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post #10 of Old 03-01-2012
Join Date: Nov 2008
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flotilla is worth it

for our first Caribbean charter, several years ago, we sailed a Beneteau 373 on a Sunsail flotilla in the BVI. At that point, we owned a Seafarer 30, and had two seasons of Chesapeake sailing under our belt, but were still very much "newbies". Flotilla was the best decision we ever made. I agree with all the above posts. It was great for us to have the Sunsail lead boat choosing the best spots to moor each evening, and planning out the route with their local knowledge of conditions in mind. The other charterers were from several different countries, and we loved the social aspect and making new friends, several of which we are still in contact with. You can participate in the social stuff as little or as much as you like. there is no pressure to "join in". Make no mistake: you have to sail your own boat, and everyone sails individually to meet at the destination... taking various routes and detours along the way. But, there is peace of mind just knowing that the Sunsail skipper is a radio call away, and happy to help you out or give advice. The daily chart briefing is worth the flotilla fee alone! (BTW, a welcome party with cocktails was also included in the fee). We had never picked up a mooring ball before that trip, and the first day, there was our flotilla captain, beside us in his dinghy, talking us through it. Years later, we still think of his helpful advice when performing the maneuver ("Mon, there are only two speeds while approaching a mooring, forward and neutral!") So, highly recommend a flotilla for first time charter. For the experienced sailors on this forum, it may seem like overkill, but for first timers it takes a lot of the anxiety out of the experience. This is supposed to be a VACATION after all, and just knowing that you have back up, and the fun of being with a social group makes it more relaxing. Not having to plan all the details of where to go and which restaurant to choose is really pleasant the first time out. We charter every year, and haven't done another flotilla, but would certainly consider it again sometime. Have a great time!
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