If you have been tasked with arranging a Caribbean bareboat sailing holiday for your yacht club or group of friends, you have come to the right place! We represent three of the better charter companies in Tortola, BVI with a wide variety of yachts (including both power and sailboats) to suit almost any requirement.
In the past, we have handled yacht club charters with flotillas consisting of over 20 yachts and have managed to work out a rather painless system to help you achieve what you have set out to do. We know and understand what you are up against. It is no easy feat to get a group of people together for a sailing holiday!
The British Virgin Islands
is the ideal place for your yacht club vacation as it offers great anchorages, fabulous beaches with terrific beach bars and restaurants, wonderful scuba diving opportunities and of course, smooth sailing.
Five Steps For Successfully Planning Your Group Charter:
Step One: Nail down your numbers and yacht requirements.
Before setting out to get pricing for your flotilla members, you will have to establish a very close estimate of the number of yachts your club or group will require. The number of yachts will ultimately determine the discount the charter company will offer.
In my experience and even with my own family, many people express an enthusiastic interest in being part of a group sailing holiday ... until
it comes time to pay their deposit. That is when the shuffling of feet begins and it suddenly gets very difficult to contact them either by phone or email. Sadly, it is inevitable that as soon as it comes time to pay their deposits, several people who swore up, down and sideways that they really wanted to do this ... will back out! This situation can be very frustrating for the organizer because your discount is determined by the number of yachts you will be chartering.
In order to stop the "wanna be" types in their tracks, I have learned that the best and most effective way to weed out Mr. and Mrs. Wannabe ... is to establish a deadline for a "non-refundable sign up fee
" . This fee is collected by you (the club organizer) and is (eventually) paid to the charter company as part of their deposit for each yacht. Some people will grudgingly walk away from two or three hundred dollars ... but very few will want to walk away from $500.00 to $1,000.00.
You as the organizer should determine what amount is sufficient to prevent the wanna be's from gumming up the works. The sign up fees you collect will then be paid to the charter company and applied to the individual yachts as part of their deposit.
So in order to establish who is serious and who isn't, set a deadline for commitments and collect their sign up fee. No sign up fee ... then they are out of the picture. With your sign up fees in hand, you will know exactly how many boats you will require and who is truly serious.
Of course, there is always the chance that a legitimate cancellation will arise. Work, family and illnesses do happen! In such an event, you simply return their money and set your sights lower in regards to the total number of boats you will require and possible discounts. The point is that you will want to get Mr. and Mrs. Wannabe out of your hair as quickly as possible so that you know exactly what you are dealing with.
Step Two: Select your dates.
Once you have established your yacht requirements and have collected your sign up fees, you will need to get together to determine the dates which best suit the majority of your club members. It is always best to choose the shoulder season or low season for a flotilla charter. This will allow your members the best opportunity for group discounts.
Arranging your group charter in high season is fine too, but be aware that discounts may be quite limited. Most yachts book up very well throughout the high season ... without offering discounts. For the same reason, try not to plan your group charter over any holiday periods as you will likely not be offered any discounts at all. Holidays are a guaranteed sell out period for all charter companies.
If your club members can swing it, try to start your charter on a weekday. The vast majority of sailors arrange their holidays to start and end on a weekend. As a result, the charter companies are usually very busy. If you want your group to get the attention they deserve, starting and ending your charter on a weekday is the best way to accomplish that.
Choosing dates is generally the hardest thing to do because somebody always wants different dates. Before you establish dates, get in touch with us and I will advise you as to when the best discounts are available for the time frame you are looking at.
If looking for 5 to 10 yachts, it is best to begin your planning at least 8 to 10 months ahead. If looking for 10 to 20 yachts or more, you should begin to plan your flotilla charter a year or more in advance. The less lead time we have, the smaller the selection of boats.
Step Three: Who wants what?
Now that you know the number of yachts you will need, you need to figure out exactly who wants what.
- How many people will be aboard each yacht and how many cabins will they need?
