Private Yacht or Sailboat for 16 to Island Hop

Old Apr 11th, 2006, 10:13 AM
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Private Yacht or Sailboat for 16 to Island Hop

For a small family reunion (16 adults) we thought it would be wonderful to rent a yacht or sailboat (complete with captain and crew) to island hop in the Caribbean. I've researched magazines, but can only find occupancy for some of the prices are outrageous.

We may be way out of our league, but I thought we'd come to you first for suggestions, recommendations and ideas!

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Old Apr 11th, 2006, 10:59 AM
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Hi jewelhawg,

When are you going?

We are also planning a family reunion next year in the Caribbean. We've sailed in the Caribbean twice before, each time getting a larger boat. The last one was a catamaran and there were 14 of us. A little snug, but it worked. We had a few kids, so they slept where ever there was a spot. I haven't found a catamaran, powerboat or sailboat that held more than 12 people so we decided to split it up this time. Half of us will be on a sailboat and the other half will be on the cat. Fortunately, 3 of us have sailing experience, so a captain was never an issue. We also did our own cooking, so we never hired a cook. They average about $120/day EACH and you have to have a spot for them to sleep.

Once we broke out the costs for each person, it only came to a little less than $1000 per person (for 10 days). This included the boat, taxes, insurances, and estimated food/fuel/water/docking fees expenses. But didn't include the airfare. It's pricey, but we plan these trips 2 years in advance and make quarterly payments to the kitty. We've been going through TMM ([email protected]) and have found them to be WONDERFUL!

I coordinate all of these trips and have gotten pretty good at it (down to planning the menus...). I also send out emails on a quarterly basis (when payments are due)with websites for everyone to look at complete with a time duration of how many days, hours, minutes and seconds are left. They love that part.

As we get 3 months out, I send everyone an email asking them about food preferences, allergies, suggestions and come up with the list of what we'll be having on a daily basis. I then email the list to Bobby's Market Place and everything is delivered to the boat when we arrive. To make it more affordable, everyone of us brings a second carry on with non-perishables (soap, coffee... items that are cheaper in the US) and after those bags are unpacked, you have the 2nd carry on for souvenirs. A month prior to the trip I let everyone know what to bring and what not to bring (most of them haven't been there).

If you're interested in a little help, let me know. I designed a spreadsheet that lists all the costs and when they're due.

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Old Apr 11th, 2006, 11:33 AM
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Yachts capable of accomodating 16 adults plus crew are, by definition, going the be quite large and have prices to match. One suggestion would be to consider renting two small boats and have your own mini-floatilla. You may find this to be a bit more economical. Since you've already done some reasearch and have some idea of costs you may find similar size crewed chartered boats are going to be priced about the same no matter which broker you use. Since you didn't specify a dollar figure in your post it's difficult to tell what you mean by "outrageous" prices but keep in mind chartering a boat is somewhat like renting a villa in that you usually get what you pay for - i.e. older, less desirable boats are often less expensive than neww better equipped boats.

If you do a google search for "Caribbean Crewed Yacht Charters", "Crewed Yacht Charters, British Virgin Islands" (the premier sailing destination in the Caribbean) or "Crewed Yatch Charters, Grenadines (another sailing mecca) you'll find links to hundreds of yacht brokers who can quote prices for you. You should find plenty of photos, complete descriptions of the boats including crew backgrounds and even sample menus. Keep in mind power boats will be more expensive than comparable size sailboats.

One other thing you will have to decide upon is where you want to sail. I gather from your post that many, if not all, in your party are not experienced sailors. If that's the case you want to avoid "open water" sailing and stick to areas where you are never out of sight of land. As noted above, the British Virgin islands is the Number 1 sailing destination in the Caribbean. These islands are all fairly close together so you can easily visit quite a few of them during an average week or two's vacation and the waters between islands are relatively calm. The Grenadines is a similar grouping of close (albiet fewer) islands that are ideal for sailing.

One last thought, sailing around the island is more akin to camping rather than staying at an upscale resort. Unless you are chartering a mega yacht you are going to find the accomodations are somewhat spartan (some people even say cramped), and you dress very casually. Sailing the islands can be a lot of fun but it's not for everyone so do your research to be sure you know what to expect. I enjoy it a lot, my spouse, however, thinks more along the lines "been there, done that, don't have to do it again".

