Hints and tips for your charter
Information to help make your experience on Braveheart the best it can be!
Life in the Virgin Islands moves more slowly that what you may be accustomed to...so look forward to relaxing, and don't let minor inconveniences annoy you. Remember you are on Island time, so service in local restaurants and the airport may take longer than you are used to.
Carry your valuables, medications, toiletries and a swim suit in your hand luggage in case your luggage is delayed.
Make sure you know where to meet Braveheart before you leave home! In most cases that will be the Red Hook marina on St. Thomas in the USVI. Taxi drivers are familiar with marina locations - and rates are posted at the airports. Our crew can provide you with the name of a reputable taxi company and call them on your behalf to arrange for your pick up at the airport if you like, but you will find plenty of taxis happy for your business. Understand that they typically charge per person, not per car...so be prepared for about $30/pp to get from Charlotte Amalie airport to Red Hook.
You should board no sooner than the agreed time on contract, normally at noon. If you arrive earlier, you will likely find the crew finalizing provisioning and preparation and they will not be ready to greet you the way they would like.
If your arrival is delayed, let the Captain know by calling the contact number that will be provided as your charter approaches.
Payment & proofs
Cash, Paypal and credit cards are accepted aboard for payment of:
Boat store gifts purchased
Dive instruction fees
Additional dockage during charter upon guests' request
Credit cards are not accepted for charter fee payments.
There are ATMs available but these are limited, and access is dependent upon your sailing schedule. We would recommend you carry ample cash to ensure you are not disappointed if the ATM you were expecting is broken or isn't actually there.
The less you bring on board, the happier you will be. Guaranteed. It's a sailing boat...space is limited. Bring soft-sided luggage or duffle bags which can be stowed easily.
T-shirts & shorts are the usual uniform of the day when you are not in swimwear, and only a few clothing changes are really required. Clothing should be kept to the minimum when packing as you shall be in swim attire most of the time. It is advised to bring a long sleeved and full length cover up that’s light and cool to wear to prevent sunburn, especially if fair-skinned. Braveheart carries long-sleeved rash guards and PFG-style shirts onboard just for this purpose (and also so you have cool Braveheart swag to take home).
Evenings can be cool, especially out on the water, so a light sweater or windbreaker may come in handy depending on the season. Temps typically range from 85-90F during the day and 75-80F at night. Eating out while on charter is normally casual attire unless you have made special requests otherwise in advance.
Shoes are not allowed on the boat. The sand, dirt and general grit that is carried onboard with shoes magically makes EVERYTHING onboard dirty, and the grit will eat into and discolor the decking. One pair of flip flops or sandals is all that is required ashore. If you need to wear shoes aboard, they must have clean white soles, be non-slippery and may only worn on the boat--so you will need other foot ware for onshore activities.
The tropical sun can be very damaging to the skin, so sunscreen is highly recommended. And it turns out that many popular sunscreens can permanently stain towels, bed linens, cockpit cushions and decks. Thus Braveheart carries an ample supply of (free) sunscreen that will protect you AND the boat. Please plan to use it and save yourself from having to pack loads of sunscreen.
If you have a very specific need to bring your own sunscreen, in general Sea & Ski, Coppertone and Clinique lotions are non-staining--the crew will need to see the actual container to be sure. Pre-sun and Bain de Soleil are very damaging and oils and sprays in general are forbidden on board. After-sun lotion with Aloe Vera is advised if you happen to have experience where you know you may need it when visiting a lots-of-sun location like the Virgin Islands.
A wide-brimmed hat or visor and sunglasses will help shade you. A lycra swim shirt is a good idea as well (like the Braveheart rash guards).
Bring any medications you require with you, with appropriate documentation, as access to pharmacies on the islands is limited. Painkillers and antihistamines would be appropriate if you suffer an allergic reaction from contact with sea urchins or fire coral. If you are careful and aware of where you are swimming, this isn’t likely to be a problem.
DO NOT bring illicit drugs onboard Braveheart in your baggage or on your person. Presence of contraband onboard can result in the the guests and crew being taken into custody, and the seizure of the boat. Your captain will terminate the charter without refund and without recourse if illicit drugs are brought aboard.
Swimming and SCUBA Equipment
Braveheart provides snorkeling gear (mask, fins, snorkels) and towels--no need to bring those. She also carries dive gear for all guests that will be diving during the charter. If you have that one particular mask that fits great while others don't, then bring that along with your dive computer, and Braveheart will supply the rest.
