Herb isn’t the only bareboater to face the girl-power challenge: When I browsed among the booths of charter-companies at a fall boat show, I encountered Dan Burger of Boston. He was on a hunt for the best boat-and the sweetest deal-so he could sail his crew of five young beauties around the British Virgin Islands in March 2006.
For Dan, the prospect of finding the right boat to accommodate his two-daughter family as well as another couple and their three young female charges came down to a daunting search for bunk space. “One person per pillow!” he pleaded as his brood, 7-year-old Ellie and 5 1/2-year-old Katie, enthusiastically solved the dilemma by pointing to pictures of catamarans in color brochures.
The moral of the story? Mono or multi, whatever your sailing itinerary, whoever your crew, in the winter of 2006 there’s a deal for you, ready to form the perfect backdrop for the onboard memories you’ll be busy making.
For details on rates, dates, and boats available in the cruising grounds named in “Hot Spots,” consult the charter-company listings at the end of this story.
Among the trove of on-the-water riches are these:
Sail from America’s Paradise in St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, in February 2006 if you want to save a tidy bundle. Tell John Jacob and his staff at CYOA Yacht Charters that you know he’s offering the lower season rates, which are called the B rates, through the end of that dreaded winter month because you read it here, and he’ll make your phone call worth the effort. B season rates are 12 percent lower than the A season rates normally in effect at this time of year. For details on this offer and others and about CYOA’s fleet, which includes a new Jeanneau 49 and a new Hunter 46, contact the company.
If you’re considering buying a boat and you dig the Bahamas, here’s an incentive: Maine Cat will refund 50 percent of the charter cost from its Hopetown base if you later make one of its catamarans your own. Contact the company for details.
In one of the more southerly hot spots, St. Vincent, you’ll find Barefoot Yacht Charters. Sail with this company nine days for the price of seven from January 6 though 31, 2006. Barefoot rewards procrastinators: Save up to 20 percent of premium prices if you book within a month of your charter. Consult the company website for updates and late-breaking discounts.
TMM, in St. Vincent, Belize, and with headquarters in Tortola, in the B.V.I., will take 10 percent off any charter of 10 days or longer sailed from January 9 through 30 or from April 3 through 24. Sail for 10 days or longer from June 5 through October 31 and knock 15 percent off the regular rates.
From Virgin Gorda, in the B.V.I., the Bitter End Yacht Club offers an attractive platform for all kinds of beach departures as well as a new yacht/villa collaboration with The Moorings for surf ‘n’ turfers. Stay five nights at the Bitter End, then sail for five days aboard a Moorings 332.
Bitter End doesn’t ignore transients, either: Any bareboat charterer is welcome to rent from the club’s array of gold, silver, and bronze fleets, which include Hobie Getaways and Hobie Waves, Rhodes 19s, Hunter 216s, Optimists, Lasers, and Xcites. Choose from an assortment of rental periods, from a single hour to half- and full-day use.
Voyage Charters in Tortola, B.V.I., offers a range of rewards to vacationers sailing both its crewed and bareboat fleets of catamarans. Special offers include 5-percent discounts off single-family charters, discounts for two or more yachts taken out by one group, 10-percent discounts on charter rates for repeat clients, and discounts for multiple-week charters. New to the company’s B.V.I. fleet is Moon Shadow, a crewed Voyage 580, two Voyage 440s, each equipped with air conditioning, and a Voyage 500 that’s available for bareboat charter.
Horizon Yacht Charters, with fleets in the B.V.I., Antigua, and Grenada, makes winter better in the Leewards and Windwards in these ways: CW readers who put down deposits for B.V.I. departures aboard its Bavaria fleet before January 4, 2006, get 15 percent off their weeklong charters between January 31 and April 23; book departures from the company’s bases in Antigua and Grenada before January 15, 2006, and earn a 15-percent discount on weeklong charters from January 31 through April 15. Sailing with Horizon can expand your chartering grounds, as the company opens a new base in St. Martin this month, increasing itineraries to include one-way charters between Antigua and St. Martin. Be sure to mention that you read all discount offers here; for details and restrictions, contact Horizon.
If you’re in a hurry to go sailing, Sunsail is running a special of up to 50 percent off on short-term charters of from three to six nights on certain fall/early winter dates aboard certain boats. Check the company’s website. Its Reef Week discounts apply to charters aboard monohulls up to 48 feet throughout its Caribbean bases; the company throws in a welcome cocktail party to sweeten arrivals. Discounts range from 15 percent off one-week charters during specific time slots and 25 percent off two-week trips, also in specific periods. Repeat Sunsail clients can avail themselves of an additional 5-percent discount with a Reef Week discount.
Choose Catamaran Company and you’ll find there’s four seasons and many discounts to suit you and your crew. The company offers discounts to new and repeat clients throughout its four custom seasons; check the website for time periods. Repeat sailors can extend their charters beyond a week and sail free the extra days, or stick to the weeklong schedule and earn discounts of 10 percent off full rates while sleeping aboard for free the night before the trip begins. Depending on the season, new sailors can also save as much as 10 percent off weeklong charters or sail free days if they charter for a period longer than a week. New sailors can also pay as little as $150 for the sleep-aboard, depending on trip length and season.
Before the clock strikes midnight on your choices, give yourself a New Year’s 2006 present with some help from The Moorings. New clients can save 15 percent off regular rates from January 6 through February 9, 2006, on Caribbean charters of at least five days aboard monohulls or multihulls; repeat customers may shave another 5 percent off the total cost. If you prefer to sail later in 2006, from July 1 through November 11, you can save 15 percent on charters lasting five to 12 days and 25 percent on charters of 13 days or longer. Repeat clients take another 5 percent off the total. The offer includes departures from Moorings bases in the eastern Caribbean as well as in Mexico’s Sea of Cortez, Belize, and the Bahamas–another favorite Hot Spot of North American sailors. Be sure to make your booking by the deadline, December 30, 2005.
