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Old 11-08-2012, 13:57   #1
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Join Date: Oct 2011
Posts: 6
First Time Chartering a Boat

Good Afternoon,

I am seeking information about organizing a charter for my family in 2013. I would like assistance and insight for chartering for a group who enjoys basic water sports and places that are not necessarily surrounded by cruise ships and tons of people. In addition, my girlfriend and I would like to find a qualified person who can be hired in order to teach us on how to transition from sailing 420s, Hobie Cats and small keel-boats to larger livable vessels. Here are some questions:

  1. Can a captain be hired to teach my girlfriend and I how to handle a larger sailboat?
  2. Where is the ideal location to charter a boat in the Caribbean between March and June factoring in the economics of flying multiple people to the starting point? (Generally it is cheaper to fly to the Bahamas than the British Virgin Islands).
  3. What type of vessels should we be looking for and what companies are reputable with charters?
  4. How familiarized can my girlfriend and I become in sailing larker boats in a week?
Background:

Sailing Experience: My girlfriend and I are competent at sailing 420s, Hobie Cats, and Keelboats in wind speeds up to 20 knots. Most of the sailing has occurred in bays around Cape May County, New Jersey, and lakes such as Lake Champlain in Vermont. We are both physically fit and good listeners.

People on Boat: Up to 6-8 people, all family members or close friends are interested in joining this excursion. While they would all welcome the opportunity to "help out" and sail, my girlfriend and I are the ones who are primary interested in "learning to sail". However they would all be willing and able to do other such as cooking and cleaning.

Luxury: We are not looking to sail a Super Yacht or a Gun Boat, but we don't necessarily want to be "Camping". My girlfriend and I have always been attracted to nice Catamarans like Lagoons and Leopards.

Crew: We are looking for a friendly person who would primarily teach us how to sail and help us follow an itinerary safety. We do not need people cooking or cleaning up after us. In addition, we would not expect the crew to participate in anything but sailing. Once we've arrived at a destination we'd expect them to sit back and enjoy the night as we wine and dine them.

To Do: We want to enjoy the carribbean, explore an island or two, fall asleep on a sandy beach, hike and go Scuba Diving once or twice (We're basic certified).

Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post. I understand you're all very busy so if you just have an answer to one of our questions feel free to chip in. We're always looking for random bits of information!

Thanks,

Liam

*Note, although I have lurked on these forums for a few years I have not made many posts. I apologize if this is in the wrong forum. Thanks!
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Old 11-08-2012, 14:16   #2
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: W Carib
Boat: Wildcat 35, Hobie 33
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Re: First Time Chartering a Boat

I'm currently on "sabbatical" from the sailing biz so I can have more time to...go sailing!, but I used to do exactly what you describe in your post. We used to call this an "instructional charter".

I still have friends in the industry and can help you set this up.

Is Belize a reasonable travel destination for you?
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Old 12-08-2012, 18:53   #3
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Re: First Time Chartering a Boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by belizesailor View Post
I'm currently on "sabbatical" from the sailing biz so I can have more time to...go sailing!, but I used to do exactly what you describe in your post. We used to call this an "instructional charter".

I still have friends in the industry and can help you set this up.

Is Belize a reasonable travel destination for you?
Hey Belize Sailor,

This would be a reasonable travel destinations. I estimate that the airfare would be approximately $700 per person. While I'd like to get it around $500, airfare has generally been expensive in the last 2-3 months.

How do "instructional charters" generally work? I'd love to learn more about different opportunities.

Thanks,

Liam
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Old 13-08-2012, 08:44   #4
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Location: W Carib
Boat: Wildcat 35, Hobie 33
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Re: First Time Chartering a Boat

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiamOliver View Post
Hey Belize Sailor,

This would be a reasonable travel destinations. I estimate that the airfare would be approximately $700 per person. While I'd like to get it around $500, airfare has generally been expensive in the last 2-3 months.

