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Recommend BVI yacht Charters
I've chartered with TMM and BVI yacht charters several times out of Road Harbor. I've had good experiences with both but overwhelmingly recommend BVIYC. Their dedication to client satisfaction is over the top. They maintain their boats well, and will reach you anywhere in the BVI within hours to replace or repair a problem (eg, lost top mainsl batten from Road harber to Marina Cay, on OUR schedule !). I sailed a Benetueu 46 and 505 back to back with them last year (2009), my 3rd charter with them. Their new location in Port Purcell is ideal access to/from Road Harbor. Staff is excellent. That said, their rates tend to be at least a bit lower (10% or more) than most others, including TMM, with in my opinion no lesser quality boats.
My children all grew up sailing and i recommend looking for a vessel with a shorter and secure companionway. The companionway entrance and treads are a jungle gym for kids, so look at the vessel pictures for security there, and in the swim platform entry -- is it easy for a child to sneak back there? Also, a center cockpit would provide more safety, as would higher cockpit coamings. Watch for more cluttered fittings - hard on young toes!
With 3 including a small child, I would stay to 36 ft or less, plenty of comfort and more maneuverable for two crew trying to also tend a child. We sailed a Ben. 32 with TMM on our first charter, just my wife and I, and it was plenty comfy for your size crew. You get a bit more luxury as you go up, but you also have more boat to work. The 40+ and 50s have large mains that can take 2 crew to raise (ok ir your child can helm).
Wich you luck, plan some extra time in North Sound in Virgin Gorda, and take them ashore at The Baths. Hiking the caves at the Baths and over to the east shore is very good for kids. Virgin Gorda is ideal for kids. It's normally quieter up by Saba at night, where Dix Bay is good anchoring but can have some loud late night life. But easy to spend 2-3 days in N Sound and daysail the north channel by the dogs and Tortola.
WIFI is usually hard to get at anchor/mooring unless you are close to a business. I generally had to go ashore most anchorages to get it. BVIYC boats have a boat cell phone that is very inexpensive, including for short calls to the states. $10 to $20 covered us for the better share of a week, including my 18 yr old son's calls to his girlfriend at home. You can get USVI cells at US rates when near ST John and ST Thomas, but it's hit/miss. Check your cell carrier, your phone may work in the BVI but you have to activate their international plan (can do that for a month at a time usually) but rates may still not be cheap -- 40 cents per minute or more.
Last edited by gmnord; 04-06-2010 at 10:45 PM.