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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Cinnamon Bay, St John, Virgin Islands
Cinnamon Bay, St John, Virgin Islands
Caribbean Islands diving
Caribbean Islands diving
Cairns on a Culebra, Puerto Rico beach
Cairns on a Culebra, Puerto Rico beach
A Jost van Dyke local
A Jost van Dyke local
Sailing in the VI
Sailing in the VI
Snorkeling at The Baths, Virgin Gorda
Snorkeling at The Baths, Virgin Gorda
A stroll along a British Virgin Island beach
A stroll along a British Virgin Island beach
Relaxing on a crewed charter yacht
Relaxing on a crewed charter yacht
Soggy Dollar Bar, Jost van Dyke
Soggy Dollar Bar, Jost van Dyke

There are always a few questions that need answers.
Here are a few of them.

What's the weather like? Will it rain every day?

In the Eastern Caribbean there is a chance for rain every day. But rain, unless it's Hurricane Season, means short little showers, maybe 5 minutes. The trade winds bump up against the mountains creating moisture which then makes the short showers. In the winter the wind is out of the Northeast which is cooler than when the wind is out of the Southeast in the summer. But there is always a breeze blowing across the 78 degree water which really keeps the temperature cool.

Do I get to plan the itinerary?

Nearly everyone's Uncle Charlie has a "must see" place or their guide book says "not to be missed" and most captains are happy to take you there. Typically the first evening of the charter the itinerary will be discussed and each day at breakfast the options will be laid out for the day. The captain will be looking at time, weather, swells and anchorages and ultimately the captain has the last word and his concern for your safety and comfort are foremost.

What is a typical day?

Your days will be filled with sailing, snorkeling, walking, eating...or just relaxing with a book. It's up to you.

Will the crew interact with us?

In finding the right boat for you, crew really matters. Some guests and crew really hit it off and become good friends. Some guests want to spend more time to themselves, i.e. honeymooners, families who live all over the country who just want to reconnect, etc. Your crew will be attentive to these subtle hints and will recognize when to be attentive and when to be in the background without disappearing.

Do I need travel insurance?

Between June 1 and December 1, which is considered Hurricane Season, many of the yachts require trip insurance. You will notice on your contract that there is a place to acknowledge the purchase of trip insurance. It is included to protect all involved. We, however, do not endorse any one company who sells trip insurance. Please do your own research if you plan to purchase trip insurance.

When snorkeling, is there anything I should be afraid of?

In a nutshell, you're not on the menu. But having said that, it's good to be aware of what's around you, like fire coral. And it’s always good not to touch.  In the 18 years that I have been down here, I've never heard of a shark or barracuda attack.

Floggings. Are they still in fashion?

Very much so.

Do we need passports?

It is a Federal Law that if you leave the United States of America you must have a valid passport. Your passport must be good for a least six (6) months AFTER your return home from your vacation or basically, it "unofficially" expires 6 months before it truly expires. So check to make sure you have plenty of time left. The passport must be in Your Legal Name (no nicknames) and must match the names on your airline tickets, any traveling documentation, and on the preference sheet you will fill out for the yacht. Make sure you have one blank page so officials can stamp your passport. It is considered invalid if there isn't a blank page to stamp.

When is the best time to charter?

The temperature in the Caribbean varies only about 10 degrees all year. The high temperatures are in the low 80s in the winter to low 90s in the summer. Generally there is a breeze from November to August and as that breeze blows across 80 degree water, it is very comfortable. Occasionally a north swell, generated from the cold fronts coming off the North American shore will make for cloudy north shore snorkeling with stirred up sand. But good surfing. June 1 through December 1 is Hurricane Season, so it will be a bit rainier with a chance of a hurricane. In the middle of summer, July through September, the temperatures are warmer, in the low 90s and the wind tends to die. But if you're from Texas, Arizona or southern California, 90 degrees is cool for that time of year. The only other bad weather we have is occasionally it will get really windy. Then your captain will know which route to take and which anchorages will be the most comfortable.

