Charter Review: VOYAGE Charters, VOYAGE 580 - Moon Shadow
Dates Reviewed: July 20 - 25 2011
Charter Location: Sopers Hole, West End Tortola British Virgin Islands
Yacht Chartered: Moon Shadow
Locations: Sopers Hole, West End Tortola, BVI
Charter Advisors Recommendation
VOYAGE 580 - The Biggest Charter Sailing Bareboat In the BVIs Like Renting A Villa And Taking It Sailing
We're not kidding here. In previous reviews we've noted how spacious the VOYAGE line of yachts are, but the 58-foot VOYAGE 580 takes the cake. Currently, she's the largest sailing bareboat available for charter in the British Virgin Islands. Though she's sizeable, once out on charter she "shrinks" well to fit her crew. At anchor her interior space expands beyond anything we've reviewed to date. We were seriously spoiled. Put it this way, our review VOYAGE 580 Moon Shadow had a laundry / linen room!
She's set up well for groups of up to twelve people, including sailors looking for a turn of speed and more "comfort minded" folks. If you have a non-sailor you've always wanted to get on the water, the VOYAGE 580 is an ideal choice, both in comfort underway and her onboard amenities. The Moon Shadow is a true Charter Advisors award winner.
Charter Company Overview
Following up on our previous review of VOYAGE Charter's 50-footer, the VOYAGE 500, we we're looking forward to checking out how things scale up on their flagship VOYAGE 580. VOYAGE Charters currently offers the biggest sailing bareboat for charter in the British Virgin Islands (heck, all the Virgin Islands).
The VOYAGE Charters base is in one of the most idyllic locations, Sopers Hole in the West End of Tortola. It's situated in a deep bay, sheltered by the high mountainous hills of Tortola, Frenchmans Cay, and Thatch Island. Though it's well sheltered, there is always a nice breeze and a steady current keeping the air and water fresh (and pretty darn near bug free).
We were greeted the moment we stepped off the taxi and ushered right to Moon Shadow, our 580 for the week. She was prepped and ready to go for our sleep aboard night, complete with a bottle of wine on the coffee table. The A/C was blowing cold and all the shops of Sopers Hole were a short step off the dock away. We were well set up for the evening even with no provisions pre-ordered. Joining us for this review was The Professor himself. With over twenty years of technical yacht experience, his voice is a big one when it comes to technical systems and how a yacht has been cared for. It was clear to him, the VOYAGE crew had done a good job maintaining Moon Shadow and her long list of technical systems. After we completed our initial inspection, our first sailing day could not come soon enough.
What They Say About Themselves
Discover performance sailing in the British Virgin Islands on our exclusive fleet of premier, award winning catamarans.
VOYAGE charters luxury catamarans have a very high standard of amenities onboard each of our yachts. Designed by sailors, from bow to stern these yachts are built to ensure high performance under sail as well as style and comfort at anchor.
If you are looking for a bareboat charter, a bareboat with a Skipper only, an all-inclusive crewed charter or spectacular day trip while you are in the British Virgin Islands, or planning a large multi-boat group charter, look no further. VOYAGE Charters offer outstanding service from the beginning of your charter planning until you step off the yacht. Our friendly and professional sales and base staff go the extra mile to ensure you have a wonderful experience on your charter vacation.
Let's face it, a 58-foot sailing bareboat is going to cost more per week than a 50-footer. But in the case of the VOYAGE 580, there's quite a bit more for the money. Namely, amenities that are rarely found on other charter bareboat. Try flat screen TVs in every cabin (and saloon), an ice maker, three fridges, a dedicated bar, water-maker, zoned A/C, the list goes on. It's not just about a bigger boat. Then there's the fact that she can sleep five couples in their own cabins without touching the crew quarters. That's a lot of ways to divide up the cost.
Like we've said before, "value" to us is not having any buyers remorse. We'd be hard pressed to be remorseful after experiencing Moon Shadow. Especially considering her extra cabin capacity. Do you get what you pay for aboard a VOYAGE 580? No. You get so much more that a case of the giggles just might set in. If the plan is to split the cost between couples, the VOYAGE 580 becomes quite affordable for all involved. Good values come in all shapes and sizes. We were very happy to see that it can come in the shape of a 58-foot catamaran.
Recommended or Chosen Charter Yacht
Susan Lepthien of VOYAGE Charters recommend we review their VOYAGE 580, Moon Shadow, even though she was not the newest in the fleet. We thought this to be a very bold move. Why have yacht a few years old reviewed? Why not a brand-spanking-new one? We learned why the moment we laid eyes on her. She's a beauty. Clean, well maintained, with modern sleek lines. Age seems to have little bearing on VOYAGE yachts. The design is consistent, the amenities modern, and the systems up-to-date. Susan's recommendation was well appreciated!
The VOYAGE style is carried though their entire line, from 44 feet though their flagship 58-footers. The family resemblance is not only in her styling, but also in her systems and sail plan. If you've sailed any VOYAGE yacht, the 580 will fall into hand like an old friend, albeit it a slightly larger one. Her long waterline, fine bows, low-slung wide stance, and low windage design make her stand apart from all others under sail and at the mooring field. She is ultra-stable, smooth riding, and confidence inspiring all around.
The space afforded though the VOYAGE 580 design creates soo much living space (indoors and out), that it almost feels weird not bumping into one of your crewmates when getting around the yacht, even when several are gathered in the galley or around the table for dinner.
Once on the water any wandering thought about size complications went right out the window. Moon Shadow may be the biggest yacht in the VOYAGE Charters fleet, but with this design, they can afford to go up another few feet and still have a very manageable bareboat. The VOYAGE design and layout is just that user friendly.
In our ongoing provisioning experimentation, we opted for a zero provision plan. Yep, zero. Instead we decided to do things the "island way." No worries, no problem mon. The evening we arrived we took advantage of what was available in Sopers Hole. Namely Pussers and the Harbor Market. Ordering to-go from Pussers, we dined aboard the first night in the cockpit tied to the VOYAGE docks. Feasting on Caribbean ribs, spiced pumpkin soup, and a signature cheese-thick Pussers pizza. Not provisioning never tasted so good!
