Bareboat cruising in the Caribbean

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of February 12-18, 1998
Bareboat cruising in the Caribbean
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Bareboat cruising in the Caribbean
Question: My husband and I have recently considered bareboat cruising in the Caribbean next December. We have extensive experience running charter boats in Washington and Alaska, but little experience sailing. The whole idea sounds exciting, but I am concerned about the price. We are two teachers on a budget. Is this type of vacation even worth considering for people on a budget?

Aberdeen, WA

Bareboat cruising in the Caribbean
is spendy but surely sensational

Adventure Adviser: If you are on a budget similar to mine, I'd probably say it's not worth considering. But don't let that discourage you; my budget doesn't allow for much more than an occasional stop at McDonalds for a $.99 hamburger.

Because you are first-time bareboat skippers, I'd suggest you center your trip around the easy-to-navigate U.S. and British Virgin Islands. The breezes are a consistent 15 to 20 knots and the water is very clear, making navigation much easier. Plus, because you're sailing in an archipelago, you'll be well-protected from the fierce gusts of the Atlantic.

There are a number of companies that operate bareboat charters in the Virgin Islands, most of which have long-established reputations. Prices vary, but you can generally expect to pay about $3,500 for a 40-foot boat for a week's trip in high season (December through March).

A boat that size will sleep four, so I'd suggest enlisting two of your closest friends in order to cut your cost in half. Tortola, the capital of the BVI, is where the most boats can be found. To shop around for prices and boat models, call the following: Sun Yacht Charters (888-772-3502), The Moorings (800-535-7289), Catamaran Charters (800-262-0308), Tortola Marine Management (800-633-0155), and Freedom Yacht Charters (800-999-2909).

Another excellent way to fit your price range and skills with a particular location or company is to call a bareboat broker. Like a travel agent, this person will determine your needs over the phone and can recommend a type of boat or a company at no charge. A few of the more experienced Caribbean brokers are Ed Hamilton & Co. (800-621-7855), Lynn Jachney (800-223-2050), and Carole Borden at Aqua Safaris (800-524-3444).

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