Yacht Charters


Last issue I wrote a wishful narrative about chartering a mega yacht and being swept away by a professional crew that tends to your every need while visiting magical destinations reserved for the rich and famous. Well, there is a flip side to that article that I would like to share with you. Throughout the world there are hundreds upon hundreds of small charter companies that specialize in leasing small motor yachts at a fraction of the cost of a fully crewed mega yacht; this is called bare boat chartering.   

It all starts out with a quick search on the internet to the area you’re most interested in visiting. Keep in mind a bareboat charter means no Captain or crew. You need to have some basic boat handling experience at the very minimum…..if you don’t, invite or team up with friends who do. Most bareboat charter companies have 40 ft. to 60 ft. vessels in their fleets. Most charter outfits either have all power (twin engine) or all sailboat (single engine) vessels in their fleet; some do have both though. Let’s talk about power boats.  Accommodations vary between boats but it generally goes like this: one master state room with attached bath, two side by side single berths that share a bath or two bunk rooms that share a bath. Every boat will have a galley but most have small fridges so keeping too many provisions will be a challenge. The rest of the boat will have a salon area with a couch or two and some chairs and either a nice fly bridge or aft deck to enjoy cocktails and sunsets.

Ok, you have decided to invite a couple friends and split the cost between you; in general, the average charter yacht runs about $1500.00 per day so your end cost for the week is nominal. Since this is your first bareboat charter and you are being prudent with your hard earned money, I would suggest starting out in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). You will find many reputable charter outfits in Tortola stretching from Nanny Cay to Road Town. All good charter companies will do a comprehensive interview either online or by phone and set you up with a boat that best suits your needs.

Getting to the BVI can be a pretty fun adventure because there is no airport on the island. There is a small airport on neighboring Beef Island and a road connecting to Tortola, but the flights are less seldom and expensive. Most everyone flies into St. Thomas and catches a ferry boat either from Charlotte Amalie,  or treks across the island to Red Hook on the east end. My suggestion is to settle in with a cold rum drink or two and take the scenic ride across the island, there is much to see! Once you arrive in Red Hook the ferry ride across to Tortola only takes about 20 minutes as you pass Hawksnest, Trunk and Maho Bay along the base of St. John. Depending on the charter company you choose you may stop and clear customs at the West End or farther east into Road Town, either way you have already started an amazing adventure just getting to your charter boat.     

Once you arrive at your boat a check-out Captain will spend some time with your entire crew to familiarize you with safety equipment, electronics, anchoring procedures and the basic operations to get you moving. Your check-out Captain will also provide you with a hard bottom inflatable tender that you tow behind so that whenever you anchor out you will have transportation to shore. All that’s left is to provision the boat with food and drink! 

With a little research and planning you can literally start the adventure of a lifetime and touch down within a couple hours flight from South Florida. Don’t forget your camera and a quarter. Pictures to share with friends and the quarter to flip and see who gets the master stateroom!