Your own Caribbean Island

This could be you!

Have you ever wanted to chart your own course through the crystal clear waters of the Caribbean in search of that secluded beach made just for your beach chair and table with a fruity rum drink? Well, I have and a few years ago my friend and I started talking about doing this together with our husbands, along with another couple or two. The only thing is none of us are experienced sailors. As we began to look into how we could accomplish this dream trip, we soon learned that you don’t have to have sailor listed on your resume to make this dream a reality.

There are literally hundreds of sailing companies around the Caribbean who have sailing vessels available to charter. Most companies have sailboats and catamarans available in a variety of lengths and numbers of berths depending on your party’s size.  The Moorings and Sunsail are a couple of the larger companies that you see the ads for in the travel magazines and websites.  They have new boats and branches in most sailing areas of the Caribbean.  Their cost will reflect their premium service as well.  If you are like me and like to save money, choose to go with one of the smaller, local companies like Barefoot or Horizon.  They have older boats, and their service is a bit more laid back, but hey, you’re in the Caribbean.  There is generally three ways to charter a vessel.

The cheapest way is to do a bareboat charter. This would be the option where the charterer would need to have sailing experience with sailing close to the same size vessel as what they are chartering.   They would also need to be able to sail the passages around reefs and be able to chart their own course.  The only advantage I see to this option is that you don’t have to share the boat with someone you are not familiar with such as the captain or the cook.  Other than that, you are having to do all the sailing, cooking , cleaning up.  I don’t want to have to do that in the Caribbean onboard my own private boat (chartered of course) for my vacation.

The second option available to you is to do a skippered bareboat charter.  This, I  have read  is a good option for someone wanting to eventually bareboat and ease into it.  Usually, you still use a bareboat company to charter your boat and they can help you find a freelance skipper to sail with you for part or all of your trip.  As I see it, this is not much different from the first option, except you don’t have to sail the boat if you don’t want to.  Often times though, this option can cost about the same as the third option.

The third option available to you by most companies, and the option I think is the most enticing is a fully crewed charter.  This would include a captain and a cook and is generally on the more high-end vessels.  All meals are included in your price along with house wines and an open bar.  The food is prepared to your taste and to a high standard.  You choose the itinerary and activities on a day-to-day basis.  One of the best things I like about this option is when you are finished with dinner (and dessert), instead of cleaning up the dishes you and your sailing mates can head up to sit out under the beautiful night sky to observe the stars that sailors have used for hundreds of years to chart their courses.

As I mentioned above, there are literally hundreds of charter companies, some with many, many boats and some with just a few, so what would be the best way to find a crewed boat and charted course for you?  I have found a company that is a brokerage for all the different companies, who can take what things you would like most out of your vacation and match you with the best boats and crews, along with the best course for you.  Ed Hamilton & Co. has a staff of 8 that will work to make sure they find what you are looking for.  They will answer all your questions, and believe me, you will have a lot of them.  I filled out the form on the website to help figure out what we were looking for and in a couple of days I received an email with about 10 different boats to choose from.  You are also able to look at a bio of the skipper and cook to get an initial idea of who would be right for your group.  They will even take care of air and hotel arrangements for you.  They take all the guess work out of it and make your decision much easier.

I look forward to the time we can finally go on our private charter vacation.  I am hoping to find that perfect, secluded beach on a tiny island in the Grenadines or maybe the British Virgin Islands.  Until then, I have other courses to chart.

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