Many bareboat charter companies in the BVI have boats in the older age brackets, "6 to 10" years ... and sometimes even older. Most are still quite reliable and have been maintained well. Of course, they are not new, so wear and tear and some
problems should be expected
and are even acceptable, given the age of the yacht and the price offered.
There are some very good Internet chat rooms where people will be able to offer you advice of all kinds. Keep in mind that boats are not inanimate objects. They have working and moving parts that are vulnerable to breakdowns ... even when new. As with cars or any machinery, older yachts have a far greater likelihood of breaking down. But the age of the yacht is generally reflected in the price.
If you are considering chartering an older boat, you are doing so for one of two reasons:
At one time, I wouldn't represent any yachts over 5 or 6 years of age. These days though, I certainly understand the need to be frugal. Because of the economy, we do represent "some" older yachts. However, once we begin receiving complaints from clients, I tend to get skittish. I will inspect the yacht and investigate all legitimate complaints. When I believe a given yacht has served it's useful charter life and should be retired, I will remove it from our inventory, without apology to the owner or bareboat company.
- You are considering buying the same yacht model and want to live aboard for a short while to ensure it suits your needs before making a final decision.
- Your budget dictates that an older yacht is the way to go.
However, as the charterer, you must realize that there is a chance that you will be the one who brings the necessity to delete the yacht from our inventory to light. No matter how often I inspect a yacht, I can't possibly know everything that "might" go wrong unless I live aboard it for a while ... and that's just not possible. "Caveat emptor" is always in play with an older boat.
The best advice I can offer to those chartering an older boat (and should it break down) is ... relax and enjoy your time in paradise! It won't be long until the problem is sorted out. Think of it this way, your yacht just became a condo with a waterfront view. Regardless of where you may be, anywhere in the BVI is not such a bad place to be "stuck" for a short while.
If you find minor problems aboard, be sure to list them so that the company can address those issues before the next charter. The charter staff don't "live" on the boats, so little things may go unnoticed for quite some time if not reported. Don't let the little stuff slip by without comment as that's how little things become big things!
Having said that, there are some boats still in charter service that are well past their prime and should already be retired. Remember always that you usually get what you pay for, but you don't always have to pay top dollar for a clean and reliable boat. However, due diligence is the responsibility of all bareboaters. A good yacht charter broker you can rely upon should be able to provide up-to-date information and the whole truth about the condition of any yacht they sell.
Reputation is everything! If you hear one bad report about a particular yacht, don't worry too much, people always find things to complain about. If you hear two or more bad reports, investigate further to make sure that whatever the problems may have been, have since been sorted out. If you have any lingering doubts, back off and find something else.
The reputation of any charter company or yacht charter broker is the key to a successful and pleasurable sailing vacation! Ask as many questions as it takes to convince yourself that the boat you wish to hire will be right for you.
Go into any bareboat charter deal with your eyes open and don't take anything for granted. If you get evasive answers from the company or your broker, look elsewhere until you find someone who will be forthcoming with their answers. There are plenty of brokers and charter companies from which to choose!