The next morning the crew made way to the Harbor Market for just enough provisions for a few days. Re-provisioning while underway is no big deal in the BVIs. Besides, we always buy too much. Thankfully we had The Professor in tow. His guidance and wisdom kept our over buying habits in check. Usually by saying things like, "Com now, you don need dat... or dat either" in his deep-voiced Caribbean accent. He saved us countless dollars. We don't have that oversized "Rasta-Fish" magnet for the office fridge though. Still debating how we feel about leaving that one behind. You just don't second guess The Professor
There are a couple of ways to get to the British Virgin Islands from the U.S. One involves flying though San Juan. The other takes you to St Thomas. We opted for the latter this time. True, St. Thomas is not in the BVIs, but it's close enough, and it's a rather short flight schedule. After arrival in Charlotte Amalie the journey continues with a five minute taxi ride to the ferry terminal. Thirty bucks per person (one way) gave us the option to take a high-speed ferry to either Road Town or the West End of Tortola (Sopers Hole) via Island Son or Speedy's ferry services. Either works. It all depends on the ferry schedules for that day (Note: times listed on ferry websites and printed material may change without notice). In true Caribbean fashion, when we called ahead to one ferry company, we were told there was no ferry when one was listed. But when we got to the terminal we found another ferry service going our way, departing in thirty minutes. As they say in the islands, "no problem." This happened on the way in and on the way out. We learned not to stress on the ferries. We showed up at the terminal when the schedule said one was going out, and we always got where we need to go, with one ferry company or another!
We boarded Speedy's Fast Ferry out of Charlotte Amalie, and headed to Road Town a mere forty-five minutes away. True, the ferry going to the West End, Sopers Hole would have taken us directly to the VOYAGE base. But then again, that would mean the ferry scheduled to go that way was actually running at that time. Which it wasn't, so Road Town it was.
Customs was pain free at the Road Town ferry dock. We were in and out in about fifteen minuets. With taxis waiting, we were in the West End twenty-five minutes later boarding Moon Shadow
Going the St. Thomas route to the BVIs adds a ferry and a couple of unarranged taxi rides. But you can skip over San Juan and a ride on the "island hopper." It also opens up another air route to the Virgin Islands (and other airfare options). Options are always a good thing!
Arrival at Base
Our crew arrived at the VOYAGE Charters base just before our 4 p.m. boarding time. There is something to be said for a "well put together" charter base office. The VOYAGE base is just the right size. We always felt welcome coming though the doors. The dark wood and the cold AC has a weird effect after sweating it out on a ferry and two taxi rides. It's soothing almost. Like ice cream on a hot day. Ok, maybe that's one step too far. Probably just us.
After checking in with the charter desk, we dropped off our bags and grabbed a bite to eat at D-Best Cup (awesome breakfast and coffee served past lunchtime) while the VOYAGE crew completed their final inspection of Moon Shadow.
Inspections complete, we boarded our review VOYAGE 580 Moon Shadow and loaded in our gear. Kimo, VOYAGE's long time charter briefing expert, went though the basics needed for our sleep aboard night, then bid us a good evening. The in-depth briefings were on the agenda for the next morning, which works well for a travel-tired crew.
Sleep Aboard Night
Sleeping aboard at the docks in Sopers Hole is different than many other charter base locations. With a nice current flowing though from Frenchman's Cay, the water here is about as clean as it gets for a marina. There's also a nice breeze, keeping the no-see-um's at bay (A.K.A little biters), giving options for nighttime cooling. A/C or C/A (Caribbean Air).
Motion At The Dock
The overnight stay at the VOYAGE Charters base was calm and restful. This is not always the case in other locations. Docks with any wave action or swell can create a motion that's a little, how shall we say, little less than comfy. As the dock lines go tight, the fenders stop the motion as they press into the dock. Not exactly still or fluid. The VOYAGE base benefits from the calm waters of Sopers Hole and the steady breeze funneled though the surrounding hills. No unnatural motion, no biting bugs, no stagnant air, and no swell. It all adds up to a restful night at the docks.
With the shore power cords (both of them), plugged in and all four zones of A/C blowing in the mid-seventies, we were so spoiled we woke up nearly frozen in the morning. And that was fine by our crew. A/C aside, Sopers Hole is an ideal place to spend the night with nothing more than the sea-breeze and a few open hatches. But we had A/C and a free source of power. So A/C it was!
Our provisions arrived via shopping cart. The Harbor Market was so close to our slip we literally pushed the shopping cart to the yacht to unload. Pre-provisioning is not exactly necessary when chartering out of the West End.
Morning Of the Charter
Chart Briefing and Check In
The morning of our departure day brought two briefings. Our check in chart briefing / boat gear pick-up and our onboard mechanical briefing. The folks at the VOYAGE Charters base kept the chart briefing to the point. Knowing we had chartered with them previously they tailored this portion to our experience in the BVIs. All no go zones were reviewed along with any plans for visiting Anegada or another country (USVI). When we wrapped up, we received Moon Shadows boat bag, charts, and tool kit. All in all, we spent approximately twenty minutes in the Voyage office completing the initial check-in and briefing.
Yacht Check-out Checklist
Over the years we've noticed how the onboard briefing and check-out checklist process varies from charter company to charter company (even briefer to briefer). Each has their own way of going about them. Some turn you loose to hunt down a long list of yacht checklist items on your own. Others a more boiled down yacht inventory search. And yet others do the checklist for you with you verifying the items along the way. They all achieve the same end goal: ensuring you have all the necessary onboard equipment and to notate any marks or preexisting damage (like a car rental "walk around," just more in-depth).
Shawn, one of VOYAGE's briefers went though our checklist with us, notating everything was in its place and showing us the location of all necessary items on the list. Shawn did an excellent and thorough walk-though of all onboard items without dragging out the process. With all of Moon Shadows checklist items verified, we moved to the visual inspection. Together we walked the decks from bow to stern, inspecting from onboard and dockside. We noted any marks on the hull and deck scuffs, wrapping up our checklist work.
The inventory aboard Moon Shadow was complete down to the last item. Scuffs and scratches were minimal at best. The CA crew all agreed, Moon Shadow was in great shape.
Click to see Moon Shadow - Voyage 580's yacht review.
Yacht, Mechanical, and Safety Briefings
With the "check-out" checklist complete, we were joined by Kimo. VOYAGE charters most senior charter yacht briefer. He took us through technical details of our particular VOYAGE 580 above and below decks.
Being an accomplished world sailor, Kimo began the technical briefing where a true sailor would, with the sailing systems. All running lines we're identified along with tips for using each of them. With personal experience aboard the VOYAGE 580, Kimo also shared his advice and personal perspective on sailing her. From how to brace the main, the initial hoist, to how she likes to be sailed various wind conditions.
After we completed the above deck work, we moved on to Moon Shadows technical and mechanical systems. How to run the water maker, what generator to use and when (she has two), the location of all breakers, water change-overs, fresh water flushing heads, onboard safety systems, etc. Kimo's technical briefing was very complete without being confusing.
