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Best Chartering

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by Phil Herring, Jan 14, 2019. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. Phil Herring

    Phil Herring Dethroned Admin

    Joined Mar 25, 1997
    4,413 posts, 324 likes
    US Bainbridge Island
    For those of us up north, the best winter sailing is elsewhere in a boat that belongs to someone else... otherwise known as chartering.

    There are so many terrific charter bases and boats available it can be a confusing process. What's your favorite charter company and location?


    Simon Sexton likes this.
  2. jon hansen

    jon hansen

    Joined May 25, 2012
    1,382 posts, 858 likes
    john alden caravelle 42
    us sturgeon bay, wis
    i have not chartered in many years. but if i do i'm going with 'Capta' . he and his wife seem like a great team to join for some sailing

  3. 31seahorse


    Joined Aug 2, 2005
    895 posts, 154 likes
    Celebrity Class 19
    US Penn Yan, NY (Seneca Lake SP)
    Thanks for starting this discussion, Oh Great One! Eileen and I are headed for Stuart, Florida in about a week, so I hope members can suggest some charter possibilities for that area. However, "have SUV, will travel". I did find a local captain who is offering a half-day bareboat use of a Catalina 25. He seems new to the charter business, but worth a look when we get there.

    We have enjoyed three charter experiences, but all were many moons ago before we owned a cruising size sailboat. I'm surprised anyone would have offered us the use of a sailboat back then! First, out of Rock Hall, MD with our two small children. Second, out of Annapolis when our children were about 7 & 8. That was what could be described as a private charter since we made the arrangements directly with the owner. Finally, we chartered a Nonsuch 30 in the BVI within days after the area was damaged by a hurricane. Despite the destruction and stress they were under, the charter company did its best to make our stay and our charter time a good way.

  4. Kings Gambit

    Kings Gambit

    Joined Jul 27, 2011
    2,978 posts, 665 likes
    Bavaria 38E
    US Alamitos Bay
    If we are talking about bareboat chartering at this time of year, my “favorite” place probably would not be of much interest to folks seeking warm or warmish environs. But for the record, my favorite is Cooper Boating out of Vancouver, British Columbia in summer. The best (most fun) 7-day trip is to reach across the the Strait of Georgia to Nanaimo, then make your way down through Dodd Narrow exploring a few Gulf Islands, then reach back across the Strait via Porlier Pass to Howe Sound and anchor the night at Halkett Bay b/f you are due back at Granville Island, normally between 1000 and noon of the 7th day. But, I’m sure there are other routes just as good.

    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
  5. Kings Gambit

    Kings Gambit

    Joined Jul 27, 2011
    2,978 posts, 665 likes
    Bavaria 38E
    US Alamitos Bay
    As to alternative “favorites” that do not cost more than a boat load of money that are good destinations in winter, we have Southern California and southwest Florida. If Southern California, charter out of Long Beach, use Marina Sailing. Long Beach does not sound like such a romantic destination compared to, for example, San Diego or Santa Barbara, but I kid you not. For the absolute best overall value considering the diversity of available destinations and the typical quality of your sailing time, it’s the best departure locale in all of California unless your specific destination is the northern Channel Islands, in which case depart Santa Barbara. [The caveat here is that it is relatively difficult to self-provision at the Shoreline (downtown) Marina as there are no grocery or liquor stores, or marine stores, near the charter slips.] If you happen to be a yacht club member from somewhere, and can access the many area clubs as destinations via reciprocity arrangements, there are even more possibilities. Spend a month here! (But don’t come today or anytime this week—looks just like the PNW!)

    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
  6. ToddS


    Joined Sep 11, 2017
    63 posts, 31 likes
    Beneteau 373
    US Cape Cod
    We chartered (about 5 years ago) in the B.V.I. with "Conch Charters" out of Road Town in Tortolla. I would do it again in a heartbeat. We had a Jeanneau 36... Conch Charters is a smaller operation there... and prices are much lower since they used "older" boats... I think our boat was 7 years old (versus the boat I sailed every weekend which was 55 years old)... seemed like new to me. There are so many fun harbors to visit explore in the B.V.I... great snorkeling, great weater, easy navigation... loved it. Here's the online review my wife wrote up after our charter at the time:

  7. jssailem


    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    8,108 posts, 3,330 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    I'll share my thoughts, when I get back in June after a 10 day charter in the waters off Belize. I am looking forward to the experience.

