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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Chartering > BVI Conch Charter
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Thread: BVI Conch Charter Reply to Thread
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Topic Review (Newest First)
03-14-2010 10:07 AM
GeorgeDog We've used Conch in 1997, 2002, and 2005. All three times the boats developed problems serious enough to need a mechanic. In every case Conch did a good job of resolving the issues. If you arrive expecting to meet a predetermined schedule without some hiccups then Conch might not be for you. Running on Island Time they are great. If we make it back to the BVI I'd use them again.

-Chris
03-12-2010 12:32 PM
zboss The labor laws in the BVI just recently changed. In the past it was very easy to bring in very skilled labor from outside when the skilled labor required was not available on-island. This is no longer the case... any labor (with some exceptions) brought in must only be in the position long enough to train a local to do the job. Work permits are a political affair more so now then ever. Forget firing someone... it is not going to happen.

If your experience with Conch charters was not good, there is nothing you can do about it. I strongly recommend a different charter next time.
03-12-2010 10:25 AM
familyofun
Read the fineprint with Conch!!

Brig-boat...Regarding your comments that attempt to disqualify the statements of others as not 'really' sailers, I'm not quite sure what nationality has to do with it, and secondly, when we chartered with Conch, One member of our group owns his own boats (2) in Vancouver area, One member of our party grew up crewing his dads boat in the BVI, and the rest have had plenty of experience on various boats. I do not think any members of our party had unrealistic expectations what-so-ever or lack of knowledge on boats prior to our TERRIBLE experience with CONCH.

What was said about saving some money by going with Conch and then having your vacation ruined with their staff searching for any way to ding you is absolutely bang on. Absolutely no decency in these proceedings, they take your deposit and do not even provide any proof of damage, receipt or even a THANK YOU note for the $1500 tip they just gave themselves. There is NO value in having this kind of experience and you get what you pay for and pay for and pay for....
03-07-2010 08:52 AM
sturmunddrang I've chartered with Conch (and may do so again), so I can confirm a lot of what has been said here. We had a good time with a worn boat and a suspicious dock crew.

They are the low-price leader. You get what you pay for. They, unfortunately, probably attract a good amount of riff-raff with the low prices and need to be suspicious.

If ownership has been pushing up the prices to par with the other small operators, they will need to step up the quality to match.
03-07-2010 08:20 AM
brak I just chartered with Conch in December.

1) The boat was in marginal shape (though I expected worse due to what locals told me). Batteries would not take or hold a charge (so can't use refrigeration, but as somewhat experienced cruisers we provision to not need refrigerator). Transmission was slipping/not engaging. Lines were somewhat old and sails - tired. We got a big dinghy, though - although it had no handholds left.

2) The treatment we got from staff ranged from overly-familiar (I am glad to talk to anyone but there is no need to use profanity in your so called briefing) to annoyed. They do treat their customers as potential liars and thieves unless proven otherwise. Reminded us a 100 times that they *will* check the boat bottom for grounding if we don't tell them (but "forgot" to tell us there was keel damage, then when I called them about it first day said "they know". Well - what if I didn't check - would they have blamed it on me?). Also counted every single thing on board vs. the "shopping list" as they call it, when we came back - I think the guy was upset we didn't lose anything.

3) They expect you to be "dumb american" that goes to a local bar for the length of a charter. During "chart briefing" that's all we got - where to go drinking. The staff and "captain" that was taking our boat out of the slip (they don't trust you, which is good - they are in a *very* cramped marina) all advised against going anywhere but to Norman island (the Bight) because "there are big seas and high winds out there". Suffice it to say, there was nothing "big" out there (a bit of a swell and 15kts may be) and we had an excellent sail. BTW, if you plan to go to Anegada - you CAN NOT with Conch, no exceptions. I've never seen this before with other charters and find this to be ridiculous.

4) More importantly, all that saved us no money at all. The quoted charter price was on par with most other charter companies (except the "big two"), I picked Conch somewhat at random (Footloose had similar price but no boat we wanted on a short notice). Then they nickel and dime you with lots of "little" fees, which totaled so much that any potential price difference became almost negligible.