Our onboard briefings lasted about an hour. Not to bad given all the advice and systems we covered. When we wrapped up, we had a working knowledge of Moon Shadows sailing, technical, and mechanical systems. In short, we were ready to go!
Leaving the Docks
The day's of charter customers playing bumper boats departing the slip are long gone. Pulling a nearly 60-foot yacht out of a slip is no small feat. Kimo hopped back aboard when we were ready to shove off and expertly guided her out of her tight quarters and around the end of the T-dock. Once in the clear water of the mooring field, he jumped ship into a waiting dinghy and we were off.
Noteworthy While Underway
Falling Into Hand
We've pretty well established that the VOYAGE 580 is not a small bareboat. And to be fair, bareboat is hardly an accurate description. Moon Shadow is anything by "bare". There's a lot of yacht here, beyond her physical presence. Oddly enough, first thing the CA crew noted was how easy she was to motor and sail. It didn't feel like we we're managing 58-feet of boat . We we're instantly reminded of the ease of handling we experienced aboard the VOYAGE 500 (See review - "Knot Bad"). Part of this was because of the consistent VOYAGE layout. Having sailed a VOYAGE yacht previously, her sailing systems and helm made instant sense. The portion of our crew that was totally new to the VOYAGE experience quickly realized that everything was where they would expect it to be. From powered winch buttons to where to find the cups and dishes. It's all rather intuitive. If you've spent any time aboard any charter yacht, the VOYAGE 580 falls into hand rather easily. In the case of Moon Shadow, bigger did not mean more difficult or cumbersome.
Living The Good Life Aboard
Aboard a yacht of this size we expected space. But that's not all that got ratcheted up on Moon Shadow. Onboard amenities reflect the luxury her size affords. A large flat screen TV in the saloon with Bose DVD and Surround sound (subwoofer included), flat screens with DVD player in every cabin, zoned A/C that can be run at anytime (sailing, motoring, and at mooring), a full bar area, blender, microwave, heck, even a dishwasher! A nice trick built into the A/C system (besides being able to run it underway) is that we didn't need to shut every hatch to use it. When the crew in the starboard cabins didn't want A/C, they could open their hatches while the port cabins stayed well chilled. Now that's real zoned A/C! A yachts onboard amenities really shine though when they actually serve her crew and individual preferences. Especially when you have this much room to play with.
Outdoors in the large aft cockpit Moon Shadow is equipped with a cockpit sink, fridge, propane grill, and two cockpit tables and seating areas. We felt spoiled aboard the 50-foot VOYAGE 500. Aboard the 58-footer we weren't just spoiled, we're living the good life. We had no worries about running out of water thanks to the water maker, lots of space to spread out, and every luxury of home (and then some). The VOYAGE 580 is a yacht that pampers her crew. There is more than a little chartering logic in all this luxury though. Namely when sailing or entertaining a larger group. The more people aboard, the more dishes to wash (thank you dishwasher), the more table space is needed. Moon Shadow is set up to accommodate every crewmember aboard no mater where you look. The systems and comforts appeal to the most experienced sailor and the seasoned landlubber alike. Either end of the spectrum would find it hard to complain living aboard this VOYAGE 580.
Gentleman, You May Now Sail To Windward
Being 58 feet long by 30 feet wide does a lot for stability. Her long legged sleek hulls are best described as "piercing." Combine those sharp hulls with her curb weight of 23 and a quarter tons, traveling to windward involves little bashing. The 580 hull design with her racy aft sloping sheer-line has a lot to do with it. Quick and comfy, in the VOYAGE dress, she gives the best of both worlds: a planted feel thanks to here tonnage, and a sporting turn of speed thanks to those lovely sleek hulls. Try an easy 8 knots to windward without getting the deck wet. As a testament to the smooth windward ride, our youngest crewmember, engrossed in the latest "Shrek Racing" iPad game didn't realize we had left the mooring ball (an hour previous!).
The VOYAGE design is based on a wide beam, low slung / low windage coach roof, and fine bows mated to long trim hulls. Scaling this design up to 58-feet works very well. Where others brands in this size range are for a "Captained Only" charter, the VOYAGE set-up lets the rest of us Captain our own ship. For more about how she sailed and where we sailed her, see the Under Sail section below.
No Dinghies Here - The Tender and Teak Back Deck
Like all VOYAGE Yachts, the 580 has the teak "back deck" treatment. Officially referred to as a dive platform, this extra deck space comes in real handy. It seems to go on forever, stretching the width between the hulls. The aft deck space is so expansive, there's plenty of room to hoist up the 16-foot center console tender. Yep, no Dinghys here.
With the tender in the water, the aft deck becomes a massive platform for everything from water-sports, lounging in the sun, and the all important BBQ. The divers in our group noted how that the aft deck really does makes for an ideal dive platform, even before they discovered the two dedicated tank lockers located in the floor of the aft deck. Each is capable of holding eight tanks apiece with no bottle clanking. We found cavernous storage for all manner of water-sports goodies along the aft deck, including the pre-packed snorkeling gear VOYAGE Charters provides on all their yachts. We came to the conclusion that the dive platform should really be called a "water-sports center."
We used the aft deck space daily, launching and stowing the tender, water-sports, viewing / lounging platform for those not romping in the water, and dinners on the BBQ. BBQing on the back deck at home is pretty much the norm, so it only makes sense to have the grill set up on the aft deck aboard, teak under foot of course.
Many catamaran designs take the cockpit all the way out to the edge of the stern bridge deck. Aboard the 580, there's the additional space of the back deck, and it sure does come in handy!
Grilling On The Back Deck
For those of you that are regular readers you know we have an obsession with onboard grills. As a matter of simple logic, the grill should be sized to fit the boat. As an example, it makes no sense to us to have a little round "4-burger" grill when you're aboard a boat that sleeps eight. We're glad VOYAGE Charters seems to understand this logic. When the grilling hour arrived, we pulled the most sizable grill to date out of its under cockpit storage locker along with its mounting pole and propane line.
Grilling is done on the "back deck" (as it should be). The grill pole slides into two holes providing a solid attachment point for the grill top. The grill slides into place on the pole and a set screw keeps things from wobbling. Snapping the gas line into the bottom of the grill and a gas port at the aft of the port hull completes the set up. And yes, the grill is actually large enough to cook for the whole crew all at the same time! No grilling and eating in shifts! But, if you ever do need to do the cooking in shifts thing, just remember the "Deck Crew Rule." The Deck Crew always eats first!
Note: Always move the dinghy (or tender) amidships opposite the anytime you're grilling.
