How has covid 19 affected travel to the bahamas?
The Bahamian Government requires all visitors to obtain a Health Visa for entry into the Bahamas. This is easily obtained via email and basically entails each guest providing a negative RT-PCT Covid 19 test no more than 5 days prior to your arrival in the Bahamas. The cost of the visa depends on your length of stay in the Bahamas ($40 to $60 per person) and includes expenses for Covid Health Insurance and rapid antigen testing as appropriate. Please keep in mind the entry requirements will fluctuate as further knowledge about the virus is obtained and pertinent safety measures are adopted. Please rest assured we are paying close attention to the situation and will advise our guests should these requirements change. The most up-to-date information and detailed instructions will be provided well in advance of your sailing. Please refer to the following website for complete details: https://www.bahamas.com/tourism-reopening-faq
How has covid 19 affected sailing within the bahamas?
We are happy to declare that chartering in the Abaco Islands should be the safest vacation currently available! You have the seclusion of having the boat to yourselves during your charter and due to the unique geography of the Abacos, you have the option to moor or anchor each night in isolated areas within the various settlements if you wish. Our staff works incessantly to ensure that each boat is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized prior to each charter as your safety is of the utmost importance to us. There are currently no inter-island restrictions – you are free to sail at your leisure from island to island and visit the shops, restaurants and bars freely and safely so you can relax and enjoy the incredible natural beauty of our island paradise.
How do we get to the Abaco Islands?
You will fly into the Marsh Harbor Airport, and our base is about 15-20 minutes away from the airport. Delta Airlines offers direct service from Atlanta to Marsh Harbor, but only on certain days. You can check with airline carriers prominent from your departure city, however many guests find it more economical to break their airfare in Florida. Please check with the individual airlines you select to learn of any possible COVID 19 restrictions/testing they may require for boarding, and please check any requirements that may apply for your return home. Flight information can be found here, the link to our transportation page: Click Here
How do we get from the airport to the charter?
Upon arrival, please take the next taxi at the airport and proceed to our base at the Abaco Beach Resort (Boat Harbour Marina). After you have checked in with us you may take a taxi (readily available at the resort) to obtain your provisions. Maxwell’s is the grocery store and Jimmy’s Liquor for liquor.
How much should we expect to pay for taxi service?
Rates from the Marsh Harbour airport to the Abaco Beach Resort will run $15 for 2 people, $3 per additional person, plus tip. Taxi service from our base to Maxwell’s will run approximately $10 each way plus tip. You may elect to have your taxi wait while you shop – wait time runs $20 for each half hour. A less expensive alternative is once you have finished shopping to have Maxwell’s call for taxi service for you and stop at the liquor store on your way back to the base as wait time should be minimal for this additional stop.
Can I charter for less than 7 nights?
Aside from our day trips we have a 4 night minimum for our charters. Please email us with your travel dates and boat preference (if any) and we will gladly provide a quote for you. Please note for 6 night charters, our pro-rating formula price works out to be higher for a 6 night charter than a 7 night charter, so the 7 night charter rates will apply as it will actually be less expensive.
Do you charge extra for holiday or peak time periods?
Unlike other charter companies, we do not increase our prices during high season, we offer the same competitive rates year round.
What about hurricane season?
We are closed during hurricane season July – October as are most of the bars, restaurants & other establishments in the area as this is considered off-season.
How soon can I get aboard the boat?
On your arrival day similar to a hotel the check-in is at 3pm; you will board and we will get you settled in and familiar with the boat which remains in the marina for the first night. You can relax and enjoy the facilities at our base, the Great Abaco Beach Resort.
How does the “Captain by Day, Bareboat by Night” work?
The captain will join you the morning after your arrival day for your sailing adventure and will be with you the remaining days of your charter. He will be picked up at the end of each day wherever you are so you will have the boat to yourselves each evening, and he will return at whatever time you wish the following morning. At the end of the last sailing day he will return your boat back to our base, where you spend your last night at the marina. Check-out procedures begin at 8am on your departure day for a 10am departure from the boat. For more info Click Here
Can I learn to sail on my charter or do I have to take an ASA course?
