Easily accessible and brimming with scenic anchorages, barefoot beach bars and underwater delights, the British Virgin Islands seems to have been carved out expressly for bareboat chartering. The Sir Francis Drake channel carries sailors from sipping fruity Painkillers on Jost Van Dyke to scampering between boulders on Virgin Gorda, and cradles even novices with its flat protected waters and consistent trade winds. In short, it’s hard to find a better week’s sailing anywhere in the world.
In the heart of the 36-island country is TMM Yacht Charters, a boutique charter company that works exclusively in these idyllic waters. Since 1979, it has operated from its base in the capital of Road Town, always remaining small enough to provide personalized service, while being large enough to offer a diverse fleet of new yachts. This bespoke balance holds many advantages for both charterers and owners of its fleet boats.
For charterers, it starts with one-on-one boat briefings tailored to the party’s level of experience. “We take into consideration people’s abilities,” says Tim Parsons, TMM’s operations manager. “That means that when we’re doing the briefing, we can speed up in some areas or slow down if, for instance, people are struggling to come to terms with the new computer systems that basically handle the boats’ systems. We have the time to get people to fully understand it before they leave.”
They will literally go the extra nautical mile. “If you haven’t chartered with us before, one of our company’s policies is we will go out onto the water with you, put the sails up with you, and make sure you are comfortable. We are more than happy to offer that every time,” Parsons adds. “We’d prefer that you understand the boat fully on that first day and go off and have a great time on it, as opposed to not enjoying yourself because you didn’t know how something worked.”
Once clients are comfortable, confident and ready to set sail for the legendary Willy T, TMM’s personal service extends to chart briefings based on their specific interests. There are plenty of must-see highlights, and coordinates for the best snorkeling, diving and dining will be revealed. In addition, these one-on-one briefings are a chance for TMM’s staff to get a sense of a charter party’s vibe and use their well-honed local expertise to direct partygoers toward the one bay in the BVI where they can barhop or share out-of-the-way anchorages with solitude seekers.
“If they want to get off the beaten track a little bit, there are areas, but there are also reasons why you don’t go to some areas, and that’s the kind of information we can provide. We have a few tricks up our sleeve,” Parsons says with a smile.
During charters, TMM is available to answer any questions clients have or to offer advice. If there is an issue with a yacht, the company will send out a technician to take care of it anywhere in the BVI, outside of the more distant Anegada, and even there they provide support promptly by phone. “We deal with it quickly and efficiently,” says Barney Crook, TMM’s managing director.
Meticulous maintenance and attention to detail are other advantages of a small company, and yachts enjoy the same high level of care as charter clients receive. TMM’s fleet is typically about 30 to 35 strong and is currently made up of all catamarans 37 to 50 feet LOA, primarily the quite popular Lagoon and Fountaine-Pajot yachts. It is constantly replenished with new boats, and none are more than five years old. New yachts this year include two Lagoon 40s, one Lagoon 42, one Lagoon 46 and a Fountaine Pajot Aura 51. For next year we currently have a Fountaine Pajot MY5, Lagoon 42, 46 and 51 in the pipeline.
From a yacht owner’s standpoint, the boutique approach offers peace of mind as well as flexibility and control. Hence, the company tends to attract the type of owner who has a long-term plan for his or her boat and takes great interest in personalizing it. “They want it with a company where they know the people, and they know that it’s going to be well-maintained,” Crook says.
Owners are guaranteed five years in the charter program but can do less if they’d like. The management contract is simple and straightforward, giving TMM a fixed commission for selling a charter and payment for any work done. “In our program, owners pay us for what we do. So, number one, they have a lot of say in what goes on; number two, they can question anything that goes on; number three, if they want something unusual done, we’ll do it,” Crook says. “And if an owner wants to take out his boat for three months and go down-island cruising, that’s fine.”
Both owners and charterers will see familiar faces each time they return to the BVI to enjoy the fabled waters. “It’s the same team year on year with very little turnover of staff. We build up a nice rapport with our repeat clients,” Parsons says. “You can really get to know us.”
Learn more at https://sailtmm.com.