    DayDreamer41 and Ken Cross like this.
  8. markwbird


    Joined Nov 26, 2012
    955 posts, 215 likes
    Hunter 34
    US Berkeley
    Conch Charters, BVI. Hands down.

  9. Simon Sexton

    Simon Sexton

    Joined Nov 1, 2017
    508 posts, 224 likes
    Catalina 25 Tall Rig
    Valiant US Watergate Marina, Kemah, TX
    Sea Star Base Galveston, TX; I worked for them for two years and have been heavily involved in their sailing program. Amazing staff, skilled captains, and an adaptive sailing program for the disabled makes the organization outstanding.

  10. capta


    Joined Jun 4, 2009
    2,896 posts, 991 likes
    Pearson 530
    na Admiralty Bay, Bequia SVG
    For those interested in bareboating, the BVI's are certainly the place to go for easy. One might call them the Kindergarten of bareboat sailing.
    A step up (in difficulty) and backward (in time), the Grenadines are certainly a great destination. Longer sails, but still in the shelter of islands to windward, for the most part, make the Grenadines a good second step. Communication isn't as good as in the BVI (oh horrors, no internet), and the mooring buoys may not be as reliable necessitating more anchoring, but there are certainly fewer crowds and plenty of large, comfortable anchorages. Thankfully, there are 'boat boys', viewed as pests by some, who we find to be extremely helpful to strangers and regulars alike, by offering anything from good advice on where to anchor, help onto a mooring, and fresh homemade (and absolutely fantastic) banana bread. See Buda in Clifton, his sister bakes the best, though all are really good. These boat boys also offer fresh fish and lobster, if your luck trolling wasn't good that day, or in some places, a wonderful lobster meal ashore with lots of excellent local sides. A real taste of West Indian cooking, the term cuisine being a little pretentious for this food. Should you not wish to avail yourself of their services, a simple, "No, thank you." should suffice. No need to be rude, these gentlemen and one lady, Dede in Bequia, are only trying to earn a living.
    From the Grenadines, it can be a pretty big step up, depending on the weather, to sail the northern Windwards and eastern Leewards. Much longer open water sails between islands and more densely visited islands (by yachts and shoreside tourists and their day trip boats). Up here the boat boys can be a tad more aggressive, but again a simple, "No thank you" perhaps several times, should suffice.
    A good day ashore could include a little 'bus roulette'. Go to the main bus station, close your eyes and pick a bus. For sure it will eventually return to the very same bus station, as would any other that runs the same route, should you find a place where you want to get off and check things out. Though a wonderful way to meet the locals and a great day of adventuring, it is by no means the same as a guided tour, which, when done with a good guide, is a much more in-depth view of an island. We played bus roulette for several years before we took a tour of Grenada with Cutty, and we'd drivin by so many interesting things and places without any idea. Most especially the Monkees that come out of the trees to meet any visitors that stop there.
    There are many wonderful places on this big blue marble to charter, but for me, the eastern Caribbean is my preference. Whereas most 'tropical paradises' are in island chains that go east to west (the Fla Keys, all the SoPac island groups and Hawaii): directly downwind or up, in the West Indies the winds are generally from the east and one is either sailing north or south.
    So, don't get stuck in the BVI, there are plenty of other places that are just as much fun to sail, many with a lot more to offer.

    Kings Gambit likes this.
  11. John Tubb

    John Tubb

    Joined Feb 14, 2017
    985 posts, 272 likes
    O'Day 25
    US Guntersville, AL
    Great thread, my wife and I have 4-5 days in Key West in the summer right now with no kids so I'm trying to find something that is a certification program, don't think we need the learn to sail cert by ASA but would like to get something to help us prepare for someday doing a charter in the islands.

  12. Kings Gambit

    Kings Gambit

    Joined Jul 27, 2011
    2,978 posts, 665 likes
    Bavaria 38E
    US Alamitos Bay
    Not to criticize the BVI (But I do agree w/Capta having bareboat chartered the Windwards departing St. Vincent; Grenada was great!), I’ll iterate the obvious to our OP, considering his locale, that it is only a two and one-half hour flt to LGB from YVR. You probably could be on your way outta here on the charter boat the same day you board your plane in BC!! Same time zone as well; no losing sleep!

