Types of Charter Companies
First tier charter companies have new or nearly-new boats, usually not more than 2-3 years old. Walking the docks at these charterers is almost like walking the docks at a boat show, many of the stackpacks are still in plastic wrap. The marina offices and shore facilities are also more posh, and flush with staff running every direction taking care of the large charter fleet. First tier charter companies also have more support staff should you need assistance during your travels, including some stationed at the other marinas in the BVI.
The down side to the 1st tier company is the price, as they tend to be more expensive than second tier companies. Advocates of 1st tier charters cite the new boats and ample support resources & staff as their reasons for choosing 1st tier charter companies.
Second tier charter companies have a little older boats, usually 5-10 years old. These charter companies often purchase boats being decommissioned from the 1st tier fleets. The appeal of second tier companies is the price, which can be as little as half that of a 1st tier company charter. Many charterers point out that “older” boats is a relative measure – most boat owners own boats back home that are much older than the second tier companies’ boats, so the charter boats, at just 5 years old, are a major step up.
Shore facilities at these second tier companies are more limited, but advocates of the second tier companies point out that they’re there to sail, not spend time at the charter offices. There are many such charter companies who have been in business for many years and have solid reputations and loyal customers who return year after year. Many of the secod tier charter companies can offer full charter planning services, including flights, ferries, hotels, and taxis.
Charter brokers also offer planning services and have access to a wide range of boats, both from 1st and 2nd tier charter companies as well as privately owned yachts. There are many charter brokers, so ask around for solid references. These brokers can assist you with everything from flights to hotels to boats.
Advocates of charter brokers like the personalized service and the option to sail boats that often do not look like part of a charter fleet. This can also be a convenient way get an immersive experience on a boat model you are considering purchasing. (Immersive in the figurative sense, not literal.)