Go with the Flow
The adage about best laid plans is one to remember as you launch into that long-awaited Caribbean charter. Life’s surprises, including the good, bad and ugly, seem to grow exponentially with a boat on island time. While talking to charterers, I’ve noticed that how you handle the bumps in your bliss-seeking holiday determines the outcome of the adventure – and the memories you take back home.
Trouble can raise its unwelcome head anywhere. On a charter, it could come in the obvious form of late flight arrivals or departures, unruly weather, sea-sickness, gear failure or broken boat bits. Even hangovers and sunburn can alter the course of a seven day cruise.
Recently I chatted with a charter crew of joyful gents, escapees from the frozen north, who were having the time of their lives. When I inquired about snags or snafus, Captain Warren Loyns indicated with a dramatic sweep of his arm, “It’s been great!” A bit of digging unearthed the details of a diesel leak that stunk up the boat and two inoperative heads.
“It’s all minor stuff,” Loyns laughed. “We haven’t sunk the boat yet!” A quick call to the charter base produced swift repairs and these satisfied customers stayed focused on the upside: it wasn’t snowing and the water was warm. “It’s mostly been clear sailing” Loyns confirmed. “A great experience with good service from the company.”
If attitude is everything, a positive one like Loyns’ will propel you through most annoyances that bob your way. While stuffing a sea bag with swim gear and sunscreen, pack your patience and humor. Most traveling troubles can be avoided, and those that can’t can either be fixed or tolerated. West Indians coined the phrase “No Problem, Mon” because, quite frankly, most aren’t.
A Guys’-Week-Out crew from Toronto were on their third annual sail, happily ignoring the little screw-ups of too much rain and a seized up speedometer. To them it paled in comparison to the blown out traveler the year before or running out of beer on their first cruise. They were on a quest for happiness and nothing would get in their way.
The men of the Silver family from Urbanna, Virginia were collecting humorous stories while tacking from one “no problem” to the next. During a snorkeling foray, they backed over the dinghy painter with the outboard. It took three of them and a serrated galley knife to saw it off. The island of Anegada was removed from their itinerary when the seas got lumpy and the GPS packed it in. Son Garrett explained, “We were all saying the night before the snorkeling trip that we needed some special adventures.” Since they were only half way through their cruise, I'm certain they had more.
The Bujacich family from Gig Harbor, Washington, had plenty of tales to tell at the end of their charter when pretty much nothing went as planned. The late arrival of teen daughter Kelsey’s luggage might have been “no problem,” but when it finally surfaced, it was on the wrong island. Dad Jack saved the day with an all-day trek across two islands that required a bus, several taxis, a ferry and two sore feet to claim it before he faced the return trip.
Once they finally got underway on their BVI tour they were greeted by Christmas winds that blew them into protected Trellis bay. “We just took the wind,” Jack mused, recalling their prudent decision to stay put. Whatever they missed, they managed to gain by going with the flow. On the final day of the cruise, fifteen year old Allie was still very focused on the dramatically positive. “We saw lots of crashes!” she announced and, thankfully, none involved her boat or crew.
A few years ago, a storm from the north pushed whopper-sized seas through the Caribbean. St. Martin’s north side was hammered by eighteen footers and the French side of the island closed all ports. Bareboats were ordered back to base or into the Simpson Bay Lagoon, where they remained captives of the storm for most of a week. No sailing, no snorkeling, no hopping from port to port – yet on boat after boat, we saw smiling crew who had somehow found a way to keep the cruise alive and well. They couldn’t change the weather but they could alter their plan. Fun remained the focus of all.
None of these folks had the perfect charter of their fantasies that appeared in the imaginative, glossy ads. Everyone, though, flew home contented, with salty tans, great memories and stories that will linger large.
The Plan B Mindset
During the planning stages of your great getaway, research everything that you want to see and do, and then go a little further to learn about the rest of your options. Have a Plan B itinerary in place – one that you hope won’t be needed, one you can live with just in case you blow out a flip flop or the salt shaker gets lost. And keep a Plan B mentality for all the great stuff that will pop up, too – you might decide to sail further than planned on a day when a pod of dolphins joins you, or to spend an extra day at the best snorkeling spot or beach bar you’ve ever seen.
Jan Hein and her husband, artist Bruce Smith, divide their time between the Caribbean the Pacific Northwest with a boat and a life at each end.
How to Charter a Boat!
Congratulations! You’re on your way to one of the BEST adventures you will ever have in your life!
We’ve taken some time and spoken to many experts to bring you a collection of Tips and Tricks on “How to Charter a Boat.” We’ve spoken to Bareboat Charter Experts as well as the Crewed Charter Companies.
The focus for this series is on “Boats” which we would categorize as anything UNDER 80′ or roughly 25 meters. When you are chartering a Yacht (Over 80 feet or > 25 Meters) the game changes.
These tips and tricks apply no matter where in the world you intend to Charter. It doesn’t matter if you are interested in the Caribbean or Washington, North Carolina. Hey – let’s face it… It’s “five o’clock somewhere.” (Thanks Jimmy Buffett)
Now… I have to warn you… Once you start chartering, it’s hard to stop! There’s just too many wonderful memories and too many amazing places to visit.
Of course, we’d love to hear from some of your adventures. Please share your story with All At Sea! Send us your Images and send us the story of YOUR charter adventure. Please help others learn how to charter a boat.
How to Charter a Boat – TIPS and TRICKS
- What to Charter? Power OR Sail? Monohull OR Catamaran?
- Chartering WithOUT Blowing the Budget
- Where to Charter a Boat to St. Somewhere
- What to Take on a Charter Boat
- Set Your Expectations to “Go With the Flow”
- FIVE Tips for a SAFER Charter Vacation
- Here’s a Handy List of Bareboat Charter Companies
- Here’s a Handy List of CREWED Charter Companies
- Here’s a Handy List of Fishing Charter Companies
- Even a Handy List of Day Boat Charter Companies (if you want to try it out…)
Comments and Questions are always appreciated! We’ll be looking for new ideas to bring to you!