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CYOA trip report - April, 2013
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Link to this postPosted: Thu May 09, 2013 7:30 pm    Post subject: Note CYOA trip report - April, 2013

My husband and I planned our first solo sailing trip for 4 months. We thought we had everything planned out and knew the area where we wanted to sail. We had previously been to the BVI in Oct., 2012 with 3 other couples, aboard a Lagoon 450 with Dream Yacht Charter.

This time we wanted to try a St. Thomas company and not have to bother with the ferries. We chartered a Mahe 36' with AC from CYOA.
Our "plan" was to spend a sleep aboard and then take off to the BVI. Ha, not so fast!

Flight from DFW-MIA-STT was perfect, arrived on time at 1:00 pm. Taxi to CYOA, boat was clean and ready early to board and start putting things away. The staff at CYOA are nice. Barbara, Jay, Chris and Weeks were very helpful on everything that we needed. Jay was our check out guy, he went overboard telling us simple things and making us count everything onboard. A bit tedious but we understand that he is only doing his job. (see Problems with boat below) Probably should have taken an hour, not almost 3 hours!!

Starving and needing groceries, we stopped for a quick sandwich at the Frenchtown Deli. What a super place, friendly, good food, good prices. We walked to Pueblo Market and taxied back. The Market left a lot to be desired. Later in the week we shopped at Dolphin Market on St. John and it was 10x the store of Pueblo.

My husband had been sick 2 days before we left and he was on antibiotics. He still felt pretty bad on Saturday. We tried sailing but the winds were crazy and the swells were 7-9 ft. We were going to just get to Christmas Cove but our lazy jack busted so we turned around and went back to base. Chris climbed up and fixed it. By then it was lunch time and my husband was exhausted so we stayed on a mooring ball at CYOA again that night. No problem, came in for a nice shower at CYOA and dinner at Hook, Line and Sinker. Nice place, good food and very friendly people.

Took off Sunday morning, wind and swells were still crazy so we motored to Christmas cove and spent the night. The next morning still gusting to 25 knots and both of us not feeling well, we motored to Francis Bay via Red Hook. St. John looked amazing and we made a quick decision to just stay there instead of going to the BVI. Of course, I ended up with the same bug/infection that my husband had by Monday. We did a lot of napping and pampering each other. Wink

Our favorite mooring area was Maho Bay/Francis Bay. Wow, just beautiful beach, hills, and very peaceful. The turtles were amazing to watch every day and swimming was very comfortable.
We did dinghy in one day to Cruz Bay and we loved it. Had a delicious lunch at Deli Grotto in Mongoose Junction. Cute place for shopping and watching people. We walked up to Dolphin Market. Fresh vege's, fruit. Nice place.

Thursday we had a wonderful, full day of sailing. Blue skies, nice wind, no swells. Full moon!!! What a great end to a great day.

Planned on doing the same on Friday but when we started the engines to motor out of the mooring fields, the port engine was pouring white smoke. We motored with just one to Christmas cove and called home base. Talked to Nancy and she said we “should” be ok. Well, we weren't about to chance the other motor going out too so we motored back to CYOA. Jay said that they could get us going again in maybe an hour but we decided to pack it up. We moved to Emerald Beach hotel for our last night. A nice comfortable big bed with quiet AC and a shower head that you can move sounded pretty dang good to us.

We were not too pleased with the Mahe. The owner of this boat needs to spend some money on it and do some general maintenance. He was the previous occupant before us so he is well aware of the problems. The rate that they charge is for a premium catamaran and this is far from it.

The weather was beautiful a few nights and we tried to go without AC. The generator was so noisy, it vibrated the starboard side of the boat. The windows do not have screens. Even followed Jay's suggestions of ventilation but it was way too hot. By the 4th night, we moved mattresses upstairs to the galley.

The fuel AND water gauges were not working. Jay said that we should have enough fuel until mid week but it was very nerve racking not knowing for sure. Plus the only place on St. John to get fuel is in Cruz Bay BUT we are not allowed to bring the boat into that harbor! Had to go to Red Hook twice.

The refrigerator and freezer kicked butt. It was really nice to have a full freezer for ice. The pots/pans, kitchenware were updated and adequate since we cooked a lot on this trip. Jay was sweet enough to find a coffee pot for me to use. I ended up not even taking it out of the box since I am now hooked on the Starbucks Via instant. But I really appreciated it, Jay!

We had a wonderful time regardless of the boat. We’ve been married and have worked together for 34 years and are great at adapting to any situation. Sailing with just the two of us was an experience. My husband is the sailor and I am not. Although I did learn a ton on this trip, I am ready to go back in October with other couples and be a hood ornament. Wink


Shower hoses in both heads were inadequate. This is a design flaw and had existed from the beginning. Hoses are too short causing them to kink when they are extended from the sink to the shower.

