“Give a shout so I can run something by you,” a friend emailed me one day, out of the blue. A lifelong sailor and do-it-yourself owner of a variety of sailing vessels over the years, he confided that he was thinking of taking his family on a charter vacation but wondered if he was up to the challenge. The money was no problem, mind you. It was all that other stuff that had him flummoxed.
It made me think back to my first crack at chartering, when we sat thoroughly confused, reading cruising guides and company brochures, trying to learn a whole new language unique to the sailboat rental industry. Sailing was the easy part; who the hell knew if you should opt for partial or full provisioning or just hike to the store?
“Will they let me skipper the boat or will they make me hire a captain?” my pal wondered. Which company’s best? Will the boat sail well? Is it the right time of year? Do you bring towels? The questions came pouring out as though gushing from a hose. Here was a guy who wouldn’t think twice before setting out for a week or two on his own boat, confident he could weather anything that crossed his bow, now questioning whether he had the skills necessary to pull away from the dock and venture out into the trade winds of Sir Francis Drake Channel in the British Virgin Islands.
“Stop listening to those idiots,” I advised when he told me of the dire warnings he’d read in some online forum. I pointed out that for some unknown reason, there’s a certain breed of skippers who love to tell everyone about the bad decisions they’ve made. I know because they write down these tales of woe and send them to us all the time, thinking we’ll publish them.__
| |It’s party time each full moon in the British Virgin Islands. In Trellis Bay, you’ll find family-oriented fun at the Fireball Full Moon Party (aragornsstudio.com). For a more raucous time, leave the boat in Cane Garden Bay and catch ha ride over to the Bomba Shack.|
But I digress. What I meant to say is that to be honest, the twists and turns leading up to your first charter (or your first time doing anything for that matter) can be daunting. The choices you confront—company, location, type of boat—are numerous and baffling. And the week is going to cost you some dough. Probably a lot of dough, though if you plan it right and look for bargains, you can limit the damage.
But in return, you’ll arrive in paradise, step aboard a boat maintained by someone else, and go off on a jaunt you’ve always dreamed about. It really is just about that simple. The charter companies, after all, are there to make sure you have a good time.
To help get you on your way, _CW’_s charter editor Elaine Lembo has pulled together a boatload of basic chartering information, which you can find by clicking here. If you have a destination in mind, chances are you can find a story about it by searching our website too. And if you’re just starting your research, there’s no better place than our Charter Directory.
Always dreamed of tropical islands, traditional feasts, white sand beaches? Here’s my advice: Spin the globe, pick a spot and go.
This Editor’s Log first appeared in the August 2013 issue of Cruising World.