You must hold a valid Virgin Islands fishing license for personal fishing in the Islands. You can find the form and instructions at the Government of the Virgin Islands website.
Getting to know you
On your arrival you will be welcomed by the crew who will show you around the boat and let you settle into your cabins with a welcome aboard drink in hand. The Captain will explain some do’s and don’ts and ask about your special interests for the cruise. If you have not previously done so, this is your chance to plot the course for where you want to go and what you want to do. The crew has extensive knowledge of the islands and will be able to give you lots of ideas and help of places to see and entertainment to join in, including taking the helm and trimming the sails if you wish. Remember though the Captain is responsible for the yacht and all those aboard, and has the final word in all decisions.
Activities on shore, such as dining out under the stars with feet in the sand eating freshly caught lobster, can be arranged. Off-boat excursions and dining are of course at your own discretion and cost.
Entertainment & Communication
Free Wi-Fi is available aboard while in BVI waters (actually "coverage") and we recommend our guests bring their own phones or tablets. There is a Bluetooth receiver that guests can connect to for music playback in the cockpit, salon and forward deck areas.
Each cabin has a hairdryer that matches the boat's power characteristics; please plan to use these and don't bring your own.
You will have been contacted by the crew to submit a food and drink preference sheet covering all members of the charter. This is to allow the chef to plan your meals accordingly, taking into account any strong dislikes or food allergies indicated. All food and drink requirements for your charter have to be provisioned ahead of your charter start date, so be sure to have returned your preferences well in advance of the charter start date. The yacht stocks a selection of premium wines and drinks to stock a reasonable bar and this is included in the charter fee. More expensive wines and liquors can be typically provisioned, at your request, though surcharges may apply.
For safety reasons all soft drinks and beer is provisioned in cans; there are no individual glass bottles aboard. This may affect sourcing a particular beverage you prefer and if so the crew will endeavor to provide you alternatives.
We recommend dive insurance for your own protection and peace-of-mind. All dives will be led by our certified PADI instructors subject to the standard PADI dive waiver. Most dives are not particularly deep or complex, but all certified divers are well aware of risks associated with SCUBA and thus we highly recommend you protect yourself with dive insurance. There are numerous sources for this insurance if you do not already have coverage, including the Divers Alert Network (DAN).
We also strongly suggest you consider trip insurance that will protect your charter investment. Except when hurricanes roll in and destroy everything in sight and make life a misery for the following 18 months, the Virgin Islands typically enjoys good weather with constant breezes and occasional storms. This is all normal and no problem...except when there is a high probability it could become a problem that could jeopardize the health and well-being of the guests and crew, or pose an imminent danger to the vessel. Your captain is responsible for the safety of the guests, crew and boat, and if he determines there is imminent risk he may divert the boat for safer harbors, or worst case will cancel the excursion altogether. This is very rare as we do not charter during the peak storm season, but it is still possible.
Braveheart does not refund charter deposits for force majeure events. We will offer an alternative future booking at no additional cost, but that won't help with airfare or other expenses you may have already incurred. We want your experience to be fantastic and definitely do not want it ruined by events we have no control over...so please consider trip insurance.
Your crew may be a couple or simply working partners, and they operate the yacht on behalf of the owners. While you are aboard you are guests in their home. Just as you will savor your quiet time staring up at the starry night sky, or reading a book, the crew will appreciate being allowed some downtime too. They will probably be the first ones up, and last to go to bed at night, striving to provide you with a terrific experience.
If you come to think of the crew as friends (as you probably will), tipping may seem awkward at the charter’s end. But tips constitute a major part of their income, and are earned solely by the crew. If you have enjoyed their efforts, they’ll appreciate your letting them know in this way.
Industry standards are a gratuity of 15 to 20% of the total charter fee for a deserving crew, the same as going to a fine dining restaurant in the U.S. Putting your gratuity in an envelope with a note of thanks at the end of the charter is a nice way to avoid any awkwardness. Tipping in the islands for restaurant, taxi services is a customary 15-20%.
Check it out
Here's a list to check off your preparations to help ensure a carefree cruise:
Food & beverage preference sheet filled and returned 45 days ahead of time
Contact information for relatives and associates to reach you in an emergency
Passport for each member of charter party
Soft luggage or duffle bags
Adequate sun protection (lotion, hat, clothing, sunglasses)
Regular medications and others as required
Credit cards or cash for shopping, drinks / meals ashore other ashore expenses and gratuity