I chartered with Conch and posted here previously. They are ok if you are careful but indeed:
- boats are old and not in a perfect shape (though you can do worse with Footlose)
- can't take their boats to Anegada, no waver, nothing - just can't go
- their "briefing" is a joke (they steer you towards most obvious anchorages and, mainly, restaurants and bars). they also actively advised us "not to go out due to bad weather" when it was barely 15 kts outside
- they clearly try to find *something* to latch on at the end of the charter to keep some of your deposit. they also treat you as a "presumed guilty until proven otherwise".
I understand that they may be trying to protect themselves from all-to-common bad charterers, but I am a very careful skipper (so we didn't have any issues, of course and got our deposit back just fine). Still, this left an unpleasant feeling - I prefer to be treated with at least some respect.
Bottom line - Conch is not terrible, and if I were to really want to charter in BVI and nothing else (other than Footlose) was available, I'd suck it up and go again. Otherwise - I'll try someone else.
I'm considering a charter in BVI in 2013, and have posted a new thread seeking advice. But I thought I would say how helpful I think this post is. It comes from a regular contributor here (not a poser from the company, or a flamethrower who registered for the express purpose of trashing the company), and it appears to be very fair and evenhanded.
I need to say that the last comment about Conch coming across as trying to find an excuse to keep your security deposit has really rubbed me the wrong way. In my mind, there should be some proportionality between the age of the boat and the invasiveness of the post-charter inspection. If you're chartering a new or pristine "premier" boat, I can expect the company to make a pretty close inspection. But as the boat becomes older and more beaten up, these invasive inspections can seem more and more unfair, because it's much more difficult to discern actual damage from normal wear and tear.
I've only chartered once (on the Chesapeake), and I can say that the company seemed very fair. The checkout skipper went over the condition of the boat with me before I left, and he actually pointed out a few damage items that I had missed. Upon arrival his inspection was very quick and not threatening at all. This was an older boat (around '97), so I would expect a newer boat would have a closer inspection.
After talking to Conch, I think I'm probably going to go with SunSail because I'm considering a week that they have a 25% discount that puts one of their "premier" boats in the same price range as Conch's older boats.