10. Wears flip flops with a suit to the management meeting
9. Has the Soggy Dollar Bar Web Cam bookmarked on their computer
8. Keeps calling the boss, “Cappy.”
7. Says, “Sorry, I’m still on island time, Mon” when asked for reports.
8. Suggests adding Cruzan Rum to the water cooler.
6. Overly tan for February.
5. Zach Brown music playing non-stop from their cubicle
4. Begins most sentences with, “When we were on our catamaran in the BVI…”
3. Phone’s wallpaper shows count-down calendar until next charter
2. Checks their catamaran’s facebook page every 10 minutes
1. Can’t stop smiling
Sport Fishing in the Caribbean
When you think of fishing in the Caribbean what comes to mind? A sport fishing boat with a tuna tower, two fighting chairs and a giant billfish leaping into the air? A MahiMahi flashing its rainbow colors as it is reeled out of the water? Game fishing in the Caribbean is exciting and fun, but there is a big difference in the kind of fishing one can do from a sport-fishing boat, and the kind of fishing that can be enjoyed aboard a sailing yacht charter.
Crewed yacht charters offer a wide range of amenities and water sports for their guests to enjoy during a week-long all-inclusive Caribbean sailing vacation. But, unless you are chartering a large motor yacht that uses a 25 foot power boat as a water sports tender, the sort of game fishing you are envisioning will not be available on board.
For guests looking for a day of serious sport and game fishing during their crewed sailing charter, rendezvous fishing can be pre-arranged with a sport fishing boat. This is a convenient option because the guests who want to fish will be picked up from the charter yacht and boats come out to the charter yacht to pick up the guests for a day of fishing at the famed North Drop – an area about a mile off the Eastern end of St. Thomas where the deepest portion of the Puerto Rican Trench runs. Migrating schools of small fish gather in this area, and this attracts larger species such as Billfish, Tuna, Wahoo and Dolphin fish (Mahi-Mahi).
The weeks right before or after the full moon are considered to be the best time to catch fish here, but many local sport fisherman will agree that anytime you can fish the summer months from June to September you are likely to catch fish,. Marlin here average in the 300 pound range, although 500-pounders are not uncommon. St. Thomas even held the all-tackle world record for many years with a 1,282 lb Marlin caught in 1977 by Larry Martin.
The sort of fishing offered aboard a crewed yacht charter on a catamaran or sailboat is primarily light tackle trolling where a baited line is dropped off the back of the boat and trailed along while the boat is underway. Inshore game fish include Barracuda, Bonefish, Kingfish, Mackerel, Snook and Tarpon. Fly-fishing for Bonefish can be arranged with a guide in Leincester Bay, St. John and in the shallows around Anegada. But these fish are a bit trickier to catch as they hide around corals making for an easy snag of the hook and line.
To fish in the BVI – where the majority of a Caribbean yacht charter’s itinerary takes place – a BVI fishing license is required. The BVI Fishing License Application can be filled out online and, with a color passport scan and $45, the license is easily obtained. Children (under 12 years old) do not need a fishing license.
Spearfishing is illegal in the BVI as well as the taking of any lobster or conch. In the USVI, as long as the boat is not in a National Park (St. John), then spearfishing is legal and lobster and conch can be taken in season.
An exception to the spearfishing ban in the BVI is made for Lionfish in an effort to combat this invasive predator that is threatening the local species. While these fish are very beautiful, they contain dangerous, venom in their spines and should not be handled. So, let your charter captain know if you see one. The meat of the Lionfish is considered to be excellent eating, so you could end up protecting the marine environment and enjoying a tasty dinner at the same time!
If fishing is an activity you would like to pursue during your Caribbean charter yacht vacation make sure to alert the broker who books your trip as well as your yacht crew. They will make sure to obtain the necessary fishing licenses and either arrange a rendezvous trip for you, or ready the necessary light tackle equipment for you to fish on board.
Contact iYachtClub to set up your next Caribbean fishing experience!
Each year, hundreds of thousands of people make the decision to visit the Caribbean for the first time aboard a cruise ship. In places like St. Thomas in the the US Virgin Islands, there are days during high season when mega ships inundate the ports so completely, that the cruise ship passengers outnumber the island’s population! Crowds, traffic, stress and noise…isn’t that what you want to take a vacation from? We think that a charter yacht vacation is a far superior alternative and the best way to really experience the magical beauty and charm of the Caribbean. So, we came up with our top 10 reasons for you to break away from the cruise ship herd, stop taking mediocre vacations and start planning the trip of a lifetime…
Cruise ships are being built bigger and bigger these days. The latest mega ship can carry over 6,000 passengers! The result is everywhere you go on board a cruise ship you are surrounded by other people, usually while you are waiting in a long line to dine, to get off or on the ship or to view entertainment. On a crewed charter yacht, it’s just you and your friends or family, floating to secluded anchorages and beaches, far from the maddening crowds.
