Several months ago I prompted a rather spirited thread by asking for experiences with Barefoot Yacht Charters, St. Vincent. So, I should now register my experience.

We chartered three cats for our group of 21 people. The first (Double Down) was in near pristine condition. The second (Kalena) was in very good condition. The third (Kuatro – and, of course, my boat!) was/is in very poor condition, systems were not working when we started the cruise, the hatches are so small as to make it an inherently unsafe vessel, we lost a transmission and then an engine (thankfully on the same side) – it simply should not be in anyone’s charter fleet (e.g., who has ever heard of running back-stays on a charter boat?) I gave management a VERY detailed accounting of these and other problems, so I need not flog them further here. The point is: 2 out of 3 isn’t all bad. In addition, management gave me a very fair partial refund of my charter fee.

Regarding the staff, our experience was mostly positive. For instance, when a group of us arrived by taxi well after dark, staff members were there who sorted our luggage by boat, carried it down the very long and steep hill, and took the luggage by dingy to the correct moored boats – so we could go directly in to dinner. The chart briefing was probably the best I have ever had. On the other hand, the boat check-out was hurried (and didn’t start until around 13:00), incomplete (never mentioned how/when to use the running backstays) and, for at least two systems, inaccurate (which we learned later by trial-and-error.)

One thing that struck us was that, particularly for a first-timer, there is no “face” of the organization who we felt we could go to for answers. We had communicated by e-mail and phone with Seth, which had given us the impression we would continue to deal with him onsite. However, unless you have reason to go into the “back office”, you will never see him – he seemingly has nothing to do with charterers onsite or the boats. The office staff didn’t have much to do with the boats and the boat staff wasn’t clear on business matters. It meant a lot of trips up and down that long, steep hill to figure things out (at least I had my cardio workout on check-out day!) Perhaps a communication system between the dock and the office? I must mention that I “caught” the staff in an outright lie – which was dismaying to me that they would try such a thing.

We have now used both TMM and Barefoot for Grenadines cruises. I would say my experience with each has been different, but not so much better or worse. I will consider each again in the future.

In the meantime, sailing in the Grenadines is INCREDIBLE! Not to be missed.