I chartered with Moorings and Footloose before, and neither are perfect - we had some negative moments with both. However, my next charter is in 3 weeks and we are going with Footloose again. I can't say for sure I will never charter with Conch (may be they have the last boat on short notice again) but certainly given any choice I will not select them. They were not terrible, but they were bad enough and expensive enough not to be worth a hassle. YMMV

And btw - it's a load of crap about "no lawyers on BVI". They have just as much insurance hassle, if not more, and (at least in case of Conch) they were just as weaselish about their contract and all those "little details" that lawyers can take care of so that in case of any trouble it is you and not them who is responsible.
03-06-2010 06:42 PM
brigadoonboat wow, I am surprised at the bad experiences some have had with Conch Charters! I quickly make some assumptions: Everyone needs to get on Island Time- quick.
Americans are not very easy customers to deal with categorically, and they are extremely demanding.( I am American) Many of the charters we have seen over the years are tourists with no real idea what a charter involves. some are not aware that they have to take care of their boat and its operation, deal with their own trash, that the head empties overboard, that its a "SAIL" boat, or even that there is six feet or more of it underneath.
Conch charters has older boats, that are exactly that. They are fairly well maintained, and do what is expected for their age. Things break on new boats too. A fridge will work until it stops working. actually I wonder if the one fellow with the nonfunctioning fridge remembered to turn on the TWO switches involved?
When we were done with our charter this January, we checked out four other boats at Conch's dock as possible charters for next year. Each one was ready for the next charter.. The cruising guide was open on the table, nicely, a bottle of rum was there too. Each boat had fresh linens, and was immaculately cleaned. (it was obvious we needed to take our shoes off) In contrast the returning boats one of which we checked out, had trash on board, sand on the deck, and beer cans still in the cup holders.
bottom line: If you expect familiar treatment and having to pay for it, go to the US charters in St Thomas. If you want a deal, go to the BVI, and if you want a deal there, go to Conch Charters. By the way, know why its cheaper in the BVI?
no lawyers there, you are responsible for yourself, your boat, and what you do with it.
03-06-2010 11:00 AM
sailingdog did you pay for your charter using a credit card. If so, then you may have some recourse for the lousy conditions, wasted food and such.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OntheWaterBlue View Post
We just returned from a bareboat charter trip in BVI and although we had read some bad reviews of this company we decided to take a chance to save some money. All I can say is that was a mistake! All this banter on review sites (which seems suspiciously biased - perhaps owners/friends) about this company providing personalized, great service is, I'm sorry to say, just not the case.

We felt like another annoying set of 'tourists' to them. The boat was lacking in so many ways, I don't even know where to start, and perhaps I won't start, but lets just say that they absolutely can not be doing a thorough check of the boats between customers. Something as important as a First Aid kit, however, I must report on... We had a member of our group obtain a large bleeding gash on the leg. The first aid kit consisted of three band aids, a mess of rusted out tweezers, and a few packettes of some expired gel. Absolutely no large bandaging, tape, or other bare necessities of a basic first aid kit. We resorted to using a towel while we had to take a day to go in to get some proper supplies.

The fridge and freezer did not charge up at all and were basically useless. If we'd known how much food we'd have to throw out, we would have chosen to eat in restaurants. The boat also had this smell about it that is hard to describe but a bit like a really old motel. I don't think it had ever been given a really thorough cleaning. There was garbage left all around garbage bins on ground that was some unrecognizable food that had grown to be part of the floor in the cupboard. (maybe this was the smell)

The 'caring' staff could give a rats whisker when we mention any of this. The attitude of the staff on return of the boat was 'get out and let us find the damage we can ding you with' - not the caring friendly attitude that some posters have stated.

I guess if you've used this company year after year, you wouldn't know any better or otherwise as far as service, and perhaps you also (I hope) do get special treatment.

All in all, Our family does NOT recommend this charter company.
03-06-2010 10:10 AM
OntheWaterBlue
Tread Carefully!

