Charter Advisors Special Feature
VOYAGE Charters: Great Sailing, Guilty Pleasures, Surprising Performance
by Capt'n K.J.
Sometimes when Charter Advisors is out on charter we let our minds wander... selfishly dreaming of all the fancy items we could possibly want aboard, knowing full well these thoughts would be completely sinful to a sailor with more traditional sensibilities. However we dream of them none the less. Turns out, the folks at VOYAGE Charters had a similar dream. More importantly, they had the guts to follow though. The result is a fleet of yachts unlike anything else out there. They speak to our selfish indulgences while keeping the sailing top notch. VOYAGE yachts have a level of luxury and performance across their entire fleet we only dared dream of before.
If you've ever chartered in the British Virgin Islands, you've likely seen a VOYAGE yacht out on charter. They are hard to miss. Ranging from 38-58 feet in size, they have a totally different profile. They are sleek, wide, and completely unique in the mooring field. We've always been curious about VOYAGE yachts and their single brand approach. Charter Advisors recently spoke with VOYAGE Charters about their unique fleet of single brand catamarans. Here is what we took away:
VOYAGE Charters charters a single brand of catamaran: the VOYAGE line, made in South Africa. These cats are a breed apart from many of the catamarans on the charter market today sporting a low and long sheerline, wave piercing hulls, an extra wide beam, and low-slung coach roof. VOYAGE yachts are sleek, but not at the expense of space or comfort. From a distance, it almost looks like there might be less space below, but nothing could be more wrong. The streamlined design creates an efficient hull form, reducing effort and motion though the water translating into speed under sail and motor while creating a smooth "ride" quality (less "bucking" and "stepping"). As a comparison, a monohull with a performance edge is more slippery, light, and heels effortlessly into a groove. In other words, you need to know what you're doing when you jump aboard a speedy single hulled yacht. The added performance afforded by the VOYAGE design actually increases comfort aboard while keeping things comfy and easy to sail. You don't need to mind the helm like an America's Cupper. A cruising mindset will do just fine!
If a racy monohull is like a two-seat sports car, then a VOYAGE Catamaran is a supercharged, extra long, Jaguar. Both are fast and fun, but the Jag's performance only adds to the ease of use, comfort, fun, safety, and experience.
Performance CAN equal comfort
Typically, we don't associate performance with comfort, but in the case of VOYAGE yachts, this is definitely the case. True, there are other "performance oriented" catamarans on the charter market, but the vast majority of charter catamarans are designed as "cruisers."They are comfy and cush, with lots of amenities. VOYAGE seems to have taken these elements into account and then added their special performance twist. So, how can a "performance" oriented cat add to comfort or ease of use? That's what we wanted to know too, and we got those answers.
The higher the hull's sides and the taller the cabin top or coach roof, the more "windage" a yacht has. Translation: the wind can push you around more. The lower the windage the easier it is to sail in a straight line, moor, anchor and dock. The profile of a VOYAGE yacht is a low windage design.
Motion and Speed
The performance oriented design that goes into a VOYAGE yacht creates a wonderful turn of speed. But, there is another important performance byproduct of this design work: the ride quality underway. The sleek hulls pierce though the water reducing the "Hobby Horse" effect. Instead of riding up and over each wave, the yacht rides up and though them. VOYAGE also keeps the helm station low, close to the center of gravity, helping to keep the Captain from "riding" up high, decreasing the sense of motion at the helm. There are pluses and minuses to all hull designs and helm configurations. In the case of VOYAGE, the helm position does not sacrifice usability for the sake of comfort. They have created a purposeful balance. Each sailing position keeps things comfy and easy to use (electric winches!). We can't say enough about comfort underway especially when bashing to windward with a crew of landlubbers!
Does Performance Mean Stripped Down?
Oddly enough, no. Not in this case. Common thought says... to get to the "performance level" under sail you need a stripped down yacht that puts emphasis on speed over comfort and amenities. Not so with VOYAGE. They have a performance design and hull shape while maintaining a very high level of luxury. All VOYAGE Charters catamarans 50 feet and bigger (the majority of the fleet) have electric heads, flat screen TVs, generators, full A/C, and all the galley goodies you'd keep in your own kitchen. Then there is the cherry on top... an ICE MAKER! That's right. They have built in ice makers. No more lugging around heavy bags of ice to the dinghy! VOYAGE's sub-50 footers carry similar amenities with manual heads.
Luxury By Design
VOYAGE Charters are modern, well thought out, and smartly designed yachts. The exterior design creates the foundation for speed and comfort, making both mom and dad smile, while keeping the kiddos happy underway. But, does all the goodness carry over to the mooring field? Comfort at the mooring and on anchor are just as important. What do you have to give up to enjoy all this extra speed and those water slicing hulls? It's a short answer: a little bit of woodwork. The thick, liberally applied hardwood and veneers found on many charter yachts is more of a design preference than necessity. If the interior of a more traditional charter yacht is like a "den" or "suite," then a VOYAGE yacht is more like a "modern lounge." It's clean, forward thinking and easy to hang out in. Wood is used sparingly in keeping with the slick modern theme. Interiors are different from the pack. Not better, not worse, just different. Interior design is in the eye of the beholder. But from where we sit, the interior of the VOYAGE yachts sure looks nice to us. Stark? No. Slick, yes.
You Can Do What With The Dinghy?!
