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Photo courtesy of Jane Harrison at Megayacht Service, St. Maarten
Photo courtesy of Jane Harrison at Megayacht Service, St. Maarten

Charter Provisioning Pros & Cons: Packages vs. DIY

When three couples from New Jersey chartered out of Tortola they chose to provision themselves rather than ask an on-island provisioner or select a package from their bareboat company. Why?

“Ease and expense”, explains Jack Edwards, who planned the charter. “We flew in the day before, stayed in a hotel, and went to the boat the next morning for the briefing so we knew what type of galley space we had. Then, we took a cab to the nearest market and had the driver wait so we had a ride back with our groceries. This way, each couple could buy what they liked, it was fairly inexpensive, and we didn’t feel obligated to eat on-board if we wanted to dine ashore.”

Steve McCrea, president of Edgecomb, ME-based Ed Hamilton & Co., says, “Provisioning is advice we walk through with individual customers. It’s fairly polarizing, people either like to squeeze their own tomatoes, or they prefer to have everything taken care of.”

Convenience

“Pre-provisioning has the advantage of arriving and finding your floating home fully stocked,” says Jacqui Pascall, reservationist at Horizon Yacht Charter’s Grenada base. “This way, you can focus on the sailing and relaxing part.”

For someone new to bareboat chartering, Shannan Brennan, the Tampa/St. Petersburg, FL-based global marketing manager at The Moorings and head of marketing for North America for The Moorings, Sunsail and Footloose, recommends one of the company’s provisioning options. These range from ingredients for all meals for a week-long trip to a-la-carte lists akin to grocery shopping online.

“This way, everything is pre paid, you have done all of the organization well in advance of the trip, we have done the shopping and all of the food and drink is loaded on board before you even arrive. It makes for an easy arrival and lessens the apprehension new travelers may have when arriving for their vacation. The drawback to this is that there may be a limitation in selection as opposed to shopping yourself.”

Selection

Self-provisioning means that you get precisely what you want, says Narendra ‘Seth’ Sethia, base manager for Barefoot Yacht Charters & Marine Centre in St. Vincent & The Grenadines. “Sometimes a charter company may make substitutes, which a guest doesn’t fancy. Plus, it can be fun shopping in local markets, particularly down-island, so that you get a real flavor of the local shopping scene. Saint Vincent has a couple of pretty good supermarkets with a fairly wide variety of options, excellent locally-grown fresh produce at very good prices, and there are places where you can get great selections of cheeses and deli items and wonderful home-baked breads.”

On the other hand, explains Jane Harrison of Mega Yacht Services, in Plaza del Lago, St. Maarten, “We offer almost any service for guests and crew on the yachts we help, including shopping and drinks, rare wines, champagnes, caviar, floral arrangements and more.”

Spronks Provisioning & Mega Yacht Services in Grenada provides bareboat guests with everything from a handful of items to a complete charter, explains Serena Peters. “We offer local provisioning of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as herbs, which come direct from the grower’s garden straight to the boat. We are able to source wonderful fresh fish such as tuna, mahi mahi, grouper and red snapper which arrives sushi style in portions to suit. We are also able to get USDA Choice tenderloin, rump steaks, duck, pork loins and much more. All of which we get from our suppliers who sell wholesale and are not available in the local supermarkets. Thus, an individual would struggle to get hold of these items.”

Delivery

“The advantage of self-provisioning is that it’s usually cheaper,” says Barefoot’s Sethia. “However, working with a provisioner means you don’t have to spend money on cab fares to and from the supermarket.”

Steven Mix, at BWA Yachting, in Plaza Del Lago, St. Maarten, says, “We deliver provisions directly to the boats either in one of the many St. Maarten marinas, or at anchor often in Simpson Bay or off shore in Grand Case. We can also arrange for delivery to St. Barth’s and Anguilla and will look after all the paper work to do so.”

Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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