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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Florida Keys

                                                                                                                                                                               British Virgin Islands

BoatU.S. Magazine November 2009

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Here are four fabulous winter charter destinations ranging from close to home to exotic Central
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Barefoot on

                                  CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: BOB CARE/FLORIDA KEYS NEWS BUREAU, GREAT HARBOUR CHARTERS, THE MOORINGS, CARLA SHAMBLEN, ANDY NEWMAN/ FLORIDA KEYS NEWS BUREAU                                                                                                                 ROB KRIST/ FLORIDA KEYS NEWS BUREAU, PETER KING/KING YACHT CHARTERS, THE MOORINGS
   British Virgin Islands                              Bahamas

 a BareBoat
America — and lots of insider tips on the best ways to enjoy them — By Louisa Beckett

                                                                                                Florida Keys

                                        Key West

                                                                            BoatU.S. Magazine November 2009    29
B                     AB A C o s
                                       efore you sit home all winter with your boat on the hard, stop and
                                       think. If you daydream about cruising between verdant islands
                                       with white-sand beaches lapped by a turquoise sea, now is a great
                                       time to book a reasonably priced bareboat-charter vacation in
                                      sunny southern cruising grounds.
                                                If you’ve never chartered before, getting started is easy.
                                         There’s a charter boat — sail or power, bareboat or crewed — no
                                          matter your experience level or budget. A winter charter is a
                                          great way to reconnect with your family without distractions
                                          such as Game Boys and Wiis — although you’d be surprised how
                                          well-equipped some of these charter boats can be. Companies
                                        offer a choice between monohulls or catamarans; the latter have
                                   more spacious accommodations and are great for landlubber friends
                               who don’t care for heeling.
                                    These four destinations
                  offer great weather, beautiful scenery, and
                  a selection of charter boats from some of
                  the world’s most reputable companies.

                                        The Turquoise Paradise
                       The Sea of Abaco, in the northern part of The Bahamas, is an
                  ideal bareboat-charter cruising ground. Protected from the Atlantic

                                                                                                                                                                              THE MOORINGS
                  by a 120-mile chain of barrier islands, it’s deep and breezy enough
                  to attract sailors as well as powerboaters. Several charter fleets are
                  centrally located in Marsh Harbour on Great Abaco Island, which
                  has an international airport. Settled by British Loyalists fleeing                  treasure Cay has one of the best beaches in the island chain – 3.5
                  America during the Revolutionary War, the Abacos have a quaint                      miles of soft white sand.
                  Colonial ambiance — although the vibrant colors of the houses                       Hope town on Elbow Reef Cay is the site of the barber-pole-
                  add a Bahamian touch. A boat is the best way to travel here, giving                 striped lighthouse that serves as the symbol of the Abacos.
                  bareboaters an advantage over resort guests. Fishing, snorkeling,                   Restaurants perched along the spine of this cay have steps leading
                  diving, ocean beaches, and local barbecues are among the many                       to the beaches on the Atlantic side.
                  attractions.                                                                        off tHe traCk:
                                                                                                      pelican Cays Land and Sea park, about 20 nautical miles south
                   SuggeSted StopS: This tried-and-true route takes you on a                          of Elbow Cay, is worth the trip for spectacular reef diving and snor-
                   counterclockwise circuit of the Sea of Abaco.                                      keling. This 2,100-acre marine park is home to dozens of species
                                                                      Man-o-War Cay, one of           of tropical fish and seabirds.
                                                                      the best-preserved Colonial     Hot dateS:
                                                                      ports in the Abacos, is the     Junkanoo celebrations are held at Green Turtle Cay and Marsh
                                 Green Turtle Cay                     home of Albury Brothers         Harbour December 26.
                                                Great Guana Cay
                                                                      Boatbuilders, which has         Bahamas Billfish Championship: The Treasure Cay leg is April
                                    Treasure Cay                      been handcrafting skiffs for    21-24, 2010.
                                                        Man-O-War Cay generations.
                                                           Hope Town  great guana Cay offers a
                  ATLANTIC OCEAN                                      scenic anchorage, Bakers           BrITIsh vIrGIn IslAnds
                                                                      Bay. Nipper’s Beach Bar
                                                                      and Grill is a local favorite
                                                                                                                     The Enduring Classic
                                         Great Abaco                  known for its Sunday Wild            Legend has it that Norman Island in the BVI inspired Robert
                                                                      Boar Pig Roast.                 Louis Stevenson’s masterpiece novel Treasure Island. In fact, the
                                                                      green turtle Cay gives          entire island chain looks like the set of a pirate movie. The scenery
                                ATLANTIC OCEAN
                                                                      boaters the choice between      ranges from green volcanic isles to small sandy cays to natural won-
STATES                                                                tying up at upscale Green       ders such as The Baths. At the heart of it is Drake Passage, a wide
                                                                      Turtle Club marina or           swath of deep blue water blessed by steady gentle tradewinds.

