Crewed vs. Bareboat
Besides the safety and relaxation a crewed charter affords, the other major way it differs from a bareboat experience is cost. A low-season week in the BVI (April through mid-December, excepting major holidays) on a 474 with a captain, chef, and full provisioning retails for about $10,500 or $1,750 per person for an average complement of six people. A low-season rate on a 474 without crew retails for about $6,600 or $821 per person for eight people, the average complement with extra guests occupying the crew’s stateroom. Add one of the provisioning packages to your bareboat and it’ll cost you an extra $25 to $35 per person per day.
I recommend the provisioning, by the way. Having your bareboat ready to go when you arrive is a solid, time-saving idea. You can easily burn up a whole vacation day shopping for groceries, and my experience is that several things will get forgotten.
Other differences are subtler but significant. Certainly, a couple will find the bareboat experience is more romantic, and perhaps more relaxing. Additionally, charter boats tend to be fairly easy to use. Our 474, for example, sported a top-shelf GPS, an autopilot that was helpful on long runs, plenty of speed, and great dockside maneuverability, even with cross-winds blowing.
Then finally, there’s food prep. Obviously, a crewed charter is going to be a cut above on this score—ours was. But our bareboat experience was seriously improved via a modest stock of fast-frozen meals (the chicken curry was excellent) we could easily microwave. Still, I was much surprised by how uninspired BJ and I felt about cooking for ourselves (even in a fully found galley) once our gourmet cook had debarked. Ice cream for dinner is surely romantic, but it ain’t very filling! —B.P.
This article originally appeared in the December 2009 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.