Sailing By Your Senses
In CA terms, sailing is not necessarily a verb. Underway or not, we don't stop being sailors or sailing just because we've dropped the hook or moored up. Once we're aboard, the senses are just as alive as when the sails are up. The better we use our senses to "tune into" our chartered yachts, the more relaxing the overall experience. No gauges or fancy electronics required.
The VOYAGE 580 is a solid yacht. At her size she should be. But solid does not always translate into the interior build out quality or trickle down to a yachts complex systems. We're happy to report that "solid" does apply to every part of Moon Shadow. Thick, strong hulls, high quality interior craftsmanship, well organized electronics, and solid feel under sail and under foot. All this added up to a quiet, confidence inspiring bareboat. It also allowed us to "tune into" her. When there are no odd squeaks, vibrations, smells, etc. it makes it easy to identify anything out of the ordinary by ear or nose alone. It's not uncommon on charter to hear a crewmember say, "Do you hear that? What is that noise? Do you smell something?" We had the noise question asked once on this trip. Turned out someone left a fan on in one of the forward cabins. We heard the running cabin fan all the way back in the cockpit, outside. Moon Shadow was that quiet. She made it easy to "tune in." It's reassuring to know that any issues that could arise would be instantly noticed by the sense alone.
Too much mechanical or ambient noise aboard makes it harder to tune into a charter boat. The more there is to familiarize your senses with, the more difficult it is to hear, feel underfoot, or sniff out when something might need attention. Like the sound or vibration of a water pump when a tank has goes dry. The solid build of the VOYAGE 580 makes sailing by the senses easy. We were never left wondering, "Is that a new sound or was that there before?" Beyond all the technical and tuning in stuff, the sound of silence was wonderful all by itself.
Long Hot Showers
Nope, we're not talking about shore side facilities. Showers aboard Moon Shadow were neither brief nor cold. That's one of the great benefits to having an onboard water-maker. Use as much as you like, we'll make more.
Onboard, a 70-gallon per hour water maker can completely refill a water tank in just under three hours. In total, we had four tanks at our disposal: two static tanks in the bows, filled at the dock and two center tanks filled via the water-maker. We only tapped into one tank the entire trip, refilling it whenever we got about half-empty. The water maker never had to run more than an hour. More than a convenience, the water was pure and drinkable. It's kind of cool drinking water, fresh made from the Caribbean sea you're floating in. (Note: make water in a pretty place. The water just tastes better!) We never tapped into our traditional "charterers gallon water jugs" we bought at the market either. We usually tap into these for cooking. Had we thought about the water-maker we could have saved a few bucks on jugs of water!
Here's the only trick. The water-maker pulls a good bit of power, requiring the use of the port-side generator (the larger of the two) and shut down of the A/C. Minor inconveniences. Shutting the A/C down for couple of hours on a cool Caribbean evening after a few days for a full water tank is no hardship. We're about convinced that the best addition any charter boat owner can add is a water-maker. It's one of those items that you really "notice." Endless water on charter is hard not to.
The Boom Derrick
All VOYAGE yachts are outfitted with a boom derrick. This is a handy boom mounted "crane" for lifting the dinghy in and out of the water using the halyard. Unlike her 50-foot sistership, the VOYAGE 580 has a dedicated halyard for just this task. You don't have to remove the halyard from the mainsail each time you do a lift. Everything aboard this 58-footer has been refined and made just that much nicer. But, even with a dedicated halyard, robust electric winches, and a stout boom, the fact remained that we had a 16-foot, center console tender sitting on the aft deck complete with a 70-HP outboard. Not exactly a light little dinghy. This system obviously works for this configuration, but we took extra care with the first lift.
Or added attention was only because it was the first time we lifted this tender with this system. Call us overly cautious. We quickly learned that the winches, boom, and the rest, we're more than up to the task. With one crew on the winch and the other minding the swing and clearance, our little speedboat went up off the deck, over the water, and down in less than 30 seconds. Now that's slick!
Bringing the big tender back aboard turned out to be just as easy. One tip though, If you have a heavy rain, bail the tender before lifting. No sense weighing things down.
From the saloon, take a step down into the galley and you're in a space the size of a New York office suite. There's room for a prep-cook, a chef, and a dishwasher. Each has plenty of room to do what they need to do. A double sink with an extra drain / dry sink. A large four-burner cook-top and oven, a dishwasher, a microwave and two indoor fridges / freezers are center stage cooking amenities. There's tons of provisions stowage space and a wrap around "breakfast bar" counter top with tall bar stools. The galley works as good as it looks. Its layout creates additional cooking, serving, and eating space for larger groups or entertaining while being a highly functional space for cooking.
Big ticket amenities aside, there were other touches that we're well appreciated, but were more part of the design of the yacht than an off the shelf purchase. Things like where a galley hatch was placed for example. When the cooking got hot, we could pop open forward hatch in the galley and blow the hot stove air right out the window. Or how the galley was positioned and laid out. The cook was never isolated or stuck facing a corner to get the cooking done. It's much more fun to take your turn in the galley when you're still part of the action. Plus there's space for other crew to come help, hang out, or just get in the way.
She Has How Manny Cabins?
The unique hulls and layout of VOYAGE yachts create a unique cabin layout. In total Moon Shadow has five cabins in its two hulls. Add one more if you count the crew quarters accessed though the forward deck hatches for a total of six air conditioned sleeping quarters.
The starboard hull has a large cabin forward, one mid sized cabin center, and another full size cabin aft. The port is slightly different with a forward and aft cabin on starboard, but the aft cabin has its bed oriented across rather than along the hull line. Also, replacing the center cabin is a linen room. In owners dress, the linen room would be a washing room with a tall closet for a small stackable washer dryer. It was a perfect location for our gear and bags.
All cabins are outfitted very comfily with body forming queen size mattresses, overhead and reading lights (with dimmers), a flat screen with built in DVD player, and individual A/C controls. The forward and aft cabins also have their own in-suite heads and separated stand up showers. The center cabin has all the same amenities in a slightly smaller package. We dubbed it the "Captain's Quarters." Its head is located just outside the cabin door at the base of the companionway, also serving as a day head. There's no need to trample through the private cabins in wet swimsuits to get to where you need to go.
All cabins share space between the hull and bridge deck areas. This moves the beds (we dare not call these roomy spaces bunks) inboard closer to the center of the boat. The closer to the center you get, the more motion is lessened. The crew staying in the starboard center-line "captain's cabin" reported feeling little to no motion at night. Now that's not something we've ever reported, except maybe for those rare still nights when the water in a tucked away quiet mooring turns into a glassy lake. Rare and weird.
Video - Moon Shadow, Below Decks
...And How Many Generators?