Our captains are always thrilled to share their passion for sailing with our guests! They will be delighted to show you how to take the helm and are always willing to teach as many aspects of sailing as you wish. You may learn as little or as much as you like all on an informal basis without ASA certifications and at no additional cost to you.
I want to take ASA courses – how is that handled?
We offer private boat charters with ASA instruction and certification added to your private charter – the boat you charter is your classroom where you learn and obtain ASA certifications during your charter vacation. ASA 101, 103 & 104 can be completed in a 7 night charter with 6 days of instruction which will enable you to bareboat future sailing charters. ASA 114 will certify you to bareboat aboard a catamaran. If you wish to add ASA 114 we really recommend extending your charter an additional day as there is much study and materials to cover. Please note ASA prices will include all study materials and certifications. Here is the link for the various ASA courses and their cost (plus 4% tax): Click Here
If I take ASA classes, will the other people with me be bored during the charter?
Our captains are experts at incorporating lessons for students in addition to ensuring both students and non-students alike have a wonderful time during your charter. Their goal is to make sure everyone has a fantastic and memorable vacation!
I want to bareboat a charter – do I have to be ASA certified?
We don’t require ASA certification to bareboat a charter, however we do need to ensure you have enough sailing experience to be able to comfortably operate the boat you wish to charter. For every bareboat charter we require you to submit an application from the following link on our website: Click Here If you wish to bareboat a catamaran please be sure to list your twin engine experience as we want to ensure that you are completely comfortable operating a large twin engine catamaran in and out of a dock and tight mooring field, etc.
What if I haven’t sailed in awhile and I’m not entirely sure of my skills?
We provide the option to have a captain on board during your first day to ensure you are completely comfortable with operating the boat for your charter at an additional cost of 250.00 plus 4% tax. Please note adding a captain for your first day will not impede your charter in any way – you will sail off to your first destination as usual and we will have a chase boat pick him up at the end of the day wherever you may be.
How do we pay for the charter?
We require a 25% deposit to reserve your charter and the balance will be due 90 days prior to your arrival. Payments are processed through Paypal and we send an online invoice for payment to your email address – it is not necessary for you to be a Paypal member. You may use any credit card you wish with the exception of American Express.
What damage deposit will be required for our charter?
The mandatory hazard fee of $350 allows your damage deposit to be reduced to $4000 which will be processed 7 days prior to arrival. For charters longer than 7 nights the fee is $40 per additional night which will be outlined on your invoice. The $4000 damage deposit will be authorized on your credit card 7 days prior to sailing and will be released within 48 hours of your departure provided there is no damage.
Why do i have to pay the damage deposit if i’m on a captained charter?
You will have the boat to yourselves each night as well as use of the dinghy when the captain is not aboard, the damage deposit will cover this time period.
What is the hazard fee all about?
The non-refundable hazard fee outlined on your quote/invoice reduces your damage deposit to $4000 for your charter, regardless of charter length. The $4000 will be pre-authorized on the credit card of your choice 7 days prior to arrival, and will be released within 48 hours of your departure providing there is no damage. Should you prefer not to pay the hazard fee, your credit card will be authorized for the entire deductible amount for the particular boat you are chartering, which typically is around 2% of the full value of the boat. As most guests prefer to not have this large amount held on their credit card, we provide the option of paying the hazard fee to reduce this amount to $4000, instead of the full amount of the insurance deductible.
What other additional costs can I expect?
You will receive the boat with full fuel, water and dinghy gas and must return with same. Grocery cost is whatever you purchase. Dockings and moorings are extras and will run $20-$25 per night and of course anchoring is free. If you are on a captained charter, at the end of your charter if you feel your captain provided exceptional service during your trip it is customary to tip your captain. The amount is entirely a personal preference however as a guideline, at least 20% of the captain’s fee (outlined in your invoice) is recommended. As credit cards can’t be processed for this, cash is very much appreciated.