9. Sick Boats
It seems that every time you turn on the news there is another story of a cruise ship with a gastrointestinal out-break due to norovirus and stranded at sea or quarantined at port. Cruise ships are vulnerable because of the large number of people confined to a limited space while dining and mingling together, experts say. Guests boarding a crewed charter yacht will find a spotlessly clean, well ventilated vessel awaiting them, one that has not had thousands of people aboard previous to their trip.
8. Mediocre Food
Although cruise ship food is plentiful, it is also mediocre and mass produced. The menus are created to feed large crowds, not individuals. Guests aboard charter yachts receive preference sheets before their sail begins and the opportunity to express their exact food likes and dislikes as well as their individual preferences for particular brands and labels of soda, beer, liquor and wine. The chefs aboard iYachtClub’s featured Caribbean charter yachts are some of the best in the industry and produce the sort of award-winning gourmet cuisine that rival the top restaurants in the world.
All day long, from morning till night, announcements are broadcast to every corner of the cruise ship. There are fire drills, too! If you are looking for uninterrupted peace and quiet during your Caribbean cruise vacation then you will need to get off the ship each day and take an excursion -at an additional cost. Hmmm…perhaps there’s a method to their madness! On your crewed charter yacht, you can play your own iPod music on the sound system, or you can just sit and listen to the wind in the sails as you head to the next amazing Caribbean destination.
6. Excursion Costs
Every stop along the cruise ship’s itinerary offers many choices for excursions, all at an additional cost. A trip to a beach, a snorkel tour, a whale watching trip, a scuba diving expedition, a kayaking or paddle boarding activity…these tend to cost from $65 to $100 per/person. On a crewed charter yacht all of these excursions are offered aboard, are included and are available anytime you want – right off the back of the boat! Most charter yachts carry a vast assortment of fun water toys to keep everyone entertained.
5. Floating Skyscrapers
A cruise ship passenger can spend their entire time aboard and never see the ocean up close or swim in it. With decks 4 to 6 stories and hundreds of feet above the waterline there is little sense of being close to the surrounding natural beauty. Aboard a charter yacht, guests have the opportunity for a far more intimate relationship with the Caribbean.The decks are only a few feet from the water – great for photographing the dolphins that often swim in the bow wakes. iYachtClub’s featured charter yachts also have swim platforms designed to give guests the freedom to dive into the water whenever they want. Midnight swim anyone?
4. Tourist Traps
The cruise ships and the excursions that they sell and promote on board typically go to the most popular places, crowded with other cruise ships and tourists. The restaurants, bars and shops tend to be very generic and homogenized in order to attract the most tourist dollars. Charter yachts, on the other hand, can sail to little cays with secluded beaches and bring guests to explore areas where bus loads of tourists will never arrive. Charter yacht guests will find will find that their crews really know where to find the coolest places, and that they love to introduce their guests to unique experiences that capture the true spirit of the Caribbean.
3. Back to the Ship
Time ashore is limited for every port of call on a cruise ship vacation. So there is a sense of being rushed: rushed to get off the ship in time to catch an early morning excursion (most day excursions leave at 8:30 am) and then rushed to get back to the ship on time before it leaves! On a crewed charter yacht vacation, every day moves along at your own pace. You wake up when you want, go ashore when you want, return to your yacht when you want. You can do as little or as much as you want, whenever you want.
At day’s end, (usually 5 or 6 pm) the cruise ship leaves the port of call and heads out into the ocean to open the gambling tables and drift to the next destination. Exploring the nightlife offered on the different islands in the Caribbean is not an option. Instead, cruise ship passengers must choose from the programmed entertainment offered by the ship. Guests aboard a charter yacht will find that each of the islands in the US and British Virgin Islands offers its own brand of unique fun after dark. Whether it’s music and dancing at the “Willy T”( a floating ship that is a restaurant/bar) in The Bight, Norman Island, or pirate music and shenanigans at the Michael Bean Show in Leverick Bay, Virgin Gorda, or a Full Moon Fire Ball party at Aragorn in Trellis Bay, Tortola, the fun does not end when the sun goes down…in fact, it just begins!
1. Bar Bill
Cruise ship passengers are often extremely dismayed to discover that their drinks are not included in the all-inclusive rate…and the drinks are extremely expensive, even soft drinks and water! Most soft drinks start at $5 and beer and alcohol are $7 to $15. This adds up! On a crewed charter yacht “all inclusive” means just that! All meals, beverages, beer, wine and standard ship’s bar are included in the rate. So enjoy the cocktail of the day aboard your charter yacht, and don’t be afraid to ask for a refill!
So, next time you are thinking about taking a cruise ship vacation, consider chartering your own private yacht instead. Leave the masses behind and discover the true Caribbean at your own pace. We have the perfect Caribbean sailing vacation waiting for you, so grab your flip flops…we’ll meet you at the dock!
