What is a Yacht Charter?
A yacht charter is basically a short term rental agreement. If
the agreement is for the yacht only, without crew services or provisioning,
it is called a "bareboat" charter. If the agreement includes
the services of a Captain, chef and perhaps additional mates, it
is termed a "crewed " charter. It also may be called a
"term" charter which refers to a specified time commitment.
Your stay aboard Drumbeat is a "crewed" charter. Included
in your charter is the exclusive use of the yacht, the services
of your Captain and chef, and the food and beverages prepared to
your preferences. All the provisioning (with the exception of special
requests) is included as are most of the daily activities. The length
of your charter is included in your charter contract as well as
pick-up and drop-off times and locations.
While on board, the general activities and movements of the yacht
are at your direction. The Captain has the last word in all actual
decisions. His first concern will be for the safety and comfort
of all the guests. The Captain's practical knowledge of your cruising
area will help you create an itinerary unique to your party's needs.
Your crew contacts you well before the charter starts. They discuss
your food preferences, health and activities for your stay aboard.
You'll get to know them even before you arrive and they are available
to answer all your questions.
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How do we book our charter?
The best way to book your charter is with a professional Charter
Yacht Broker such as the Barrington Hall Corporation. Having been
captains in the Caribbean for 5 years means that two of our staff
are experts on where to go during your vacation and how to make
decision on selecting those out-of-the-way locations. However we
also like to cover what we feel is the best one week of the year
and explain how to select dates for your vacation which has more
quality than other dates. Our personal knowledege of each captain
and crew who we present to you is vital to the ultimate success
of your adventure. Our overall knowledge of our industry is provide
to you with the aim of making your vacation better.
Your fisrt decision is to select the correct broker to work with.
We believe that in choosing Dumbeat, you have chosen the best charter
yacht there is to offer.
Generally, no matter how you book your charter, you will find that
it requires a deposit. This deposit is not refundable and can be
as high as 50% of the total fee. This means you should be very sure
of your dates and the number in your party before you sign a contract.
The contract is carefully written to protect all parties. If the
yacht cannot perform, all funds are returned. If the guests cancel,
the deposits are forfeited. If there is a problem during the charter,
the amount would be prorated in an equitable fashion.
When you have signed and returned the contracts, a confirmation
letter would be sent. Please check the details carefully and advise
of any discrepancies.
The final payment for the charter is due forty five days (45) before
embarkation. In some cases we allow for payment upon arrival on
board. This payment is to be in cash or traveler's checks.
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How do we get there from
Yacht Drumbeat I sails the waters of the British Virgin Islands. These
islands lie 1100 miles east-southeast of Miami. The primary airport
of the B.V.I. is Beef Island, and the airport locator for travel
planning is EIS. The Beef Island airport is midsized and does not
support non-stop air service from the U.S. or Europe. Your flights
will use commuter carriers for connections to the Beef Island destination.
The largest of these carriers is American Eagle, a subsidiary of
American Airlines. Cape Air, Liat and Air Sunshine also provide
commuter flights from various Caribbean destinations. Connecting
flights to the B.V.I.s usually are routed through San Juan, Puerto
Rico. Many flights are available to San Juan, and the easiest way
may be to use American Airlines and enjoy the ride. Upon arriving
at the airport, take a taxi to the yacht. Your Captain provides
details before your arrival.
You can also get to the B.V.I.s by routing through nearby St. Thomas.
St. Thomas has a number of airlines offering direct flights from
many U.S. cities. Once in St. Thomas, you can take a ferry to nearby
Tortola, the main island of the B.V.I.s. From the ferry, take a
cab to the yacht.
Transfers to and from the airport/ferry can be prearranged by your
Captain. These transfers are not included in your charter fees so
you should pay & tip your driver accordingly.
Because of the distances traveled and time zones crossed, it may
be difficult to arrive in the B.V.I.s early in the day. Your charter
starts at noon and completes at noon one week later. If your arrival
is later than 4 pm, you might want to consider a night in a hotel
prior to your charter, so you could board promptly at noon on the
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What do we need for customs
The British Virgin Islands are a sovereign nation with unique and
independent requirements for visitors. You should be prepared to
present a valid passport when entering and exiting the B.V.I.s.
There may be small fees such as departure taxes to be paid. Immigration
officials want to know where you are staying, how long you are staying,
and may ask for proof of a return ticket. These are not trick questions,
but please answer them carefully. If you stay beyond your stated
departure, you may be significantly hassled.