What about provisions for the week?
The rate does not include food or provisions. We of course have fully galleys on the boats equipped with pots & pans and typically guests provision for the week on their arrival day. We do however, have a local company that can handle this for you at an additional cost, please contact us for the details.
What if I want to get my own provisions?
After you have checked in with us you may take a taxi (readily available at our base resort) to obtain your provisions. Maxwell’s is the grocery store and Jimmy’s Liquor for liquor.
Aside from food, what else should we get when we provision?
We provide linens, towels, joy soap, a fresh sponge, garbage bags and two rolls of toilet paper per head. You will probably want to purchase paper towels, bar soap, aluminum foil, saran wrap etc. when you provision, and you will want to bring your own beach towels. There are typically minimum spices aboard (salt & pepper) that previous guests have purchased and we just leave them for the use of future guests, but if you want anything specific you can purchase that when you provision. We have a fully outfitted galley and a galley size refrigerator & freezer which should give you ample storage for your provisions.
Are there places to go out for lunch or dinner anywhere?
There are several fantastic restaurants and bars at each settlement which you can visit – we can even recommend what menu items are the best at each spot!
What about sleep-aboard rates?
We do not offer sleep aboard rates as this takes the boat and/or captain out of our fleet for the day and allows you an additional entire full day of sailing. We simply pro-rate the charter and add an additional night.
Should I plan my itinerary or reserve any moorings early?
We find that plans are best made working with local weather, tides and conditions as well as what may be happening locally for entertainment, so we recommend waiting until your arrival to create your itinerary. Moorings are on a first-come-first-served basis and cannot be reserved in advance, however not finding one is rare as we are seldom crowded here in our island paradise. There are plenty of places to explore and lots of secluded anchorages which we can recommend. For bareboat charters, during check-in we will have a complete local knowledge chart briefing and we can do a trip plan for the week upon your arrival. We have charts and guide books aboard and VHF to contact us so we can help update the plan as the weather unfolds.
What should we pack to bring with us?
The atmosphere and attire is very casual here in our island paradise; typically bathing suits, shorts & t-shirts during the day and at best smart casual for evenings at restaurants and bars – nothing dressy is necessary anywhere. You will want to bring plenty of sunscreen and a pair of sunglasses. For sailings December through March we suggest bringing a pair of long pants and a windbreaker for possible cooler evenings. Each boat is equipped with a first aid kit, a small flashlight and a pair of standard binoculars. Please bring your own beach towels. Please remember to bring your cell phone charger and any cables associated with any music device you may wish to bring. Please note we recommend soft-sided luggage for your charter as we have no storage facilities at our base, and hard-sided luggage will only take up valuable space aboard the boat.
Where are we allowed to sail?
Our limits of navigation are Spanish Cay to North and Little Harbour to South. Please refer to Exhibit B on your charter contract, or visit our Abaco Islands Nautical Chart, the link is here: Click Here
When is the best time of year to sail the Abacos?
We are lucky to have temperate weather year-round here in our island paradise! We are closed during hurricane season July – October as are most of the bars, restaurants & other establishments in the area as this is considered off-season. November is lovely as the water is still quite warm and the weather is usually gorgeous. Typically December through March evenings can have cooler temperatures so depending on your tolerance you may wish to bring a pair of long pants along with a light jacket. The temperatures are warmer during the remainder of our season. Average air and water temperatures year-round may be found here: Weather Link
What happens if I have to cancel our charter?
