This is Day 7 of our trip to the British Virgin Islands with BVI Yacht Charters on a Lagoon 45 Catamaran.
The reggae band the previous night sang a song that went something like “I crashed my car into a bridge and I don’t care” – kinda appropriate for my wake up call at 7:30 am. I was snoozing when my 2IC woke me up as we exited the North Sound Channel. “Grant you will want to see this”, from down in the cabin I called back “take a picture and show me later”. At his continued insistence, “you are definitely going to want to see this”. I finally prairie dogged my head out of the hatch. Oh bugger!
Whoopsy on Mosquito Rock.
Don’t try this at home
Here is an interactive Naviononics chart showing Mosquito Rock just outside North Sound. We never got the full story on this but it was a charter Power Cat being operated by a person with the charter company. The failure here is a classic – OVER CONFIDENCE. Over confidence in anything can often times get you in more trouble than lack of experience. At least with lack of experience, people are generally overly cautious. The ocean has no room (literally) for either of: over confidence or lack of experience.
What we figured was that since VISAR (Virgin Islands Search And Rescue) was on the scene but the crew was gone that it had happened in the last hour or so. Meaning that the captain was motoring under autopilot directly into the sun. Due to the height that he made it up onto the rocks, he must have been under full steam – probably 20 – 25 knots. Hmmmm – full steam into the sunrise? Or perhaps at night? Whatever the reason, we are sure that the crew must have been thrown hard into the bulkheads. 20 knots to zero in 30 feet. Ouch!
Is it time to talk about navigation and responsibility of the captain? Perhaps instead of a 100-word rant, I’ll just leave this picture as the proof that we are not all perfect. And btw don’t shake your head too much at this. We all make mistakes – ever run a traffic light accidently. Anyway, I’ll leave it at this; You should take NauticEd navigation courses.
The reason we left North Sound early was to get to the Baths early. The Baths are a planetary anomaly – although easily explained with logic by the geologists, this still does not account for their sheer awesomeness.
This is directly from Wikipedia:
At The Baths, although volcanism accounts for much of the Virgin Islands, we see granite that eroded into piles of boulders on the beach. Granite forms from the slow cooling of magma at depth nowhere close to surface volcanoes. The granite only appears at the surface after geologic ages have eroded away all the overburden covering it. Once exposed, erosion continued to isolate the granite into large boulders and round their surfaces. The boulders form natural tidal pools, tunnels, arches, and scenic grottoes that are open to the sea. The largest boulders are about 40 feet (12 m) long.
The Baths BVI
The Baths BVI
The Baths BVI
The baths was a full day of fun and entertainment and awe:
We swam, we explored, we took tons of pictures, we walked to the restaurant at the top and had lunch, we swam some more, one of the crew go stabbed by a sea urchin, we sat on the boat and people/boat watched, we beached, we rock hopped, we had the most awesome day. No matter how many times you have been to the baths, you can not stop having a great day. Plan to get there early and spend the day.
You can not spend the night at the Baths. The mooring balls are red day mooring balls only. So at 4:30 we cleared out and sailed west to Cooper Island to Manchionel Bay which is a very protected bay from the east winds. At Cooper Island, there are about 40 mooring balls so you are pretty assured of picking one up late unless you are in the busy season.
On Cooper Island were walking on the beach and ended up randomly talking, as you do, to some other people having a blast on the beach with a pot of rum drinks. I’d spotted them earlier flying a drone around the bay and so happenstance lead us to them. They also were chartering from BVI Yacht Charters (and had only great things to say about them). We chatted about what I was doing here and so they offered up the footage of their drone. Check this out.
After mooring up we did fender rodeo. I highly advise doing this early on in your charter as a game. It ensures all your crew can tie the clove hitch fast. A note on that is that it is essential that your crew can tie knots fast and know how to handle lines including how to throw a line ashore. You can’t have your crew screwing up lines when you need it cleated down. Make a game of lines early on in the charter.
Obviously the crew need training.
Here is a more successful one we did in Thailand
And here is professional training after I realized the crew needed training
Double OMG, the Cooper Island Beach Club restaurant is soooo fantastic. So fantastic in fact that this is a must stop. The appetizers there are just incredible. We all were going to eat on the boat that night but once we saw the menu we dumped that silly idea and went ashore.
Cooper Island Beach Club Restaurant Menu
NauticEd are agnts for all the Yacht Charter companies. We don’t charge you a fee and we can give you all kinds of cool advice becasue chances are – we’ve been to where ever you want to go.
Perhaps you are a little intimidated by the process? Don’t worry, here are all the facts.
But first, a fun slideshow from us.
First off, you need to know that there is nothing more fun than a sailing vacation. And, if you can think of something more fun, then you can probably do it on a sailing vacation.
Second off, it is relatively easy to do but there are some things you need to know.
What is a Charter? And What is “Bareboat”?
A charter is just a fancy word for rent. So when you charter, you’re renting a boat. Typically, it refers to a longer period of time such as renting a boat for a week or more.
Bareboat is a strange word, but it means you captain the boat yourself.
