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How to look like a rock star Charter Captain in the Caribbean; even before you step on board

You’ve worked hard to find the perfect charter boat, the best sailing location and you’ve got your crew together.  The excitement is building as your charter gets closer.  Your crew is dreaming of turquoise blue ocean and white sand beaches…

…this is when you might start to experience crew communication overload; how many emails can a Captain handle in one day?!  To stop this happening, here’s a simple guide to help you look like the best Charter Captain that ever sailed the Caribbean sea; even before you step on the boat!

Before you arrive at your sailing destination

Have your charter company send you an overview of the facilities at the Marina (showers, restrooms, shopping, customs, fuel dock, bars, happy hours etc).

Sending crew off to a nearby pool will earn you extra points

Make sure your crew know what time the actual boat boarding is.  Some of your crew may arrive before you; make plans for the charter company to store their luggage and find the closest beach/pool for them to relax in before the fun starts.

If you are arriving late when the charter company has left for the evening, make sure you get the codes or coins for the showers – this will earn you many points or rum vouchers with your crew.

It’s good to have a cell phone contact at the charter company.  Quite often a winter storm can delay your flight so make sure you can let someone at the base know where you are.

Note what kind of storage space you will have on board and importantly, the size of the fridge – you don’t want to order 45 cases of beer only to have no space to store it!  Also ask about a freezer; valuable input into your assigned provisioning team.  We provide coolers for our guests but not all charter companies may do this.  Make a special request in advance.

Find out about the supermarket location and opening times.

Do check on currency; if you are in Antigua we accept Eastern Caribbean dollars and US dollars.  Make sure you know the best currency to have at your next sailing destination.  If you are island hopping, ask about Euro’s too if you are thinking of visiting a French island such as Guadeloupe.  Remember banks close on public holidays, so have your money changed in advance so there are no glitches or embarrassing moments in the liquor store.

Do not assume that all charter companies are created equal.  Some will include snorkel equipment and others will not.  Make sure that you can pre-order, have your crew list their requirements and shoe size.  Some snorkel providers are also dive operators so bear in mind they might be out diving if you leave it until you are here – leading to many frustrated crew members huffing and puffing on the dock.

Pre order all snorkel equipment for your crew

Keep your lines of communication clear with the charter company – so many times we have been asked for an extra tea towel by 5 different crew members.  Great if you want to do lots of drying up; but does waste time for your crew.  Assign one person for housekeeping items (always check the cork screw and can opener before you leave the dock!).

Be careful about public holidays and Sunday opening times of stores.  We are fortunate in Jolly Harbour that our store is open from 7am to 9pm every day; and is also open on Christmas Day!  This may not be the case elsewhere.

Coffee is crucial on a sailing trip. Do you need to buy coffee filters or is it a stove top pot; there’s nothing worse than getting demoted to the worse Charter Captain on Day 2 if the crew can’t have coffee for breakfast at your first anchorage.

What power supply does your boat have – what adapters do you need to bring for happy crew mates.

Ask about the iPod aux outlet on the stereo – does it have an outlet and do they provide the cable – frustrating to have to sing every evening and not be able to play your recently purchased “all the classics, steel pan style”.

Tell the crew in advance if they are not going to be using hairdryers – get crew hats printed if a “bad hair day” could ruin one of your crew’s sailing vacation.

Crew hats will hide the bad hair days

Delegate, delegate and delegate some more

Assign tasks in advance of your arrival.

Make sure you have two people in charge of provisioning; not just the provisioning on the day, but ahead of time so they know what to buy when they are here.  Will you have any vegans or vegetarians on board?  Avoid buying too many sausages for the BBQ if you still want to have those friends at the end of the trip.

Not everyone needs to sit in on the chart briefing, make sure you have your First Mate and other interested parties – give someone the task of making notes so that you and your First Mate have time to listen and ask questions.

Time your boat briefing and provisioning arrival.  The last thing you need is to have your crew fighting over where to store the Oreo’s whilst you are listening to the finer points of battery management.

Assign your Head of Finance; someone who is going to make sure that all is fair in love and chartering and is meticulous at keeping notes.

Appoint a Head of Dinghy Management in advance – very important crew job as these are expensive items to lose and charter companies do not look favorably on people who say “pirates came in the night/a pod of dolphins chewed through the line and made off with it”.

Appoint your Head of Dinghy Management in advance

Planning your sailing itinerary ahead makes you look like a rock star Charter Captain

What Guide books will you be given upon arrival?  Perhaps buy in advance and review before you arrive at your sailing destination.  Check which charts you will be given and perhaps consider buying in advance so you have a heads-up on where to go and which reef to avoid.  They make great memento’s of your trip if you can get them framed.

Chart homework pays dividends before your charter

It’s always a good idea to have your charter company recommend a sailing itinerary – for example, we have a number of suggested itineraries on our website and these are hugely valuable in advance of your trip.
Link to sample itineraries for yacht charter

Be mindful of anchorages that do not have restaurants or beach bars.  Think about how many nights you all want to eat on board – work with your charter company to make suggestions for restaurants.

Special occasions; you can’t always buy balloons or 60 birthday candles in the islands, so if you are celebrating a special occasion on board, remember to tuck the balloons in your checked luggage.

Special occasions deserve bubbles and balloons

You have now mastered the art of looking like the most organised Rock Star Charter Captain that ever sailed the Caribbean.  Now all that’s left to do is cast off those dock lines, head out to the turquoise blue water and have fun!


Happy chartering – courtesy of Horizon Yacht Charters Antigua