Port side waste tank was completely full and plugged. It was never cleaned out or checked. We discovered this on the second day. What is amazing, according to CYOA the owner of the boat had used it the week before. This explained the smell of sewer.

Dinghy davits are too short for the size of dinghy. When raising the dinghy it ends up partially under the stern of the boat. Someone has to push it out with their legs as it is being raised. The pulley system for the dinghy is inadequate for the weight. We had to take the line from the motor end of the dinghy davit and feed it up under the seat and through the throttles at the helm to reach the winch.

Zero ventilation in both berths. The only good ventilating openings in the lower areas are the escape hatches in either head. These are positioned in the center of the shower area waist high with no way of covering them. If you shower at night with the light on you can be seen from the outside. The windows in both berths and the main salon do not stay open because of loose hinges. We had to tie them open with line or find something to prop them open. No screens on any windows and the salon windows have sun screens on them so visibility looking out is poor. These were installed because this boat gets hot.

Starboard side shower sump pump was extremely slow, about a one to one ratio, one minute shower one minute pushing the sump pump button.

No brakes or cleats for the jib sheets. They had to be left on the winches or left to fly when we used one of the winches to adjust the main sheet.

CYOA Checkout:
When we arrived on the boat we did a check out with Jay which we believe is critical. Understanding the boat at the beginning creates a comfort level for the user. The first thing they give you is a list of things that are on the boat, everything from how many towels to the number of maintenance tools, screw driver hammer etc.. The only problem is they want you to locate and count everything on the list and check it off. This as I understand it is for two reasons: if something is missing when we get back we are responsible, and this lets CYOA know we have located these things. My thought here is that if I am paying $714.00 a day PLUS a deposit for a boat which was paid for up front, show me the respect that I will return this boat undamaged and that I am responsible enough to familiarize myself with its contents.

The user’s manual was helpful but it mentions negligence so many times that you’re afraid to use anything. I would have them send you a copy of the check out documents before you send them any money.

CYOA an interesting philosophy:

We noticed that there wasn’t a broom or mop on board. (they did find a broom for us) It was explained to us that they do not provide these things because people use them as boat hooks and break them. They said that it’s sad that 10% of the renters do 90% of the damage to their boats. They also said that this is why they do not have electric winches on their boats and if they come with electric winches they disable them. Again, for the amount of money that I paid to charter this boat don’t treat me like that 10%.

CYOA does not provide a chase boat in the USVI. You break down you’re on your own. They do have boat service brokers in the BVI.

In summary:

The folks at CYOA were great, professional and courteous. Their hands are somewhat tied to the company policies. The Mahe 36 is not a top tier boat or a second tier boat, it’s a weekend/day sailor at best and certainly not worth what we paid. We booked our trip with Joann at like we did last Oct. She made everything easy and I highly recommend using this broker.
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Link to this postPosted: Thu May 09, 2013 7:46 pm    

Wow. From all I have read, this is uncharacteristic of CYOA - I have no personal experience chartering from them. I have been to their base and met most of the staff, as well as toured some of the boats. I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy the boat as much as you should have.

But I also must say, that as one of the 10% who has chartered since 1992 in the BVI's, you get used to being treated like the 90% until the charter company gets to know you. Then you'll find that it won't be an issue.

I hope you have a better time in October, and glad you'll be back!
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Link to this postPosted: Thu May 09, 2013 10:25 pm    

Thanks, Dawn. I don't think this review will get recieved well on TTOL. There seems to be some die hard CYOA fans, whether boat owners or just long time customers. But I do think people need to hear honest reviews from us.
But let me say again, we did not have a problem with the CYOA staff at all. It's not their fault that the boat owner won't spend money on his boat Wink
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Calypso Me
Link to this postPosted: Thu May 09, 2013 10:47 pm    

If a company has a boat in charter, they need to make sure it is in proper working order. Clogged tanks, no cleaning equipment , broken vents and such should be taken care of by the charter company. They might bill the owner for some of it, but if they let you out on a boat like that, shame on them. We have 12 charters and have never had a boat with those issues...

With a 3 hour check out they ask a lot more of you than they are willing to give you..

It's great that the staff was nice but seriously, that is low brow service.
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Link to this postPosted: Fri May 10, 2013 7:42 am    

I agree, Rita - but I have heard Evan say many times that it's the owner's responsibility to keep up boat repairs - my impression is that the charter company gives them an update and they decide to fix or replace - not sure how it works exactly.

However....a chill waste tank is just downright nasty and unacceptable....and clearly NOT the owner's fault.
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Link to this postPosted: Fri May 10, 2013 8:41 am    

Bummer on being sick, that's never any fun even in Paradise. Sounds like you made the best of it.