Please do not bring anything illegal such as, guns, knives etc.
A word to divers, spearguns are not allowed in the B.V.I.s. It is
unwise to bring food or commercial goods with you.
Customs officials are generally pleasant and efficient and are
willing to go the distance to make your entry and departure a pleasant
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Tell me about the crew.
Your crew are professionals dedicated to your perfect vacation.
In the course of the week they wear many hats. They are there to
serve you and guide you safely and comfortably through your charter.
They also can be a great source of fun.
Chartering is an intimate setting and you would find the crew in
tune to your personalities. If you view your crew as service staff,
they do that masterfully. If you rely on them for guidance and entertainment,
you will have a great time. If you include them in the personality
of your week, you would certainly find new friends. It's all up
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What about the weather?
It doesn't matter matter where you're from, the weather in the
Virgin Islands is better. The coolest of winter days might be in
the upper 70's; while the hottest of summer days would be in the
upper eighties. The key to Virgin Islands' weather is that you're
in the tradewinds and you're surrounded by clear, warm water. The
water temps vary from the upper 70's to mid 80's and temper all
weather in the tropics. Your only likely problem that is weather
related will be sunburn. Squalls when they occur are soon past.
Okay, so much for the chamber of commerce weather report. Here is
the real world:
It can rain, it can be too windy, and ,yes, there are such things
as hurricanes. Your Captain keeps a constant watch of developing
weather and will alter the itinerary accordingly. Hurricanes are
very rarely an issue. The yachts do not sail from August 15th thru
October 15th. Historically, 90% of all Caribbean hurricanes occur
in this season. Honestly, it is rare to have the weather impact
your enjoyment of your charter.
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How do I pack?
Your plans for packing should be kept very simple. You certainly
can include anything you desire for your enjoyment of your charter.
Through experience, we can offer many tips that will help you have
fun without toting several tons of extra stuff. If possible, limit
your luggage to your ability to carry on. Travel through multiple
airports and customs will be greatly accelerated. You might actually
make your connections. Try to use a carry on that is a collapsible
duffle type. Hard luggage, bags with wheels, handles and gadgets
all have to be stowed on board in limited space. You don't want
to have to use your luggage as a pillow during your stay.
Packing light is really easy. The islands are very informal. If
you wear long pants and a collared shirt on the plane, you are now
dressed for the most formal island occasions we can imagine. Bathing
suits and t-shirts come next, sunscreen ranks third, boat shoes
and some shoes you can get wet, and you're almost done. From here
we'll discuss what to leave home. The boat will have at least one
of everything you forget but you should definitely forget some of
these. Don't bring food, beach towels, dive tanks, spearguns, formal
attire, hard luggage, surf boards, hard shoes, pets (sorry), or
ex-spouses. You should travel with your medications, and most everything
else you might run out of (film, sunscreen, rum) will be easily
found in the islands.
A good way to pack is to make two piles - the clothes you need
and the money you need. Now take half the clothes and double the
money, and you'll travel light and in style!
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Should we dine out?
Yes! Now don't get suspicious. We aren't cost cutting. The cuisine
on board for your yacht is excellent and included. Your chef has
planned for your every need, your every snack, your every beverage
and certainly, your every meal. The reason to dine out is to explore
and enjoy the unique ambiance of the islands. A raucous lunch at
the Willy T, a quiet dinner on a deserted Anegada beach, or the
nightlife after a Foxy's barbeque are traditions of the islands
and give you a glimpse of the Caribbean that you will cherish.
If you choose to dine out, yes, you pay the bill, but it will be
worth it. Most guests find a lunch and a dinner ashore provide a
variation to your week that you will enjoy. You might invite the
crew, it would be a special treat, but it is not expected. The point
is that you enjoy the islands.
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What about shopping?
Shopping can be your whole day or just a diversion. It's up to
you. The treasures ashore run the whole spectrum, from trinkets
and t-shirts to diamonds. So let's get down to basics. The Virgin
Islands use the good old American dollar as their currency. If your
dollars are running short, credit cards are accepted for almost
everything. If cash is really a problem, a trusty A.T.M. is never
far away. Checks, however, don't work too well.
Island shopping etiquette may differ from your usual shopping expedition
so here are some hints. Please wear proper attire in the island
shopping districts. Beachwear, bare chests or what have you, can
be considered insulting. The beach bar boutiques are quite the opposite.