Points Intrest


                                                                      anchoring off the port of       There are quite a few bareboat charter operations located in Tortola,

           ???                                                        New Plymouth for a stroll in    the BVI capital. Access is easy, thanks to the international airport
                                                                      its sculpture garden.           on adjacent Beef Island. Protected anchorages are plentiful here,
                 30   BoatU.S. Magazine November 2009

                                            ATLANTIC OCEAN

                                                                             ATLANTIC OCEAN                              Power cats are popular among bareboaters for their size and stability.
                                                                                                                         Left, many of the small islands in the Abacos are uninhabited, allowing you to

               Points Intrest

                                                                                                                         get in touch with nature.


                          ???                                                                              North Sound
                                                                                                     Virgin Gorda
                                                                                     Marina Cay
                                                             Jost Van Dyke                                               the Bitter End Yacht Club, Oct. 31-Nov. 7.
                                                                                                                         foxy’s Music fest is an annual attraction in March at Foxy’s Bar
                                                                                           Cooper Island                 on Jost van Dyke.
                                     Saint Thomas            Saint John
                                                                             Norman’s Island

               typically next to a long white beach with an open-air bar. Unlike
               some other charter destinations, the BVI blend natural beauty with
                                                                                                                                          The Protected Islands
               cosmopolitan dining and nightlife.                                                                              Tucked into the Caribbean coast of Central America between
                                                                                                                         Mexico and Guatemala, Belize is home to unspoiled nature. Its
               SuggeSted StopS: International charter brokers Peter and                                                  350-mile reef, a World Heritage Site, is the biggest barrier reef in
               Carol King of King Yacht Charters, who’ve led many charter flotillas                                      the Western Hemisphere. Protected from waves behind this vast
               through the BVI, share their favorite itinerary:                                                          reef are hundreds of uninhabited cays with a few rustic restaurants
               Cooper Island: This anchorage is a short dinghy ride from the                                             and resorts, home to teeming marine life, including whale sharks
               wreck of the R.M.S. Rhone off neighboring Salt Island. Sunk by a                                          — the biggest fish on the planet. While Belize is best known for its
               storm in 1867, the Rhone’s bow and prop are a diver’s delight.                                            world-famous diving and snorkeling, sailors love its gentle waters,
               the Baths: A jumble of giant boulders on the beach, this is the                                           consistent tradewinds, and uncrowded anchorages. The interna-
               BVI’s biggest tourist attraction. Get here early, snag a mooring close                                    tional airport is in Belize City on the coast. The bareboat charter
               enough to swim in; no dinghies allowed.                                                                   bases are located in Ambergris Cay and Placencia. In addition to
               North Sound: This Virgin Gorda sound is usually aflutter with sails                                       serving as gateways to the barrier reef, these towns are jumping-off
               from the Bitter End Yacht Club’s fleet. Leverick Bay Resort features                                      spots for expeditions to Belize’s lush rainforests, and the breathtak-
               Jumbie dancing on Fridays.                                                                                ing ancient Mayan city of Tikal, inland, a must-see.
               Marina Cay: See the airport you flew into over the rim of a
               Painkiller, the signature drink at Pusser’s.                                                              SuggeSted StopS: The Moorings charter company suggests
               Jost Van dyke: Anchor in Little Harbor and enjoy a meal at                                                gunkholing amongst these coral cays from its base in Placencia.
               Sydney’s Peace and Love, then take a taxi or hike over the hill                                           Wippari Cay: The fishing is excellent near this anchorage, and
               (bring plenty of water) to famous Foxy’s for live music.                                                  the day’s catch often winds up on the menu at the Sea Urchin Bar
               Norman’s Island: Snorkel the coral reefs around the dramatic rock                                         and Restaurant.
               formations called the Indians en route, then head to the William                                          South Water Cay: Part of the World Heritage Site, this barrier
               Thornton floating restaurant (the “Willy T” for short), known for                                         island is near a drop-off that offers great snorkeling and diving.
               its wild parties, if you’re game.                                                                         thatch Caye: You can pick up a mooring off this eco-tourism
               off the traCk:                                                                                            resort and come ashore to get a closer look at the wild coatimundi,
               At the northwest end of the BVI, 14 miles from Virgin Gorda, is                                           spider monkeys and iguanas that live here.
               anegada. Formerly off limits to charterers, you can go if you get                                         Lagoon Cay: Bird-watching, swimming and sunbathing are popu-
               advance permission. This island has beautiful beaches and fresh                                           lar ways to wile away the hours on this cay with its deep lagoon.
               lobster. The Kings recommend uncrowded Cow Wreck Beach.                                                   Queen Cay: White sandy beaches dotted with tall palms overlook
               hot dateS:                                                                                                fringing reefs ripe for snorkeling.
               pro am regatta, featuring Olympic gold medalist Anna Tunnicliffe,                                         placencia: Save time before your departure to visit this coastal fish-
                                                                                                                                                                   BoatU.S. Magazine November 2009    31
                                                                                                                                           ing village and sample Creole cuisine in its cafes.
                                                                                                                                           Off The Track:
                                                                                                                                           Scuba divers will want to extend their stay by taking a tour out to
                                                                                                     Belize City
                                                                                                                                           the Great Blue hole on Lighthouse Cay, about 60 miles off Belize
                                                                                             ATLANTIC OCEAN
                                                                                                                                           City. A limestone sinkhole with a shimmering blue surface 1,000
                                                                                                                                           feet across, it’s ringed by sheer walls plunging hundreds of feet.
                                      STATES                   COUNTRIES