So going on a charter essentially means going to a sailing destination like the Caribbean, Mediterranean or the Pacific and renting a 28 foot to 50 foot sailboat for about a week or two. You can sail it with you as the captain (Bareboat) or you can hire a captain (and/or a cook). Often times hiring a captain is a good way to go even if you are experienced because the captain is a local and knows all the cool places to go. A cook is also a great idea relieve yourself of cooking; plus, they are experienced at whipping up some culinary delights in a cramped galley (kitchen).
What comes with the Boat?
Pretty much everything you need comes with the boat – it is not “bare”. That’s why above we said it was a strange word. You will be supplied with:
a dinghy engine (except some places in the Mediterranean; you should double check that – there is sometimes a $100 extra fee),
fuel for the dinghy motor
towels, sheets, and pillows
sails (haa haa)
propane gas for the galley
cooler – usually
a couple of starter bags of ice (except the Med)
a bottle of rum (Caribbean) – if you are lucky
topped up tanks of water (semi-drinkable at a pinch – best to provision for drinking water)
The boat comes with a refrigerator and freezer, toilets, showers, hand basins, and cushions to sit on. Essentially everything except food and sundries.
This depends on your budget.
Newer boats that are less than 3 years old are really really nice (but are more expensive)
5 years old start to show their age a bit
8-10 are sometimes getting a bit ratty
12 years old or more is really hit or miss depending on the charter company
Some charter companies really look after their boats and some don’t; you have to rely on their social reputation if you’re going after one older than say about 7 years.
Provisioning means buying all your groceries for the trip. Some yacht charter companies will provide this service for you (at a premium). Many times marina grocery stores have a website and are set up to deliver the groceries to your boat on the day of your arrival. Riteway.com in the BVI is a good example.
Even if you own a boat, chartering a boat is the ideal way go see other beautiful parts of our planet. The cost of about $5k on the outset might seem expensive. But that is your walk away cost. Once you are done – you’re done with cost. Everyone that owns a boat knows that the purchase price is just the start of the costs of a boat. With chartering, you wipe your hands clean when you step off the dock.
With Chartering, this year you can go to the Caribbean, and next year go to the Mediterranean, then the Pacific the following year. You’re not tied to a place.
With Chartering, your hotel and entertainment costs are included and many times you eat on board so you’re not paying restaurant prices for food.
When you add it all up, it is a relatively inexpensive vacation. ESPECIALLY if you grab a bunch of friends and all split the cost. In that case, you can get it down to about $100 per day per person.
Qualifications to Bareboat Charter
Except for a few countries, mostly in the Mediterranean, you don’t need a formal license to bareboat charter (captain your own boat). Don’t believe any sailing associations who say you must have one. What you do need, however, is a good sailing resume. Yacht charter companies will check your resume prior to letting you take the boat.
A good rule of thumb is that yacht charter companies require about 50 days of sailing experience, 25 of which as master of the vessel and some of that experience on a vessel within 10 feet of your regular experience. You should have some set of formal sailing theory knowledge
Responsibility wise, formal sailing theory knowledge is essential. You should know these (and more):
All the rules of giveway for all situations for all vessels you might encounter
Colors and shapes of navigation marks including Cardinal marks
The IALA-A and IALA-B Lateral Mark system
Anchoring and Mooring techniques
Sail trim and reefing
Crew overboard retrieval
Maneuvering a large boat under power in tight marinas
Boat systems, including electricity system and water/wastewater systems
Additionally, NauticEd has a FREE electronic resume and logbook system that helps sailors build an acceptable resume for yacht charter companies. It produces a realtime
There are so many to list. Each of the countries below have multiple ports of sail (locations). You could literally take a sailing vacation every year for 100 years and not go to the same place ever. A favorite starter location is the British Virgin Islands where the sailing is easy, the water is warm, there are few hazards, the navigation is mostly by sight, and there is a great selection of yacht charter companies to choose from.
Some of the more well-known destinations include:
The British Virgin Islands
Don’t be intimidated by going to an unknown location. The charter company base there will give you a very good chart briefing before you go and tell you about lots of cool places and sometimes even their favorite restaurants.
If you are a bit rusty on Navigation by Charts or Electronic Navigation, built into the Bareboat Charter Master bundle of course is a comprehensive Coastal Navigation course and an Electronic Navigation course.
Some companies carry insurance so that you max out of pocket is about $1000 or so. But some companies have a much higher deductible that can be as much as $5000. You can buy down this deductible to $1k or so by paying an extra $50 or so per day. It is a good idea to know this prior to chartering and making the reservation. When we quote our charter prices to clients we always include the buy down extra insurance cost. While 99.9% of the time there is no accident – it is still possible and paying a few extra hundred while on vacation for piece of mind is just a good idea.
It is a good idea to discuss with your friends the “what if” scenario? It is a big burden on the Captain (you) if there was an unforeseen accident. Are you going to pay the $5000 deductible or are you going to surprise your friends? It is better to buy down the insurance and have eery one agree to split the lower deductible cost.
Catamaran vs monohull
As Captain, you are pretty excited to sail a nice big boat and feel her heel over, but if you want to do this again you’d better make sure your crew does not get sea sick.