- What size boat do they want?
- Do they want a powerboat or sailboat?
- Do they want a monohull or catamaran?
- Do they want a boat with a generator and air conditioning?
So now you know that Mr. X wants a 2 cabin monohull sailboat in the 33' to 40' range, without a generator or air conditioning ... and so on.
Once the first yacht is booked, we will prepare a special page, specifically for your club or group. As and when yachts are booked, we will remove them from the list so that other members will know exactly what remains available on a given day. However, availability changes daily, and sometimes even hourly. Check with us first to confirm availability.
Step Four: Contact Us
Armed with pretty much everything you need, you can now contact us. I will send you a list of yachts and all pertinent information, together with quotes indicating the discount for each yacht. You can then present this info to your club members.
Once we have reached this stage, time is of the essence
. Yachts which are available on the day that we send you the info ... may not be available the following day. Reservations come in every day of the week from all over the world. You will have to impress upon your members that they will have to choose a yacht which suits their budget and other requirements as quickly as possible. If they have any questions at all about the various yachts, they are encouraged to contact us directly.
Step Five: Reservations!
All reservations are done on a first come, first served basis. If two people in your group want the same yacht, whoever gets their option in first, gets the boat. They will then have 5 days to complete their paperwork and send in their deposit to confirm their reservation.
One contact person/captain for each yacht will be sent an invoice and charter documents, including:
- Sailing Resume Form
- Credit Card Form
- Arrival and Departure form - so we can arrange taxis for each group
- Other pertinent documents the individual charter company may require
- Information Package
Once the five day option period has expired and if we have not received the paperwork and deposit, a "last chance" notice will be sent via email, giving that person 48 hours to complete their paperwork and pay their deposit. At the end of that 48 hour period, if we still have not heard back from that person, the boat will be released and you (the organizer) as well as the individual charterer will be notified.
If that person (for one reason or another) somehow missed our first notification and wishes to reinstate their charter, they may do so at the same discount ... provided the boat is still available. They will then be given an additional 24 hours to complete their reservation. We will make every effort to accommodate everyone but unfortunately, we cannot hold yachts indefinitely without deposit.
All charter companies basically work the same way when it comes to payments. All accept both Visa and Master Card. None of the companies we work with accept Amex.
Unfortunately, wire transfers to the BVI are not handled the same way as in other countries. It can often take up to four weeks for the funds to be credited to the account. As a result, we no longer accept wire transfers for the initial deposit. Time simply does not permit, but they may be used for the second payment as the client has sufficient lead time to make arrangements. Certified cheques, bank drafts or money orders (sent via priority post) are also fine.
Please let your members know that some credit card companies charge and "foreign exchange fee", regardless of the fact that we use the U.S. dollar. They may want to ask their company in advance if they charge that fee and perhaps use a different card for their deposit if that is the case.
Since you collected a sign up fee for each yacht, you will then forward those monies to the charter company to be applied to the various yachts against their required deposit. This amount will be clearly indicated on their individual statements together with whatever the balance of their deposit may be so that they know that you have forwarded the monies.
Once all yachts have been locked in and all paperwork and deposits have been received, each charterer will receive their statement, indicating payment(s) made and their balance outstanding. Then we are pretty much done until the next payment becomes due. We will send out reminder notices one month ahead to each club member chartering a yacht.
During the pre charter process, it is imperative that you (the organizer) and I remain in close contact with each other. I don't mind answering questions from the individual charter guests about their particular boat or special needs, but I do ask that only one or two people be involved at the initial planning stages so as to avoid any misunderstandings or confusion over who was or wasn't told what.
So, don't let the task of organizing a group charter for your yacht club overwhelm you. We have done it before, we know the ins and outs and all the challenges you face ... but it's really not as complicated as it may seem at first glance. We are here to help you every step of the way.
For more information about bareboat holidays, see our Yacht Charter Information section. Come to the British Virgin Islands for a fabulous Caribbean sailing vacation!