Ease Into Bareboating With A Flotilla

SSflotilla2Whether you’re bareboating the Caribbean for the first time, or you’re an experienced Caribbean sailor looking to explore somewhere new, a great way to get your feet wet is to sail in a flotilla. When it comes to flotillas, there are few operators who do a better job than the company who pioneered the concept – Sunsail.

Sunsail is a well known and very popular bareboat company, but few people realize that Sunsail started some 35 years ago as a small organization with a few boats offering flotilla sailing vacations in the Greek Islands. When many potential or active bareboaters hear the word “flotilla,” they immediately think of a rather uninspiring and regimented game of follow the leader. With a Sunsail flotilla, nothing could be further from the truth.

The concept behind Sunsail’s flotillas is actually more based in the social aspect than it is in providing a stepping stone, but they can be used either way. Their flotilla format can be as loose or as scheduled as you like. While Sunsail publishes an itinerary for their flotillas, (which is subject to change depending on weather, events not to be missed, or even consensus of the flotilla party), the schedule is more of a guideline. You sail on your own boat, with up to 12 other boats and a lead Sunsail boat with a skipper, flotilla hostess, and engineer. There is a port to meet up in at the end of the sailing day, and the course you take to get there is up to you – if you want to follow the lead boat, you can; if you want to take your own tack and simply meet the group that evening at anchor, that’s fine too.

SSflotilla3Some experienced sailors also use flotillas to become comfortable with a new area. If you’ve sailed your own boat in the Northeast for years, for example, but have never sailed the Caribbean, a flotilla is a great confidence builder. Not familiar with Med-mooring? The flotilla skipper can show you the ropes and help make your vacation seamless. Worried about finding a good restaurant or speaking the local language? The flotilla hostess can help ease you into the locale.

While a flotilla can readily be used to become familiar with a new sailing area, don’t overlook the social benefit. At the end of each sailing day, you have the opportunity to get together and relive the day’s great sail with other like-minded sailors. In the summer months, in particular, a flotilla is a great way for families with children to find ready-made playmates.

Sunsail offers 26 different flotilla routes in the British Virgin Islands, Grenadines, Croatia, Greece and Turkey, so there’s plenty of variety for all tastes. In most cases, any of Sunsail’s available bareboats can be added to the flotilla, and the flotilla fee covers not only the knowledge and service of your lead crew, but also fuel, yacht insurance, welcome punch party and breakfast pack. There’s no better time to try the flotilla concept, as Sunsail is offering 25% off Caribbean flotillas this spring and summer, when you confirm by May 30th.

If you would like to know more, call us at 800 621 7855, email us, or contact us through the Ed Hamilton & Co site and tell us about your plans. Not only have we booked many flotilla vacations, we have even run them in Tortola, so are very familiar with all aspects of flotilla chartering.