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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We are interested in chartering for the first time in the BVI. Conch Charters seems interesting. Has anyone dealt with them, heard any reviews on equipment & services? Does anyone have any other suggestions? What about provisioning? Is it best to let the charter company handle it or fend for yourself if you know where to go? Any info is appreciated. Thanks.
 

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Barbara, I chartered with Tortola Marine Management (TMM) last summer and had a great time. They are very curteious and helpful. I don''t know how many people you have going, but if its more than 6 take a look at the Lagoon 41, great boat. We had eight people and had plenty of room. TMM offers provisioning, but we opted to fend for ourselves. There is a market within walking distance of the marinia. While acouple of us went over the boat and the chart briefing the others went shopping. We also bought some as we went to different places. I would be happy to give you anymore info if you need it. Just e-mail me. Good luck, Scott.
 

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Just came back from Tortola BVI, on a 8 day
TMM charter. The 38'' Lagoon catamaran was a sailing/cruising delight. We had 4 on board
and all had plenty of room.
I would recomend TMM for the quality of service & condition of boats.
NOTE TO SELF FOR NEXT CHARTER: Bring much fewer clothes, bring all non-perishable foods from states and provision perishables from store 150 yards away from TMM.
 

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Conch Charters - Heard through the grapevine

I just returned from a charter in the British Virgin's. We used another company but I heard that Conch Charters used to be the "Little Engine That Could" of the BVI Charterer's. Now, apparently they've grown into quite a nice little operation with newer boats and good service.

I'm planning a return trip right now and will be looking at Conch and TMM. The last trip I chartered with Horizon and did not have a good experience at all but from what I read Horizon generally does a good job.

Sunsail and Moorings are clearly the company's to use of you really want all the pampering and fluff but to me it's not worth the extra dough. Horizon goes out of Nanny Cay which is really convenient to Sopers if you come in from ST Thomas, and if you're heading North your first day, it's very convenient.
 

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conch charters bvi

I have chartered with them several times over the last dozen years. they are a great group, and their boats are in fine shape.
their little talk at the beginning of the charter is worth every minute, listen carefully. If you have never been in the BVI before, their knowledge will be most valuable.
stick with the mooring balls, its easy , worth the peace of mind and saves the bottom of the ocean. If you are on a budget, buy as much food as you can manage before you are set out on the boat. the taxi will let you off and you can get another from the store. walking is doable but not pleasant on the road to Burt Marina. bring some staples from home, because all you need is a bathing suit, and a maybe an other bathing suit, well, maybe a a shirt and pants for town- be respectful. Point is there is room in the suitcase the stores in tortola are fun, and you will enjoy the island style variety. its expensive, but cheaper then the restaurants on the islands you will visit. there are a couple of stores, and you really will have more fun then having someone else do your shopping.
Conch chaters is great, but the islands are unbelievable for the novice sailor. the water is deep(safe) and navigation is easy. be sure to visit the Baths, avoid the hot party spots, and at least once, swim at night, under the stars!
ps we will be at conch charters mid January 2010.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I skippered a boat for this outift some years back. The company is a no-nonsense operation, the boats are solid; no bells and whistles, and the price reflects this. If you charter with them, Andrew Waters is the fleet manager and he is a good guy to know and ask about the BVIs. Good luck and keep it off the rocks!
 

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bbennett
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Conch Charters

We have chartered with Conch and found them to be great to deal with. While they have older boast, they are well maintained and we didn't have any problems at all.
 

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Do not recommend Conch

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. 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 tissue paper sheets that also stunk. Housekeeping was generally very poor-dirty cutlery and utensils, etc. Had to give the place a scrub down, but unfortunately had to live with the bedding the whole trip. Two heads would not stop stinking. We could overlook all of this with the right concern from the operators however Customer service was dismal. Phone calls not returned in general. 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. Line was cleanly severed however they called it prop wrap and quickly put through our $1500 Damage deposit . Just a tad slimy. 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 the first thing we saw upon arriving home was an email complaining that we didn't do the dishes (with no water?).

Anyway, there are lots and lots of options out there (my husband has had plenty of previous good experience 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. I could add a lot to this review, but I think I've said enough.

Have a great trip!! ;)
 

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Chartering wows

Wow...sounds horrible. That's the one thing that bugs me about chartering. It's not an inexpensive vacation but yet the service is the hotel equivelant of a Red Roof Inn versus the Westin. And one more thing before I get into this,,,,,it's about time the BVI's invested in some damn pumping stations!! I'm tired of the "harbour pumpers" dumping in my swimming pool and having to dinghy my kids ashore at 6 am for their morning potty break !

That said, I think the problem is the business model. On the surface it looks to me like charter companies are begging for owners and promise them the world (including maintenance, dock fee's, positive revenue stream and more) to get the business. I think they work off a 20% commission so if you look at the supply chain and all the services they have to provide for an average gross commission of roughly $35K annually (12 weeks a year are allocated to the owners which means no revenue ), after franchise fee's (?), salaries, dock fee's, maintenance to a charter boat (yikes) and G&A you can easily see how this business is tight and why you're better off going with a larger company who can extract economies of scale and spread the costs over a larger fleet. We rent houses every summer in the Outer Banks and I've been under contract on a couple of homes and talked to various rental companies. Bottom line, if you have a nice house that's well maintained you can do well with Twiddy (Moorings of the Outer Banks). If you don't mind a run down house with old carpet and mattresses full of stains, then you know which companies to go to to rent them. In most cases, you do get what you pay for .
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Family O Fun - We had similar bad experience with Conch.

