YACHT CHAR­TERS New­bies for

A first-timer’s guide to char­ter­ing in the trop­ics


Never char­tered? No prob­lem. Here are some tips to get you through your first (few) time(s) char­ter­ing in the Caribbean, a trop­i­cal par­adise close to home where the time change is min­i­mal, English is preva­lent and the re­mark­able change of scenery will make you for­get that snow­storm back home.


Start small. Un­less you have han­dled a 50-footer be­fore, choose char­ter ves­sels that are eas­ier to sail, reef and dock. Con­sider a cata­ma­ran if you need the ex­tra room. Cats are eas­ier to dock thanks to their twin en­gines, they’re bet­ter for peo­ple who suf­fer from sea­sick­ness and pro­vide more space so every­one’s com­fort­able.

Do not miss the chart brief­ing. There’s no sub­sti­tute for lo­cal knowl- edge, whether it’s about tourist high­lights, shoal ar­eas, weather or even how to pick up a moor­ing. “We al­ways pro­vide a full, in-depth in­di­vid­ual chart and boat brief­ing with ev­ery char­ter whether they are first timers or salty dog char­ter­ers,” says Me­gan Wil­son, sales man­ager at BVI-based Conch Char­ters. Jackie Ash­ford of Hori­zon Yacht Char­ters in An­tigua adds, “We give them [our char­ter­ers] a one-to-one chart brief­ing so they can ask any ques­tions—from the best an­chor­age to the best roti—no ques­tion is a stupid ques­tion.”

Don’t be blasŽ about the tech­ni­cal check­out where you’ll learn about your boat and all its sys­tems. Make sure you know how to run the genset, mon­i­tor the bat­ter­ies, change wa­ter tank man­i­folds and read the elec­tron­ics. Use your phone to record the in­for­ma­tion or bring a friend for a sec­ond set of ears. Most com­pa­nies now give you a ded­i­cated cell

Bare­foot Yacht Char­ters BVI Yacht Char­ters Conch Char­ters CYOA Char­ters Dream Yacht Char­ter Foot­loose Char­ters Hori­zon Yacht Char­ters Marine­max Va­ca­tions Moor­ings Sail Abaco

Sail Caribe sail­caribe.com

Sun­sail sun­sail.com

TMM Yacht Char­ters sailtmm.com

among its crew, seven of them be­long­ing to skip­per, Bouwe Bekking. Scal­ly­wag, with just one 2014-15 crew, and Turn the Tide, with crew un­de­ter­mined other than Bri­tish skip­per Dee Caf­fari and Kiwi boat cap­tain Liz Ward­ley, who have three races be­tween them, will be es­pe­cially af­fected by this lack of ex­pe­ri­ence. As two-time vet­eran Carolijn Brouwer, the prin­ci­pal helmsper­son with the all-fe­male 2014-15 Team SCA and now with Dongfeng, ex­plains, you can only learn to drive in the South­ern Ocean in the South­ern Ocean—there’s sim­ply noth­ing else like it in the world. Bot­tom line: ex­pect Dongfeng, Mapfre, Ak­zoNo­bel, Ves­tas 11th Hour Rac­ing and Team Brunel to duke it out at the front of the fleet, while it will be tougher go­ing for Scal­ly­wag and Turn the Tide on Plas­tic.

Of course, the team of most in­ter­est to North Amer­i­can fol­low­ers will be Ves­tas 11th Hour Rac­ing, a vet­eran squad that in ad­di­tion to En­right and Tow­ill in­cludes Bri­tain’s Si­mon Fisher as nav­i­ga­tor; U.S. sailor Nick Dana; Aussies Tom John­son and Phil Harmer; Kiwi Tony Mut­ter; Ir­ish sailor Damian Fox­all; Bri­tish sailor Han­nah Di­a­mond; and Dan­ish Olympian Jena Mai Hansen. Dis­cussing his chances in his sec­ond at­tempt at a VOR, New­port-based En­right said: “This is an Amer­i­can skip­pered

Our Moor­ings 4800, Apakorn, lies at an­chor off a fish­ing vil­lage

The view of An­tigua’s English Har­bour from Shirley Heights is one of the best in the Caribbean SAIL MAGAZINE

China’s Dongfeng Race Team is packed with vet­er­ans from pre­vi­ous races, in­clud­ing its tal­ented French-born skip­per, Charles Cau­drelier

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