I just chartered with Conch in December.
1) The boat was in marginal shape (though I expected worse due to what locals told me). Batteries would not take or hold a charge (so can't use refrigeration, but as somewhat experienced cruisers we provision to not need refrigerator). Transmission was slipping/not engaging. Lines were somewhat old and sails - tired. We got a big dinghy, though - although it had no handholds left.
2) The treatment we got from staff ranged from overly-familiar (I am glad to talk to anyone but there is no need to use profanity in your so called briefing) to annoyed. They do treat their customers as potential liars and thieves unless proven otherwise. Reminded us a 100 times that they *will* check the boat bottom for grounding if we don't tell them (but "forgot" to tell us there was keel damage, then when I called them about it first day said "they know". Well - what if I didn't check - would they have blamed it on me?). Also counted every single thing on board vs. the "shopping list" as they call it, when we came back - I think the guy was upset we didn't lose anything.
3) They expect you to be "dumb american" that goes to a local bar for the length of a charter. During "chart briefing" that's all we got - where to go drinking. The staff and "captain" that was taking our boat out of the slip (they don't trust you, which is good - they are in a *very* cramped marina) all advised against going anywhere but to Norman island (the Bight) because "there are big seas and high winds out there". Suffice it to say, there was nothing "big" out there (a bit of a swell and 15kts may be) and we had an excellent sail. BTW, if you plan to go to Anegada - you CAN NOT with Conch, no exceptions. I've never seen this before with other charters and find this to be ridiculous.
4) More importantly, all that saved us no money at all. The quoted charter price was on par with most other charter companies (except the "big two"), I picked Conch somewhat at random (Footloose had similar price but no boat we wanted on a short notice). Then they nickel and dime you with lots of "little" fees, which totaled so much that any potential price difference became almost negligible.
I chartered with Moorings and Footloose before, and neither are perfect - we had some negative moments with both. However, my next charter is in 3 weeks and we are going with Footloose again. I can't say for sure I will never charter with Conch (may be they have the last boat on short notice again) but certainly given any choice I will not select them. They were not terrible, but they were bad enough and expensive enough not to be worth a hassle. YMMV
And btw - it's a load of crap about "no lawyers on BVI". They have just as much insurance hassle, if not more, and (at least in case of Conch) they were just as weaselish about their contract and all those "little details" that lawyers can take care of so that in case of any trouble it is you and not them who is responsible.
Last edited by brak; 03-07-2010 at 08:22 AM.