The boat instrumentation not working.
The boat was poorly maintained and smelling and there were possibly bugs on board.
Fridge/Freezer not working.
Poor/no Communication from company during and after trip.
Dinged for our damage deposit for questionable reasons with very poor handling/communication from management.
Do Not Recommend taking a chance with this outfit.
J&J
 

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I'm Jon, I'm a sailaholic
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Hmm, what boat?

Could you guys be specific as to what boat you chartered? Was it the old Bene's or the 2002 Bavaria? They do have a bunch of older boats.

Sorry you had such a bad experience...
 

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Chesapeake Sailor
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We used Conch in 1997, 2002, and 2005. We'd use them again. Experience did teach me to carefully check out the boat systems upon arrival so the mechanics can fix things before you start.

Provisioning: We had the boat thoroughly provisioned for the 2005 trip. This worked out great as every minute spent planning saved several during the trip. I think we used Bobby's Market for food and alcohol. There was a seafood operation that we ordered frozen tuna steaks, seafood salads, and such from. Fabulous quality stuff. I don't recall the name but it was on the main road not far from the airport. Send me a PM if you'd like any more details.

BTW: don't miss Anegada.
 

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Chesapeake Sailor
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I should have Googled the seafood place before posting the previous message. They're name is Sailor's Ketch. Awesome seafood.

-Chris
 

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GeorgeDog you're a better man than I. When I go on vacation, I leave my "greasemonkey" suit at home! I expect the boat to well-maintained, lubricated, clean and seaworthy. It's not that difficult...it's called routine maintenance and any charter company that doesn't subscribe to that philosophy won't be around long. There's a finite number of sailors out there and all charter companies are in the same boat (no pun intended). The only way to differentiate yourself is throught service or price and I'd hate to be chartering a boat from the lost cost supplier in the market. It's simply not worth the hassle.
 

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FWIW I just returned from a charter with Footloose and I really miss the Conch now :) Compared to my boat from Footloose, the Conch was a fine vessel in a top shape. Of the 6 days of charter we had their techs come out on 5 (and had to stay in place for a lot longer than I cared for). I suppose it is a bit of consolation that Footloose gave us 1.5 days worth of charter cost back but only in a form of their own sailing certificate which is fairly useless since I am definitely not coming back to sail with those guys.

To me the moral of this is that you may get what you pay for or a lot less than you paid for (and that $4K really don't buy much nowadays)
 

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Just came back from a charter with Conch on a Bavaria 32. To sum it up, older boats, not all that clean, everything is functional but the beds and linens were horrible. No tools to change the propane tank. If you are okay with the idea of camping than okay. Not charged extra but had to constantly chase ice down to keep any kind of coldness in fridge. Probably not do it again, but we had a good time despite the boat and nothing broke. PM if you want. Shay
 

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I chartered the Jenneau 45 (Jeanneau 45 ~ 1999) over new years this year.

Overall a very pleasant experience, would go back again and charter with them.

The intruments at the port side helm station were not working, the main sail was difficult to raise (had to winch it the entire way), and the heads all back filled a little, so you had to be sure to pump lots of raw water through them so when they did back fill, it didn't stink. the GPS was an antique, and I don't think it worked either (not that we needed it, plus we brought a handheld)

As for the interior, the cushions did show their age, and there were a few small tears in the covers, but the sheets were clean and pillows comfortable.

The only mechanical issue we had was the engine raw water pump failed about 4 days into the 10 day trip, while going through the narrow between Beef Island and Little Camanoe island the engine temp alarm went off, we quickly raised the sails and killed the engine and with a few quick tacks, made it through the channel fine, and sent the dinghy ahead to locate a morring ball in trellis bay so we wouldn't have to run the engine for long.

The next morning they sent someone out to replace the water pump, and we were under way by the time we finished breakfast.

Unfortunantly, they guy that came out wasn't a conch employee, he was a local mechanic they hired, and he put in the wrong impeller. We got another over temp alarm on us again the following day, this time as we were coming across virgin gorda sound. We were sailed it almost to the ball, and only ran the engine for a minute or two while picking it up (probably could have done it entirly on sail if we had tried). This time they sent someone from their staff out and he put the right impeller in, and cleaned out the chunks of the old impeller that were clogging the water pump. In all both water pump changes combined cost us about 1 hour of time out of our trip, and added some excitment along the way.

so in summary, Is Conch the best company out there? No, but they try hard to make sure you have a good trip, and yes the boats are not as new or clean as the moorings, but you also don't pay the same rates. Going out on a conch boat is kinda like going out on a friends boat, it's never quite perfect, but it gets you where you need to go, and you're comfortable while getting there. So stop picking apart everything that isn't perfect on the boat, and just enjoy the islands, and all the good food and drinks they have to offer.
 

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Warm Weather Sailor
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I've chartered with Conch about eight time beginning the second year they were in business. They always tried hard in the service department and I was satisfied enough to give them a lot of repeat business. Having said that it doesn't surprise me to see the complaints surfacing here. I have not chartered with them since about 2003 or so and at that time their service was slipping. I think they were getting too big and Brian and Cindy (the original owners) were taking a more hands-off approach. Too bad to see them go this way.
 

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I think they were getting too big and Brian and Cindy (the original owners) were taking a more hands-off approach. Too bad to see them go this way.
Over the course of our charter I dealt with both Brian and Cindy. Most of the communications I had pre-chartering was with Cindy, so I suspect they have changed things around a bit and are going back to the original hands on approach.

Overall, I felt it was a good value for what we paid. If we go back to the BVI this year, definitly going to call them again.
 
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