On Vacation and Well Connected

As you take to sparkling waters, how important is it to have music to sail by? "Charter Briefing" for April 21

The crew of Team North America heads to Nanny Cay during the 2009 B.V.I. Sailing Festival.

The crew of Team North America heads to Nanny Cay during the 2009 B.V.I. Sailing Festival.Greg Nicoll

Aboard a 36-foot Jeanneau courtesy of Sunsail Sailing Vacations, our downwind romp along the south side of Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands, on this gorgeous, breezy day was missing something.

What, pray tell, could that be?

Legions of charterers know only too well: Our crew lacked tunes to accompany the good times and the smooth roll of a boat under sail in the tropics. But it was only a momentary glitch; a fellow crew mate had, of course, remembered to bring along his iPod. One quick trip belowdecks to the nav station and we were set.

In no time, tracks from All Rebel Rockers by Michael Franti & Spearhead flowed out of cockpit speakers and up around my shoulders as I played the helm. Our participation in the Nanny Cay Cup, a prelude to the 2009 B.V.I. Spring Regatta, was film-worthy in every medium.

Inevitably, it made me wonder: How plugged in do you want to be when you're sailing and racing on vacation? I tend to prefer no more than the sound of the waves and water and good conversation around me, but this is only one view. By the time we hit the regatta village later that day, I saw a lot of people in red Mt. Gay caps furiously giving their thumbs Blackberry workouts and chattering away on cell phones-when they weren't sitting in the shade at the lunch tent with a laptop for a meal.

Certainly the charter companies comprehend the clients' desire for connectivity under sail. Van Perry, brand manager with The Moorings, says that the company's new Beneteau models and Moorings 4600 cats have auxiliary input for the iPod; bareboat sailors need only supply the adapter cable. Josephine Tucci, brand manager for Sunsail, says the company's worldwide fleet of mono and multihulls three years old and newer are equipped to handle iPods. Same at Horizon Yacht charters; marketing manager Nicola Massey says that if you sail with them and bring your iPod, you can play it.

Of course it never hurts to check in with the company as you plan your trip. If you've got a special electronic device for music, photography, navigation or weather, ask your broker or charter company before you pack your bags if they can accommodate you.

And feel free to take me up on the subject of connectivity on vacation. Tell me how plugged in you want to be while you're taking a time out in the world's chartering grounds.

Last-Minute Deals from The Moorings

Attention, vacation sailors! Trim from 15 to 20 percent off your summer charter with the Moorings, but remember to call before April 30, 2009, to reserve. The offer applies to charters taken up until September 30, 2009.

Depart from bases in Tortola, St. Martin, St. Lucia, and Canouan in the Eastern Caribbean; Belize in the Western Caribbean; and from the Bahamas, and save 20 percent|

off your next trip aboard the Moorings 403, 44.3, 4000, and 4300 club line

yachts. Or, save 15 percent on most other yachts in the fleet.

The offer is valid on new bareboat charters only of six days or longer and subject to availability.  Other restrictions apply. Contact The Moorings for details (www.moorings.com, 888-703-3176).

Join a Florida Fleet

Southwest Florida Yachts needs more yachts for chartering.

"In spite of the iffy economy, our chartering business is good and we actually need more boats," says Barb Hansen, owner/manager of the firm, which charters vessels from 28 to 43 feet in length.

Hansen is putting out the word to yacht owners and want-to-be yacht owners to look into the very real advantages of putting their vessels, power or sail, into charter service.

A vessel in charter service helps offset the cost of yacht ownership while keeping the vessel in excellent condition, balancing regular use with regular maintenance, Hansen says. For some it's a way to help purchase a vessel. "Some charter yacht owners consider their vessel their floating vacation home in Florida," she says.

The company charters yachts for cruising and sailing coastal Gulf of Mexico and the inland waters between the Florida barrier islands of Sanibel and Captiva, and the village of Punta Gorda on Charlotte Harbor. The company's sail fleet is based at Burnt Store Marina in Punta Gorda.

For details about placing a yacht in the fleet, contact Hansen (800-262-7939; www.swfyachts.com, barb@swfyachts.com).