Booking a Virgin Islands Charter
If a charter yacht vacation sounds good to you, contact any of the charter companies listed here. For crewed charters, the best source of information is the Charter Yacht Society of the BVI (tel./fax 284/494-6017, www.bvicrewedyachts.com), which keeps a listing of all active crewed yachts, prices, and contact information. For the U.S. Virgin Islands, contact the Virgin Islands Charterboat League (340/774-39440).
You can also contact a charter yacht broker. Reputable brokers include: Swift Yacht Charters (508/647-1554, fax 508/647-1556, www.swiftyachts.com) and Ed Hamilton and Co. (207/882-7855, U.S. toll-free 800/621-7855, fax 207/882-7851, www.ed-hamilton.com).
Tortola is home to the greatest number of charter boat companies. St. Thomas also has a few. In choosing between the two bases, consider the tradeoffs: St. Thomas is generally easier and quicker to get to, and groceries and other supplies are marginally cheaper. However, you have to sail for several hours and clear BVI Customs and Immigration before you reach the most popular cruising ground. Meanwhile, flying to Tortola may require an extra leg, and provisions are generally more expensive. However, when you set out on day one, you are near the best cruising attractions.
BVI Charter Companies
The largest charter yacht company on Tortola is The Moorings (Wickham’s Cay II, 284/494-2331, U.S. 727/535-1446, U.S. toll-free 888/952-8420, www.moorings.com). Its fleet features 32- to 52-foot monohulls and catamarans with 2–5 cabins. Yachts in its exclusive line are less than two years old; the club line features older boats.
Sunsail (Hodge’s Creek Marina, East End, 284/495-4740, fax 284/495-1767, U.S. toll-free 888/350-3568, www.sunsail.com) is the second biggest fish in the BVI charter yacht market.
Smaller charter companies include BVI Yacht Charters (Inner Harbour Marina, Road Town, 284/494-4289, fax 284/494-6552, U.S. toll-free 888/615-4006, www.caribbeancruisingvacations.com); Conch Charters (Fort Burt Marina, Road Town, 284/494-4868, fax 284/494-5793, U.S. toll-free 800/521-1989, www.conchcharters.com); Voyage Charters (Soper’s Hole Marina, 284/494-0740, fax 284/494-0741, www.voyagecharters.com); and Tortola Marine Management (Road Reef, 284/494-2751 or 800/633-0155, www.sailtmm.com).
Some of the lowest rates are found at North South Yacht Vacations (Nanny Cay Marina, 284/494-0096, U.S. 905/822-9146, U.S. toll-free 800/387-4964, fax 284/495-7543, www.nsyv.com), which offers monohulls, catamarans, and power yachts.
Several companies specialize in catamarans only. These include owner-operated Barecat (Soper’s Hole Marina, tel./fax 284/495-1979, U.S. toll-free 800/296-5287, www.barecat.com) and The Catamaran Company (Nanny Cay Marina, 284/494-6661, www.catamarans.com).
All the companies listed offer bareboat or crewed charters. Most will also arrange for a sailing instructor, skipper, cook, and provisioning service.
USVI Charter Companies
CYOA Yacht Charters (Frenchtown Marina, 340/777-9690, U.S. toll-free 800/944-2962) has a fleet of monohull, catamaran, and power yachts.
Locally owned and operated, Island Yachts (Red Hook, 340/775-6666, U.S. toll-free 800/524-2019) gets high marks for its personalized service.
Other charter companies are Regency Yacht Charters (Estate Nazareth, 340/776-5950, U.S. toll-free 800/524-7676), a worldwide charter yacht company, and VIP Power and Sail Yacht Charters (Compass Point Marina, 340/774-9224, U.S. toll-free 866/847-9224).
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Virgin Islands, 4th edition