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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,
I've been reading through some of the threads about bareboating in the BVI's. It's something my wife and I, along with our 11 year old son would absolutely love to do when he gets out of school in June 2015. We've heard so many great things about the area for sailing (Sailor's Paradise, etc.!).

Okay, so here is my very humble admittance to our lesser experience level. Wife and I are both ASA 101 certified as of September of this year. Since then, we've sailed only about 30 hours on a Catalina 22, in winds ranging from almost nothing to 18kts gusting to 25 on a choppy bay. My son also loves being on the boat and working/learning as crew and would love to spend a week out on a nice 30 something sized boat. We'll continue sailing the 22 a few more times before next summer, but that's the largest boat that's available to us for now. Prior to learning to sail, I've got several hundred hours in mid 30's motor cruisers. My wife and I are also both 20+ year airline pilots - which means nothing except that we have a very healthy respect and an understanding of changing winds and weather patterns. Also, that I'd like to think it makes us more conservative in our approach (pardon the pun) to this.

So while I don't mind having a hired Captain for a day or so, we really don't want to spend a week with someone else on the boat. Am I being unrealistic to expect a charter company to give us a boat for a week at this experience level? Is it even smart? How else can I get the experience, if I don't charter?

Sunsail and Conch are two names of charter companies I've been down there. Any opinions on these or others would great be appreciated.

Thanks!
Chris
 

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Please don't. Place is very crowded. Folks run gensets and play loud music to the wee hours of the morning. Folks don't respect rules of the road or just don't know them. They run their catamarans at hull speed through the mooring fields and anchorages. It's too hot and humid down here. Lots of places where you need 200plus feet to get 5 to 1. There are no pump outs. Its hard to go east.
How about chartering in Turkey. Beautiful place. Your son will experience a new culture.,won't see as many entitled rude people as in BVIs.
Oh well you're coming anyway. Have fun.
 

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I think a little more experience and credentials wouldn't be a bad idea. Though it is generally pretty easy sailing down there, things can and will go wrong and you need to know how to deal with it when it happens. Also, moving up to a larger charter boat from a 22 footer will have its own challenges. Greater forces, different systems, and you can't man-handle it like you can a smaller boat to name a few.

What I would recommend is to schedule a trip and hire an ASA certified captain to take you through ASA 104. Should be able to accomplish it within the first few days of your charter and then you can be on your own for the remaining days. Our first trip we spent the entire ten days with an ASA captain (as well as another couple we had never met) and had a great time. We've made ten trips since then and our next trip is also June of 2015. Maybe we'll see you there.
 

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I think you could do it after a half day with a captain. Basic ASA plus 30 hours of real sailing time is more than many down there will have had. Plus your powerboat time, and your aircraft piloting, which means you will understand airfoils and angle of attack when sailing upwind, plus weather and navigation knowledge. A big sloop has the same sailing principles as a small sloop, just greater forces and greater inertia, you will adapt. Really use that captain, ask lots of questions, maybe give an extra tip for his/her cell number that you could call like AAA when/if you have a question or a problem.

Is it crowded nowadays and full of yahoos? I dunno, I did it like 35 years ago with a bunch of prep school students on spring break, my wife and I (mid-20s then) were the sailing/chaperone "adults" on a 42' sloop out of Charlotte Amalie. Recipe for disaster, right? Actually it was fun, the kids learned a lot, and we enjoyed the sailing, the venue, and even the kids too. I think you'll do okay and have a wonderful time. And if you beat east (monohull preferred, at least for me) instead of motoring directly into it with luffing main only, or no sail up at all, then you're officially not a yahoo. ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Gents,
Thanks for the replies. Especially, "Outbound" - I think he's trying to keep the place a secret...Too late! I feel the same about Florida "Snowbirds"! But living in FL does have it's advantages in winter, so still a lot of time (to sail more) between now and next summer. Perhaps I'll also work on furthering my ASA creds, there's a great school nearby for that.

Re: the Yahoos...Last week, sailing 2.5 miles back to the dock with a steady 15 kts coming right at us and we had to be back by 4:30 to make it to a social gathering, my wife suggested we start the outboard and just motor the rest of the way in. I said not before we get close to the docks, otherwise that's not sailing. So we beat to and although I was checking my watch constantly, we made it to the dock at 4:25! No yahoo here (at least as far as that goes!).

Thanks!
Chris
 

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You should have little or no problems as long as you are conservative and plan your activities like mooring, anchoring or docking carefully. When we made our first bareboat trip to BVI in 1999, I had only sailed my Catalina 25 extensively in Lake Michigan.

Handling a larger boat is mostly different due to the intertia present when you are approaching a mooring or dock. Make sure you know how to reef the main and headsail before you leave the dock. Most who are new to sailing in that area don't understand that squalls can come through that can cause real problems if you have too much sail up.