Catamarans are fantastic for a sailing vacations and help in reducing seasickness. The galley area is at the same level as the cockpit and so while under sail it is easy for crew members to go in and out of the galley without getting seasick. The boat does not heel over and this also reduces the likelihood of the crew getting seasick.
Catamarans are more expensive but you can also put more people on them to reduce the per person expense. True, Catamarans don’t point as high into the wind as monohull but it is only a few degrees off and besides you’re on vacation.
Some people are intimidated by the size of a catamaran but as long as you are an experienced sailor, you should not have too much problem. NauticEd provides a great Catamaran Conversion Course to help understand the differences. Catamarans are actually more maneuverable under power than a monohull because of the two engines; one in each hull.
Don’t too quickly discount a Catamaran. You and your crew will have a lot of fun.
Captained vs bareboat
This is you hiring a captain (usually about $200 per day) or you doing the skippering yourself. If this is your first time ever, don’t be embarrassed that you hired a captain. You’ll actually have a better time, you’ll probably go to all the secret hideaway spots that only the locals know about, you’ll be able to helm the boat whenever you want and you will pick up a lot of extra sailing tips from a professional.
You will need to charter a boat with a separate cabin for the captain. They will not sleep on the main salon couch.
A kayak and or SUP (standup paddle board) is almost a must.
Length of Time
Manytimes you can book for the number of days you want with a minimum of 6. In the Mediterranean, you have to book in multiples of 1 week starting on Saturdays. Most other places you can start and finish when you want.
Sure, a luxury but the benefits… If you are going to the Mediterranean, don’t get one because most evenings you will be dining in the local villages and soaking up the culture.
General price range?
Week prices very with location and size of boat and age of boat and season and … but here is a general idea.
Monohull 37 feet (good for 4 crew) about $2500
Monohull 40 feet (good for 6 crew) about $3500
Monohull 45 feet (good for 8 crew) about $4500
Catamaran 38 feet (good for 6 – 8 crew) about $500
Catamaran 40 feet (good for 8 crew) about $6500
Catamaran 45 feet (good for 6 – 8 crew) about $7500
When should you book?
See this blog article – we created a really good infographic on when to book based on season and location
On time on the way to charter a boat in the BVI, the airlines lost one of the crew members luggage. At the store at the marina he bought a new pair of swimming togs, a tooth brush and a couple of teeshirts. Since he was only staying with us for 4 days that sufficed him for the time.
Essentially, you need bring nothing. Here are a few items to think about bringing from home:
Little 12v dc to 110/220v AC inverter with USB outlets if you want to charge iPod, cell phone, camera battery etc that need 110/220 volts. (Some boats do have inverters or generators but do you really want the noise of a generator just to charge a cell phone?)
A 12-volt splitter and 12v USB plugs. This allows multiple 12-volt plugs to allow multiple devices to be charging at one time. Very important if you’re taking more than a few people on the trip. Everyone thinks their cell phone/iPod is more important than everyone else’s. You’re a hero when you pull one of these devices out of the bag.
European to American style plug adapter. (Many charter boats are made in Europe and thus have round style ac plugs. Check this but most of your chargers these days take 230 or 110 volts input so you’ll just need an adapter and not necessarily a transformer)
iPod and 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm audio jack cable
Tablet loaded with Navionics chart for your location. Many charter boats have a GPS. Some don’t and some will be broken when you arrive or will break sometime during the trip
Cruising Guide and Anchorage Guide (not really necessary because the charter company will provide)
A local area travel guide like Frommers etc.
Many times the charter co. will provide masks, snorkels and fins, however if you bring your own you’re guaranteed to have a good set.
Digital camera with extra memory sticks.
Cheap little hand towels. The charter co. will give each person two towels for the whole week. So these little towels can serve as face and hand towels and then finally as floor wiping towels.
Book of knots and a short piece of line – for the entertainment of the crew.
Deck of cards.
Other Fun stuff – we really have fun on our charters and we get into the mood. One time we took a Grinch suit.
Who to Take
Being on a boat for a week is a personality magnifier.
Grumpy people get grumpier
Drama people create maximum drama
Drunks get drunker
Happy people create more happiness
If this is your first time, even if you’re accomplished sailor you can hire a captain with no shame and actually have a better time. But you don’t need to – it is relatively easy to do it yourself. You should just be an experienced sailor and know what you are doing in and around a boat and the ocean.
Experience wise, a good gauge is to have about 50 days of sailing experience; 25 of which as master of the vessel and some good skippering experience on a boat within 10 feet of what you are chartering. Anything less and the charter company will (should) turn you down as a competent skipper.
Good luck out there and have a ball.
NauticEd can find the best boats and the best prices across all the companies
NauticEd is an agent for all the yacht charter companies worldwide. We can find you the best prices and best boats. Chances are that we have been to that location so talk to us about which place is more fun and what not to miss when you are there. We don’t charge you a fee.
10 Essential Tips for Chartering a Private Yacht by Motion Yacht Charters in the Solent UK.
Chartering a private yacht is a great way to enjoy sailing without actually owning a boat. It’s a good way to test different boats in case, at some point, you decide to buy your own. For first-timers, chartering a yacht can be tricky, so here are 10 top tips to help you make the best choice.