I swear I saw your report on TTOL last night, but can't seem to find it today. It WAS there wasn't it? I may be dreaming or possibly overlooked it this morning, but I didn't see it there.

EDIT: Oooops, never mind. Found it. Was looking in wrong category.
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Link to this postPosted: Fri May 10, 2013 9:12 am    

We are also a many-times charterer from CYOA.

We always seem to have at least one problem per boat, and that statement extends every boat from every charter company we've ever gone with in the last 30-ish years.

We have charted from:

We chartered with Capt Jim on Blue Moon, great guy and a fantastic boat, and on that trip we broke a main halyard and two motor mounts on the starboard engine. At one point we were limping around on a jib and one engine. Go figure.

It's virtually a given that fuel and water gauges either don't work, or are not to be trusted.

Sounds like you had a few more problems than normal.

I do know that CYOA has had a few problems with the little Mahi cats, but I'm still interested in chartering one.

Even though CYOA doesn't have a chase boat, they do have resources around the islands. You don't normally have to return to base. We pulled into Soapers/Tortola last trip to have a wire fixed on the generator - our one major problem on our last trip. Since we were going to check into the BVI the next day anyway, this was not a big issue for us.

Nothing worse than being sick on vacation and dealing with boat issues. So sorry to hear that.

I believe it's well worth developing a relationship with a good charter company. If you do that, you will be treated like the 10% vs. being regarded with suspicion like the other 90% of charters. We chose CYOA for this because we like them so much.

Every boat from every company has a problem or two. We have found that CYOA actually cares, wants to keep their fleet maintained, and wants to fix your boat problems quickly so you have a good vacation. I cannot say this so confidently about two of the four charter companies in my list above.
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Calypso Me
Link to this postPosted: Fri May 10, 2013 10:22 am    

I agree with building a relationship with a charter company. We are very happy with BVIYC. We are booked in August for our 7th charter with them. The always give us what we ask for ( extra length of electrical cord so we do not have to stern to on a dock for power, choice of lines from the storage shed, a dinghy/motor that is top notch) In return, Tim brings the boat back in the same or better condition than we found it. (Tim is a marine diesel mechanic) He has helped them with some generator issues on other boats etc..He and Chris have a great relationship. We get to board early if the boat is available, have use of the dinghy right away. They always have the refrigeration going so we can provision as soon as we get there etc..

We have used others Conch, TMM, CSY, Cub Nautico and the only one I would return to is TMM. Left them after two charters because they raised the insurance rates well above the competition at that time. Had no problem with either boat a 50 Beneteau and a 37 CML Trawler circa early 90's

Sorry if I sound like a never ending ad for BVIYC but when you find what works for you it makes your trip so much easier and stress free.
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Link to this postPosted: Fri May 10, 2013 11:02 am    

We love BVIYC too, but haven't used them in about 5 years because Voyage has us really spoiled. Is Anthony still there? I sure liked him and the gals in the office. If my husband ever come down by ourselves and want a monohull, we will definitely use them again.
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Calypso Me
Link to this postPosted: Fri May 10, 2013 12:04 pm    

Anthony is still the dock manager but he is always off island in August when we are there. Chris is the dock manager at that time. Abbie and Cassie are both still there. Abbie is so accommodating. Just love the crew!! They just put 2 new Beneteau's in service a 50' and a 55' brand new mono's. Little too big for the two of us but gorgeous.
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Link to this postPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 4:59 pm    Post subject: Note repairs

The day to day maintenance is up to the charter company. Surely a full holding tank was a bad oversight. Part of your agreement as an owner is the boat must be kept in "charter condition." The charter company will make the repairs and and charge the owner. The only spread sheet I have seen is from Pro Valor and it is very detailed. The owner might wait until his arrival to do more expensive repairs. There is no reason a fuel or water gauge should not work, they always work in your car. They are inexpensive and easy to replace. This is a case where the owner chooses not to repair(not considered charter necessary). Think of Brendt disconnecting peoples chartplotters and auto pilots, a total deal breaker for me.
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Link to this postPosted: Sun May 12, 2013 8:23 pm    

Again, it was only the nav table chartplotter, the one at the helm worked great. And really, you don't need either for a charter - what did you do in the olden days?! LMAO
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Link to this postPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 10:06 am    

fortunately this is not the olden days, I panic if I don't feel my iPhone in my pocket Shocked
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Link to this postPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 10:07 pm    

Glad to know that it's an iPhone in your pocket.... Mr. Green yikes rofl
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Calypso Me
Link to this postPosted: Mon May 13, 2013 10:14 pm    

Dawn, in the old days they used sextants and dead reckoning. I don't think many here have that skill set!!
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