Make sure you become a regular at TravelTalkOnline and don't hesitate to ask questions there. You will find a wealth of information.

I've used Sunsail six times and ProValor twice. While the ability to use the pool at Sunsail's base is very nice for your first night, you'll find the overall value is higher and cost is lower with ProValor.

Murph

S/V Amalia
1965 Cal 30
Muskegon, MI
 

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Chris,

IMHO compared to what I've seen in the BVI's you are way over qualified. If you can navigate, grab a mooring, and anchor a boat you are an expert by BVI standards. Take a captain for half a day and go, they definitely will be done with you. Much easier than flying planes, only 2 dimensions, no ATC chatter, and always VFR down there.

One other thing, you usually get what you pay for. The lower cost charter companies tend to have boats with more mechanical problems and less support, YMMV. No FAA annuals required, like renting a plane from a bad FBO.

Have fun!
 

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Freedom 39
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Rather than ask on this forum whether you have the credentials to charter a boat, why not ask the charter company you would like to use? Most companies will have you fill out a simple resume and respond to you based upon that information. There are some companies that are apparently willing to hand the keys over to nearly anyone. There are other charter companies that take every single customer out and have them raise the sails and tack at least twice to confirm they actual know something about sailing. I've had great success with pilots when I've been doing instructional work. They learn quickly and already have an excellent understanding of lift from an airfoil. They also appreciate the "check list" concept which seems to eliminate many of the problems some less experienced sailors encounter.

Some on the forums like to say how easy the local waters are and that can be true. Every year there are some major accidents. You don't want to be this guy! https://www.facebook.com/SeaTowVirginIslands
 

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BJV
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BVIs have lots of companies, sunsail, moorings are two big ones.
my suggestion, talk with Ed Hamilton, he is an experianced charter broker who deals with many companies in many locatios around the world. Their team can take you skills, desires and budget and find a great biat for you. Excellent option for neophytes to bareboat chartering.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Some on the forums like to say how easy the local waters are and that can be true. Every year there are some major accidents. You don't want to be this guy! https://www.facebook.com/SeaTowVirginIslands
No, you're right, I don't. And your advice is sound.

Thanks for all the help gents. I've emailed a few of the companies to find out more, but I like the idea of at least having a captain check us out for a day or so before turning us loose. Maybe it is easy down there....until it's not! I feel quite capable, so does my wife, but this is about the safety of our family, so of course we'll try to do it right.

Thx!
Chris
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Chris,

IMHO compared to what I've seen in the BVI's you are way over qualified. If you can navigate, grab a mooring, and anchor a boat you are an expert by BVI standards. Take a captain for half a day and go, they definitely will be done with you. Much easier than flying planes, only 2 dimensions, no ATC chatter, and always VFR down there.

One other thing, you usually get what you pay for. The lower cost charter companies tend to have boats with more mechanical problems and less support, YMMV. No FAA annuals required, like renting a plane from a bad FBO.

Have fun!
And no FAA ramp checks either! Lol. Thanks...
 

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Ed Hamilton is a great suggestion. They will know which companies are most likely to accept your experience and/or require the least dual.
 

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I've never chartered but have had many opportunities to watch the charter boats. From what I can abstract.
During busy periods ( school vacations) charter boats seem stricter in whom they will release a boat too as they are fairly certain they will have all their boats out making money. The whole area is much more crowded and less fun with more difficulty finding room for the night.
The motorboat catamarans seem the most inconsiderate of others. Playing loud music at night or running generators all night to feed their air conditioners. If you hear halyards slapping its fair to assume its a charter. But the catamaran sailboats are a close second. Best is if you can anchor (not moor) near other private boats
Some charter folks are a delight. They tend to own their own boats at home and use their own boats for cruising extensively. Having been on the other end they are polite in a mooring field and kno0wledgeable when sailing.
If you don't have experience with sailing in a strong breeze don't come here while the Christmas winds are blowing. You may get overwhelmed dealing with the complexities of a larger boat and the judgment required in stronger winds. If schedule only allows charter during the Christmas winds remember:
Don't pull up sail while you are at anchor or on a ball. Wait until you leave and have sea room. Both to be less hard on your sails and to be better able to judge what's needed.
It's easier to shake out a reef then put one in.
Its easier to helm if your boat is balanced.
You are cruising not racing.
Aim for the stern of a crossing boat until you are certain you will not interfere with each other.
Be anchored or moored by 3p.
 