A shirt and tie here would certainly be odd! Either spot, go out
of your way to properly greet a shopkeeper with a smile and a "good
morning", before you launch into your list of needs. Dignity
and attitude are important in the island transactions and it's not
a bad system.
If you are dining out, you may be presented with a check that already
has a gratuity included. It's perfectly acceptable to inquire as
to the particular restaurant's habit. For all their dignity, some
servers might overlook this information hoping for a double tip.
It is the real world after all...
If you shop a lot, keep your receipts. You will need to declare
values when returning thru U.S. customs. There are restrictions
on the quantities of liquors you can bring back and don't even think
about returning with Cuban cigars...
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What services are available ashore?
Communication and banking services are quite modern in the islands.
Cell phone coverage is good but don't plan on your "back home"
number roaming successfully. If communication is essential, you
should register your phone for the length of your stay, an incoming
number will be assigned to you, and all your usage will be automatically
sent to your credit card. Easy, simple and expensive! Your charges
can be as high as $4 per minute, so beware! The yachts should be
able to give you limited access to the internet to check e-mails
etc. Again, since this is a cellular connection, it is quite expensive.
The yachts also have access to faxes one way or another.
Banking is modern, straightforward, and readily available. The
services just cost more and take longer.
Health facilities are basic but reliable. Bring adequate supplies
of your medications. More can be had in an emergency, but it might
require a clinic visit to get a prescription that the local pharmacists
would honor. Emergency care is good but in-depth treatment will
be better in the states. Don't plan on your health insurance being
much immediate help. You might collect the bills and submit them
when you get home. If you are concerned about the possibilities
of a health emergency interrupting your vacation, you should consider
travel insurance. No refunds or pro rations will be made if a health
emergency cuts your vacation short.
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What if there is an emergency back
Your Captain will give all the contact information you will need
for your office, family and friends to find you in an emergency.
You will never be out of contact during your stay aboard. You may
be unavailable but voicemails and e-mails will be waiting for you
when you get back from scuba diving. The contact numbers your Captain
provides are for true emergencies. If you need closer contact with
friends, office or relatives, bring your cell phone and set up a
personal contact number for the duration of your stay.
If you need to return home in an emergency, your Captain will be
able to assist you in travel plans. You can usually be at an airport
in a few hours. Unfortunately, no refunds or pro rations will be
made by the yachts if a health emergency cuts your charter short.
Again, you might consider travel insurance if this is a concern.
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Should we tip the crew?
Yes. A straight answer to a sensitive question, but let's explain...
Tips are never mandatory. Gratuities are made as an appreciation
of excellent service. We are confident that your crew will exceed
your expectations. If this is not the case, there is absolutely
no reason for a gratuity.
After your stay aboard, you will realize that your crew are more
than hardworking, more than just personable, more than professional.
They also are less than rich. The crew does not own the yacht or
participate directly in the profits of the yacht. Their only additional
benefit from their exceptional service is the gratuity.
We suggest you consider a gratuity of 10-15% of the total charter
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What other expenses should we expect?
Its always hard to guess how much real cash to bring. You are certain
to need cash for transfers to and from the airport or ferry. Cabs
in the islands are not a bargain. You may be grouped with other
riders and take a circuitous route. Even so, $10 or more per person
for each cab ride can put a dent in your cash quickly. You can expect
a departure tax, usually $5 per person. Other adventures ashore
are at your discretion. Some may accept credit cards, some not.
There are a few ways to incur extra charges on your yacht. They
include special requests for food or beverages, requests for overnight
dockage in marinas, and a few extra costs for scuba instruction.
All on-board expenses and the crew gratuity can be put on a credit
card; but of course, cash always works better.
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How do we stay out of trouble?
The first step to a trouble free vacation is don't bring trouble
with you. The British Virgin Islands have very strict laws, most
especially about drugs and guns. Your crew will not look the other
way, with a smile and a wink, if you bend the rules. Your charter
will be immediately terminated because you will be in jail. If there
is anything about this point you don't understand, stay home.
The islands are generally safe and friendly. You might need to
seek some advice from your Captain if you are spending time in St.
Thomas. Other than that, you don't need to worry about pirates,
great white sharks or cannibals. Common sense and a good attitude
are all you need for the best vacation of your life.