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An article written by our staff and featured in The Charter Connection

by Jackie
November 2004

After choosing your boat and arranging your flights, it's time to start planning the details, and how you provision the boat can be very important to both you and your crew.

On a 7 day charter the average bareboat charterer will eat 3 to 4 dinners and a few lunches ashore.  Most tend to eat light in the morning as they are usually anxious to get under way and don't want to be held up by cooking and cleaning up the galley after a big breakfast.

Until a few years ago, most people chose the meal plans offered by the charter companies.  These plans cost between $22 and $26 a day, per person and provide each person with 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches and 4 dinners for a typical 1 week charter.  It's rare to hear a client say that there was not enough food on their charter.  On the contrary, the more common complaint is the opposite.  In the old days, the only option was to spend hours in town, shopping at the local markets, and when you are on vacation the last thing you want to do is spend your time waiting in line at the supermarket.

Good news!  Now there are large markets in the BVIs that allow you to access their inventory on line and will deliver free of charge to your boat upon your arrival.  The prices are generally the same as they are in the markets and you will not have the expense of hiring a cab to transport everything. The company I have used is Bobbys Market which has worked well (I always try to test services myself before recommending them!). Virtually all our clients who have used these companies have been very pleased. 

You will find some items priced higher than at home, particularly certain vegetables, dairy products and snack foods such as chips and crackers.  On the other hand, liquors such as rum, vodka and gin can be much less expensive in the islands.   Overall, I would say you should expect the total price to be about 20% more than when shopping in the States.

If you are particular about wine, I do suggest you shop for that on your own.  An island has to import most things, so your choice may often not be available and stores will try to substitute to the best of their ability.

The water on the boat is potable and will not harm you, but does have a ‘taste’ from being in the tanks.  You will therefore want to buy bottled water for coffee and drinks.  The rule of thumb is half a gallon a day per person.

I have found that bringing some of the smaller, more expensive items from home can help lower the cost.  It's not as difficult as it sounds - I do it all the time.  I freeze a few meats (chicken, steak, pork) ahead of time in double wrap and freezer bags, buy sandwich meats and cheeses in the vacuum sealed bags from the deli area and some cheeses for snacks. I then put them in a soft sided cooler bag with an ice pack. I have a size that fits under the plane seat.  Of course this will only work if you are going to board your boat the same day.  I also take coffee and liners (for the percolator type coffee makers), again in a zip lock bag. These items are generally more costly in the islands but are allowed through customs. Any fresh fruits and vegetables are forbidden. 

I also take a supply of zip lock storage bags.  You will find putting a weeks worth of food for several people in one large refrigerator box will be pretty messy after a day or so and having things separated and sealed will help when digging to find that item you were sure was right there.

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