We are often asked questions and advice about bareboat and crewed yacht charters in Tortola. Part 1 of our FAQ is for those who have either never chartered in the British Virgin Islands before or who have never chartered anywhere. For those who have had charter experience and would like to know more of the nitty gritty details about chartering in the BVI, please see FAQ Part 2.
If you have any questions about chartering not answered here, please feel free to submit your question(s) and we will have our bareboat specialist answer you personally.
What are the qualifications to charter a bareboat in Tortola?
All bareboat charter companies require that you submit a sailing resume, outlining your boating experience upon making your reservation.
Note: Its a good idea to submit your sailing resume for approval prior to paying for bareboat charters if you have any doubt about your boat handling abilities or experience!
Prior to leaving the dock, you will be given a full chart briefing and detailed yacht systems and operations briefing. For insurance purposes and as a "first time" guest, some bareboat companies require a quick sail around the harbour with a check-out captain to verify that your sailing resume and skills match.
Your check out cruise is not the "daunting task" that some bareboaters would have you believe. For insurance purposes, the charter companies are required to verify that you have sufficient boat handling skills, are aware of the rules of the road and are 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 knowledge and have 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 charter company in Tortola has its own set of questions ... but this should give you the general idea:
Sample Bareboat Sailing Resume
Do you presently own a yacht?
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 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!
Can we take sailing lessons while on our BVI sailing vacation?
Sure you can! ASA (American Sailing Association) sailing lessons are available on monohull sailboats. 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 and take the Basic Keelboat Sailing Standard Course, Basic Coastal Cruising Standard Course or the Bareboat Chartering Standard Course. For course outlines, see our ASA Sailing Lessons page.
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 good 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 and when to interact with your group. There is little need to be concerned about having a stranger aboard. We always make certain that your captain is the best match available for your group.
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 so inclined.
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 this captain or that 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. You have little to worry about.
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. Costs range from $125.00 per day to $170.00 per day plus meals. 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.
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.
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:
Most common bareboating accidents are rookie mistakes which are easily preventable:
Very Common Problems:
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!
You should be aware that as the charter guest, you are financially responsible for any damage caused by you up to the limit stated on your charter contract. Most companies offer a limit of $2,000.00 or $3,000.00. Yacht insurance is available which further reduces your liability to anywhere between $400.00 to $750.00 (average) per incident and is a very good idea even for experienced sailors. Accidents happen and when they do it can cast a real cloud over your sailing vacation. My best advice is to reduce your liability to the bare minimum and buy the insurance!
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. You pick! If aboard a bareboat, consult the chart of the British and US Virgin Islands provided and read the sailing guide provided to help 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", offers. There are also 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 seasonal discounts such as 10 nights for the price of 7 in low season.
Please ask which (if any) discounts might apply to your charter. Please note that repeat charter guest discounts are not transferable from one company to another.
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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