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...Best is if you can anchor (not moor) near other private boats...
While I think OP has enough experience to successfully charter, I'm not so sure his level of cruising experience is at a point where I would recommend overnight anchoring in environmentally sensitive areas with coral reefs. Rather than worrying about selecting appropriate bottom conditions and dealing with swell and fetch, I'd suggest he just pay for a mooring ball each night. It takes a lot of headaches and risk factors out of the equation.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
I've never chartered but have had many opportunities to watch the charter boats. From what I can abstract.
During busy periods ( school vacations) charter boats seem stricter in whom they will release a boat too as they are fairly certain they will have all their boats out making money. The whole area is much more crowded and less fun with more difficulty finding room for the night.
The motorboat catamarans seem the most inconsiderate of others. Playing loud music at night or running generators all night to feed their air conditioners. If you hear halyards slapping its fair to assume its a charter. But the catamaran sailboats are a close second. Best is if you can anchor (not moor) near other private boats
Some charter folks are a delight. They tend to own their own boats at home and use their own boats for cruising extensively. Having been on the other end they are polite in a mooring field and kno0wledgeable when sailing.
If you don't have experience with sailing in a strong breeze don't come here while the Christmas winds are blowing. You may get overwhelmed dealing with the complexities of a larger boat and the judgment required in stronger winds. If schedule only allows charter during the Christmas winds remember:
Don't pull up sail while you are at anchor or on a ball. Wait until you leave and have sea room. Both to be less hard on your sails and to be better able to judge what's needed.
It's easier to shake out a reef then put one in.
Its easier to helm if your boat is balanced.
You are cruising not racing.
Aim for the stern of a crossing boat until you are certain you will not interfere with each other.
Be anchored or moored by 3p.
Agreed. We used to cruise down in the FL Keys on our old 34 motor yacht (yes, I WAS once a motor guy, but now I've felt the breeze and I'm not going back!). We experienced all those issues from other boaters that you mentioned, but we always tried (I think successfully), to be considerate of other boats out in the field.

I would definitely not raise sail in a mooring or anchorage area - I've seen it done though...quite comical, except for the boats they bang into. That will not be us! We're not loud music people, and keep mostly to ourselves except when more social occasions arise. We are more the type to try and lend a hand, rather than get in people's way. Also, have no fear, we're not coming for Christmas or any other major holiday. For us it will be early in June, if at all.

If we were to ever be a nuisance to other boaters, private or otherwise, it would be a first! We have a very healthy respect for the marine environment, safety, security and are considerate by nature. We're doing our best to obtain as much experience as we can with our schedule and what's available to us here. Hopefully, I'll be able to get ASA 103 & 104 done over the winter, but time on the water is more important I think (even it's just on the C-22).

In my emails with Conch, Sunsail, Ed Hamilton, I mentioned my willingness to hire a captain for the first day and/or go with a flotilla option. So far, I've only heard back from Conch. I don't know the pros and cons of each of these outfits (or others), and would appreciate any guidance there as well. Are they rated anywhere?

Thanks again!
Chris
 

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Chris,
My only charter was with Conch last May and found them to be a pleasant and efficient operation. Their boats are a little older but the systems work and they are clean.
I think in June your most daunting issues will be anchoring, but then considering the damage so many anchors can do to the seabed, we just planned on the cost of a mooring ball every night save one when we used a marina. If you are not ashore for the party in the evening, then you can find a mooring ball away from the noisers and enjoy your evening. We even had one bay to ourselves and enjoyed the wildlife, swimming, sunset...
Also, I planned our trip so that I could sail the entire Drake's Channel southwest to northeast just for the fun of a long romp windward. I discovered sailing in deep water is much more enjoyable than in shallow bay water where short steep chop can get annoying.
All the above advice is good, save the "don't go", which was probably meant for the winter crush.
Oh, and one of the best parts of the trip was the flight on a Cape Air Cessna 440 from Puerto Rico to Tortola. Just awesome - a couple of greenies in the back - but it really prepped us for sailing. Just the boarding process changed the mood from big business to island time - liming as they say.
Enjoy your trip and do whatever it takes to make it happen.
John
 

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Hi Chris,

Before our first charter in the BVI, I had similar experience as you but had also completed the ASA103 Basic Coastal Cruising course. I also had crewed with a delivery skipper a couple of times and that gave me the feel of larger boats than what I had been sailing.

As others have said, some charter companies only require a credit card as sailing certification and it will be evident when you're down there who is who. For the 3 of you, I would recommend nothing smaller than a 36 for accommodations and tankage considerations for a 1 week charter.

If you can complete the AS103 before your charter, you should have no problem and if having a captain on board gives you piece of mind then go for it. We had joined a flotilla for our 1st charter and found that to be a great experience and had a great time.

Good luck and enjoy!
 

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Captain Obvious
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Chris -

Keep us posted on what you find out and who you deal with.

BTW, I have a son who is a commercial pilot working towards ATP -he has no formal training in sailing but I'd rather sail with that kid than just about anyone. He's a stone cold natural at both.
 
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