Yacht Charters in the British Virgin Islands by Bareboats BVI
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Bareboats BVI - Bareboat Sailing and Motor Yacht Charters

FAQ - Part 1:

We are often asked questions and advice about bareboat and crewed yacht charters. It's what we do!

Part 1 of our FAQ is for those who have never chartered in the British Virgin Islands or anywhere else. For those who have charter experience and would like to know more details about chartering in the BVI, please see FAQ Part 2.

If you have any questions not answered here, please feel free to contact us and we will do our best to answer promptly.


What are the qualifications required to charter a bareboat?

All charter companies require a sailing resume, outlining your boating experience upon making your reservation.

Note: It's a good idea to submit your sailing resume for approval prior to paying for your bareboat charter if you have any doubt about your boat handling abilities or experience!

Prior to leaving the dock, you will be given a detailed yacht systems and chart briefing. For insurance purposes and as a "first time" guest, some companies may require a quick sail around the harbour with a check-out skipper to verify that your sailing resume and skills match.

Your check out cruise is not the daunting task that some would have you believe. For insurance purposes, the bareboat companies are required to verify that you have sufficient boat handling skills, are aware of the rules of the road and able to read a nautical chart in order to safely operate the yacht you intend to hire. Provided you are comfortable with your abilities and have had sufficient experience (as detailed on your sailing resume), there should be no trouble at all.

Following is a sample of the type of questions asked on the standard bareboat sailing resume. Each company has its own set of questions ... but this should give you the general idea:

Sample Bareboat Sailing Resume

Do you presently own a yacht?
If yes, please list Make, Model, year, length of boat and length of time you have owned it:
Have you owned other yachts?
If so please list:
Have you chartered in the past?
If so, from whom and when?
Do you have any offshore or long distance sailing experience?
If so, please provide brief details:
Are you able to read and understand a nautical chart?
Are you aware of the internationally accepted rules of the road as they pertain to yacht handling and sailing in general?
Are you confident that you you have sufficient knowledge of boat handling, marine navigation and boat systems to safely handle the sailboat or power boat you wish to charter?
Do you have certification from any recognized bodies such as the American Sailing Association or Royal Yachting Association?
If so, please list:

Many competent sailors have never owned their own yacht or chartered in the past. However, they may have crewed for many years and have a good deal of sailing experience. These yachtsmen know the rules of the road, are knowledgeable in marine navigation, boat systems and can safely and capably handle the boat they wish to rent. If you fall into this category, please check here. ____

Please provide details of your sailing experience.

I have been asked; "What will happen if I stretch the truth on my sailing resume just so somebody will charter me a boat?"

A good yacht briefer (or even a poor one) will know within five minutes of your briefing if you know your way around a boat and have sufficient knowledge to handle it or not. The charter company has the right to cancel your contract should they believe your boat handling skills are deficient or they may require you to hire a captain for the duration of your vacation. Just be truthful and accurate about your experience, as this form will be provided to the insurance company in the unlikely event of an accident.

If you are determined to bareboat and stretch the truth on your sailing resume and *IF* you are able to hoodwink the yacht briefer (which is doubtful), it may come back to haunt you. Insurance companies are renowned for their investigative abilities!

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Can we take sailing lessons while on vacation?

Sure you can! ASA (American Sailing Association) levels 101, 103 & 104 are available on monohull sailboats only. If you were planning a crewed or captain only holiday, for a few extra dollars, (negligible really) you can hire an ASA sailing instructor instead. We also offer level 114 for those wishing to become catamaran certified. However, you must take the first three courses aboard a monohull first.

For course outlines, see our ASA Sailing Lessons page.

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What are the Duties and Responsibilities of the Captain & Cook?

Your charter captain is a skilled professional hired to drive the boat, provide information regarding preferred destinations and anchorages and to ensure the safety of the yacht as well as his/her charter guests. I stress the word "professional" because these men and women spend the better part of their lives in the company of strangers who more often than not become friends inside of a week.