Three fridges, four-zone A/C, six flat panel TVs, a water-maker, and a dishwasher. Things like these take power. Not the usual 12-volt kind of power normally found aboard a charter sailing bareboat. We're talking mega yacht mega watts. 24-volts to be exact. Two times more voltage takes two times the generators. One mid-sized generator (large on most other bareboats), located in the starboard engine room and a large genny on the port side.
We ran both generators each evening for the usual battery charging routines though we only needed one to charge the house bank. We used the A/C most evenings which requires both generators to be humming along. Humming is actually a good way to describe the sound. The sheer size of the VOYAGE 580 creates distance from the machinery. Engine rooms are located under the stern hatches on each hull and sound insulated. Longer hulls mean the engine rooms are farther away from the cabins and common areas. When we sat on the trampoline on quiet evening only the trickle of water from the A/C gave away that the generator was running.
The fuel cost for running two generators did give us pause, but it didn't stop us from sharing in Moon Shadow's indulgences. Though by our second to last day we were teasing each other about how spoiled we were becoming. How much more in fuel were we spending on all this twin generator A/C'd bliss anyway? Turned out, not much more than we normally spend on a yacht with a single generator. We're still not sure how all that works, but we were glad we didn't skip on the power luxuries when we found out! We realized the irony our "luxury" habits had created. We burned little to no fuel getting from point A to point B sailing during the day, we burned our share once we got there!
Privacy and Security
A yacht the size of the VOYAGE 580 can attract some attention. We were usually the biggest thing in the mooring field and at the dock. We had our share of folks curious about Moon Shadow, wanting a closer look at her in each locale. Be it walking up on the dock or a dinghy drive by, we're a friendly crew, happy to show her off and answer any questions, but there comes a time when privacy is needed.
Moon Shadow is ready for just such an occurrence. Every deck hatch is treated with a "white-out" tint. Reflecting heat, creating privacy, and helping her numerous hatches blend in with the deck. For added security, each hatch comes with dual locks, integrated into the locking levers. Large saloon windows can turn a big yacht into something of a fishbowl. Moon Shadow uses external white shades for saloon privacy. These white, attachable shades attach via snaps, reflecting heat, and making it about impossible to see in. We kept these up for the duration of our review trip. Let's face it. The bigger the window, the more the sun heats things up. Because the shades are see-through from the inside, we still had a panoramic view while in "white-out" mode. Besides, a big yacht with "whited-out" windows and hatches looks pretty darn cool sailing by. Cool factor definitely counts!
Keys are a thing of the past on some charter yachts. Push button ignition and keyless sliding doors or companionways are becoming more and more common. Moon Shadow sticks to the "keyed" ways. Keys are required to start the engines, the sliding saloon door locks with set pins, top and bottom, and has a keyed deadbolt for when we were away or down for the night. Security and a good night's sleep go hand in hand, not that there's much to worry about in the BVIs. The other key you'll find aboard is for locking the tender up. We locked the tender anytime we were going to be out of eyesight and when we went to bed at night. Or we 'd just crane it up onto deck. This last option is an often overlooked security step. A dinghy or tender is never safer than when it's sitting on deck. As they say, "she ain't going nowhere."
Note: Lock the dinghy anytime you'd lock up your own bicycle
We don't mean to dwell on security. The British Virgin Islands have always treated us well. We've not encountered a single security issue in a couple of decades traveling and sailing there. Maybe it's because we don't present an easy target, or maybe it's just that rare of a occurrence. Either way, peace of mind is what it is. Covering the bases lets our crew check one less thing off the mental list. That's always a good thing.
Showers and Heads
Ok, sensitive subject. We'll tread lightly. For those of you who have chartered before, you're well aware of the marine head (toilette) and all the pumping that goes into flushing them.
For those of you not yet familiar, manual marine toilets have a little pump handle and a lever (seacock) sitting to the right of the bowl (as you face it). Flip the lever, to "dry bowl" and start pumping to clear it, then flip the lever back to "wet bowl" and pump about 20 times to flush it. Then the lever goes back to dry bowl to close off the seacock. Here is why we mention all of this: you don't have to do any of that onboard any of VOYAGE Charter's 580. This is a luxury sailing yacht, and luxury did not stop at the door to the head. Simply press the "dry bowl" button followed by the "wet bowl" button, and that's it. No levers, no seacocks, no pumping 20 times, no remembering which side to flip the lever to. Just press the button. We wouldn't spend this much time on the topic if it wasn't worth covering. Simple luxuries like this go a long way in keeping a happy crew, experienced or not.
The extra space on the VOYAGE 580 is carried though every area of the yacht. The heads area is spacious, the forward and aft cabins all have separate showers. These spaces are much closer to home than what we're used to out on charter. Showers aboard were much more than a rinse-off with our new found "no guilt, water consumption" attitude. We were not accustomed to a proper hot shower aboard a charter yacht. But we sucked it up. The things we do for our readers! The luxury of an onboard water-maker and multiple large water tanks really shined though at shower time.
Living And Sailing Big
Unlimited is the word that comes to mind aboard the VOYAGE 580. VOYAGE Charters has done a fantastic job maintaining and caring for Moon Shadow inside and out. She felt much like a new boat from the moment we stepped aboard. As we mentioned she has ample space for ten couples in her main cabins. But, you don't need to load her with crew to go sailing. The 580 is more than a one dimensional large group yacht.
For large groups there's space and, dare we say, privacy for everyone. Privacy is hard to come by aboard chartered bareboats. With a common saloon and shared spaces, it can be rather easy to rub elbows until the rub goes the wrong way. This is definitely not the case aboard Moon Shadow. Elbow rubbing has to be intentional if it's being done aboard a VOYAGE 580. With cabins far separated from one another, private heads, four dining areas (saloon table, galley "breakfast bar" table, and two cockpit tables), and a foredeck big enough to land a harrier jet, there are more than enough places for everyone to spread out, even when underway. With the helm situated in its own slightly elevated space, the Captain can also operate things without distraction while keeping an eye on everything (and everyone).
Small groups shouldn't shy away. Our review crew consisted of four adults. At any one time, only two of our crew sailed Moon Shadow while the other two enjoyed the 580's ride and amenities. Why did we limit the sailing crew to two? Because we wanted to see what sailing the largest sailing bareboat in the BVIs would be like for a couple. We learned she is easier to handle than some monohulls we've tested.