We are unable to hold reservations until your charter is under deposit. Once your charter is under deposit we take both the boat (and captain if applicable) out of our inventory for the dates of your charter, subsequently denying availability of either to any other guests interested in that time period. As is outlined in our Charter contract, once your charter is under deposit, should you need to cancel your charter you would receive a full refund less Paypal fees and a $350 (plus 4% tax) cancellation penalty if we are able to re-sell your charter week. If we are unable to re-sell your charter week all monies paid at time of cancellation would be forfeited.
What if someone in our party tests positive for covid 19?
Currently the Bahamian government requires a Health visa which entails all guests to provide a negative COVID 19 test within 5 days of your arrival in the Bahamas. Should any guest test positive, that guest will be unable to obtain the visa and subsequently be denied entry into the Bahamas. Should this occur we require you notify us immediately. You are encouraged to proceed with the charter for those guests who test negative and are able to obtain the entry visa, however should you elect to postpone the charter, upon receipt of a copy of the positive COVID 19 test we will allow date changes at no cost providing the boat you have reserved is available for your alternate travel dates. Should you be unprepared at the time for rebooking your date, we will keep all monies paid towards the charter on account for one calendar year to be applied towards a future charter. We offer no refunds for this situation and strongly recommend the purchase of trip cancellation insurance in case of this unforeseen circumstance.
Do you offer cancellation insurance?
We strongly recommend purchasing cancellation/trip insurance in case of any unforeseen circumstances that may occur. Although the insurance company you select is entirely your choice, we are happy to recommend Allianz Global Insurance as they are a well accredited company and have covered many of our guests in the past. Here is the link to obtain a quote, please enter our ACCAM number F204228 for discounted rates: Click Here
What if there is a hurricane?
In the unlikely event of a hurricane watch or warning posted in our area within a week of your scheduled arrival we will reschedule your charter or issue you a refund (less Paypal fees), your option.
Since check-in is not until 3pm, what if our flight arrives in the morning?
Please proceed directly to our base at the Abaco Beach Resort upon arrival. We will hold your luggage at our base so you can relax and have a leisurely lunch at the resort. After lunch you may take a taxi (readily available at the hotel desk) to obtain your provisions, Maxwell’s is the grocery store and Jimmy’s Liquor for liquor. With this timing you should arrive back to our base around 3pm for check-in and your provisions may be put directly aboard the boat
Since check-in is at 3pm, what if our flight arrives in the evening?
Please provide your flight information prior to your arrival date so we will know when to expect you. Should your flight arrive after 3pm just let us know so we can plan to have a captain at our base to meet you. Please ask your taxi driver to contact us on VHF channel 09 to alert us that you are on your way to our base. Please note for guests on connecting flights we recommend having on your person any important medications, sunglasses, a swimsuit and perhaps shorts and a t-shirt in case your luggage is temporarily misplaced or delayed
Since check-out is at 10AM, what if my flight leaves early in the morning?
At the end of your charter the boat returns back to Marsh Harbour where you will spend your last night at Boat Harbour Marina so you can relax and enjoy the facilities at our base, the Great Abaco Beach Resort. We can easily accommodate an early check-out for you the following morning, simply provide us with your flight schedule and we will plan accordingly.
Is there internet available on the boat or do I have to pay extra for that?
Internet here is sporadic – there are many free wifi hot spots (one here at the base resort) that may suit your needs – whether free or a paid service, internet is spotty…so we don’t know that we would recommend paying for it – just take advantage of the free service throughout the Cays.
What if I want to scuba dive?
We don’t really offer dive trips and do not allow tanks onboard as they can cause damage. We offer lots of snorkeling opportunities at various places during your week however if you wish to dive, we have two great local dive shops that will conveniently come out to your boat providing all your gear, will take you on a dive and return you back to your boat. Please contact us for the details.
What if I want to go fishing?
We have great fishing here in the Abacos! We offer fishing rods for rent and you will have a choice with our fishing gear; either a trolling rod that is suitable for catching grouper or snapper from the stern of the boat, or a spinning rod for casting while boat is at anchor. The gear will include one starter lure that is very popular locally.