Friday, January 23, 2015

FAQs + Tips About Chartering a Sailboat, Sailing and Tahiti Travel

all hands on deck when it comes to my hair
hippo sweat vegan sunscreen
Bora Bora
Salad Salad
the hotel dinners and celebrations on the islands New Years Eve were expensive, so we all decided to stay on the boat and make salad, garlic bread and spaghetti together (that's apple juice in my glass :)


What companies do you use to charter these sailboats?

What's the food situation when you charter a sailboat?

We eat breakfast and lunch on the boat every day; dinner a lot of nights too. The charter companies I mentioned above will provide you with a grocery list prior to your arrival and will stock the boat according to the things you select. As you know, groceries in foreign countries are not always the same as the groceries you are used to at home (specifically in the meat and dairy departments). 

I also wanted to mention that, although I'm a vegetarian, I do occasionally eat shrimp and fish on these sailing trips. It is caught locally and is always fresh, plus sometimes the other vegetarian options on the boat and on land just aren't enough to give you a balanced diet.

What's the shower situation like on the boat?

There are indoor showers on the boat, but it's kind of an all in one deal, meaning that the toilet and sink are in the shower with you. I only took a shower inside once and mostly showered on the back of the boat. We bring biodegradable shampooconditioner and body soap from home. There is hot water. 

Are the seas rough?

Generally no, but we have had a few trips where the winds have picked up and the seas were rough. When we sailed in the West Indies we were there during the "Christmas Winds" season. The swells were probably 10-12 feet and the wind gusted to 40 knots on one of our crossings. Supposedly indestructible plates shot out of the cabinets and shattered on the floor; we all had to wear life vests and Scott couldn't even reef the mainsail due to the intensity of the conditions. The only thing that kept us from totally freaking out was playing movie guessing games and looking at the horizon. These were the heaviest boating conditions any of us have ever been in. But don't worry (if you were), usually it's pretty manageable and there are definitely places you can go where you just cruise from one protected spot to another (for example, The British Virgin Islands). You chart your own course with help form the charter companies, so it's up to you where and when you sail. 

Do you need to be an experienced sailor to do these trips?

If you plan to charter the boat yourself, then yes, I think you should definitely be an intermediate to advanced sailor with at least a few members on board who are familiar with boats, can take direction easily and who are willing and able to assist in sailing, docking, anchoring and mooring the boat. We've been doing these trips since my sisters and I were kids and my dad pretty much had to teach us everything about sailing while we were sailing (I took Jr. Sailors when I was nine with my cousin, but we were the worst in the class by far). Our family managed fine and we have all learned a lot about crewing a sailboat over the years, but I'm sure my dad would say it's easier now having Scott, another experienced sailor, on board to help out.

If you aren't comfortable sailing a boat yourself, but you are really interested in these types of trips, both The Moorings and Sunsail charters have options such as private skippers that sail on board with you and flotilla-style support teams. Check out their New to Sailing page for more info. If you are really looking to chill, I hear you can even hire an on-board chef too! 

Do you have any sailing tips?

One of the most important tips I've ever heard about boating is to keep three points of contact at all times. For example, have a hand on a railing and two feet on the ground or have two hands on a railing and a foot or knee down as well. Unpredictable seas can throw you off balance without warning and boats are dangerous! There's always random things you can fall off of, trip on or run into. The three points of contact tip has saved me from eating crap a bunch of times. 

What kind of sun protection do you use?

My main theory with sun protection in the tropics, or any situation where you have continuous exposure to direct and harsh sunlight, is that you need a physical barrier between you and the sun. For example, rash guards, hats, clothing and/or sunscreen that doesn't rub in. All the dermatologists I've ever been to recommend that zinc and titanium dioxide are listed as active ingredients in the sunscreens you purchase. I always wear a type of sunscreen on my face that acts as a visible shield between me and the sun when surfing or sailing. In the past I've used Vertra Suncreen, but since I've learned about Hippo Sweat, a local San Diego company that makes vegan sunscreen, I've switched because it's more natural and not harmful to animals and the environment. My whole family did the rub-in kind of sunscreen the first few days and they all got burnt. Two people (not mentioning any names...Scott and Maddie) even got moderate sun poisoning. Everyone wore Hippo Sweat on their faces and bodies the rest of the time in Tahiti and no one got burned again. 

Do you use a miles program when you travel? 
We use air-miles everywhere we fly. 

What was your favorite dinner in Tahiti?

Le Restaurant Le Ficus - Like a luau (the local kind) or having someone cook you a barbecue in their backyard. Everyone in the restaurant eats at the same time and the group kind of grows together throughout the night dancing together and helping with some of the meal items; awesome fire show. *Wear bug spray. 

What Tahitian islands did you visit on this trip?

Tahiti, the main island (which is where we flew in, but didn't spend much time, unfortunately)
Bora Bora

What are some of your tips for traveling with family in such close quarters?

Find a spot that you can call your own. 

Bring things you can do alone like reading, drawing, music, knitting, etc.

Bring something you can share with everyone like a snack from home, a magazine, a game or a playlist.

Let the group know if there are specific things you'd really like to do and see on the trip before it starts. If you don't have a chance to do all of these things, take time to do at least one or two of them, even if it's by yourself. 

If someone is having an off day, ask them if there is anything you can do, let them know you love them, that you are there if they need anything and give them space. Wait for them to come back to the group when they are ready.

Bring an inappropriate, offensive prop that makes everyone laugh (suggestion... **18 years+ though)

Think of the whole thing as an adventure. Whether the trip turns out how you expected it to or not, you will all have memories from it even if they involve getting in a huge family fight and nearly dying at sea (I exaggerate, a little). Traveling as a family brings you together, even if it doesn't always seem like it. 

When I asked my parents for parenting advice after I found out I was pregnant, the only thing my dad said was "Buy a boat". I think it's the best advice I've heard. 

{+This post was not sponsored (that would have been cool), although some of the links are affiliates.
+Do you have any travel tips to share?
+If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask in the comment form.
+Have a great weekend! }

Tahiti Travel Tales


  1. I've always been curious about the details of your trips. I don't know that I'm adventurous enough myself to try this sort of trip, but I do sail here on Lake Michigan in the summers and I enjoy it quite a lot. We also have an RV that we take around with our family. It seems like these sailing charter trips would be a mix of the two things, so I am going to look into it more. Have your parents been around boats their whole lives?

    1. Hi Tamra, if you're comfortable and familiar with sailing and enjoy the type of vacation where you can be mobile and stop and stay at different locations within the same destination, than I think you're probably the perfect candidate!

      My dad has been around boats his whole life. His step dad (my grandpa) was really into boating and used to do charting races. My mom grew up in a community surrounded by boats and boaters, but she didn't really get into it until she married my dad.

  2. Oh man, Tahiti is one of my places in the bucket list. Maybe once we get married David and I can go there for our first anniversary :) I am not experienced on a boat but seem like a great way to get around and be able to see more without having to depend on tours and such.

    1. There were lots of Honeymooners on Bora Bora. It seemed like a great place for a romantic vacation.


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