A Real Cheap Cruise for Real(istic) People on a 62 foot Catamaran February 27th, 2010
The only thing cheap about my cruising Charter on Dragonfly was the price. Al and Jill Wiginnton have been chartering their boat for 12 years and know the best places to go in the Caribbean.
I constantly searched for a reasonably priced Catamaran Cruise I could afford and started looking for Charters by Cabin rental instead of chartering a whole boat which I could never afford. Cabin Charters are available in many European venues but very limited on this side of the Atlantic. I stumbled across 2 offerings on E-bay, one for a bareboat charter on Dragonfly where you were providing the provisions for the whole week for up to 6 guests. The other was offering one of 3 cabins for charter and meals were included, your only additional cost was 2 meals off the boat and your extra alcoholic beverages.
Do a seach for their current offerings on E-bay or go to their Website SailDragonfly.org.
A simple comparison to see if Dragonfly is for you:
The majority of commercial high end charters are on a factory made luxury yacht. I got to see many of them during my cruise, they are very sleek and very low to the water, and some of them barely have 18 inches of clearance and would be impossible to actually sail in any kind of open sea. Teak decks and Marble counters are pretty but not very practical when you consider the weight penalty. One is so heavy they only motor, the mast is for decoration only. That is not my idea of a sailing vacation. I want to hear the wind in the sails and know I am not burning gallons of fuel polluting such a beautiful place.
Dragonfly is the alternative in a lean light well designed and functional Catamaran. Al , a mechanical engineer, spent 3 years building this boat himself, it is High, Wide and Fast. Do a search of what a 40 foot catamaran charter would cost you and then imagine how much bigger a 62 foot boat would be? Boats that size are usually for 5 couples plus crew. When I saw how little room other people had on their boats and there were up to 8 people on monohul boats Ľ our size. Charter prices start at around $8,000 for a catamaran, add a captain and cook plus provisions for a week. You now can see why I quickly booked my vacation before it got away!!! As luck would have it we would have a full moon the majority of my trip and perfect weather. .
Now for the travel details of my Trip.
I arrived in St. Thomas on Friday afternoon and Dragonfly is waiting in Lindberg bay adjacent to the Airport. No need for a taxi because a short walk down the street and a cell phone call to Jill brings the Dingy to the beach to pick you up. Stow your suitcase and motor around the bend to the next bay which is Charlotte Amallie. We dingy ashore to a great bar and restaurant called the Green House for dinner and discussion of what kind of destinations I would like to see. St. Croix was discussed because the winds were good and that would be tomorrow’s destination.
Breakfast is choice of Cereal, Yogurt and fresh fruit and lunch was a variety of sandwiches with chips and a variety of cold salads. On Saturday with great winds we made it to St. Croix in 4 hours, toured the Town of Christiansed, Fort Christiansvaern and enjoyed the 160th Dominican Independence Day Parade. Back on board we relaxed and enjoyed a cocktail with cheese and crackers. Grilled Steak and Vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes for dinner, desert was Key Lime pie.
The next morning on Sunday snorkeled on the east end of Buck Island in a National park that has a marked trail to follow. The channels through the coral were beautiful and I saw my first Turtle and a huge Lobster. A must if you visit St. Croix. We headed northeast to Virgin Gorda with a little less wind but we make it back in 6 hours. Along they way we caught what looked like a 4 foot sailfish but he hit on the lightest line rod and broke it. He leaped out of the water twice to show us what had gotten away. As I was sitting on the Port hull outside to the left of the Captain, I was watching the waves break when a large wave appeared, it continued to grow but turned out to be a Whale breaching so I saw its back, dorsal fin and tail before it disappeared into a 30 foot circle of flat water where it went down. Al was grateful it did that 30 in front of the boat because they can break dagger boards and rudders. We saw them breath 3 times, a flip of their tails breaking the water, 3 more breaths and they were out of sight behind us. A real highlight for me to see them so close. We sailed past Fallen Jerusalem to our night anchorage near The Baths on Virgin Gorda in front of homes that rent for $10,000 a week. Dinner was Grilled Chicken with Fruit Salsa, rice and carrots. Desert was chocolate dream pie.
Monday morning Al was my private guide to the Baths, a great cluster of Boulders along the shore, many stacked on top of others forming a series of small shallows and narrow paths among the rocks. They have placed wooden walkways and ladders to make it possible for the majority of physically abled people to navigate between the rocks. A hiking trip up the top of the hill sits a beautiful restaurant called Mad Dog with great views of the Baths and boats at anchor. Al took me along to Spanish Town Harbor to check in with British Virgin Islands Immigration and I strolled the town and boat docks. In the afternoon we sailed up to Nail bay for snorkeling, had lunch and then on to our anchorage off Prickly Pear Island where I sort of helped Al collect Conch for our dinner appetizer. He swam to the bottom to collect them while I retrieved them from him and put them in the Dingy. I also learned how to get them out of the shell and clean them for dinner. Al cleaned …I watched. Dinner was Pork Tenderloin with Peach Chutney, mashed Sweet potatoes and broccoli. A trip into Bitter End yacht club for ice and a stop at Saba rock for a drink allowed me to see big Tarpon waiting to be fed dockside and they have a small salt water Aquarium with Eel, lobster and a variety of local fish. We were anchored just south of Richard Branson’s Necker Island Resort.
Tuesday we headed west towards Tortola for snorkeling at Monkey point and the swarms of fish were awesome, it was like swimming in fish instead of water. We motored back to our anchorage at Marina Cay. While Jill prepared Dinner Al and I dingyed over to tour the almost completed Scrub Island resort. A very high end facility with deluxe docks and accommodations. A visit to the Prusser’s phone both for our photo on their live cam to prove we were their Tuesday March 2nd at 4:07 pm, take a look. We went to the bar at Marina Cay to be entertained by Pirate Musician Michael Bean, a real crowd pleaser followed by Dinner a The Marina Cay Restaurant and learned the history of who originally developed the island in the 1930’s by hand, rowing over to the island and hauling all the materials up the hill himself.
Wednesday we sailed back towards Virgin Gorda then southeast to Peter Island for a
Snorkel in the morning Norman Island in the afternoon. We had Burgers from the grill, red potatoes and corn on the cob for dinner.
Thursday we sailed to Jost Van Dyke so Al could show me Foxy’s, one of his favorite little bars. A cluster of little huts with T-shirts hanging from the rafters, hand written notes to the bar from all over the world. Avery nice local’s bar with great entertainment. We then sailed to St. John and anchored in Maho bay. We had Grilled Chicken Breast with Papaya Salsa, Brown rice and Salad.
Friday morning after Al repaired the Anchor windlass we anchored off of Kaneel Bay resort and took the dingy over to Durloe, a rock formation that had the largest variety of plant life of all the locations so far. It varied from the flat bottom sand and limited plant life up towards the rock with much more coral, small fish and color. In the afternoon on our way back to Charlotte Amallie we stopped at another outcropping of rock called Christmas cove for my last snorkel before checking back in at U.S. Customs and Immigration. We again had dinner at the Green House and made a trip over to the bar Fat Turtle, located at the ultra high end boat mooring area of new shops and the boats are 5 to 300 million dollars.
It was the type of vacation I had dreamed about and now one I will repeat in many other locations with Jill, Al and Dragonfly. If you have any questions , check out their website at saildragonfly.org or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, put Dragonfly in the subject line.
It all sounds good and I am sure the price is fair. But saying "cheap" and $8000 in one sentence doesn't seem quite right to me, if we are trying to be "realistic" people. It's like talking about a "cheap Ferrari" :)
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