How to Take a Caribbean Sailing Vacation Right Now
Sailing through the British Virgin Islands on a chartered catamaran is quite the fantastic trip it sounds like, but here’s a surprise I got during my time cruising around Tortola, Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke on a yacht from Moorings rental: The trip can actually be quite affordable as well as remarkably customizable.
Design your own vacation – in advance or on the fly
On my last trip to the BVI with Moorings in February 2022, I had a fairly rigid plan to stop at all the main islands, plus two resorts, Saba Rock and the Bitter End Yacht Club – both beautifully restored and reopened after being heavily damaged. by hurricanes in 2017.
On previous trips, however, we were more or less able to map out each day’s route the day before depending on weather, distance and mood. A stop for snorkeling at The Indians, perhaps, or a drink aboard the legendary Willy T party boat? A good meal at Pirates Bight or a tasting at the Cooper Island rum bar? And when do we make the mandatory stop for our Soggy Dollar painkillers on Jost Van Dyke?
Every day can be an adventure of choice – (almost) all fun.
“The beauty of yacht vacations, and especially charter vacations in the British Virgin Islands, is the flexibility,” says Ian Pedersen, senior marketing manager at Moorings. “The number of islands in the area and wide variety of scenic stops to explore allow visitors to create their own unique schedule and itinerary, and being aboard your own yacht means you can go where you want, when you want. wish it.”
If you’re a beginner, the range of options can be daunting. That’s why Moorings offers sample itineraries on its website and employs a team of vacation planners who can help you work out the smallest details.
Your captain can also be an invaluable planning resource if you’re unsure of what to do – and a real lifeline when things go a little awry.
On my 2022 trip, for example, my itinerary included a stop for dinner at Guana Island, one of the best private resorts in the Caribbean and famous for its natural beauty. That evening, however, nature was not in an accommodating mood.
My captain, Ben Moreton, an affable Brit who came to the BVI after years of sailing off the coast of Australia, made a valiant effort to get us to Guana against the heavy winds and seas, but wisely made the choice to return to a Safe Port. The meal we had together at a beach bar in Tortola that night might not have been as glamorous as dinner at a resort, but it made a lot more sense. And Guana Island will still be there the next time I return to the BVI.
“You should always be prepared for changing conditions during your trip and be open to options recommended by the captain,” advises Moreton. “They will always look for the most suitable locations based on the given conditions. Remember that a sailing vacation is unique for many reasons, and one of them is that your surroundings are constantly changing. The opportunity to sail a boat is always a very fortunate position, and you can always consider the good times and the bad times as an experience like no other.
The Key to Affordability: Bring Friends
Anyone familiar with RV travel can understand the basics of your transportation also serving as an overnight hotel. And that’s just as true on Caribbean waters as it is on a land road trip.
You won’t really spend much time in your cabin other than sleeping. But the berths are comfortable and the Moorings captains are experts at finding the ports and anchorages with the calmest waters to ensure you get a good night’s sleep. While sailing you will probably spend most of your time on deck, but in bad weather the catamarans have spacious cabins to shelter from the rain.
My February 2022 charter with the Moorings involved a week on a four-cabin catamaran, called the Moorings 4800. It is a 48ft sailing catamaran that can also be powered under power, available both as a bareboat charter (this which means you are the captain) or crewed with a captain provided by Moorings.
In January 2023 a four cabin sailing catamaran like the one I chartered from the BVI for 6 nights starts at $16,000.
However, in low season, such as October 2022, the same boat can be purchased for as little as $9,000 for the week.
An all-inclusive crewed yacht, including captain, starts at around $17,000 for the week. Monohull boats, also available from Moorings, are slightly more affordable and also available as bareboat or crewed charters.
Remember, however, that the costs for a one week yacht charter include the price of the boat, fuel and, if desired, a captain, chef and food. The last two are optional if you know how to pilot the boat yourself and provision the boat yourself.
(If you hire a captain and/or chef, keep in mind when calculating costs that a tip is customary for good service – typically 20% of the charter cost. Believe me, once you see how much work a good captain puts in during your week at sea, you will realize that the tip is well deserved.)
If you are not a sailor, you can also travel with a friend who is an experienced skipper, as I did on my previous trip to the BVI with Moorings. Sailing with friends who know how to sail also frees up an extra cabin to help cover the cost of the charter – you’ll split into four trips instead of three.
“Because a yacht charter is so flexible and offers so many different options…from bareboat trips, sailing trips to luxury all-inclusive charters with captain and chef, prices can vary widely,” notes Pedersen. “The industry standard, however, is that the yacht is priced per day, not per person. So on a four-cabin sailboat costing $15,000 for a 7-day charter, for example, if four couples get together, the cost is approximately $535 per couple, per day, which is about the cost of what one would expect at an all-inclusive resort.
The Moorings has an extensive network of bases across the Caribbean, meaning you can take this type of sailing vacation from bases in Antigua, Belize, the BVIs, Bahamas, Grenada, Martinique, Sainte -Lucia, St Thomas and St Martin.
“The difference, of course, is that on board a yacht charter you essentially take your hotel room with you wherever you want, so the yacht acts as your hotel room, car rental and daily excursions in a nice and neat package,” he says. .
Provisioning the boat with food and drink and preparing meals for yourself is another way to cut costs. Some market items are more expensive than in the US, but Moorings is quite reasonable with their markups: a piece of salmon for dinner was $11, but I also only paid $2.50 for a dozen of eggs and $13 for a bottle of Mount Gay Eclipse rum.
Either way, you still pay less for meals and drinks on board than you would in a restaurant or bar. Well-equipped kitchens ensure you’ll eat well, whether you just want to boil water for morning coffee or prepare a full evening meal with friends.
Of course, eating delicacies like Lobster Anegada and other delicious Caribbean dishes is part of the destination you’ll want to experience, but even cooking your own breakfast or mixing your own drinks when you’re safely docked at an anchorage at the end of the day can save you a lot of money.
And that’s just a small part of what you’ll need to raise your glass to on a Moorings yacht charter.
To find out more, visit The Moorings.