    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
  13. jssailem


    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    8,108 posts, 3,330 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    KG... I think @markwbird is in Berkeley.... A wee bit north of you and @Phil Herring the OP is in Bainbridge Isl across the sound from Seattle... A lot bit north of you.
    BVI --- Different Time Zone... Body clock adjustment needed... LONG plane ride with multiple stops....
    But still likely worth the adventure.
    It is not like you... Has some of that recreational CALI pot been slipped into your brownies?

  14. Kings Gambit

    Kings Gambit

    Joined Jul 27, 2011
    2,978 posts, 665 likes
    Bavaria 38E
    US Alamitos Bay
    Oops. Well, it’s an even shorter, cheaper flt from SEATAC to LGB. All this time I’ve been reading Bainbridge Island but thinking Bamfield for some reason!! Now I understand the avatar.:doh: It’s amazing. I rode the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island just last spring. No, but there is more of that in the air around here.

    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
    jssailem likes this.
  15. jssailem


    Joined Oct 22, 2014
    8,108 posts, 3,330 likes
    CAL 35 Cruiser
    US Salem, Moored Port Everett WA
    :biggrin:Geography... a lost art.

  16. Boomer54


    Joined Feb 3, 2015
    235 posts, 97 likes
    Marlow Hunter 37
    US Reefpoint Marina Racine, WI
    BVI twice. Used Moorings once and Conch once. I’d use Conch in BVI again if we charter there again. As mentioned, Conch has older, but well maintained boats.

    Also chartered out of Athens to sail the Greek Islands. There, you have the choice of sailing from several hours to full day sails depending on what suits you. It has been the most fun yet regarding charters. So many islands, so little time. We did use Moorings there.

    Up next, some day, the Grenadines as Capta mentioned and Croatia.

  17. Kings Gambit

    Kings Gambit

    Joined Jul 27, 2011
    2,978 posts, 665 likes
    Bavaria 38E
    US Alamitos Bay
    I always figure in the “hassle factor.” Vancouver is a wonderful charter location for us. It’s a relatively short nonstop flt from LGB and typically not expensive, although with better fares out of LAX. Same time zone, as I mentioned. Once at YVR you can hop the sky train to an easy bus/sky-train terminal where you can catch a bus ride essentially to Granville Island where Cooper’s is located. You can arrange to purchase the night b/f your charter aboard your boat for WAY LESS than a room elsewhere in the City.

    So, you can easily self-provision your charter from the markets on Granville Island. The admirals can also shop! The night b/f leaving, you can find a great restaurant of the many there to have your send-off dinner. The boats are relatively new. The folks at Cooper are just awesome to work with. The anchoring destinations reachable from Granville Island are many, and not far for a day’s run. There’s a fuel dock right on your way back (at the Bridge) to top off your tanks, etc. You get off the boat, catch the bus to the sky-train terminal, board, and you are back at YVR within probably two h of tying up if you wish to be. With good planning, home within maybe six h of tying up (b/c of international flt). Boat’s in at say 1000, you’re walking in the door at home at least by dinner time the same day.

    And the best part, you just spent a week or two in beautiful British Columbia where the folks are just amazingly polite! (Not like here!)

    PS Just an FYI comparison. The last time we flew home from the east coast in summer it took 14 h. Portland, ME to LAX. Two flt connections and three takeoff-landings.:yikes: It was just awful.

    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019
    jssailem likes this.
  18. nightowle


    Joined Aug 28, 2006
    281 posts, 46 likes
    Bavaria 35E
    US seattle
    I've had good trips in Croatia and another time on the Amalfi Coast of Italy. My experience with Moorings/Sunsail leads me not to recommend them as a first choice. Somehow their business perpetuates out of sheer size.

  19. Captain Larry-DH

    Captain Larry-DH

    Joined Jun 14, 2010
    580 posts, 271 likes
    Quorning Dragonfly 1200
    US home
    IMHO allow more than one night at Caye Caulker if you’re charter takes you to the area. It’s a great place to chill out.

  20. nat55


    Joined Feb 11, 2017
    160 posts, 150 likes
    Gulfstar 1979 Gulfstar 37
    We did Belize in 2000. I won that trip with the Moorings in an online sweepstakes, got the boat for free! Loved Belize...been to the BVI numerous times, started going with my parents way back in the 70's. Going back to the BVI in March w/Conch for 10 days, just the wife and I. Our ride is a 37' Beneteau.....nothing special but lookin' forward to fun in the sun...

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