A skippered charter with crew
Yacht charter companies such as Motion Charters Solent in the UK provide skippered yacht charters, which means novice sailors can avoid the stress and strain of having to navigate at sea and in and out of port. The skipper is in charge and, together with the crew, they do all the sailing and the hard work.
This means you and your family can sit back and relax. You can choose to participate as a crew member if you want, but the skipper will have to approve this. But if you decide to just stretch out on the sundeck, sip champagne and enjoy the ride, that’s absolutely fine!
You can hire a yacht with no skipper or crew – this is called bareboat – but then some sailing experience is necessary. Boat charter companies will require proof of your theory knowledge and practical competency such as the NauticEd free sailing resume given to all NauticEd students. If need be, they can arrange a refresher course to bring you up to speed. Fuelling and provisioning the yacht, as well as all the port administration and costs are the hirer’s responsibility.
If you prefer the privacy of a bareboat charter, but are a little uncomfortable with the navigation process, then a flotilla of like-minded skippers could be your best solution. This is a relaxed way to sail together in a group of boats. Common courses are followed and the skippers look out for each other. Flotilla charters are a firm favourite with families who have children.
If you’ve hired a yacht of modest proportions with a crew and a skipper, then everyone needs to have respect and be considerate of each other’s space. Make sure your friends and family know what’s expected of them before you cast off.
Weather plays an incredibly important part of any yacht charter, so make sure you’ve done some homework before setting sail – the last thing you want is to be caught in bad weather, especially on a small yacht. Sailing charter companies monitor the weather closely and won’t let you leave port if storms and high seas are forecast.
Chartering is a good option
Chartering a yacht is a lot less expensive than owning your own. Unless you spend around 14 weeks a year on your boat, it’s much cheaper to charter one. Anyway, who has as much time as 14 weeks to spend on a boat each year – most of us average only around 2 weeks a year!
Chartering is a lot less work
If you have your own boat, there’s a lot of work needed to keep her looking shipshape and in good running order. When you charter a boat, you just show up and there she is, neat and clean, fully-fuelled and in perfect running order, all thanks to the charter hire company.
And when you arrive back in port after your trip, all you have to do is return to the marina, refuel her, pump out the holding tank, then stow your bags in your car and drive away. There’s no cabin cleaning, no washing and polishing of the exterior, no repairs or maintenance – you just leave it in the hands of the charter company. Simple!
Chartering is a flexible option
The option of chartering a boat is a lot more flexible than owning your own. First, depending what’s available, you can select the boat that best suits the trip you intend to take. And you don’t have to choose the same boat every time. When you own your own boat, there’s only one choice of boat – yours! There’s also the problem of having to find suitable mooring and paying mooring fees that can be pretty hefty.
Chartering is less spontaneous than owning a boat
The only problem with hiring a yacht is that you can’t just decide, there and then, to go sailing for an afternoon, or a weekend, or for a week-long cruise. Most charter companies insist on at least 3 or 4 days’ notice, sometimes more. During the peak summer season, they require at least 7 days’ notice and you have to charter a boat for a minimum period of a week or more. So, if you like to do things on the spur of the moment, chartering a yacht may not be your best bet.
You don’t always get what you want
Even though boat charter companies have a wide selection of boats to choose from, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get the boat you want when you want it. For the best chance to get the boat you prefer, plan your trip and book your yacht several months in advance.
See this article on when you should be booking for which location and which season.
NauticEd are agents for all yacht charter companies worldwide and chances are we have been to the location you’re considering. We can give you good advice and find the best priced boat for you.
Getting confused about Lateral Navigation Marks and ATONs? There are two systems in the world. IALA-A and IALA-B. Basically, the colors are opposite but here is the infographic.
This information and everything else you need to know about coastal navigation is in the NauticEd Coastal Navigation Course. It’s only $39. Upon completion, the course is added to your globally accepted sailing resume.
Infographic showing IALA-A and IALA-B systems
Here is a world map of where these systems are used.
On IALA-B use “red – right – returning”. i.e. put the red buoy on your right when returning.
On IALA-A you use the mnemonic “Is there any red port left” to memorize which color buoy you pass on which side of your boat (when returning). i.e. take red buoy to your port (which is the left side of your boat.). Universally, “Is there any red port left?” also works for memorizing what color lights are on your boat. i.e. The red light is mounted on your port side of your boat which is the left side of your boat. For IALA-A is is also easy to remember that you match the color of your boats light to the buoy light. i.e. Red to Red and Green to Green.
Just FYI: IALA stands for International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities.
A SmartPlug is a must for your boat to replace the standard L5-30 shore power plug.
A few years ago I managed a boat for a syndicate of guys. They were sharing their boat using our boat sharing software.
But alas … here is what happened to their beautiful boat.
3 Year Old Gorgeous Boat Burned Due to Poorly Designed Shore Power Plugs.
Turns out, this is an extremely common occurrence. The plug that goes into the boat is usually an L5-30 which looks like this:
An L5-30 plug
More than likely, it is on your boat as well. Well, this plug was never designed for a rocking-boat in a salty marine environment but because it meets UL standards, it is the type of plug that is put onto almost every boat. The plug was originally designed in 1938 and has just become one of those legacy products that has survived beyond proper technology.