We just returned from a bareboat charter trip in BVI and although we had read some bad reviews of this company we decided to take a chance to save some money. All I can say is that was a mistake! All this banter on review sites (which seems suspiciously biased - perhaps owners/friends) about this company providing personalized, great service is, I'm sorry to say, just not the case.

We felt like another annoying set of 'tourists' to them. The boat was lacking in so many ways, I don't even know where to start, and perhaps I won't start, but lets just say that they absolutely can not be doing a thorough check of the boats between customers. Something as important as a First Aid kit, however, I must report on... We had a member of our group obtain a large bleeding gash on the leg. The first aid kit consisted of three band aids, a mess of rusted out tweezers, and a few packettes of some expired gel. Absolutely no large bandaging, tape, or other bare necessities of a basic first aid kit. We resorted to using a towel while we had to take a day to go in to get some proper supplies.

The fridge and freezer did not charge up at all and were basically useless. If we'd known how much food we'd have to throw out, we would have chosen to eat in restaurants. The boat also had this smell about it that is hard to describe but a bit like a really old motel. I don't think it had ever been given a really thorough cleaning. There was garbage left all around garbage bins on ground that was some unrecognizable food that had grown to be part of the floor in the cupboard. (maybe this was the smell)

The 'caring' staff could give a rats whisker when we mention any of this. The attitude of the staff on return of the boat was 'get out and let us find the damage we can ding you with' - not the caring friendly attitude that some posters have stated.

I guess if you've used this company year after year, you wouldn't know any better or otherwise as far as service, and perhaps you also (I hope) do get special treatment.

All in all, Our family does NOT recommend this charter company.
02-27-2010 04:13 PM
sailingdog I'd point out that in FIVE YEARS a lot can change with any company.
02-27-2010 02:02 PM
familyofun
Do not Recommend Conch

Glad you all had such a great experience but We didn't- We just returned from a trip in which we chartered bareboat through Conch and I have the following to say about our experience with them. (In fact I'm concerned about company representatives posting these positive reviews)

The boat was about what we expected however it was not really very inviting. For example, we had pillows that were about 100 years old that stank to high heaven along with old stinky bed sheets that also stunk to the point that I dreamed of bugs all night every night. Housekeeping on acceptance of the boat was generally very poor-dirty cutlery and utensils, etc. Had to give the place a good scrub down, but unfortunately had to live with the bedding the whole trip. Many, many items that would typically be supplied in the kitchen not available. When I gave a list to the guy who (very rudely) checked us in, he grunted and carried on.Two heads would not stop stinking. Fridge and freezer did not charge at all and we ended up going through a ton of ice and losing a lot of food. Etc. etc.

We could overlook all of this with the right concern from the operators however Customer service was dismal. Phone calls not returned in general. Radio not at all. (Jules-very rude indeed) When we did get a voice, there was basically no answer to our query on equipment that would not stop beeping or missing integral equipment.

We still managed to have an absolutely FANTASTIC time and learned to overlook or live with this aspect, but the salt on the wound was when we returned to Conch. First, they quickly closed shop and left us without water for the night. However not before sticking it to us as follows: We had run over the whaler line prior to returning and fully fessed up all though it would have been quite easy to hide as the line was cut right at the end. Line was cleanly severed however they called it prop wrap and quickly put through our $1500 Damage deposit !! No further communication-took our money and ignored our emails inquiring. Yes, I am not kidding.

I know this company started out with a Canadian couple who were know to 'care', however, perhaps they've grown tired of the business or are entrusting the wrong staff. We payed this company an extra $250 to sleep on board before our flights and they left us with no water and no assistance with where to put garbage, etc. whatsoever.

Anyway, there are lots and lots of options out there (my husband has had plenty of previous good experiences with Moorings) and I'd suggest if you are looking for a good deal, but still want to SAVOR your hard earned vacation, find a company with a personal touch and with staff/owners that appreciate your business. I could add a lot to this review, but I think I've said enough.
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