We just returned from a week in the BVI. We chartered Mei Nu, a Jeanneau 44i from CYOA and our very own member, Far Cry, did our check out!
Here's a first. Nothing on the boat broke all week!! For all that have chartered, you're probably going to find that hard to believe, but it's true. She was 5 years old, I believe, and in most fleets would be completely washed out. Of course, she had a few scuffs, but I've seen much more on boats that were under one year old in the Moorings fleet. Literally.
I've never seen a complete spare inventory and tool kit aboard before. At best, a blister pack of tools and had never been opened. You felt you could handle the basics, if necessary.
The checkout is not cursory, it contains systems, charts and a practical exercise. They do a real inventory aboard and the briefer (FarCry for us) was very helpful with local knowledge (see thread on Christmas Cove and Pizza Pi boat! Awesome). While you're not trying to pass your unlimited offshore with sailing endorsement, all charters must show that you can unfurl, furl and tack the boat. It also serves to insure these systems work and the sails are in good shape. We were less than fully smooth from the winter layup and we went with another couple, whom we hadn't sailed with before. No fatal errors, just less than perfectly coordinated on day one. If FarCry rolled his eyes at all, he was polite enough to do so without us noticing.
The extra diligence really seems to pay off in the fleet. They take good care of their boats and make an effort to be sure you are prepared to sail her. The check out is not
intimidating, although, having to fly the sails on a boat you've been aboard for a few hours on your first sail can be a touch nerve wracking. I think they take that into consideration. I believe they just want to be sure you're reasonably capable and comfortable in actually using the systems aboard and that they work. They don't want to chase you down on your first leg, because you find a furler jammed. In fact, before we even left the dock, they came down and replaced the jib with a brand new sail.
We've always chartered from Tortola, both Road Town and Nanny Cay. While one could argueTortola is more centrally located to sail from, the convenience of being literally 5 mins from the St Thomas airport to CYOA is nearly luxurious!! No ferry hassles, no cattle pen of customs in Road Town. We had a nice fast boat, so we covered 9 bays in 6 days and sailed her from St Thomas to Jost Van Dyke to Norman to North Sound on Virgin Gorda back to several Bays on St Johh (Maho, Cinnamon, Hawkwnest, Caneel and Lameshur) then to Christmas Cove on St. James (home of the Pizza Pi boat that makes fresh pizza to order!). That's more coverage than we've ever made from Road Town and we never felt rushed.
Of course, we did have 20+ kts of wind every day, so getting 8kts out of her was pretty common!! That helped cover some ground. We saw 10.1 surfing downwind once. Wooohooo.
We cleared customs into BVI on Jost Van Dyke, where they also clear you back out simultaneously. We cleared back into the US in Cruz Bay, St John. I've avoided the need previously, as it seemed like too much hassle. It's really not that bad (much faster than waiting on the ferry lines) and CYOA gives you all the forms and provides samples aboard for how to complete them.
I'm a believer! CYOA is a small operation but has great service and has a process that maximizes the reliability of their fleet. We will be back and I highly recommend them.
BTW, the wine bar restaurant across the parking lot from their dock is outstanding too!!
Thanks again to Far Cry. It was great to meet you. Say hello to Zanchin for us, if you see him. We were looking forward to a rematch from our last encounter with him.