Updated: Feb 18
1. Pick the Crew. Be sure those you are going to take on the charter are simpatico with each other. You don't want anyone to have walk the plank.
SKIPPER - The most important crew member is probably the Skipper. There are three options here (Full service, Solo, and hybrid).
FULL SERVICE. Skipper provided by TMM. These skippers are professional and competent with outstanding local knowledge and networks and very good with people. They know all the good spots and all the people on the islands. If you don't know where to go when you get here it might be wise to consider a skipper for this reason alone. LTD has the only air-conditioned V berth in the TMM fleet. This allows the skipper to sleep comfortably without giving up a state room. However, some of the most experienced skippers will require a stateroom. The skipper is expected to be provisioned for by the charterer. The cost of a skipper is $200 per day. A tip is customary if you feel they provided good service (20% of the skipper cost is the bottom range).
SOLO. Those wanting to be their own skipper should have experience as a skipper in a similar size and class of boat. If you just have the ASA 114 certification with no experience in command, you will likely have at a minimum a Checkout Skipper (COS). The cost of a COS is $175 per day. If you do have experience, you will at a minimum set sail in the morning with a TMM professional who will expect you to demonstrate your competence. As long as you know what you're doing this will go well. If not, then you may be stuck with a last minute skipper add-on. The length of COS for those with little to no experience will be established by TMM. They are generally very good with figuring this out. The COS will set sail with the crew and mostly observe how you run the boat and crew. He may ask for specific actions to be performed (Docking, Mooring, Anchoring, etc.). Once the COS is satisfied and you are ready to go solo they depart the boat and ferry back to Tortola (that cost is paid by the charterer, $30-50). Then you are on your own.
HYBRID/ASA CERT. If you don't have ASA 104 or 114 (ASA 103 must be accomplished before hand) and on the next trip want to go solo then this is your best option. An ASA instructor skipper can be provided to you as you complete this on your charter. The skipper is paid ($250-300/day) for 6-7 days. The training and checkout may not take that long depending on your progress and ability. If the full time is not needed the skipper may leave the boat early (no refund however for days not on the boat). This is a fantastic option for the new guy that has been bit by the sailing bug. You get certified, local knowledge, and checked out at TMM (so you can solo on the next trip). There is a high demand for these ASA skippers and these bookings should be complete well in advance.
FIRST MATE - There should be someone on the boat that has experience crew a boat or at a bare minimum a good communicator who follows directions. TMM professionals will assist in providing pointers for those who don't have experience.
REST OF THE CREW - should be able to comfortably fit on the boat. There are 3 staterooms with a double mattress in each, a single V berth, and a salon area. The staterooms sleep (1-2), the V berth sleeps 1. And the salon could sleep 2 if needed. The ideal crew size is 6 adults or possibly 7 (with small children).
2. Reserve the Boat. Determine the dates you would like to book based on availability. Reserve those dates with a soft hold. A soft hold is for 7 days while paperwork (charter contract and skipper resume) is processed. Place a deposit and hard book the dates.
3. Book the transportation. Reference this link. This is critical during peak seasons. You may want to complete this step before placing a deposit and hard booking the dates.
4. Check your passports. The BVI requires a passport for entry. You will clear customs and incur a $20 fee per person for customs and a $10 environmental and tourism charge per person.
5. Plan the trip or don't. The best reference for planning your trip is the "Cruising Guide To The Virgin Islands" by Simon Scott. I highly recommend you purchase this book if you want to know everything before you show up. The boat has this resource on it so you can also shoot from the hip if you like.
6. Provision the boat or don't. You may want to cook every night on the boat. Most islands have really good restaurants. Some don't have any. I like to eat out mostly. I have never provisioned the boat because I prefer to do that when I get there. There is a Riteway next to the marina that has everything I need for breakfast, lunch and snacks. I will purchase dinner food if I know I'm going to an austere island. For more specific guidance on provisioning click here.
7. Pack for the trip. I'm not going to make the mistake of telling you how to pack. But some items you will want to take are:
Medicines you need.
Sunscreen and sunburn remedies.
Motion sickness remedies.
No need to bring first aid kit... those are on the boat.
If you have a favorite mask and snorkel, bring it and leave the flippers. TMM provides all of those items at no charge.
Beach towels... you will have bathroom towels.
Waterproof stuff sack... if you go to the Baths by boat you will be swimming to shore.
Your own meat... The meat in the stores is not the best. If you have a cooler... pack it with dry ice and your favorite meats and any specialty foods.
Don't forget to pack your LTD shirts... go here to purchase.
LTD has 2x SUP for owner booked clients.
8. Have the best vacation of your life. This is the most important step! If you do have a great time... please post on the FaceBook page... It helps me out tremendously.