So there are at least a couple of sides of Moon Shadow. She's a big group yacht and a luxury ride for a sailing couple. Either way she treats her crew right and inspires confidence. Big boats often get painted into a corner as a "big group," big crew boat. Yes, the VOYAGE 580 does that, but she doesn't require a large crew to be sailed with ease. If you've chartered a sailing cat before, there is no reason to enlist every friend you have to sail this 58-footer. Moon Shadow plays well to small and large audiences alike.
A VOYAGE 580 is a great charter sailing platform. Beyond that, the extras are up to the owner. Moon Shadow has her own personality to be sure. Here's a few extra "toys" that helped show it off.
Following the "just a bit nicer" theme, Moon Shadow's sound system is all Bose. Surround sound inside and out. That's right, outside. We found high quality Bose speakers in the usual locations in the cockpit, but then we looked up. At first we thought we were looking at spreader lights, but then we put on our sunglasses. That's when we realized we were looking at large Bose speakers installed on the spreaders, facing down. But they weren't on. Back at the nav station we located a rocker switch labeled "Spreader Speakers." We really weren't sure what this switch did before spying the speakers. The label didn't make a whole lot of sense when we first boarded. It sure did now. We flipped the switch to the on position and the speakers came to life, surrounding us with sound wherever we were on deck. We did have to be careful with the volume level though. This "system" rocks out! It's very easy to be less than neighborly in the mooring field if you know what we mean.
The one-upping continued with the communications system. This particular VOYAGE 580 has a high quality VHF radio at the helm and an ultra long range SSB radio installed at the nav station. For those unfamiliar with SSB (Single Side Band), it's basically a HAM radio for the water. A license is required to broadcast over an SSB radio, but be that as it may, it was a first aboard a reviewed charter yacht.
We found the fish finder sonar set up also in the nav station. If we had been fishing, it could have made for some big catches! The crew liked to watch the bottom contours and schools of fish rolling buy underneath our hulls. A very cool addition even if we weren't fishing. This little goodie ought to make fishing for the big ones a whole lot easier.
The radar screen is about the size of a chart-plotter mounted above the nav table. We had it set to monitor in a 2 mile radius, which it did very accurately, showing returns for yachts and obstacles along the way. One of the best things about having radar aboard is that you can see the direction of travel and speed of yachts around you. It adds an extra safety layer, but it also allowed us to plot courses that would keep us clear of traffic way in advance. The longer we can sail between tacks, the better!
Fuel and Water
Moon Shadow could cross an ocean with her water and fuel capacity. On charter this basically means you could motor like a madman and shower like a super model and not have to worry about fuel or water once.
If you do want to check the levels or top off the water, here's how those tasks are managed. To check the water and fuel, flip open a small cabinet door forward, center in the saloon. Here is where the analogue gauge for water and fuel lives. Note that its not digital. There is no power required to check levels. With the door open, press the button for the corresponding tank. With the other hand grab the small pump next to the gauge buttons and pump it gently. This puts a bit of back pressure on the gauge and shows the level of the tank your checking. This might sound a bit old school for such a luxury oriented yacht, but this setup is accurate and very reliable. A couple of nice little "luxuries" when you need to know what's in those tanks. Analogue gauges like this work no mater what's happening with the electrical system. It's comforting to know that the most "core" elements can be monitored without the need for electricity or reliance on a fuse.
The water tanks aboard Moon Shadow are huge. With our crew of four we topped off our main water tanks when they approached the halfway mark. From beginning to end, we went though about a tank and a half, using water like it was plentiful. Which it was thanks to the 70 gal per hour water maker.
We did wonder how much fuel two generators were eating up, we also wondered how much extra diesel it took to push such a big boat into the waves, uphill on our motoring test day (see the Undersail section below). In short, we were prepared to bust out the "platinum card." We never had to. Surprisingly we only went though about seventy-five bucks more in fuel than boats 20 feet shorter sporting one generator. Not too shabby. We're happy to report that not everything scales up proportionately to the size of the yacht!
The only adversity we encountered was weather related. We had a tropical depression making its way in our direction. We kept a weather eye on the radar and another on the sky. Mornings proved to have the best sailing conditions. The afternoon heat kicked up the breeze (gusting over 30 knots), squalls, and lumped up the seas. We dodged most storms, getting caught sailing in the rain twice (we don't count sprinkles). One day we got caught in the middle of the Sir Francis Drake Channel in a fast moving storm that blew in over the islands. Sails were dropped as we watched the line of rain approach. When it got to us, we recorded wind gusts just over 45 knots in growing seas. The rig was literally "singing" in the rain.
Moon Shadow shrugged it off. She was stable and had plenty of power to push though the rough seas. A large dodger is affixed between the solid bimni top and the upper coach roof that blocks the rain and wind from reaching the cockpit area. It's such a protected area we didn't bother to close the sliding door to the saloon when the rain caught up with us. There was no reason to. The cockpit was completely dry. But, like any good Captain, ours still found a way to get himself soaked. Perhaps his refusal to close the over-the-helm sliding "sunroof" could have something to do with it...
Video - A Neighboring Yacht Staying Ahead Of The Storm
Sailing a Ship-Shape Ship (say that ten times fast)
The good ship Moon Shadow has a real "presence" at the dock and an easy sailing attitude out on the water. Her impressive dockside presence stays with her, but it manifests itself in stability and a cushy ride. These are not exactly things that make sailing her more difficult.
Under power she made an easy 8 knots at her 2300 cruising RPM's. Pushing her harder up to 2800 RPM's gave us another knot over the water. The stainless steel throttle levers are solid in hand making matching the engine RPM's a simple and audibly "harmonic" task. During our motoring tests we ran dead into the wind on a long upwind bash to the North Sound from Norman Island. But something was missing, the bashing part, it just wasn't there. The Professor said the 580 had "the most solid ride" he had "ever felt." Not bad considering a tropical depression out in the Atlantic was stirring things up. As we traveled up the Sir Francis Drake Channel we could see the waves growing and whitewater blowing off the tops in a 30+ knots of wind. Moon Shadow handled these conditions like it was small chop. As exciting as this might sound, it really wasn't. It was just another day for this well founded 58-footer. The most difficult part of this leg was adjusting our mindset. The tactics and feel are different in a smaller yacht, be it a catamaran or monohull. The smoothness of the ride was hard to wrap our collective minds around. Not that we're complaining!
Mooring a yacht of this size for the first time requires another mindset adjustment. Mooring can bring a bit psychological intimidation on a small boat for the new charterer. Just like that first successful mooring, once you've done it, you realize it's not that big a deal after all. It's the same aboard the VOYAGE 580. After seeing how easy and predictably she handled out on the water, we actually looked forward to showing off her stuff when we pulled up to the first mooring.