My friend Peter Neilsen who is the Chief Editor of Sail Magazine showed me this pic of the L5-30 on his boat. Not good.
Peter shared that he was installing a SmartPlug. So I immediately did some research and found them to be a properly designed plug for a boat.
When I went to our boat and inspected our own plug here is what I found. Double YIKES.
L5-30 on our own boat. YIKES!
Immediately, I ordered a Smart Plug and stopped plugging in the boat and just relied on our solar panel to keep the batteries charged.
“Smart” – It is not smart as in a “smart phone”. It is smart because the guys who engineered it, put on their thinking caps – smart. The basic issue with the L5-30 is that the actual contact area for the terminals is too small, leading to high resistance and high resistance leads to heat which leads to fire. The Smartplug uses a longer contact area for the terminals while also using a clever holding clip to hold the plug sturdy in place instead of that extremely annoying threaded piece of plastic ring which is impossible to screw on each time without crossing the threads. I mean, who thought of that anyway? In the image below, see the nice logical easy side clips.
An independent Electrical Engineer, Rodd C Collins who is the owner of Compass Marine, Inc. located in Cumberland, Maine did a full study and report on the SmartPlug. Rodd is an ABYC certified marine electrician located in Maine. Rodd writes articles for his Marine “How To” website for DIY boaters. His site has over 350,000 readers worldwide. Rodd has become a trusted source for boaters around the world.
Below is an amazon link to the one that I sourced for our Beneteau 373. It is the whole cable with plug molded on using well-designed rubber strain relief molding with the inlet receptacle. The receptacle replaces the one on your boat. So you have to unscrew the one on your boat and screw on the SmartPlug receptacle which was easy since the holes on the SmartPlug receptacle aligned with the old inlet receptacle – again “Smart”.
Or if you want to reuse your existing length of cable, you can get a retrofit adapter to use your existing cable and just cut off the existing L5-30 plug
If you want to sleep better at night, best you switch over to a smart plug.
The installation was easy and took an hour or so.
First, we removed the old L5-30 receptacle. (The one on the right is inactive and not used).
Out with the old
While disconnecting the wires on the inside of the boat, here is what I also found. The white power wire had been completed burned and overheated. Triple YIKES.
Next, I mounted the new Smart Plug receptacle
Locked in the wires on the back end to the terminals (after I cut off the burned section). Smartly, they even color coded the terminals – smart.
Then plugged it in. Notice we use a bungee cord to keep the cable up out of the water. We use two zip ties; one made to a loop and the other zips tightly on the cable.
So here is the final image to leave in your head.
Old versus new
We did not get paid to write this article. We just don’t like seeing nice boats burned. Get yourself a Smart Plug.
NauticEd is the world’s most advanced sailing education and certification company. We help sailors be more knowledgeable through interactive multimedia courses. We write lots of articles like this to help our followers.
At NauticEd we have our list of Favorite RYA practical sailing training schools and we are sharing it with you here.
NauticEd is a provider of the RYA Day Skipper Theory course online to students worldwide. Technically we are called an RYA shore based training school and thus being a provider of the theory, we want to push our students who have passed the RYA Day Skipper course out to quality RYA schools.
We highly Recommend doing practical sailing training at an RYA School. The RYA school can issue the much sort after International Certificate of Competence which is the United Nations created International Sailing License (the ICC).
They can issue the ICC in either of two ways.
(1) A one-day assessment of theory knowledge and practical skills (pretty grueling and you’d better know your theory. We recommend you take and pass the NauticEd RYA Day Skipper Course OR the NauticEd Bareboat Charter Master Bundle of courses. Don’t wing it – you will fail.)
(2) Do the 5-day on-the-water RYA Day Skipper practical course. A prerequisite of this is the NauticEd RYA Day Skipper online theory course. Once you pass the RYA Day Skipper Course, you automatically qualify for the ICC.
We recommend the 5-day course. Why? Because you are guaranteed to enjoy it and learn some tips even if you are an old dog.
Oh and just FYI, there are 500 RYA Sailing Training Schools worldwide.
With all of these schools, NauticEd can make the arrangements for you and consult with you if you have enough experience to pass the ICC assessment or if you should take the 5-day course. Either way, contact us.
Maneuvering your gorgeous sailboat under power in the marina is one of the more important skills to learn. Wind, current and tight spaces can be very intimidating and not knowing all the tricks can lead to expensive mistakes as well as serious ego damage.
The book is loaded with all the scenarios you will encounter and covers topics such as: momentum, prop walk, tight turns, using spring lines, leaving the dock, returning to the dock, high winds and current, and the elusive Mediterranean Mooring.
We have extracted an excerpt that will help you get into a tight space on a teehead.
After you make your plan, ensure dock lines are made ready and (very important) that the crew are told exactly which direction to cleat the boat when they get off. In high winds things can go south very quickly. Ensure dock lines are prepared outside of the life-lines. This is a common mistake and a huge time waster at a critical point in the maneuver.