Your captain is more than a tour guide or chauffeur. Most all charter captains are very people oriented types and have a sixth sense about when to make themselves scarce or when to interact with your group. There is little need to be concerned about having a stranger aboard.

Your cook or chef is provided to prepare whichever meals you might choose ... and of course to clean up the galley afterwards. A really good charter cook/chef is generally the unsung hero of the industry. Hard work, long hours and low pay are standard. The working environment is the only real bonus. Be kind to your cook and she/he will do everything possible to make your sailing vacation a real success.

Please note that your crew are not baby-sitters. If you'd like a baby-sitter, it would be best to bring one with you. We can sometimes convince the odd cook to baby-sit, but as this is not their job, it would behoove the charter guest to offer additional pay for this service if the cook or captain is willing.

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Should we be concerned about hiring a captain and having a stranger on board?

The movie "Captain Ron" didn't do the charter industry any favours! Although good humour is always at least "based" in truth ... the character, "Captain Ron", was a delivery captain and not a charter captain. There's a BIG difference between the two professions and too many differences to list here!

The large majority of charter captains working in the British Virgin Islands have had many years of sailing experience and are consummate professionals. More often than not, we get glowing reports from charter guests saying that their captain MADE their sailing vacation a dream come true. We always do our best to match you up with the right captain to suit your stated preferences.

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May we hire a captain for just a day or two on our bareboat charter?

Absolutely! If its been a while since you've sailed and you would like to brush up on your sailing skills with the aid of a professional captain, you may hire one for the first day or two of your charter. Current cost is $200.00 per day plus meals for an instructional skipper. Remember that your captain will need somewhere to sleep if you plan to have him aboard for more than one day ... or you may choose to stay at an anchorage convenient to the captain's home so he may sleep ashore.

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What about Crew Gratuities in the British Virgin Islands?

It is common practice to tip your crew between 10 to 15% of the charter fee based upon services rendered. If you are unhappy with the service received ... tip or don't tip accordingly. In any case, please make sure that the charter company or your yacht charter broker is aware of your satisfaction or dissatisfaction with any crew members.

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What are the most common accidents aboard bareboat yacht charters?

The most serious and sometimes deadly bareboating accidents often take place when traveling in your dinghy. PLEASE use common sense and:

  • Be certain to carry a 360 degree white light as well as a flashlight and have it turned on at all times when traveling at night. It is unsafe to move even a short distance in any boat or dinghy without a light.
  • Take life jackets with you for all aboard your dinghy. If you have children aboard, be sure they are wearing them at all times while in the dinghy.
  • If one is not supplied on the yacht, bring a hand held radio to take with you on your dinghy. Something as simple as running out of gas can become a major problem!
  • Use the dead man's switch as it was intended and secure it around your wrist when operating the engine, every time you start the engine, even if only going a short distance.
  • Though you may be on holiday ... drinking and driving don't mix! If you've been drinking, step aside and let someone else drive the dinghy.
  • Observe the speed limit in anchorages. Too many boaters think this rule doesn't apply to dinghies. It does!

Other common bareboating accidents are rookie mistakes that are easily preventable:

Problem:
Getting the dinghy painter, mooring line or dock line wrapped around the propeller.

Solution:
1) Assign one crew member whose task is to to take up the slack in your dinghy line when maneuvering in tight quarters or reversing. If that person is indisposed, be sure the backup person knows what they are doing.

2) Always put somebody on point (bow of the boat) to keep an eye out for floating mooring lines when entering an anchorage.

3) When leaving an anchorage, make sure that the crew responsible for releasing the mooring line tosses it well away from the yacht ... and that they toss it down wind!

4) Always stow unused dock and spring lines. Never leave them attached to cleats or lying on deck. Lines are easily be swept overboard and can foul your prop while underway. More than one boat has seen its demise due to fouled props and shafts.

Problem:
Your dinghy goes AWOL.

