Charter Advisors' How To Guide
9 Steps To A Happy Charter
Here's the Charter Advisors "How-To" guide for a happy and remorse free bareboat charter experience. (also known as "How to avoid visiting "Throw-way-wife-Bay"*). From pre-charter to heading out the door to your yacht, here are the 9 things you should do before you go.
1. Read Charter Advisors (naturally). This will fill you in on the experience your about to have before you have it. If what you read sounds like heaven on earth, worry none. If what you read sounds like work or a compromise, consider something with the word "Casino" or "Atlantis" in the name.
2. Be clear with the charter companies. Let them know what you need, what you can do without, what you want to pay, and what you expect clearly. They want to give you the experience you want to have and you'd be surprised at what they can do with price (especially in the off season). Communication is key here.
3. Ask for details. What's the name of the boat you're looking at chartering (or that they are recommending)? If they are recommending a particular yacht, why are they? Are they willing to take a few cell phone snaps of the actual boat parked in the marina, including exterior, interior, cabins, and heads? This will go a long way to answering many burning questions. Namely, can you see yourself and your family aboard? Will your wife / husband / girlfriend / boyfriend (not all at the same time of course) like it? Does it look clean? Does it look crisp or faded with a baggie sails and settee? Bigger or smaller than expected? Does it look like enough space? Etc.
4. Research. Look up the boat on a search engine. Use the manufacturer name (Lagoon 400 for example) along with the "given name" of the boat and the location. By doing this, you'll pull up "self reviews" by others that have chartered the specific boat your looking at. You'll also find pictures that haven't been though the "marketing filters" and potentially even see videos of the boat in action. And you'll likely find a review on CharterAdvisors.com if you skipped step 1. Nothing better than seeing a charter yacht "unfiltered".
5. Time and Place. Like mom always said, "There's a time and place for everything". This isn't exactly what she was talking about, but it still holds true. For charter sailors, it's all about about location and time of year. Knowing weather, local holidays / celebrations, seasonal conditions (Christmas winds, summer calms, etc.), and distance between hops is all very handy information. And once you have information on these things, you may actually end up adjusting your plans. We've had readers change locations because they didn't realize how far anchorages were apart, while others adjusted dates to sail during Carnival so they could join in on the fun.
6. Know your crew. This is the most important item on this list. Knowing who you'll be aboard with, their level of experience (or lack there of), and their ability to "get along well with others" in close quarters.
7. Route Planning and Good Intentions. Indulge yourself before you go and imagine the route you'll be taking. If this were a voyage across the sea, route planning would be a very serious exercise, but when it comes to charter sailing in places like the British Virgin Islands it's a bit less so. Don't let that dissuade you from it though. Crack open that paper chart (if you don't have one, visit our friends at AmNautical.com for one), get your pencil out and start drawing lines. You'll get a good sense for which legs are the longest, where the shoals are, and figure out where you might want to anchor or moor each night. As Capt. Kev likes to say, "Sailors don't have plans, just good intentions", but you do indeed need to have some intention. With that said, don't stick to the plan just because it's the plan. Let the wind, seas, and crew give their input while underway. A good Captain and First Mate know to be receptive. Go with the flow. Be accepting and accommodating of your crew (stopping short of letting the inmates run the asylum). It makes for better trips. Trust us on this one.
8. If you're indeed traveling to our favorite sailing grounds, the British Virgin Islands, read "The British Virgin Islands Briefing Certification" and take the test. This is offered through iBooks and iTunes store through NauticEd and authored by our own Capt. Kev. By doing this, you'll get to skip the briefing at the charter base when you arrive, saving the first half of your first day for what you came there for, sailing. With this easy to get certification, you show you know the waters and how to navigate safely. And it also helps with number 7 above. Lots of easy to read maps, destinations, guides, and reference info. But it's not all navigation. BVI history (pirates, ship wrecks, how Jost Van Dyke got its name, etc.), drink recipes, and suggested paths through the islands. Everything you need in one place! It makes an ideal companion aboard throughout your trip
9. Last but not least, relax! It isn't the end of the world till it's the end of the word. Stressing never helped a trip go smoother. Just keep in mind this little tid-bit, at the end of your flight day you'll be boarding your yacht, bedding down while floating atop the sea, with a new world of possibilities awaiting you at sunrise.
*Of course we're not saying to do that! Check your British Virgin Islands charts boys and girls, it's a real place (oddly enough).
- Charter Review: The Moorings 5800 Ocean Suite by Captain Kev
- Charter Review: VOYAGE Charters, VOYAGE 520 Silver Lining by Capt. Kev