Frequently Asked Questions - Skippers

in the British Virgin Islands

TMM will be happy to provide a licensed boat captain should you need a skipper for Day 1 only (Check-Out Skipper) or a full-time skipper for the entire length of your charter. The terms skipper and captain are used interchangeably and there is no difference in qualification.

What are the duties and responsibilities of a full-time skipper?

Your skipper will be with you 24 hours a day, staying each night on board in one of the berths. Your charter skipper is a skilled professional hired to drive the boat, show you how to operate the equipment on board, provide information regarding destinations and anchorages, and ensure the safety of the yacht as well as his/her charter guests.

Should I be concerned about the skipper “fitting in” with our group?

Your charter skipper is more than a tour guide or chauffeur. Most all charter captains are very people-oriented types and have a sixth sense about when to interact with your group and when to make himself scarce. There is little need to be concerned about having a stranger aboard. More often than not, we get glowing reports from charter guests saying that their captain “made” their sailing vacation a dream come true.

I need a skipper. What is the process of booking one?

Once your charter is confirmed, and you have requested a skipper during the reservation process, we will contact freelance skippers from our private TMM list to check availability. If your charter is to have a Check-Out Skipper only, then we will also book and confirm for you and let you know.

Who are the skippers that work for TMM clients?

TMM maintains a list of skippers we know personally. Many of these skippers have been with TMM so long that they have become good friends! Thus we will be able to vouch for your skipper’s sailing expertise, reputation, experience, knowledge of the local waters, honesty, integrity, and service record with TMM. We think we have the best skippers in the BVI working for our clients and they, in turn, enjoy working on behalf of TMM for our clients.

Can I choose my own skipper from your list?

No, sorry, it is necessary for TMM to schedule the captain for you. This process has worked well for many years and we receive excellent reviews on all our skippers. Last minute changes are rare but do happen from time-to-time; therefore, it is possible you could be assigned a different skipper. Again, we think we attract and retain the best skippers in the BVI!

How much does it cost?

Skippers’ fees are $175/day. A day is defined exactly the same as your charter day which is 24-hours, noon-to-noon. This does not include his or her meals, beverages, and optional gratuity. Skippers receive 100% of the fees paid by you.

What is a Check-Out Skipper (COS)?

A check-out skipper (COS) is a professional captain that boards with you on Day 1, and is dropped off late afternoon the same day. A COS may be requested by you or may be required by TMM after review of your sailing resume.

What is the purpose of a Check-Out Skipper?

The purpose of hiring a COS is to 1) practice and learn how to handle your particular yacht, and 2) prove your competence to continue on your own. You will take the helm from the moment you leave the dock and your COS will be near at hand, assisting you with the skills checklist, while heading to your first mooring or anchorage. Your COS will be knowledgeable about all things local in the BVIs which is another benefit of having one!

When will a Check-out Skipper be required?

If you have not skippered a yacht similar in size and type to the one you are chartering, have limited or no prior charter experience, and/or have never been ocean sailing with overnight anchorages in similar conditions, you may be required to hire a COS. The fee for a check-out skipper is $175 plus transportation back to our base (or a destination agreed upon by you and your skipper), and optional gratuity.

My charter includes a Check-Out Skipper. Now what?

Your check-out skipper will meet you at base on the morning of Day 1. After your TMM briefings, your COS will board and sail with you for the afternoon -- from approximately 12:00pm to 4:30pm. There is a written checklist of skills to practice which you will complete and sign at the end of the day.

Where do I drop the Check-Out Skipper at the end of Day 1?

You may drop the COS anywhere you agree on Tortola or another nearby island, depending on your itinerary. Soper’s Hole and Trellis Bay are convenient drop off points. Or, if you want to overnight near Norman Island or one of the southern islands, there are daily ferries from Peter Island and Cooper Island. We kindly request that you provide taxi fare and/or a ferry ticket for the skipper to return to TMM or home. The taxi fare or ferry ticket will be $5.00 - $15.00, depending on the drop point and the COS’s final destination.

I have a full-time skipper for X number of days. How do I provide meals and beverages for him/her?

Typically charterers will simply include their skipper when they buy, prepare, and serve meals on the boat. We encourage you to communicate with your skipper so both of you will have a general understanding of how you are going to manage mealtimes during your charter.

What if we plan to dine ashore?

Many clients invite the skipper at least once to join them for a meal ashore. After that it is not an expectation. Skippers will fend quite well for themselves with the food already aboard.

What is the typical gratuity?

Skippers work hard to provide the best possible service to their clients. If they have done a good job for you, they will appreciate a gratuity at the conclusion of the charter. A rule of thumb is $350-$500 for a one week charter. A one-day Check-Out Skipper (COS) gratuity would be a percentage of the fee of $175. Twenty-five dollars tip for a COS would be a good rule of thumb. All gratuities are optional.

What if I want to learn how to sail or get certified through the American Sailing Association (ASA)?

If you want your skipper to formally teach you or any crew members how to sail, or you wish to take an ASA class aboard for certification, then the skipper fee increases to $200/day. If you wish to become ASA “certified” in one of the ASA courses, you will need to obtain your ASA membership, ASA course materials, and ASA exam fees, which are all extra. Check our website under Tortola > ASA certification for more information. PLEASE NOTE: ASA Instructor/skippers are more difficult to book because there are just not that many ASA certified instructors in the BVIs . Therefore, book well in advance (6 – 12 months) if you wish to have an ASA Skipper. If you simply want sailing instruction without any official certification at the conclusion of your charter, no extra fees are applicable (as outlined above for ASA certifications.)

What if I just want to help sail the boat?

If you want to occasionally take the helm or assist with anchoring, mooring, docking, raising the sails, etc., that is absolutely fine with a regular skipper, in fact they appreciate the assistance and you will also develop some valuable skills during your sailing holiday. Just ask!

When will we meet our skipper?

Skippers arrive at the TMM base mid-morning of your first day. You will be introduced in the office or out on the dock depending on where you are at the time of his or her arrival.

Where will the skipper sleep on our boat?

Skippers typically bunk in a single berth on the boat. Occasionally, there will be a charter with a double berth free for the captain. Skippers appreciate comfort and privacy, just like anyone. If it is possible to offer your skipper a double cabin, by all means do so, and he or she will be most grateful!

What is the Cancellation Policy?

If you cancel a confirmed charter more than 90 days prior to your charter start date, you will incur a $300 cancellation fee; however, there will be no charge for cancelling the skipper. If you cancel your skipper close to your start date, some clients in the past have paid the skipper his fee or a portion thereof anyway. They understand the skipper may not have time to find other work to replace the lost wages. We appreciate your consideration of this matter should it occur.

Who do I call for more information?

Please call the USA booking office if you have any further questions at 1-800-633-0155 (toll free US only) or 1-262-248-1618 (overseas).

All information is believed to be correct but not guaranteed.

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