It's an impressive sight, watching one of the VOYAGE Yachts lower its dinghy into the water. One very eye catching and useful feature is the extendable boom. Using the halyard, the extended boom becomes a crane of sorts. The Boom Derrick System. Lifting the dingy off its cradle on the aft platform and setting it gently down into the water between the hulls. Yep... on the majority of VOYAGE Charter's yachts, you have a rigid, off the water parking spot for the dinghy. No swinging dinghies underway here. Use of this system is demonstrated during the charter briefing. It's elegantly simple and very functional. Stowing a dinghy on deck eliminates a bunch of the "usual charter routines." There's no dinghy hanging on a davit. There is no need to lengthen and shorten the painter with every mooring (no dragging dinghies). It's these kinds of touches that make the chartering experience all that much more simple and that much more enjoyable. Not to mention... a bit of added cool factor!
Didn't Leave Home Without It
"She's loaded!" The functional features aboard any of the VOYAGE Charter yachts create easy, simplified, relaxing, and exuberating sailing. The fun and luxury doesn't stop when the sailing is over and you're hanging on the mooring. From the saloon to the galley, to the cabins, everything you could ever need on charter is there. It's so well equipped, a "hardcore" sailing purist may be embarrassed to admit how much they like it. Flat Screen TVs with DVD players on all yachts 50 feet and up. Large Gensets, Cabin controlled A/C, ice maker, electric heads, comfy private cabins, microwave, blender, iPod compatible high end stereos, and electric winches to name a few. Everything is top of the line, name brand stuff. The list of comfort amenities is lengthy. It's not just a mish mash of niceties either.
Take A VOYAGE Of Your Own
Charter Advisors recommends our readers give VOYAGE Charters (www.VOYAGEcharters.com) a good look. Be warned, it's very hard to compare a VOYAGE yacht to other like size competing brands. It's just so different. Even in appearance. Feature for feature, VOYAGE yachts are one of those unique brands. The added performance, comfort, sailing fun, and amenities that you will actually use are things we always welcome and recommend to our readers. Compare with other charter yachts and see for yourself. Size for size. Feature for feature. See what you come up with.
During our time with VOYAGE Charters we gleamed a few pieces of intel we wanted to pass along.
Turns out VOYAGE Charters has "unpublished" specials. "Sail Days." They only announce these specials on their newsletter and from time to time on their site. The newsletter also has additional specials and last min. offers not published elsewhere. If you don't mind an email every once in a while, check it out. Whenever our readers ask about the best time to book a charter, we always say the same thing, when there is a special!
We also discovered VOYAGE has one of the only 58-foot catamarans being chartered as a bareboat. 58-feet, and all yours! We've had a hard time finding larger size bareboats in the past. Our large group reviews are going to have a lot more space in the future! If anyone knows of another 58+ footer in a bareboat charter fleet, please let us know. We can't find another.
Location, Location, Location
VOYAGE charters is located in Sopers Hole in the West End of Tortola. It's accessible though St. Thomas via ferry and Beef Island via cab. You may have read in our reviews how much we like Nanny Cay. Sopers is like a bigger version with all the same great features we love about Nanny Cay. Just on steroids. The West End is a "postcard" of British Virgin Islands culture, sailing, and beauty. Local legend has it that Sopers was a pirate hangout in the days of old. Now days, charter and private yachts dominate these protected worters. Sleeping aboard here is definitely not roughing it like it was in the heyday of the "Spanish Main." Pussers restaurant, a two story provisions market with a huge wine and alcohol selection, dive shops, art, ice, marina service, the list goes on. The water in Sopers Hole also makes it a stand out charter base. The area is very well protected from prevailing winds by the encircling green mountain tops, and there is a light current constantly flowing though the small bay, keeping the water fresh and clean.
Summing It Up
We here at Charter Advisors have to admit it... the more we learned about VOYAGE Charters and VOYAGE yachts, the more we liked them. And the more we liked the values they offer. We, like many people, sometimes get hung up on the pricing page. But when we got into the details, we soon understood the values we were looking at. We realized how all these parts add up. And they can be summed up in two words: comfort and performance. These two particular features of a VOYAGE yacht tend to fight each other on many other sailing yachts. Comfort generally means lots of amenities, heavier, and slower. Performance means more stripped down and lots of sailing skill at the ready. The comfort of a VOYAGE yacht is blended with performance. Rather than fighting each other, they work in concert to create an enjoyable sailing experience for everyone onboard. With all things considered, what's it worth to have a happy crew and have a blast under sail at the same time? We think what VOYAGE Yacht Charters has to offer is an incredible experience, with their flagship VOYAGE 500, 50-footer at the center of it all. After all, when you're on a sailing vacation, the chartered yacht is at the center of every experience. The better it fits your needs and wants (even those you haven't thought of yet), the more fun and memorable the experience will be.
Look for the full Charter Advisors review in upcoming issues.
After learning more about VOYAGE yachts and VOYAGE charters, we could not wait to get on the water and put them to the full test. Charter Advisors will be reviewing the VOYAGE 500 on charter and getting an up close and personal look at the VOYAGE 440. These two in particular epitomize the VOYAGE fleet.
VOYAGE Charters will be introducing new yachts for the upcoming season. As they add to their fleet, we'll add to the reviews. The more you know, the more options you'll have on your next trip. Keep a weather eye out later this year for our in-depth VOYAGE Charters and VOYAGE yacht reviews.
- Charter Review: The Moorings 5800 Ocean Suite by Captain Kev
- Charter Review: VOYAGE Charters, VOYAGE 520 Silver Lining by Capt. Kev