Plan to get the bow of the boat cleated to the dock as shown, and then spring the boat in.
In this exercise to spring in means; once the bow-line is cleated to the dock, you simply turn the wheel away from the dock and apply forward thrust. The water force on the rudder moves the aft of the boat laterally to the dock.
The innovation that we like in this book is that throughout the book are QR codes as shown in the image above. When reading the book you simply scan the QR code with your phone. The book then comes alive with real animations and video.
One of our NauticEd students (Doug) called us today asking where to go on a sailing vacation. In particular, he was asking about Tonga or Tahiti. He had been to the Caribbean plenty of times and was looking for something a little different. He’d heard that we were pretty knowledgeable on this.
Doug was right – we’ve been to both locations and have plenty of advice. So here is a summary of our conversation.
Both places provide completely different experience.
First Tonga: Tonga, located 250 miles East of Fiji and 1200 miles NNE of New Zealand, in the pacific, is a wonderful remote experience. The Island you go to for sailing is Vava’ u which is its own archipelago about 150 miles north of the main Tonga capital island of Tongatapu. The yacht charter fleets in Vava’u are small and so there are not many yachts around. Most of the yachts there are world cruisers.
Where Is Tonga
The islands themselves are mostly uninhabited. So your experience is mostly to yourselves and a few whale watching tourists. There is no reprovisioning in the islands so you have to stock up before you head out, but everything is pretty close so, to drop back mid week is not a biggy.
The islands are low-lying and close together so there are no great sailing distances you need to do in a day. Rather the days are more spent with a few hours of sailing then exploring, snorkeling and relaxing on the beaches.
Navigating is not hard but you will be a little challenged. With no distinguishing land features on each island, it is difficult to easily point at an island and immediately know what it is – you have to follow along on the chart as you go. Of course, GPS is the savior of this but you always need to monitor where you are because the reefs are numerous. GPS can be up to 100 feet (30 meters) off from reality so give everything a wide berth. There is about a 6 ft (2 meters) tide. This is usually not an issue except for one lagoon inside Hunga Island whereby you must only enter which has to be done 2 hours either side of high tide.
Hunga Island Entrance
Marina’s Cave is a must. The entrance is underwater about 10 feet down and the swim is about 30 feet long under the water to the cave to come up in an air pocket. Easy but… not for the faint at heart. At certain lighting conditions, it is pretty spectacular inside. When there is a swell, the pressurizing and de-pressurizing of the cave causes a mist and de-mist oscillating condition inside – freaky.
The humpback whales start arriving around the Vava’u islands late June and early July and there are plenty among the islands by mid-July and into August.
Snorkeling is awesome, as the coral is untouched by pollution or over diving.
Best coral ever
The sail over to Kenutu island to the east of the archipelago was through a very difficult patch of reef. But it was worth it to take a hike on the island and see the pacific waves crashing into the island wall.
Plan on a week minimum but a 10 day charter is recommended. There is plenty to do and see and in just one week we ran out of time trying to see it all.
The Tongan people are overly friendly and welcoming. Some of the Villages will put on a Luau if you give advance notice which can be done through the sailing base manager.
The Charter base in Vava’u is Moorings/Sunsail and in operated by my friend Shane Walker – a fellow Kiwi. Shane is a great guy and also runs the local resort there called Tongan Beach Resort. Stay there for a few nights either side of your charter.
Getting there is easy(ish). Fiji Airways now go direct from Fiji to Vava’u twice per week.
Overall – a bareboat yacht charter sailing vacation in Vava’u, Tonga is not to be missed in this lifetime. It is one of the more remote places you can go.
NauticEd staff can book this trip for you and give you advice on the kind of sailing/navigation experience you need. Make an inquiry on this page.
Tahiti: 1200 miles further east of Tonga is French Polynesia, known by many as Tahiti which is the main island of the entire French Polynesia archipelago. The sailing area is more done out of the island of Raiatea. So you fly into Pape’ete (on Tahiti Island) from where ever and then take a puddle jumper 300 miles NW to Raiatea.
With a weeklong sailing venture, you’ll spend 1/2 of the time around Raiatea and the island of Tahaa, a few miles to the north. Both of which lie in the same giant Lagoon area. Then the rest of time you’ll probably pop 20 miles north west over to the famous Bora Bora and the stunning Lagoon surrounding the awe inspiring volcano of Bora Bora.
An absolute highlight on Bora Bora was the Coral River. It is a place where the water flows into the Lagoon through the reef. You jump in and float through the reef checking out the most colorful fish and coral you have ever seen. You end up inside the Lagoon then run back along the path to do it all over again.
Coral River Bora Bora
But, anywhere throughout the entire week, you will experience many snorkeling spots where the coral and fish are spectacular.
Navigation is easy – but you need to keep constant watch on where you are. Coral reefs come from 80 feet deep up to 3 feet in a wall. You can easily run aground.
French Polynesia, like most of the world, uses Cardinal Marks for indicating safe water.
West Cardinal Mark (Safe Water to the West)
But also the locals use sticks to indicate not so safe water.