We’re going to let you in on a little secret: Summer is the best time to visit the Caribbean! The cruise ship crowds are gone, the turquoise water is calm and clear and the breezy trade winds keep the air cool.
Take advantage of these great deals on charter yacht vacations in the Caribbean, and discover why summertime is the right time to sail in the Virgin Islands.
When traveling around the Caribbean on a sailing vacation, sampling the local foods and and drinks can be a great way to relax and enjoy the location. Targeting specific beverages such as Caribbean rums is one example of really getting into the vacation mood. Here is a little insight into the options and history associate with our favorite drink.
The History of Caribbean Rum
Back in the day, pirates and the sailors of the British Royal Navy didn’t just use rum for recreation while on long trips. To keep the crew hydrated, ships typically stored three types of liquid on board: water, beer, and Caribbean rum. First, they’d drink the water. But because the clear stuff was the most rapid to go rancid, they could only rely on it for so long before turning to the beer—which has a longer shelf life. When the brews were all tapped out, they’d move on to the Caribbean rum, which could sit in the ship’s bowels for the longest period of time without going bad. The trouble with the rum was it tended to cause intoxication.
Caribbean Rum even has some cool nicknames, like Kill-Devil, Nelson’s blood, demon water, pirate’s drink, navy neaters, and Barbados water. Oh, and if you were issued a second rum ration by the British Navy, the order was called “splicing the mainbrace”.
Drinking Caribbean Rum
Around the world, Caribbean rum is also mostly misused and misunderstood. Most Americans think of it as liquor that should be mixed with coke or bad pina colada mixes. But not down here! Down here we drink great rum. Made from sugar cane or molasses, aged for 30 years or not at all, in stainless steel or French oak, the rums of the Caribbean are as diverse as the islands they call home. Many are better than fine cognac – with flavors so rich, that expert’s descriptions of the best rums sound more like fine wine than liquor.
I, of course, have my favorites…. too many really. But after much sampling, here are my top four Caribbean rums for 2014
The island of Martinique produces rhum agricoles. Caribbean rum expert and importer Ed Hamilton is passionate about these rhums in particular, as he thinks they exemplify true artisanship in rum production. In Martinique, sugarcane is harvested near the distilleries, and almost immediately the fermentation and distilling process begins. “Rum is so much about locality,” he says. “It is the most diverse of distilled spirits. Authenticity and transparency are the marks of a great distiller.” My favorite Martinique rhum, by far, is Rhum Clement’s Cuvée Homère. Hamilton says “It rivals the finest Cognac but is still very much a rum, with a luxuriantly rich, toasty, browned-butter essence.” I always keep a bottle on our crewed charter catamaran, Bella Vita.
Puerto Rican Rums
The Caribbean rums of Puerto Rico are, for the most part, distilled to meet the tastes of locals, but the rum style has also been heavily influenced by the American market, which is largely dominated by Puerto Rican rums like Bacardi. Molasses-based, Puerto Rican rums tend to be light-bodied, though in recent years there has been a shift toward more complex, flavorful, aged rums. By far the best of these is Don Q Anejo. This rum is aged in American oak barrels for between three and five years. It’s smooth and lightly sweet with notes of vanilla and molasses, and it has a nice dry finish.
Only one distillery operates in Guyana, but it’s a good one. Demerara Distillers. They are responsible for a variety of Caribbean rums, all of them generally heavier and richer in style than other Caribbean rums, all made from molasses. They also own and operate the last remaining wooden stills in the Caribbean, the use of which gives Guyanese rums a truly distinctive character.
The best of these, again, by far, is El Dorado. The 25 year old variety is truly a gold standard. El Dorado is available in the BVI and should be a staple in every charter boat’s liquor cabinet.
Rums of the Virgin Islands
Finally, from right here in the BVI, Sebastian’s spiced rum rounds out my list. Sebastian’s is really more of a dessert than rum. It is remarkably sweet and smooth.
My favorite two ways to enjoy a Sebastian’s, both after a great day of sailing, are over ice cream and on the rocks with a twist of lemon. Next time you come sailing on a crewed yacht charter, insist that your captain take you by their wonderful restaurant for a sampling!
The search for the best snorkel site in the BVI is always a great debate.
The truth is, a snorkel site can be great one day, and downright dangerous the next. BVI snorkel sites change year to year, as coral grows and recovers and, unfortunately, is sometimes destroyed from careless swimmers. Finding a great snorkel site, in the right condition, on the right day, is an art. That is one of the great values of a seasoned crew and yacht captain. iYachtClub captains have the local knowledge that can only be gained by living and snorkeling the British Virgin Islands every day.