Solution:
All crew need to know how to tie a few basic knots. This is a great site with diagrams of the most useful sailing knots. Be sure all aboard can at least tie a bowline, cleat knot (or anchor bend) and a clove hitch. If they can manage these three basic knots properly, your dinghy will be safe!

Problem:
Dragging anchor and hitting another yacht.

Solution:
There has been much written on the subject of anchoring. Rather than reinvent the wheel ... see these very helpful tips on anchoring from Nautical Know How.

Problem:
Breaking or burning out the electric anchor windlass.

Solution:
This is most often caused by putting undue pressure on the windlass motor by using the windlass to pull the yacht up to the anchor instead of driving up to the anchor and then using the windlass (as it was intended) to lift the anchor off the bottom.

Very Common Problems:
1) Cigarette burns in upholstery or other parts of the yacht.
2) Blocked heads.

No Brainer Cures:
1) Don't smoke below decks and stay to the stern of the boat when smoking above decks. Paying to fix upholstery or (worse) ... burned sails or decks can be very costly!

2) Don't put anything down the heads that you haven't eaten first!

Problem:
Hitting the dock or other yachts when docking.

Solution:
Docking is an art which requires practice. Most folks hit the dock because they are either moving too quickly or too slowly. If you approach the dock too quickly and then slam the gear shift into reverse, chances are you may hit the dock and possibly damage the gears in the process. Advancing to the dock should be done slowly, but with enough power that you maintain control over drift. Slowly is much preferred to quickly. At slow speeds (should you hit anything), the damage to the yacht, other nearby yachts or the dock itself will be minimal.

Docking requires that you get the feel for the boat your are driving and how it handles. Finding the perfect balance between too quickly and too slowly and under all weather and wind conditions is where the *art of docking* comes in. It takes practice. There is no quick cure for lack of experience, but these tips on docking from Boat Safe should help!

Problem:
Dropping equipment (such as winch handles and boat hooks) overboard.

Solution:
The only cure for this is for all crew to be aware that it happens all too frequently. Boat hooks go missing when crew members try to pick up mooring lines while the yacht is still moving too quickly.

Make sure your crew are advised as to when and when not to try to use the boat hook. Boat hooks also tend to be forgotten when not in use and are often left unsecured on the deck. Winch handles usually go overboard when they are put down on the deck while the crew member performs another task instead of putting the winch handle in its holder. Easy solution! Don't put the winch handle down anywhere other than in the holder ... ever!

You should be aware that as the charter guest, you are financially responsible for any damage or loss of equipment up to the limit stated on your charter contract. Most companies offer yacht insurance which further reduces your liability to anywhere between $400.00 and $1,000.00 (average) per incident.

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If we rent a bareboat or crewed yacht, where do we stay at night?

It may seem like a silly question ... but I've had it asked more than a few times. The answer is that you will stay on board the boat you hire and in any anchorage (permitted by the terms of your contract) you wish! Regardless of whether you are taking sailing lessons, have hired a crewed or are bareboating, you are free to go wherever you wish within the confines or limits as stated within your contract. If you are taking sailing lessons or on board a crewed yacht, your captain/instructor will be able to give you valuable information to help you chart your sailing plan.

You may opt to anchor in any number of bays, pick up a mooring or stay at a dock. Its your choice. If aboard a bareboat, consult the chart of the British and US Virgin Islands provided on board and read the sailing guide provided to plan your itinerary.


What discounts are available - if any?

From time to time, the various charter companies we represent will offer discounts. These discounts are subject to varying conditions and are often one off ... "take it while you can get it", type offers. There are seasonal discounts available from some companies for a charter lasting 10 nights to 2 weeks or longer. Repeat charter guest discounts (if sailing with the same company more than once) and 10 nights for the price of 7 in low season, are also available.

Please ask which (if any) discounts might apply to your charter.

Please note: Repeat charter guest discounts are not transferable from one company to another.

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Need more information about BVI sailing or motor yacht charters?
Call or write our bareboating specialist!

Phone: (284) 495-4168 Tortola, British Virgin Islands
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Launched: 2001 - Last Updated: January 27, 2014