                                                                                                                                           hOT DaTes:

                                                               Points Intrest

                                      Towns                             ????

                                      Points Intrest
                                                                                                                                           fiesta de carnaval: This country-wide celebration is held the
                                                                                                               ATLANTIC OCEAN              week before Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2010.
                                                                                                                                           Dive with the Whale sharks off Placencia, on the full moons
                                                                                                                   South Water Cay         between February and May.
                                                                                                                    Queen Cay Pass          FLORIDA KEYS

                                                                                                                                                               The American Gems

                                                                                                   Seal Cay
                                                                                                                                                You don’t need to go overseas to find teal-green water, palm-
                                                                                                                                           studded cays, tiki bars, shipwrecks and coral. Just an hour south
                                                                                                                                           of Miami is America’s own tropical island chain, the Florida Keys.
                                                                                                                                           Anyone who’s driven the 120-mile Overseas Highway from Key
                                                                                                                                           Largo to Key West knows it’s better to make the trip by boat.
                                                                                                                                           Charter skippers have a choice of routes: “inside” along Florida Bay,
                                                                                                                                           where the flats fishing can be phenomenal, or “outside” in Hawk
                                                                                                                                           Channel, dotted with popular snorkeling and diving spots. There
                                                                                                                                           are bareboat charter companies offering power and sail options in
                                                                                                                                           Miami and Key West; both are served by international airports.
                                                                                                                                           The Keys are a year-round cruising destination, but be prepared for
                                                                                                                                           chilly temperatures if you go in January and February.

                                                                                                                                           suGGesTeD sTOps: We called Captain Danny Valls of Cruzan
                                                                                                                                           Yacht Charters for his list of hot spots. How many you can hit
                  Snorkeling and scuba diving are popular activities for bareboaters off the coast                                         depends on where you start your cruise.
                  of Belize thanks to the 350-mile-long barrier reef. Below, bonefish, tarpon, and                                         key Largo: There are several marinas here and plenty of options for
                  permit are sought after by flats fishermen off the Florida Keys.                                                         dining and nightlife. Offshore, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State
                                                                                                                                           Park offers some of the best diving and snorkeling in the U.S.
                                                                                                                               Key Largo   Lignumvitae key: Get back to nature on the walking trails of this
                                      ATLANTIC OCEAN
                                                                                                                                           Botanical State Park, a virgin tropical hammock.

                                                                                          FLORIDA BAY
                                                                                                                                           Islamorada: For nightlife and an all-around party atmosphere,
                                                                                                                                           try Holiday Isle Beach Resort and Marina, home to a large fleet of

 Points Intrest


                                                                                                                                           charter sportfishing boats.