How do "instructional charters" generally work? I'd love to learn more about different opportunities.

Thanks,

Liam
Yes, the days of cheap airfare are over. Unfortunately, can't help much with that, but can with the rest.

I will PM you my email address, more convenient to exchange information directly via email.
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Old 13-08-2012, 09:39   #5
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Location: Boston, MA
Boat: Beneteau Oceanis 43 & S2 6.9
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Re: First Time Chartering a Boat

I'd suggest the BVI. It really is the easiest cruising grounds with lots of charter company options and therefore lots of boat choices as well. And getting there is easy with flights direct to Tortola or into St. Thomas with a ferry ride to Tortola.

Most (if not all) of these charter companies can provide captains. Given your experience, it sounds like all you may need is a Captain for a day or two in order to get familiar with the larger boat. Prior to our first charter, my experience was very similar to yours and we chartered a 47' Cat with no issues. So if you are confident in your ability in the boats you've been on, you shouldn't have any issues on a larger boat as sailing is pretty much the same - its all the other systems that differ a bit and the charter companies go through everything with you. Having a Captain for a few days would allow you to get that extra comfort level as well - and you could keep the Captain for the full trip as well.

What you'd really need to do is look at what boats might suit you. Are you looking to go with a Catamaran or a Monohull? Then take a look at the prices of some of the various companies. Only one's I have dealt with are www.mooorings.com and Bareboat Yacht Charters, Sailboat Rentals & Sailing Vacations | Sunsail USA. Both are great and we actually have our boat in Charter with the Moorings.

The activities you mention are perfect for the BVI. You can even have a dive shop rendezvous with the boat and take you diving.
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Old 18-11-2012, 12:23   #6
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Re: First Time Chartering a Boat

Good afternoon,
you may want to explore the Bahamas, there is Navtours a French Canadian charter company, operating two Bases, one in Nassau and the other in Georgetown at Emerald Bay Marina. Flights are inexpensive and the Exumas are breath taking. You can combine a charter with a private sailing course. I prefer sailing out of the Southern Bases and staying away from the rat race in Nassau. I would suggest to bare boat charter a vessel and add an instructor, you will have a private boat and will be able to combine activities to your sailing courses.
Start with a vessel in the 36 to 37 foot range, this will premit you to move up to a 40ft. on your next charter.
Enjoy
D
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Old 18-11-2012, 13:12   #7
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Re: First Time Chartering a Boat

BVI is your best bet. Great wind is almost guaranteed and the entire chain almost seems to have been created for a one to two week charter. Many anchoring and mooring opportunities from crowded and lively to isolated and serene all within a few hours sail. No jet skis permitted and very few cruise ships. The Bahamas are incredibly beautiful but IMO not all that great for a short charter. The best anchorages are not close to charter bases and navigating reefs/shoals requires some experience.

Sunsail/Moorings is as easy as renting an automobile from Hertz. They'll take care of everything.

Local captains are available but your best bet is to hire directly through the charter base. I think they're about $150/day. They will show you the ropes, stay as little as you like, and know the anchorages that will most satisfy you.
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Old 18-11-2012, 13:37   #8
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Re: First Time Chartering a Boat

Consider a sailing school for a couple of weeks; it is worth the investment. Class tuition is by the "boat load". Look up Annapolis Sailing School for a variety of hands-on classes and their cost. *Disclaimer - I have no financial interest in Annapolis Sailing School*. You also need to know the basics of sailing/navigation/comm/emergencies.
Familiarize yourself with this textbook's contents: "Chapman Piloting & Seamanship". As for the best cruising waters for beginners: USVI (St. Thomas & St. Croix)/BVI (Tortola and Virgin Gorda), the Grenadines (St. Vincent, Tobago Keys & Grenada) and...if you have really really deep pockets...French Polynesia (Tahiti, Moorea, Bora Bora with the Moorings Charters; ummm...a can of coke can cost you as much as $8 USD.) Enjoy!
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