Sticks As Navigation Marks
The sail from Tahaa to Bora Bora is easy and the volcano of Bora Bora becomes really impressive as you close in on it. The Lagoon around Bora Bora produces the most gorgeous water colors. Obviously there are a ton of really nice resorts and restaurants to stop at.
Getting there is easy. There are daily flights to Papeete and onto Raiatea.
Doug, our student, was asking which one? Which one? Tahiti or Tonga? He has two older teenagers he wants to take. So my answer was both, one trip this year and one next. Bora Bora has brand bragging rights in terms of brand because everyone wants to go to Bora Bora, but for showing teenages a place on this planet that is vastly untouched, I suggested the Kingdom of Tonga first.
NauticEd are agents for both Tahiti and Tonga yacht charter locations as well as most other sailing destinations world wide.
NauticEd is the world’s more advanced sailing education and certification company. Yacht charter companies worldwide accept the NauticEd Bareboat Charter Master Resume and Certification. We specialize in helping people realize their sailing vacation dreams. You can do it!
Each of our course pages has a nano-forum (called SeaTalks) attached so that students can comment on the content of that page. Recently a student asked a question on the nano-forum about the distance off/double the angle method and pointed out something which when we did the geometry analysis it turns up something quite revealing.
The distance off method uses basic geometry to determine the distance from an object without doing a fix on a chart. It is quite brilliant. First I’ll explain the concept then show you the failings of it.
The concept is basic triangle geometry.
Distance-off or double the angle method
It says that when you have traveled a distance so that the angle to an object has doubled that the distance you traveled is the same as the distance from the object. All you have to know is your speed and the time you traveled. This comes from the fact that when the angle is doubled then the inside angle next to it is 180 – 2 x the angle. Thus since the sum of all angles in a triangle must = 180 then the unknown angle becomes the same. Thus it is an equilateral triangle and b must equal a.
So for example, say you are traveling at 5 knots and you spot a lighthouse ahead and to port @ time 1030. You measure the angle from your bow to the light house which you find to be 33 degrees. Over time you monitor the angle, when it reaches 66 degrees you note the time of 1105.
The time you traveled was: 35/60 = 0.583 hours
The distance then was speed x time = 5 knots x .583 hours = 2.92 nm
So simple! Right?
Here is the catch. What is your course? Do you know it? Not really, there is leeway (sideways pushing of your boat on the wind) and quite possibly current. The geometry equation fails when the heading (direction your boat is pointing) and the course over ground do not match. It is because you are measuring the angle from the bow to the object, which is not necessarily your course over ground. Often times these can be 10-20 degrees or more in a sailboat. Less so in a power boat where the speed is higher so current is less of a % and leeway is reduced.
All well if you know your course, but where did you get it from? GPS? Well then you definitely know where you are so you don’t need this method. 3 point fixes? Well then you definitely again have a chart and know where you are. So hmmmm what is one to do with this seemingly useless geometric wonderland that in practice does not work?
You could estimate your leeway and apply the correction to your heading and you could consult the tide current table to estimate the current effect of your heading. For example, say your leeway was 10 degrees to starboard in the example above (no current). Then the real angle from your course to the object would be 43 degrees. You should wait until the object then is at 86 degrees off your course which is 86-10 =76 degrees off your heading off the port bow.
Distance off with correction
We have this same discussion in our Coastal Navigation Course.
Take the NauticEd Coastal Navigation Course online NOW. Get real practical training and examples. Do it in your own time and take the tests as many times as you like – forever.
Over the past few months, we’ve had excessive water in our Beneteau 373. If you don’t know, water is supposed to be on the outside of the boat. Only Rum and a few other libations are supposed to be on the inside.
So, yesterday we got fed up and launched a search and plug campaign. This meant thinking of every possible scenario of why water might be in the boat. So here is a list of things to check. Look for discolored water streaks next to any suspect area. If need be, sprinkle talcum powder next to the seacock and observe over time if a trail of water is left.
We had some discussions about the sheer volume of water in the boat (still under the floor boards) so we knew the culprit had to be big. A few days before when we checked the boat there had been a big rainstorm so hmmm we thought that might be something. But after a thought, we realized that to get approx 50 gallons of water of water into the boat from a rain storm would not be a little crack somewhere.
General integrity inspection: – We walked the entire boat looking for any cracks and culprits. We found a crack inside the anchor locker. We plugged the exit hole and hosed about 20 gallons of water into the anchor locker. Over the next hour or so the water level had not moved. Nope – not that one.
Seacocks: – These are through hull valve fittings whereby drain hoses plug into. There are a lot. Many are above the outside water level but also many below: Galley seacock, handbasin seacock, air conditioning cooling water inlet, shower drain, toilet maserator, toilet water inlet, refrigerator drain, raw water cooling inlet for engine. Seacocks usually have a handle to turn to close the valve. Don’t discount above the water line seacocks. Once on another boat we kept getting water into the boat but only while under sail. Turned out that the drain hose from the basin to an above water line seacock had fallen off. When the boat heeled to port the seacock was under water. Our inspection revealed every seacock to be dry and clean. Moving on.