Hope this gives you a start.
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Old Apr 11th, 2006, 11:54 AM
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Dear ATraveler and Islandhappy,
You both have been more than helpful! We are talking about going in May 2007 so there's still time. None of us have done more than a day charter or a cruise, so this will be a new experience. I appreciate the suggested areas for calm waters because several of us do need Dramamine when we cruise. I'll check with the others and share the information you've given me to see if they'd rather do a "regular cruise". Or, possibly stay on a resort and do a day charter.
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Old Apr 11th, 2006, 12:16 PM
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A few more items to keep in mind when you consider a yacht charter. International laws/regulations change when a licenced vessel carries more than 12 passengers...called SOLAS regulations = more strict & more money. Costs for motor yachts are generally higher than sailing yachts.
"Outrageous"...if a true yacht, not so! Consider that a yacht of the size you might consider probably cost over $40.0 million. At least 8 crew for the usual 50/50 ratio (Captain makes $100,000/year & a good chef almost same amount, to say nothing of the crew). The list of expenses go on. Its not unknown for >$200,000/week, plus ALL expenses, plus minimum 10% of charter price for crew gratuity.
Your own 5 or 6 star (floating) hotel with staff at your beck & call (24/7) doesn't come cheap! For some, the privacy, security and independence of travel, meals, toys, etc...makes chartering a yacht very good value. For most of us, however, a big Lotto win, might just cover a week or two! Cheers, Richard.
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Old May 4th, 2006, 05:06 PM
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Islandhappy -

We leave for Tortola for our sailing trip next Friday and would love to hear any insight on what to bring / where to go / etc. We sailed in 94 USVI and BVI, but this time sticking to BVI and maybe even head up to Anegada. We plan to pick up provisions at Riteway, as well as bring misc. items from the States. Our group is made of 3 couples.
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Old May 5th, 2006, 09:56 AM
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jewelhawg: Have you looked into the Windjammer Cruises? These are masted sailing vessels which island hop and although are not private, it still maintains a "sailboat" feel. A good number of posters have raved about this experience.
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Old May 5th, 2006, 04:21 PM
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Agree with Tuxedocat. Windjammers can be chartered. I don't know the cost but a charter just put the cabosh to my tentatively planned trip the week of Thanksgiving. I believe they will charter a minimum group of 15. Even if you don't choose to charter you would be eligible for a discount when booking a group of that number. Meals would be included, you would have a few itineraries to choose from, you would island hop. Here's the website
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Old May 5th, 2006, 04:33 PM
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Forgot to add I am admittedly a big WJ fan having sailed 10 times in 15 years. Others have sailed much more than me and would vacation no other way. They truly are barefoot cruises, casual is the theme of the week but how casual would you be on a rented sailboat. Meals, wine with dinner though average, rum swizzles at 5ish, and morning Bloody Marys are included in the price. Average rooms run around $1000 for the week Sun-Sat plus airfare. The Grenadines are my favorite islands so I have sailed on the Yankee Clipper the past 2 yrs. My initiation and 8 other cruises were on the Polynesia. Would not hesitate to sail on any of the ships. Dependent on the time of year all the ships except for the YC reposition from one season to the next.

Seasickness is rarely a problem If you are proactive and think you might be sick or have a history of seasickness take your Dramamine an hour before setting sail, put on your wristbands if that's your choice or the scop patch. If you use the sco[p patch it needs to be in place for at least 2 hours so you have the medication circulating in your system. Ginger candy crystalized ginger are also options. Have fun.
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Old May 6th, 2006, 06:23 AM
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Kathryn B sails the Caribbean in winter and Eastern seaboard in summer. I met the owners in Bequia and toured the ship. AMAZING. They carry 14 and might stretch to 16. Cost is $20K+ per week.

FAiling that, the flotilla option is a good one. Contact one of the charter outfits in St. Vincent - a great place to start from.

Vinceygirl's suggetion of WJ is excellent as well.
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Old May 6th, 2006, 01:38 PM
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Definitely second the idea to charter two boats. You are not likely to find a yacht you can afford that sleeps 16 -- it would look like a small ship ;-) If you charter two boats it will be more affordable and you all have more room.

Be really sure all 16 are committed and pay deposits. If you get down to final payments and people back out, the price goes up for everyone else.
I mention this because when I planned my wedding (in Hawaii) I took friends/relatives at their word and did not require them to cough up the deposits

Anyway, charter two boats in the British Virgin islands would be wonderful and an experience everyone would always remember.

Also, if you just get a Captain and not a crew, you will save money. With that many adults, you can take turns fixing meals and you will also want to eat out part of the time.

May is a good time to go, it's probably the beginning of low season.

Good luck with your planning
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