                                                                                                       Lignumvitae Key
                                                                                                             Islamorada                    Duck cay: The Dolphin Connection at Hawk’s Cay Resort and
                                                                                                                                           Marina lets you interact with dolphins — a sure-fire kid pleaser.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     top to bottom: the moorings, bob krist/florida keys news bureau
                                                                                          Duck Cay
                                                                                                                                           Big pine key: See the native miniature deer at the National Key
                                                       Big Pine Key
                                                                                                              ATLANTIC OCEAN               Deer Refuge Center or dive on spectacular coral formations at Looe
                                                                                                                                           Key National Marine Sanctuary.
 Dry Tortugas
National Park
                         Key West                                                                                                          key West: One of America’s premier destinations, this charming
                                                                                                                                           tin-roofed town is rich in history, culinary arts, and watersports.
                                                                                                                                           Don’t miss Ernest Hemingway’s house and sunset at Mallory
                                                                                                                                           Square, complete with mimes, fire-eaters, and other buskers.
                                                                                                                                           Off The Track:
                                                                                                                                           Dry Tortugas National park, 70 miles west of Key West, is a fas-
                                                                                                                                           cinating destination for experienced skippers. Visit Fort Jefferson
                                                                                                                                           on Garden Key, the 19th Century military prison that held four
                                                                                                                                           conspirators convicted of aiding the assassination of President
                                                                                                                                           hOT DaTes:
                                                                                                                                           fantasy fest: Key West’s annual costume parade and week-long
                                                                                                                                           bacchanal, Oct. 23 – Nov. 1.
                                                                                                                                           key West race Week draws tops sailors from all over the U.S.,
                                                                                                                                           January 18-22, 2010.
                                                                                                                                           Although this article is about bareboat charters, another great option is a cruise ship
                                                                                                                                           vacation. BoatU.S. members receive discounts on Star Clipper’s tall ships; or check
                                                                                                                                 ’s online database of cruises:
                    32      BoatU.S. Magazine November 2009
                B                                areboat charter companies will ask
                                                 you to fill out a Skipper’s Resumé
                                                 with the following typical questions:
                                                   How long have you been boating?
                                   Have you ever done a bareboat charter?
                                   What size and type of boat do you use at home?
                                   Are you a lake, coastal or offshore boater?
                                   Can you use nav instruments and read charts?
                                   How experienced are you at anchoring?
                                                                         Breaking Into Bareboating
                                                                                             sailing-school charters. Enroll in one of
                                                                                             these and your boating vacation will
                                                                                             be educational as well as fun. If you
                                                                                             want to leave the driving and cooking
                                                                                             to others, consider a crewed charter.
                                                                                             These boats come in all sizes; a captain
                                                                                             and chef take care of your every need.
                                                                                                  Most charter companies will
                                                                                             provide advance provisioning for
                                                                                             a fee — which saves you from
                                      “As a rule of thumb, you’ll be able to charter         spending the first day of your
                                 a boat four to six feet longer than your primary            vacation in the supermarket.
                                 boat,” says Peter King, co-owner of King Yacht                   Bareboat charter rates depend on the type of boat,
                                 Charters. If your boating experience doesn’t mea-           destination, number of guests, and the time of year.
                                 sure up to the charter company’s requirements,              Off-peak, you can find Caribbean bareboat sailing char-
                                 no worries. Reserve a smaller boat or, King says,           ters starting at less than $1,000 per couple per week,
                                 “The company will give you a skipper for one or             plus expenses; powerboat charters are a little higher.
                                 two days.” In some cases, only a few hours are              Rates are at peak during the winter holiday season
                                 needed for a professional captain to show you               when it seems everyone wants to be in the islands.
                                 the ropes. (The Moorings provides that service                   “During holiday periods, we sell out in most loca-
                                 free through its “Friendly Skipper” program.)               tions,” says Van Perry, of The
                                      When you book your trip, “make sure the com-           Moorings. “The ‘shoulder’
                                 pany has a chase boat that will come out if some-           period between Christmas
                                 thing breaks on board,” King recommends. This               and Valentine’s Day is typi-
                                 will ensure minimal disruption to your vacation.            cally good value; you will
                                      If you’re more comfortable boating in a group,         find offerings on select boats
                                 a number of charter companies organize annual               of 10 to 15 percent off.”
                                 “flotillas” in top destinations. These multi-boat trips          For advice on what kind of
                                 are led by veteran skippers who choose the itiner-          charter, destination, and type
                                 ary and provide support. For the past 14 years, King        of boat is right for you and your
                                 Yacht Charters has led sailing flotillas in far-flung       budget, call King Yacht Charters, independent charter
                                 destinations around the world. A chief benefit of           brokers who work with companies throughout the
                                 flotilla chartering is the camaraderie of other people      Caribbean and around the world. BoatU.S. members
                                 when you want it, and the privacy of your own               get a 5% discount off charters booked through Peter
                                                              boat when you don’t.           and Carol King; their services are free to members
                                                                     For people interested   (fees are paid by the company with which
                                                                in learning to sail or       they book your charter). To see the flotillas
                                                                improving their boat-        they offer, and their services, visit
                                                               handling skills, some, or call
                                                             charter organizations, such     (800) 521-7552. Be sure to mention
                                                            as Florida Yacht Charters,       you are a BoatU.S. member. — L.B.
                                                              Sunsail, and Offshore
peter king/king yacht charters

                                                                 Sailing School, offer

                                   Cruzan Yacht Charters,
                                   Florida Yacht Charters & Sales,
                                   Great Harbour Charters,
                                   King Yacht Charters,
                                   The Moorings,
                                   Star Clippers,
                                   BoatU.S. Travel,                                                BoatU.S. Magazine November 2009   33

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