Bilge pump exit: – This is usually above the water line but you should inspect the fittings and connections all the way back, since the exit will be below the water when healing which could suck water back in. There is a check valve (one way valve) in the line to stop water flowing backwards, check that. Checked! Nope.
Packing gland, stuffing box: – The propeller shaft exits out of the boat through the stuffing box. This is below the waterline and is thus often a source of water leaks. A packing gland is inside the stuffing box to create the seal but since the shaft turns it is difficult. Some boats have an “active gland”. This has a turning screw inside the stuffing box to move water towards the seal and create back pressure. If your boat has this, you will see next to the stuffing box an inlet seacock and a tube from it to the stuffing boat. All are sources of leaks. Our active stuffing box proved dry as.
Sail Drive: – This is an alternate shaft drive system used mostly in Europe. The shaft in encased in a housing that exits the boat vertically though the hull. Gears change the direction of the drive to horizontal where the propeller attaches. The sail drive unit is a potential source of leaks.
Toe rail: – All along the tow rail, there must be a seal to prevent water getting into the boat. Inspect this. For obvious damage or gaps. The toe rail covers and protects the seal between the molded hull and the molded top of the cabin. You can test for leaks by closing all hatches and shutting off all egresses. Then use a shop vac on reverse blow to pressurize the inside of the boat. You’ll have to tape up pretty good the area where you stuffed in the shop vac hose. Now soap down the hull of the boat and look for bubbles. We did not get around to this since we knew the leak was bigger than a tiny crack.
Side stay deck connections and chain plates: – Once on my friend’s boat, the mast came down under sail because he forgot to check the deck seal where the sidestays (shrouds) go through the deck and chain plate to the bulkhead below. The entire bulk head rotted out over time because of constant water getting into the boat. Checked! Ours – fine.
Water Heater: – The water heater fills from the water tanks. If the water heater is allowed to freeze it will blow out a safety stop then anytime you turn on the water supply pressure you are pumping fresh water tank water into the boat. Checked! All good.
Water tanks: – Many boats have a plastic water tank whereby the inlet and exit from the tank are on top. This prevents water leaks out the bottom – but … maybe your tank is not like this. Our water tanks were in good shape and all holes are in the top.
Hatches: – Close hatches and get out the hose. All good here.
Rudder: – The boat is usually designed with a hollow rudder post that is molded into the boat and the post rises above the water line (clever). Thus, unless this is all cracked from hitting the bottom its unusual to see a leak here. But check it anyway. Use the talcum powder if suspicious. No tell tale signs on ours.
Keel: – The keel is bolted through the hull to the top of serious stringers molded into the hull and there is a seal between the keel and hull to prevent water coming in. The bolts are highly tensioned. This technology has been essentially perfected over the years but … older boats, poor quality manufacturing, or groundings can affect the integrity of this seal. There are lots of articles on the net on how to fix a leaking keel. With out pulling the boat, ours looked fine.
Air conditioner: –Ah ha – the culprit (we think). So … a few months back the air conditioner was playing up a little so we took a look. The raw cooling water strainer was full of junk (we cleaned that) and the pan that collects the condensate was pretty rusty with a collection of condensate water in it. And there was rusty water in the bilge which meant the rusty pan had been spilling water over and out of the pan. So we had our local AC boat guy do two things (1) Add freon and (2) install a venturi vacuum hose with a one-way check valve into the cooling water line to keep the pan dry. Unfortunately, we surmise, he forgot to properly tighten the clamps around the cooling water line. AND SO – every time the AC was running it was pumping water into the boat. That was only part of the mystery because after we fixed that (before the rain storm) somehow the bilge was still full after we tightened the clamps and pumped the bilge dry. Hmmmm – so what we figured out was that water was still in between the hull and the subfloor and while the rain storm did not add water to the boat the 40 knot wind rocked the boat around enough to allow water to slush around enough to come out of the weep holes into the bilge. We tested the hypothesis by rocking the boat ourselves. Sure enough, during the rocking, water came out from under the subfloor and flowed into the bilge. We stuck the shop vac up into the weeps holes and right now we have the heater set on 85 deg F to dry out the boat with a hatch cracked open to let the steam out.
(Update – checked the bilge again today – it is dry – yay – whew!)
What is very interesting is how effective the venturi is on the air conditioning cooling line. Using a venturi is a way to create a vacuum when water is flowing. So what we are considering is to vent the condensate pan directly to the bilge always and run the venture line down into the bilge. This way the venturi takes care of not only the condensate but other water in the boat any time the AC is running. This is Texas and so even if we are not at the boat we run the dehumidifier selection on the AC. We have a strainer/filter in the venturi line so that it does not clog up the cooling water line and the venturi valve it placed in the line close to the exit out of the boat.
Here is a pic of the venturi line stubbed onto the AC cooling line:
Venturi Valve inserted into the AC cooling water line creates vacuum to empty the condensate pan
And here is a pic of the AC with bilge and the AC raw cooling water line and the AC system. From this you can see how we can run the venturi line down into the bilge.
AC and AC raw cooling water system
Hint – don’t forget to clean your AC raw cooling water strainer.