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Old 07-07-2010, 16:35   #1
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Charter for Family Reunion - Rookie - Need Help

Hello. 20 years ago I went on a sailing trip in the BVI with a group of boy scouts. It was an incredible experience and I've long looked back at that adventure with great fondness. We chartered a trimaran and the Capitan and his wife dropped us off on remote/uninhabited islands where we camped for the night (there wasn't enough room on the boat for all of us to sleep - there were about 25 of us).

My family loves the outdoors (camping, backpacking, etc.) and I decided that we should try to recreate this type of experience together as a family, but have run into some roadblocks:

- I've found that it has been very difficult to find a family-friendly charter (most seem shocked that we would want to bring kids on the trip with us).
- Size/cost - I have a large family and there could be as many as 8 - 10 adults (siblings/spouses and my parents) with just as many children. Our children are well-behaved and respectful. We are willing to get creative on sleeping arrangements (kids sharing beds, some of us camping on the beach, etc.) so that we can all fit on a larger boat or maybe on two boats, but no boat seems to be willing to take more than 8-10 people.

Do any of you have recommendations? We need a Captain-only arrangement (we can't sail on our own, but also want to keep costs within reason). We'd like to sail either the BVI or the Bahamas (leaving from Florida, if possible).


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Old 07-07-2010, 17:48   #2
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I've noticed there are some eco type kayak charters in the Bahamas where the paddlers camp ashore at night. This might suit your purposes better. The sailboat charters expect you to sleep aboard at night and are geared more towards sailors. Doubt if they'd let you camp ashore at night in the BVI. You can do it on the deserted cays in the Exumas though.
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Old 07-07-2010, 17:50   #3
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I like your idea, but it really would be difficult to do. The VI's have changed a lot in the last 20 years. I don't know how many islands you'd find where you can camp. What I would suggest is camping at one of the two campgrounds on St. John. You can hike the National Park, snorkel, enjoy beaches, and, when you want to go sailing, charter a day catamaran to take you to Norman Island or Jost Van Dyke.
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Old 07-07-2010, 17:59   #4
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Thanks Palarran for your suggestions. They were well taken and quite good.

More than camping, we're mainly interested in experiencing the freedom and adventure of sailing island to island, and doing it in a cost-effective way. The camping would be awesome (and we'd probably try to do it - maybe at one of those sites you recommended), but really wishing there was a way to find someone with a large boat that would be willing to allow a few more people than normal (~16). Are there regulations now that restrict this type of thing?
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Old 08-07-2010, 12:51   #5
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globalup - there is an effective limit of 12 guests on most charterboats who have guests staying overnight. This is set by the MCA, amongst others. Any yachts built for more than 12 paying guests are classified as small cruise ships, and subject to much more stringent regulations.

The 12 person limit however does not apply to most day charter yachts, particularly if they are locally flagged, as almost all are.

Palarrans suggestion is a good one. If you can find places where you can camp, see if you can get a day charter catamaran to sail you from one island to another.
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Old 19-07-2010, 09:32   #6
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Try Outward Bound or Odyssey Expeditions. I believe both of them can come up with something. There is a camp in the BVI as well as one in Cinnamon Bay in St. John where you can rent tent sites, with or with out a tent (BYO). Also more substantial cabins.
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Old 22-07-2010, 12:42   #7
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You say you can't sail on your own - What makes you say that? If any of your family members have any kind of sailing experience, they could likely captain - the BVI is one of the easiest areas to Navigate. You might even be able to take sailing lessons before the trip which could be less then hiring a captain. If you have 0 experience or confidence then I'd agree you need a captain.

With the limited knowledge I have of what's available, it seems the only option you'd have is to charter two boats. If you had at least 1 family member who would be up for being the captain of one boat you'd only need 1 hired captain which would help cut the costs.

You could also go with 1 larger boat - I'm familiar with the moorings and other options are available of course - Say a Moorings 4600 catamaran that could hold 12 and a smaller monohull for 6. The Catamaran has enough space that you could all hang out together on a mooring at night or during the day. You could probably also tie up the smaller boat to it. At a lower cost, you could swap out the catamara for the moorings 51.5 which holds 11 people.

And if you really want to save on a captain, I'd be happy to be a member of your family for a week
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