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Discussion Starter #1
Planning my first BVI bareboat charter for Feb 2010 and in the process of selecting a company. I've narrowed the list to the following and would appreciate any input.

I'll be sailing 'shorthanded' with my girlfriend and want a provisioned 35' to 40' monohull.

Please comment yes or no on these companies and add any to the list I should consider. I've eliminated companys with fleets less than 20 boats betting I'll have less problems with a boat not being ready.

Here's the list: (in no particular order)

BVI Yacht Charters
Conch Charters
CSY Charters
Footloose
Horizon
Moorings
Sunsail
TMM

Feel free to pontificate at lengh as to the basis of your yes/no vote!

Thanks in advance!
 

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I can only comment on Moorings, and it was good. Others will come along with some praise of less expensive outfits. You will most likely be within minutes of the grocery store. I would provision my own boat.....IMHO.......i2f
 

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I've eliminated companys with fleets less than 20 boats betting I'll have less problems with a boat not being ready.
Larger fleet does not always equate to fewer problems. The two times we've had major problems with the chartered boat, it was from a company with a large fleet.

We now always charter with Voyage and have been very happy.
 

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charter companies

Been chartering a long time. Used Moorings, Sunsail, BVI yacht charters, Catamaran Company all of them once. Island Yachts (usvi) and TMM, several times and most recently, Pro Valor Yacht Charters, of Jim and Cecilia fame, not the other dude. Pro Valor 4 times and again this season at least once, hopefully twice.
Never an issue w/Pro Valor. They're the kind of folks i would place my boat with if i were to enter a charter fleet.
Cheers!
 

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Can't comment on your list. Was chartering a Cat with Barecat and was very happy with them but they are just catamarans and a smaller fleet outlet. I wouldn't bank on your comment bigger fleet = lesser problems. It's not so much the size of an outfit but the philosophy and local management that makes everything happen (or not).
In regard to provisioning I recommend, not to book provisions with your charterer, at least not the pre arranged packages. There are supermarkets close by. We used Bobby's in Tortola and faxed them one of their orderforms a week in advance. They delivered direct to the boat, on time,and even drove the whole crew of 4 to their location to pick up all the things we forgot to put on the list. They allowed us some time in Tortolla, pointed out some places for dinner, and after dinner we walked back to their market, did our shopping and they drove us back to our boat (4 miles). We were extremly happy with them as you can imagine and had a great start into our 8 days of sailing.
Service was truly alive and well.

Have a great time in the BVIs
 

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If money is no issue, go with the top end companies Moorings and Sunsail. Generally they have the newer boats and know how to maintain them with full time staff.

If your going with one of the others you still have a great chance of a No Problem Cruise. While older and some may have more dings and a few non critical systems conditions, they are typically manageable and cost are typically lower particularly in the off seasons. With the older inventories they often give more days for the $$ occasionally double when they have boats on the docks not reserved. Just look at Conch Web site about this time of year.

Depending on which location your going to pick up a boat, I would also recommend you getting your own provision. If you do the standard full provision order you will end up having half the stuff still on the boat when you return. Of course I personally like it! Because I get the know some of them and they give me the excess! My liquor locker is typically filled and overflowing.

You can add to provisions at a lot of locations as you sail in the BVI. Some opportunities exist where a boat will bring them to you such as around Norman Island and parts of Peter Island by the supply boat out of Nanny Cay call sign Deliverance. Those that don't hear banjos strumming at that name will recognize it as a mini-market on a keel.
 

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Crealock 37
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Did a bareboat with the Moorings in '05 and had the "perfect" trip. Boat was in good condition, provisioned. On the second day as we were hitting a mooring ball at the Rhone the pin fell out of the gooseneck. We radioed Moorings base and they said a repair boat would be enroute. We grabbed our snorkeling gear and went over for a peek at the wreck before diving it, when we returned to our boat the repairmen were just finishing up their work.

I would use the Moorings again.
 

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I used Footloose and was very happy with a Robinson Caine Cat. It seemed very new and was certainly very clean with no issues whatsoever. We did have some trouble with the dinghy engine a couple times and a Footloose mechanic did come out to meet with us, but I guess that can happen anytime, anywhere. So I was happy with their service. I was told that Footloose has boats from the Moorings/Sunsail fleet after they've been in service with them, but as mentioned the boat we had seemed only a couple seasons old at best. As good of condition as the monohull I had from Sunsail in Croatia last year. Hope this helps.
 

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Dear Malyea,

Personally, I like to get a lower price for a longer vacation. So you will find me chartering from the second tier charter companies.

I've used Conch for the last 6 years and I've been pleased every time. The boats are not new and I've had a few things break down. I just consider it par for the course...I get breakdowns on my boat at home.

In trade, I can afford to go more often or to stay longer. This is what works for me. If price is no object for you, then you can go with the guys with the new boats.