So, with the understanding that our ranking is based on snorkeling in the right conditions, here are our 2014 best snorkel spots in the BVI:
10: Chromis Reef
Chromis Reef is on the west side of Cooper Island. Snorkel in 0 – 45 ft. mostly patchy reef. Hundreds of electric blue chromis fish, 3 cm in length, hang around above the coral. They dart in to hide when you come close. There are some interesting overhangs which are home to squirrel fish, grunts and sometimes baby drum fish. The boulders in the shallows usually are good for spotting juveniles. There is a twin-seat airplane wreckage resting in a sand patch in 35 ft. of water. Good Luck finding it.
9: Vanishing Rock
This site gets its name because the rock disappears most of the time, unless the tide is low. Vanishing Rock sits between Salt and Cooper Islands in a narrow passage that attracts scores of fish. Some of the “Rock” highlights include a variety of corals, shrimp, squirrelfish, and maybe a nurse shark or two.
8: Coral Gardens
If you’re looking for some brain (coral) then make sure to stop at Coral Gardens. Located Northeast of Dead Chest Island, Coral Gardens offers onlookers jawfish, sea fans, barracuda, snapper, and of course brain coral. Please be advised to only snorkel Coral Gardens on very calm days. This place is also an excellent scuba destination.
7: Monkey Point
The coral here is pretty much dead, but that’s not what you’ve come to Monkey Point for. Along the coastline, there are about 100 billion baitfish schooling in, around and through the rock/coral structures, and very large Tarpon are feeding on them. You can swim above, among, and under the bait fish, and watch the tarpon (and occasional tuna, snapper, jack, etc) feed on the baitfish. Last trip out we were entertained following an octopus! It’s also fun to watch from underwater as the pelicans dive in and grab a mouthful of bait fish. There were so many bait fish there this February that you could not find the big fish due to the little fish!
6: Ginger’s Backside
AKA ‘Alice’s Back Door’, this is a protected and beautiful hard coral site under the dramatic backdrop of Ginger Island. You will snorkel in 10 – 60ft of beautiful water as the coral formations gently slope down to a sandy bottom. Boulder corals such as brain & moon coral dominate, but there are also sections of stag horn and pillar coral. Interesting mixed coral formations are home to chromis and damselfish and overhangs are favored by grunts and squirrel fish. There is also an abundance of schooling reef fish, and sometimes turtles.
5: Cistern Point
Cistern Point is one of the better shallow snorkeling sites around the BVI, with a rocky sea floor and some small underwater alleys. The sea life here includes gray snappers, angelfish, and goatfishes.
Shallow boulders lead to coral then onto a sandy bottom of soft corals in approx. 50 ft. You can circumnavigate the rock. Watch out for current and boats on the West side. The current has a tendency to pick up in the afternoon. Look out for tarpon, turtles, eagle rays, angelfish, filefish, butterfly fish and schools of squid.
4: The Indians
The Indians feature four cone-shaped rocks that rise from a depth of 40 feet to about 30 feet above the surface. Three rocks stand together while a narrow channel separates a fourth. Near the bottom, a myriad of fish fill the narrow passages. Expect to see almost every variety of reef fish and crustacean, as well as schools of harmless jellyfish in the summer. Sea fans and corals of every hue dot the walls. When the sun’s rays spotlight the vibrant colors of this reef, you will know why this site is considered to be one of the best spots for snorkeling in the BVI. It is truly a spectacular site.
3: Loblolly Bay, Flash of Beauty
I’m talking about the site that is a mile or so down the beach from Big Bamboo. Big Bamboo’s beach offers good snorkeling, but the beach in front of Flash of Beauty is better. There’s a very old reef that protects the beach from high surf, so it’s usually pretty calm. The reef is very shallow and you’ll see immediately that it is indeed an “old reef”. It’s not deep, but it’s cavernous. You can see how the reef has grown out from the sand over many years, and how the wave action keeps the reef in check. Hundreds of ships have wrecked off the reef here—many carrying treasure, cannons, and other valuables. This reef is the favorite site of Pat Little, crewed charter captain of Miss Kitty!
2: Spyglass Hill and the extended snorkel around the tip of Soldier Bay
This calm and protected cove is one of the BVI’s best-kept secrets. It is a favorite of the charter crew of Ocean Jedi! The looming Spy Glass Hill above was once a pirate look- out for unsuspecting galleons, who then fell prey to the unscrupulous buccaneers. It makes a nice change to snorkel along a wall. 15ft at the top, then dropping down to a 60ft sandy bottom, it’s a good place to spot eagle rays cruising along the wall.
The number one site in the BVI, 2014: The Aquarium
Nestled between the famous Baths and Spanish Town (Virgin Gorda) lies The Aquarium. Having a close proximity to the Bath’s, you’ll see boulders and rocks piled up all over the sea floor. There is some amazing vertical coral formations, sponges, lobsters, and possibly a nurse shark.