The North Sound is known for its steady breeze and flat water. The day we pulled in was no different. 18 knots gusting over 20 was our welcome to the protected North Sound of Virgin Gorda. Larger yachts tend to have more windage, blowing them off the ideal mooring approach or making it difficult to hold the yacht in position as the crew grabs the pennant and works the mooring lines. None of this was the case with the VOYAGE 580. It's low slung low windage design, easy to operate dual throttles and clear sightlines forward of the helm made mooring up a simple task. The clear view from the helm keeps the mooring ball in the Captain's sight right up until it's time to tap reverse. Moon Shadow was so controllable that the crew working the bow had ample time to run both bowlines one after the other though the mooring pennant without having to work for it.
Later in our trip we tested Moon Shadow's tight quarters mooring ability in the Trellis Bay mooring field on the east end of Tortola. It's almost always a tight run through the mooring field, usually involving a 180-degree turn. Even in these tight quarters, and sporting a 30-foot beam, she wound her way through the moored yachts and danced on the head of a pin to put us on our ball with no drama.
Sailing the VOYAGE 580 can be easier than motoring her. Set the sails and go. No RPM's to manage, no fuel to burn, just go. The full batton mainsail and roller furling genoa are both handled by power electric winches. Setting sail is little more than heading the wind and pushing a couple of buttons for a few seconds. Bearing away we saw speeds climb into the 9 knot range right off, faster than the twin engines were carrying us. As the wind and seas built during our review, we noted how much additional stability her sail plan created. Each of the sizable sails added at minimum of an additional 2 tons of down-force apiece. With the sails up, "planted" took on a whole new meaning. Sailing a large catamaran has another bonus. Namely when it comes to being over powered. Where other yachts of lesser size have to reef or constantly trim to keep on course and heel under control, we just kept sailing, flattening the waves as we went. True, in some instances we could have taken in a reef and made about the same speed. But with a massive mast, over built spreaders, and super-sized stability, why not just sail a little closer to the wind and keep cruising! So that's exactly what we did! In the case of the Moon Shadow bigger meant less to handle and less to deal with. We've definitely worked harder sailing a charter boat before, and it wasn't 58 feet long!
Video - Voyage 580 Underway
Our review VOYAGE 580 has at least a couple of sides to her. First is comfort. The second, speed under sail. Moon Shadow sails fast though she's outfitted to the gills with comfort amenities and sports a gross weight north of twenty-three tons. The massive sail plan has horsepower to spare. To test the power in her sails, we put a reef in the main. The result was the same speed as a full rig in 22 knots of apparent wind. True, the 22 knot range is where Moon Shadow ge's her first reef anyway, but even without it, she never once sailed like she was over powered. She just planted herself and pressed on. Rewarding sailing and a forgiving yacht go hand in hand.
Size for size, VOYAGE yachts are wider than other makes out there. The added width translates into added stability. We've taken waves as tall or taller than our cabin top on the beam without tossing over a glass (not that we prefer taking waves that size on the beam). The width and sleek hulls combine into a stable, fast, and forgiving sailing platform. The VOYAGE 580 is luxurious and sporty at the same time. It lets those with little to no time on the water relax, and the sailors play all day, without ticking off the aforementioned group. Moon Shadow appeals to a wide audience. What makes sailing fast, fun and stable during the day, makes an evening on the hook or ball seemingly "land-like," like a floating hotel suite.
To test our 580 comfort theory, we invited a guest aboard. She had been to the British Virgin Islands, but she had never been aboard on a sailing yacht. So, we took her out in the rolling waves for a day sail. Not a single complaint. No seasickness or any trouble of any kind. In fact, just the opposite was true. She came away wanting more. True, having a first sailing experience aboard a 58-footer probably did skew her view of what charter sailing is like, but regardless, once out in the deep blue, the difference between 42 and 58 feet becomes a bit academic. No mater how you cut it, we we're still a small speck in the big blue ocean. It wasn't the amenities that our guest commented on. Nor was it the size of the yacht, she had no point of comparison. What came though for her was how in previous visits to the BVIs, staying in hotels and resorts, she had never seen the British Virgin Islands the way she did aboard Moon Shadow in a single day. Encouraging more people to take the step, to get out on the water is what we're all about at here at CA. Our guest took that step and wondered why she didn't do it sooner. For those not ready to charter a sailing yacht by yourself, there is a good chance you can still "step aboard" like our guest did. We highly recommend it!
Our BVI Sailing Route
Each time we review a charter company we have a completely different experience. The yacht, the charter company, time of year, weather, and our crewmates are a few of the variables that work together to create the adventure. No two trips are ever alike. For this trip, we did no route planning before arrival. With the crew gathered aboard Moon Shadow all the variables came together and here is where they took us.
Day 1. Sopers Hole Tortola to The Bight on Norman Island
This was get to know our boat day. From Sopers Hole, Norman Island is leisurely two-hour sail away. Perfect distance to depart the base at just about anytime of day. On our way to Norman we took our time feeling out how Moon Shadow sailed, what she liked, and getting our bearings aboard a new yacht. All yachts have their own "preferences." We sailed between St. John and Tortola, a good place to sail and gather feedback for the days ahead. With rain on the horizon for the evening, we headed for the protection of the Bight at Norman Island. Well, a calm mooring was one reason. The others involved Willy T's, the beach at Pirates Bight, and swimming in schools of colorful fish. We arrived with just enough time to enjoy a late lunch at Willy T's and go for a swim off the back of Moon Shadow's huge swim platforms (with a swim shower in each no less). Tired from our first day in the sun, we settled in to watch a spectacular sunset over St. John. That night, we slept in twin generator powered A/C bliss. We never heard a drop of rain.
Day 2. Norman Island to North Sound, Virgin Gorda.
The overnight rain tapered off before morning light. From our mooring at Norman Island, we had a front row seat to a gorgeous sunrise, signaling a good day ahead. Good day, yes. Smooth water, no. But, we enjoyed the ride so much, we decided to go as far to windward as possible. We just didn't want to stop.
Pointing northeast up the Sir Francis Drake Channel, we took the wind and swell on the nose. These were perfect conditions for our motoring test. They say gentleman never sail to windward, so we motored our way to the North Sound from Norman Island in just over three hours in far less than flat water. With a tropical depression to the south, the seas were stirred and building. Punching directly into breaking seas, only the occasional wave splashed over the bow. In anything smaller, it would have been a much more exciting and wet ride. With a 23 ton 58-foot catamaran, only the Captain and First Mate up at the helm noticed the occasional water spray off the bows. The ride was so solid that the rest of the crew took a nap. The VOYAGE 580 proved she's a stable and powerful charter yacht, even without the added down-pressure created by the sails. In these less than ideal conditions we made 7-8 knots at cruising RPM's. At the top of the BVI island chain (Virgin Gorda), we turned into the Channel leading to the North Sound. Entering the North Sound is always amazing. Flat, clear, light blue and turquoise water greeted us as the picturesque North Sound of Virgin Gorda opened up like something out of the movies. It never get's old. We had a late 3 p.m. lunch at the Bitter End Yacht Club (BEYC) Pub, called the Crawl Pub, followed by some beach combing and BBQ aboard. Getting up to the North Sound is always worth the trip.