I have provisioned through Conch and without. After trying both, I perfer to provision through Conch, who deal with Bobby's Market, but to provision a little short. I find I eat less than I think in the tropics. I use their on-line check list for the advance order and it is on the boat when I check in. Inventory before you go. Then I can top off at, maybe, Spanish Town, with whatever is popualr with the crew. I have a minimum of leftovers this way and on a two week trip, eventually someone wants to go to town, anyway.

Enjoy yur trip,

Rod
 

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Capt Rich
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Bvi

Things have gotten a little out of kilter this year, stay with the first tier charter companies, Moorings Sunsail Voyage CYOA....less customers has made it cheaper but less maintaince. Always do your own shopping

Rich
 

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The first time we chartered in the BVI, a friend recommended Horizon Yacht Charters to us. My girlfriend and I chartered a Bavaria 32 for the two of us and there was not a single problem. HYC stocked the boat for us and every system on the boat was in good working order. The whole HYC team was professional, polite and made us feel very comfortable. I also did most of the sailing single handed and found the Bavaria a good boat to do that with.
HYC is on Nanny Cay, just west of of Road Town and the facilities are great. The hotel on the Cay is a nice place to stay the first night before getting on the boat in the morning, which is just a short walk down the dock.
We were so pleased with HYC that the next year we went back with two other couples and chartered a 46' Bavaria. We chose to stock the boat ourselves that time which gave us more options at the grocery store in Road Town. I own a boat now and that may delay my next charter trip to the BVI but as soon as I can, I'll be back down there and if it's not on my own boat, it will be with Horizon Yacht Charters.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Love this forum! Thanks to all who've taken the time to share. Can't wait to castoff. Will probably go Moorings and will likely provision our self - maybe use the 'split provision option'.

Thanks guys!
 

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Cal 9.2 SilverSwan
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We did a 2 week bare boat with BVI Yacht Charters on a Ben 36 "Tech Stocks. 2 cabins 1 head. Only problem was running out of propane while brewing coffee, just finished it on the BBQ and they had a bottle of propane delivered to Soppers Hole where we were staying and it was installed within a hour. The money we saved from using BVI was spent at Pussers, Willie T and other such establishments. Lots of pain killers and BBQ bugs with butter. We used 200 gallons of water and 6 gallons of fuel. The boat was older than 5 yrs but I have a 81 Cal 9.2 and a 79 Santana525. No boat problems experienced. Just the right size. I'l use the same folks, they were great!
 

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Tartan 28
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Another suggestion - I've found some of the best charter deals can be had at the boat shows. I was able to get a very good deal with Sunsail at the Annapolis Boat Show last year. We did the BVI's for a week on a 39i mono. Did have some issues with the boat but they responded very quickly all things considered (long story) and issued us a credit to use going forward. One caveat - we did provision ourselves but still had a ton of leftover food. We found it very enjoyable to eat on land and mingle. We spent plenty of time sailing and diving on the boat that we enjoyed spreading out and exploring a bit more on land when time permitted - especially on a mono with 4 people.
 

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Charterers' anchoring show

I don't want to hijack the thread, but have a little story to tell that I think is quite funny. Maybe I can bring a few wry smiles to a few people...

During the 2008 cruising season, my family and I sailed our cruising boat from Florida to Grenada, through the "thorny path". On arrival in the BVI from Culebra, we checked in at Jost Van **** and promptly went to Foxy's for a drink. Later that afternoon we were sitting on deck and watching the charter boats coming in in droves and at top speed, raching each other and jostling for a spot to anchor.

Now, I'm not a sailing snob, but everyone knows that there are all sorts of different experience levels when it comes to charterers. Many charterers have a lot of experience and own boats. Many others are there for the first time however. Nowhere does inexperience show quicker, than with anchoring skills. The most telling sign is the boat that drops anchor very quickly after arriving; no cruising through the already anchored boats to check out the lay of the land, the direction of the rodes, asking the other cruisers about their scope, not checking whether those have rope rode or all chain and not checking swinging room or the swing characteristics of the other boats (for instance will they sail at anchor).

The first incident was when a charterer dropped anchor and promptly and proudly reversed at a fast clip across the bow of a 65ft beautiful German flagged cruise boat that was lying to its anchor in 20 knts of breeze. The German skipper ran to the bow to fend off. Fortunately we could not hear the accompanying words... The charter boat barely missed the German boat when they finally realized this will not work and tried to cross back to their anchor, now being blown sideways towards the German.

During this escapade my wife noticed my youngest teenage daughter coming on deck with a bag of freshly popped popcorn and a deckchair. Her questioning look ellicited this reaction: "This is better than the movies!!"

Fortunately no-one crossed our bow that night. We were crashed into by a charter boat dragging anchor in Marin, Martinique though, but that's another story and not quite as funny...

Maybe a fun thread about anchoring woes would be entertaining - and educational at the same time. We all have to learn... better to read about a mistake someone else already make, than learning by making it yourself..