What should I pack?

First, lay out what you want to bring. Next, divide that in half. Put it in a soft-sided suitcase or duffel bag & you're ready. Really, all you need are a couple of swimsuits (one to wear while the other is drying) T-shirts and shorts. Extras you may consider bringing would be walking shoes for the occasional hike, a sweater or long sleeved shirt for the cool evenings, and casual dress clothes if you are planning to eat ashore one night such as khakis and a collared shirt for the men and islandy pants or a sundress for the ladies. Also, the locals get offended if you come ashore (other than the beach) in just a swimsuit, so please bring a cover-up or other appropriate attire that covers the midriff. Other things to include would be sunscreen lotion (not oils), sunglasses and a hat. Don't forget medicines, an extra pair of glasses or contacts if you wear them, extra batteries and memory cards for your camera, books or a Kindle, and your favorite CDs or iPod. Your yacht will have beach towels and snorkel gear, unless you have your own to bring. You may want to pack a carry-on bag for important things like medicines, your toothbrush and a swimsuit just in case your luggage decides to show up a day late. A copy of your contract along with the contact information for the yacht should also be included. And please don't hesitate to bring my contact information with you as well. Phone number 340.690.6740 and my email is stsomewhereyc@yahoo.com

How much water can I use each day before the captain threatens me?

Boats have water storage tanks built into the boat. Some boats have reverse osmosis watermakers that make de-salinated water for the boat, an expensive process. Others have to go to the dock and fill their tanks with water, and that runs anywhere from 14-20 cents per gallon. Not cheap either since it is reverse osmosis water as well. This would be a good time to start practicing water conservation, a great habit to take home with you.

Do we really need to tip?

As in many service industries, gratuity is part of the crew’s pay. It is generally 15% based on the charter rate. If you feel the crew has done an excellent job and made this one of your best vacations ever, they would be happy with 20%.

What about pirates?
Are they only in the movies or is it something I actually have to worry about?

Don't I wish Johnny Depp would board my boat!! Seriously, there are no pirates in the Caribbean, only a few "tiefs" (West Indian for thieves). The captain will be happy to lock the boat if everyone is going ashore at night and no one would be on the boat should you wish.

What should I not bring?

Please DO NOT BRING greasy suntan oils or sprays as they stain the fabrics, towels and the boat finishes. DO NOT BRING expensive jewelry. You wouldn't want to loose it. And most important, DO NOT BRING ILLEGAL DRUGS of any kind. If they are found onboard, your crew will have to terminate the charter without refund as stated in your contract.

How much money should I bring?

Your charter is all inclusive but there will be extras. First, the 15% gratuity is only payable in cash or traveler's checks or paid with your final payment of the charter. Taxis are generally $10 per person each way but confirm a fare before getting in. Drinks run around $5 for a mixed drink and $8-10 for an umbrella drink. Dinner ashore, should you decide to give your crew a night off or if your trip is half-board is $100-150 a couple with wine. The Baths in Virgin Gorda has an admission price of $4 per person. That adorable sundress your wife is dying to have is $100 and the T-shirt is $30. There are no taxes, so the price you see is the price you pay. Island countries charge boats a cruising permit to sail their waters and a license fee. Some boats include this in the rate and some do not. I'll tell you in your initial decision process which boats do what. The rate in the BVI is $4 per person, per day for the cruising tax and $35 for the license with the rate increasing with the size of the yacht. In our 15 years of chartering, the rate was never the same twice. There are ATMs in most places and nearly everyone will take a credit card. PLEASE NOTE there is a 1-5% foreign transaction fee by VISA and MasterCard just to use your card outside the country even though the British Virgin Islands use US currency. The bank may add a percentage on top of that. AND the store or restaurant may add in their processing fee, too.

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In 1994 Leslie Jones left her job at an international lettering arts magazine in Norman, OK to go with her future husband Charles on his 50 foot sailboat to sail around the Caribbean.

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