Many of our guests are new to chartering. We have found that the more we can explain for you, the more fun you can have. Choose from the categories below for everything from required reading to helpful hints.

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 here?

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 next day.

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What do we need for customs & immigration?

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 one.

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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 to you.

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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 home?

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 fee.

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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.

 

 

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Drumbeat One Yacht Charters
Tel: 1-800-478-2029 (Toll Free)
954-720-0475 (USA)
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