M Murphy
 

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Tartan 28
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Thanks Murphy - that story is exactly why we were on a strict mooring ball diet for our first time around in the BVI's, absent dropping hook at some stopover locales (e.g. Sandy Cay)... We received some of the same entertainment though over at the anchorage/mooring field at Trellis in BVI. There is a very shallow area that jets out on the way into the dinghy dock and we had one of the nearest moorings to it. My dive boat that had picked me up earlier that day warned me about it stating that it was so shallow that even a dinghy would get hung up. Sure enough, that afternoon/evening as everyone was quick to come to shore for the dinner and Full Moon party festivities people unkowingly would "shortcut" through this area to the dinghy dock only to hear their dink's outboard "wack" against the bottom, pop up on it's pivot and stall - all passengers looking fearful for life. The first few times we tried to yell and wave off those headed for their beached fate to no avail (they just couldn't hear us/see us and weren't paying attention). To that end we simply would sip cocktails and await someone to say - "here comes another one"... Free entertainment.
 

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Malyea:
Under the title "cake & eat it too".....if you are a little flexible with your dates and do a little research - you could save some $$$ and/or get a better/newer boat.
Request brochures & pricing sheets from Moorings (appears to be your 1st choice now) and a couple of others, Sunsail + agree Horizon is a good choice especially for your 1st time = you won't get lost in the crowd at the Moorings/Sunsail/Footloose complex....more personalized service.

Also sign up for e-mail news - then you will receive advance notice on sales, deals, etc. Check their sites regularly too - and look under deals, specials, etc. You might just find one that works for You.......and you will stretch those $$$ into more painkillers or a lobster dinner.
Enjoy
P.S. Also agree that Travel Talk on-line BVI section will be a good source for all sorts of info for you & crew. .......Don't forget to study the Cruising guide before you leave home.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Update on my selection progress:

Based on positive comments I've added Voyage YC and Pro Valor to the list.

I haven't yet read any comments about CSY or TMM. Anybody?

I 'm about to email all 10 companies my resume, stating that I'd like a 35' to 40' mono, sailing shorthanded with girlfriend and want to spend 36 to 48 hours at Anegada as one of the stops.

My worst fear is lost time due to boat malfunctions. I'm OK without much handholding from the company but I'd like the boat to work - everyday. If it breaks, I'd like maintenance support ASAP. Saving money is high on my list but not at the risk of being stuck on the hook when the breeze is fresh and Anegada beckons.

I plan to self provision with Bobby's market and go easy on the initial list - we'll stop and replenish as needed.

ADDITIONAL REQUEST: Top 10 - 20 tips on how to NOT LOOK LIKE A FIRST TIMER IN THE BVI

Great info so far. Thanks to all!
 

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ADDITIONAL REQUEST: Top 10 - 20 tips on how to NOT LOOK LIKE A FIRST TIMER IN THE BVI

Great info so far. Thanks to all!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

:D Best way to appear not to be a first time bare-boat charter is practice mooring and anchoring with the most physical person doing the hard work... generally the guy up forward while the lady is at the helm.

Most 1st timers have the guy at the helm screaming at the little lady who is fighting with the mooring ball or anchor lines. The more physical person can handle this best and the increased physical strength can over ride some inexperience. Almost anyone can handle the helm. Just find an area where few are moored/ anchored and make a few practice runs.
 

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Most important in my opinion;

mooring: Approach dead into wind (right on the nose) very slowly.
Anchoring: Take your time. Drive through the anchorage. Check out the other boats. Look at their rodes, ask about scope. Have an idea whether your boat sails at anchor (tip - all charter boats do - they're light and have high freeboard). Drop your anchor "behind" the stern of the boats next to you or they might swing over your anchor and you can't get out the next day... Make sure you're far enough so that the difference in swing characteristics and scope will not bring you too close. Do not drop too close in front of someone or you'll not be able to let out enough scope. It is ok to go very close to the boat in front to drop (as long as you're behind the boat AND its dinghy) - then fall back. One thing though, if the wind pipes up and that boat lets out more scope he might end up over your anchor and you're trapped again.

Don't reverse your engine on the anchor right away - it might pull out; let it settle a bit. let your engine cool down in idle while you make tea. Take bearings and look around. Then put boat in reverse in idle and feel chain for dragging. I assume you lay it out nicely as you dropped back in the beginning - not having dropped everything in a pile... The best way to drop back is to simply have the wind swing the bow around and then back. This way you'll find out quickly if you're too close to another boat. The rode will bring you head to wind again when you stop laying out scope.

Then if at ALL possible: DIVE the anchor.

DON't leave the boat for a while - rule of thumb; at least 30 min but it depends on conditions- while continuing to check that you're settled and don't move or come too close to others.

Check if others previously there have concerns that you're too close. If they have - you should move.

And PLEASE: if there's a wide open bay and one or two boats anchored on one side - don't snuggle up to them - anchor somewhere else. If you want company, dinghy over, don't crowd them.

M Murphy
 
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