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And if, on top of watching me draped over the engine with wrenches in hand, she had to cook or do dishes, it would be no vacation at all. Setting aside my first notion that a crewed charter was much more expensive than a bareboat, I made some calls and started putting together the numbers.

For 12-year-old Stephen Spurr, whose passions are fish and fishing, this introduction to the West Indies can't be more ideal.

Surprisingly, it was close. The key is a realistic assessment of what you end up spending for food, liquor, dinghy, fuel, water and the like.

It's always more than you expect. The crewed-charter rates are all-inclusive, so you know what you're in for from the get-go.

We like that. Not to mention skipping the obligatory bareboat checkout and grocery shopping that, combined, can knock a day off your vacation.


One of the industries top brokers recommended, we sign on with Oliver Deligny, a St. Lucian (French father, St Lucian mother) with 14 year's experience chartering the Gulfstar 50 La Creole; for many years, he ran a corporate yacht for the industrial equipment manufacturer Caterpillar and, before that, a 91 foot French-Canadian yacht. With 16 transatlantics under his keel, Oliver now works out of the comparatively placid waters of Charlotte Amalie. St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Take him for a few days, or take him for a month. One client had Oliver sail him all the way to Venezuela. Another had him park La-Creole at a hotel dock just so he could entertain customers in the cockpit. Whatever.

We met Oliver's professional chef, at the Crown Bay Marina, where La Creole had been entered in the annual charter-boat show, again winning an award for best varnish job. Steve's bags were taken to the forward cabin, ours to the aft cabin, and by the time we changed into T-shirts and shorts, we were under way, first stop Christmas Cove at Great St. James Island, between St. Thomas and St John. I'd resisted the compulsion to plan our itinerary, postponing such decisions until I had a chance to consult with Oliver. Our conversation went like this,
initiated by Oliver:

"What would you like to do this week?"
"Not much."
"Fine by me."

Oliver and I saw eye to eye. Or so he made me feel, and that's all that matters. (In the hospitality business, sincerity is necessarily ambiguous.)

La Creole beats past Little Thatch Island on the way to Sopers Hole, on the west end of Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands.

Despite this mandate, in the insuring week we visited all of the major islands in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, many of the smaller ones, and did so at a leisurely pace. Such is their proximity to one another. [Read on..]

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La Creole Sailing Yacht Charters
St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Contact Phone: 800-478-2029 (954) 724-9913


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