Motoring Test Day - Windward To The North Sound
Day 3. North Sound to Trellis Bay Tortola
After a restful night in the calm water off the Bitter End Yacht Club, the crew was ready for a day of sailing. We motored out of the channel, raised sail and sailed a single tack (with a wiggle in the middle to avoid the dogs), to Trellis bay, downwind the whole way. Moon Shadow made an easy 6 -7 knots or so in 16 - 18 knots of apparent wind (true wind was just over 20 knots). Very stable, very relaxing, and surprisingly quick for a big boat. This is when we popped in the "sailing" music. It's our collection of "sailing" tracks from folks like Johnny Cash to Christopher Cross (yes, that song), to "The Life Aquatic" soundtrack. There's nothing quite like an easy going downwind sail with our "sailing music" playing in surround sound (remember the spreader speakers). Just over two hours later we were rolling up the jib, dropping the main, and trying to make heads or tails out of three new cardinal markers lined up in front of trellis bay. These yellow buoys were not there a few months back and gave us a moment of pause before we entered the mooring field. What confused us was that these warning markers were positioned in places we sailed though many times. With no channel there is no obvious "new entrance." As we approached, we did what other prudent sailors should. Give the warning cans a wide birth and sail where you know you can sail. In the end, the commotion over these cardinal markers was much ado about nothing. Once moored, we took the dinghy ashore, filled in a few provisions from the beach-side market, and dined on our favorite sandwiches at D-Best Cup. The night was a typical one for Trellis Bay. We had little wave action, no ferry wakes (they go through on the other side of "The Last Resort"), and an awesome sunset over the Cameno Islands.
Day 4. Day Sailing - Trellis Bay and Back
Trellis bay is a centrally located in the BVI Island chain. From here you can pretty much get anywhere in about three hours, even Jost Van Dyke. It also makes for a great launching pad for day sailing. Which was our choice for this day. To this point we'd completed a "get to know the yacht" sail, motoring, and a downwind sail. It was time to see how the VOYAGE 580 handled tacking, jibing and some sporty reaching. She tacked as easily as a monohull, and proved the advantages of her wide stance and sleek hulls. The wind was clocking in at 28 knots plus on the beam, Moon Shadow turned it into double digit numbers on the speedo without giving the crew an adrenalin inducing "wild-ride." Sailing was the only order of the day. Even lunch was made under sail. Eating lunch while sailing is one of those simple pleasures that everyone should experience at least once in life. When the sailing was done for the day, we put back into Trellis Bay, kicked on both generators and indulged in long hot showers before another BBQ on the "back deck."
Day 5. Trellis Bay to Sopers Hole Tortola
Return day we ran the length of Tortola from East End to West End. Not wanting to get back to base too quickly, we unrolled the genoa and let it billow out for an easy downwind run to the VOYGAE Base at Sopers Hole. Under genoa alone, we made an easy and relaxing 5-6 knots all the way to the West End channel. We had blue sky's and the wind at our back. We couldn't have wished for a better way to wrap up our time aboard Moon Shadow.
This being our second time reviewing VOYAGE Charters, we knew the return drill. On more than one occasion we've returned to a charter base the evening prior to our actual return day. Yachts have to be brought back to the base around 9 a.m. on the final day, waking up dock-side at the base can make the return morning easier. It also affords plenty of time to pack and wrap things up with the charter company. After our last review, we found an early return is not a necessity chartering from VOYAGE Charters.
We opted to stay out the evening before our return morning. Setting sail from Trellis Bay we had another wonderful, sunny, early morning downwind sail all the way to the base at Sopers Hole. When we arrived, we picked up a mooring ball, made a snack, and finished up any last min. packing. When we were ready, we called in, let them know we were there, and 20 minutes later a dinghy with Kimo aboard pulled up to take us to the fuel dock for our check out.
Our final check-out went as smooth as we remembered from our previous review. The VOYAGE Charters crew filled our fuel tanks. Shawn was back aboard with the same checklist we went though together at check-in. We duplicated the checklist process we did together at check-in time, checking all items and visually inspecting the hulls, deck, and sails completing the onboard portion of our check out. Next we headed into the A/C'd office to pay our fuel bill, and turn in the rest of our check out paperwork, boat bag, boat phone, charts, and tool kit.
The entire process from the time we pulled up at the fuel dock to check out completion took approximately 30 minutes. It was almost too quick (all sailing trips seem to end to quickly). Before we knew it, we had our bags in hand, wrapping up another wonderful sailing adventure.
As usual, before we arrive to review a yacht or charter company, we have our own ideas of what we're about to get into. As they say, plans are nothing more than good intentions. This somehow also held true for our conceptions of what to expect from the biggest bareboat in currently in the BVIs (at the time of this review VOYAGE Charters announced a new 60-foot bareboat coming soon). We expected a large sailing yacht that required our entire crew to sail her. We had it half right. Moon Shadow is big, but she wasn't hard to handle and she didn't put demands on her crew. The VOYAGE 580 is an intuitive, easy to sail yacht that should not be shied away from for fear of handling her.
On charter we were pampered in some less than comfy conditions. This doesn't just apply to the onboard luxuries, it also meant we could cover more distance with less fatigue, press on when others were getting wet, and ultimately let us choose adventure or lux lounging. Far as we can tell, this is what chartering a sailing bareboat all about, to its furthest degree.
By The Numbers
Susan Lepthien of VOYAGE Charters arranged everything for this review. She creates packages for charterers with package prices based on season. We recommend checking out the VOYAGE Charters website for posted specials and to sign up for their newsletter where we found deep discounts not listed on their site. Our fuel costs for a week on charter was just under 300 bucks (could have been lower if we turned the A/C off every once and a while or without that full day of motoring). All security deposits were fully refunded.
Note: Minor fees and deposits such as permits and insurance deposit, are not listed. The above totals are not to be used as exact costs as these costs change often. This budget summary is intended for planning purposes only and to give a good idea for the average costs involved. The costs listed above are as per what we were charged at the time of charter.
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