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The wife and myself are looking to take a vacation on a sailboat. Camping on our 22 Catalina has taught us a lot but looking to get a taste of being aboard the type of boat we will be buying in a few years. Looking to go in March most likely. Seeking any info on charter vacations anyone has. Also would not mind a hands on experience. Curious about prices, good co's and bad etc. Locations; Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations. Cheaper the better.
 

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Mermaid Hunter
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Looking to go in March most likely. Seeking any info on charter vacations anyone has. Also would not mind a hands on experience. Curious about prices, good co's and bad etc. Locations; Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations. Cheaper the better.
Lots of material in the Cruising section of SailNet.

The BVI is the obvious answer. There are several tiers of charter companies. Older boats are less expensive. Wonderful, easy sailing grounds. Another good resource is TTOL. Warning - they can be fussy over there about posting without reading previous threads first. My charter experience is principally with the Moorings. There are cheaper outfits.

The Bahamas are lovely but you add more shallow water and potentially bumpy inlets to getting used to a bigger boat.

SVG/Grenadines has some great sailing but the distances are greater than the BVI and not sheltered.

Kudos on using chartering as a way to get ready for a bigger boat. I think that is a great idea.
 

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Freedom 39
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The wife and myself are looking to take a vacation on a sailboat. Camping on our 22 Catalina has taught us a lot but looking to get a taste of being aboard the type of boat we will be buying in a few years. Looking to go in March most likely. Seeking any info on charter vacations anyone has. Also would not mind a hands on experience. Curious about prices, good co's and bad etc. Locations; Bahamas and other Caribbean destinations. Cheaper the better.
I will address your post based on the USVI/BVI area. March is the peak of charter and tourist season. Airline and boat prices will be at their highest, anchorages will be their busiest and actual vessel options will be very limited. A crewed charter typically means a charter boat with a captain to handle the boat and a first mate doing all the cooking and drink mixing. Typically all food and drinks are included in the price. The vast majority of crewed charters are on large(ish) catamarans. Is that what you will be buying in a few years?

Captain only bareboat charters means you are going with just a captain. The captain may or may not do any cooking. Their purpose is to handle the boat. If you want to save a few thousand dollars and are concerned about handling a bigger boat, I would suggest getting a captain only on the size (length) and style (cat or mono) vessel that you intend to buy in the future. Generally on Capt only trips the guests are welcome to help or do as much as they want in regards to the boat handling and navigation. Depending on which comapany you charter with, if you are competent and comfortable with the boat after a few days, the hired Capt may get off and let you continue alone the last few days. Most charter companies can arrange a capt for you. To be fair, I do work for a local charter company.

Enjoy your trip.
 

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You may want to make some decisions well in advance of approaching any company:

1. First, is this primarily a Vacation on a Sailboat or is it Using Some Vacation Time to Become a Better Large Boat Sailor?

That decision will drive how much emphasis you put on comfortable accommodation, quality of food, sightseeing on land, going to interesting restaurants, snorkeling expeditions before lunch and so on versus sailing for 7 or 8 hours straight.

It will also help you decide on a location: some places have better wind and offer opportunities for all-day passages, while others are better for gunkholing and boast great resturants and bars, while still others have much better snorkeling sites.

2. Do you want both a Captain and a Cook?

If you do not include a Cook, either you or your wife will be spending a significant amount of time below, preparing food, serving food, and cleaning up after meals and snacks for yourselves and the Captain. This may not be what you want to do during a vacation focused on the experience of sailing a bigger boat.

Some people plan to eat at restaurants most evenings. While this reduces the meal preparation effort, it also constrains your sailing choices. You may not be able to anchor for the night in a location remote from a restaurant. And it will significantly drive up your cost.

2. What role do you want the Captain to play?

Is he or she there only to be a safety backup and expert resource while you and your wife plan the cruise, do all the navigation, sailing, motoring, mooring, and anchoring? That is, do you want the Captain to coach you while you learn by doing?

Or, is he or she there to take on those responsibilities while you and your wife act as his or her crew?

This is an important decision because not all Captains are, or want to be, good coaches. Sailing and training are different, though not incompatible, areas of expertise.

Finally, you will need to choose between chartering a crewed boat that is owned by (usually, though not always) a Captain and Cook couple versus one that is owned by a company (such as The Moorings) through whom you would engage a Captain (and Cook, if you want one).

There is potentially a lot of difference. Owner-chartered boats offer a personalized experience analgous to what you have in a great bed-and-breakfast. The owners are proud of their boats and the cuisine they offer; they want you to have a wonderful time in their home. The fact that it is their home, however, means that an owner-chartered boat may not offer many (or any) opportunities for you to sail the boat or participate in navigation decisions (never mind do the work yourself under their observation). Because the boat is usually their home as well as their livelihood, they are understandably cautious about handing over sailing to someone who might put it on the rocks.

We've chartered bareboat, bareboat with a Captain only, and on owner-chartered boats. All were wonderful --- but dramatically different --- experiences.

Best wishes for a wonderful time!
NWS
 
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