Here’s an offer with the same reservation deadline, but from a Windward orientation: In January 2006, The Moorings opens a Footloose Sailing Charters base in Marigot Bay, St. Lucia. Sail either a multihull or a monohull with Footloose, the company’s budget-charter subsidiary, from this new base between January 5 and February 9, 2006, and get 15 percent off the full price; save 25 percent for charters taken between July 1 and November 11, 2006. Bookings must be for at least five-day charters; other restrictions apply.
If you plan to cruise someplace closer to home over the winter, the Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers, Florida, which completed a $438 million expansion and renovation in the fall of 2005, has become a gateway for growing numbers of airlines, meaning cheaper and more numerous flights.
If you’re interested in buying a new sailboat from 35 to 42 feet and placing it with a charter fleet in the winter of 2006, you may want to contact Southwest Florida Yachts for details about its charter-yacht ownership program.
Elaine Lembo is CW’s managing editor.
North American sailors say these are the best winter sailing destinations:
• The Caribbean
• British Virgin Islands
• U.S. Virgin Islands
• Spanish Virgin Islands
• Windward Islands
• Leeward Islands
• The Bahamas
(Source: 2004 Sailing Industry Study (copyright 2005 The Sailing Company))
compiled by Kathy Gregory
Abaco Bahamas Charters: 800-626-5690, 242-366-0151, [email protected] and www.abacocharters.com
Barecat Charters Inc.: 800-296-5287, 610-458-1550, [email protected] and www.barecat.com
Barefoot Yacht Charters: 784-456-9526, [email protected] and www.barefootyachts.com
Bitter End Yacht Club: 800-872-2392, 305-468-0168, [email protected] and www.beyc.com
BVI Yacht Charters Ltd.: 888-615-4006, 284-494-4289, [email protected] and www.bviyachtcharters.com
The Catamaran Company: 800-262-0308, 954-566-9806, [email protected] and www.catamarans.com
Conch Charters Ltd.: 800-521-8939, 284-494-4868, [email protected] and www.conchcharters.com
CYOA Yacht Charters: 800-944-2962, 340-777-9690, [email protected] and www.cyoacharters.com
DSL Yachting: 758-452-8531, [email protected] and www.dsl-yachting.com
Florida Sailing Charter Club: 800-468-4440, 727-895-8955, [email protected] and www.floridasailing.com
Florida Yacht Charters & Sales Inc.: 800-537-0050, 305-532-8600, [email protected] and www.floridayacht.com
Footloose Sailing Charters: 800-814-7245, 727-524-1074, [email protected] and www.footloosecharters.com
Fun In The Sun Yacht Charters: 800-327-0228, 954-463-7911, [email protected] and www.funinthesunyachts.com
Go Native Yacht Charters: 800-359-9808, 305-534-5522, [email protected] and www.gnyc.com
Horizon Yacht Charters Ltd.: 877-494-8787, 284-494-8787, [email protected] and www.horizonyachtcharters.com
International Sailing School: 941-746-6480, [email protected] and www.intlsailsch.com
Island Yachts: 800-524-2019, 340-775-6666, [email protected] and www.iyc.vi
Kiriacoulis Mediterranean: 800-714-3411, 949-673-2560, [email protected] and www.kiriacoulis.com
Let’s Go Cruising: 866-538-7464, 410-263-1818, [email protected] and www.letsgocruising.com
Maine Cat: 888-832-2287, 207-529-6500, [email protected] and www.mecat.com
The Moorings: 800-535-7289, 727-535-1446, [email protected] and www.moorings.com
Nautica Ltd. Sailing School and Charters: 251-510-7245, [email protected] nauticaltd.com and www. nauticaltd.com
North South Yacht Vacations: 800-387-4964, 905-822-9146, [email protected] and www.nsyv.com
Pro Valor Charters: 866-776-8256, 284-495-1542, [email protected] and www.provalorcharters.com
Sailing Florida with Sunsail: 866-894-7245, 727-894-7245, [email protected] and www.sailingflorida.com
Sailshare Yacht Charters: 866-724-5742, 305-731-6795, [email protected] and www.sailshare.com
Southernmost Sailing Inc.: 305-766-4683, [email protected] and www.southernmostsailing.com
Southwest Florida Yachts: 800-262-7939, 239-656-1339, [email protected] and www.swfyachts.com
St. Petersburg Yacht Charters & Sales Inc.: 727-823-2555, [email protected] and www.stpeteyachtcharters.com
Sunreef Yachts: +33-3-89311474, [email protected] and www.sunreef-yachts.com
Sunsail Sailing Vacations: 800-327-2276, 410-280-2553, [email protected] and www.sunsail.com
Tortola Marine Management Ltd.: 800-633-0155, 262-248-1618, [email protected] and www.sailtmm.com
Treasure Harbor Marine: 800-352-2628, 305-852-2458, [email protected] and www.treasureharbor.com
Tropical Diversions: 800-343-7256, 954-921-9084, [email protected] and www.tropicaldiversions.com
VIP Sail & Power Yacht Charters: 866-847-9224, 340-776-1510, [email protected] and www.vipyachts.com
Voyage Charters International: 888-869-2436, 410-956-1880, [email protected] and www.voyagecharters.com
Yachting Vacations Inc.: 800-447-0080, 941-637-6634, [email protected] and www.yachtingvacations.com