again.
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Old 17-07-2008, 06:31   #6
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speedo is correct. The BVI leaves the keys pale in comparison. I would do my best to get to the BVI, or at least Abaco. Although FYC will let you sail to the Bahamas. I have sailed as far as Abaco on their boat. Nice 10 day trip.....
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Old 18-07-2008, 23:42   #7
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I use Kayak.com to search for airfare. All kinds of graphs available to help you find a cheap fair. I flew Round trip from CA to St Thomas for $298 last April (one stop in Miami). Paid around $450 for the same trip in June, still not bad. I highly recommend flying to St Thomas, then taking the ferry over to Tortolla (BVI). That way you avoid stopping in San Juan, and less chance of flights being cancelled or delayed. If you lay over in Miami, give it two hours before your connecting flight. Even if you are late leaving your home airport, you should have plenty of time to catch your connection, and you won't have to run through the airport. Also, I perfer Ft. Lauderdale airport over Miami whenever possible. (Oh Yeah, definately do the charter in BVI!)
GOOD LUCK, DreamSeeker
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Old 19-07-2008, 00:08   #8
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You also might want to check out picking up your charter boat in St Thomas, then sailing to BVI. I don't know how the charter companies handle checking in and out of BVI, but I'm sure they have it all worked out somehow. If you want ideas for an itinerary, try looking at some of the all inclusive charters for example: British Virgin Islands - Itinerary
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Old 23-07-2008, 09:32   #9
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I have charter in the BVI twice. First time flew into Beef Island, second St Thomas and took a ferry across. I am currently planning a trip for the summer of and finding the savings including cabs and ferry to be about $200+ per person.
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Old 23-07-2008, 14:49   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DreamSeeker View Post
You also might want to check out picking up your charter boat in St Thomas, then sailing to BVI. I don't know how the charter companies handle checking in and out of BVI, but I'm sure they have it all worked out somehow. If you want ideas for an itinerary, try looking at some of the all inclusive charters for example: British Virgin Islands - Itinerary
Clearing customs by boat is fairly easy. Also, I know many who charter in the BVIs take the ferry and fly out of the USVIs The Moorings even runs a ferry shuttle. If you charter out of the U.S. Virgin Islands, you could also skip the BVIs and consider the Spanish Virgin Islands. I sailed there for the first time earlier this summer and loved it.

I'd also like to second the idea of looking into the Bahamas. Marsh Harbour is only a short flight from Miami or Fort Lauderdale and in my opinion the sailing is so much better.
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