What makes a great crewed sailing charter? In my opinion, the elements are a great boat, beautiful scenery, good winds and weather, good food, and a skilled and amiable captain. When you schedule your charter you can't know what winds and weather will be, but with Sail Away Charters in the San Juan Islands, you can count on the boat, the scenery, the food, and the captain being memorable--in a good way.
Sail Away has one boat: Happy Talk, a beautiful 50 foot long, 50+ year old mahogany Kettenberg sloop. While a modern fiberglass boat is perfect for Miami or Los Angeles, a classic wooden boat looks and feels just right for the Pacific Northwest. Yes, a modern 50 footer would have more interior room and more amenities (showers etc), but again, this boat just fits here. And you'll stop at places where you can shower ashore. The boat is well maintained and in very good condition, and has all required safety equipment and modern electronics for navigation and communication. And it sails beautifully, with a very gentle motion. And it's always fun when people on other boats look admiringly at your boat as they sail by...
Re: scenery, the San Juans are simply spectacular. I won't elaborate--look it up.
We had spectacular weather and good winds during our August charter, and that appears to be the norm for summer in the San Juans. Because of that, summer--especially late summer--is the high season for San Juan Islands sailing charters, so plan your charter several months ahead.
I'll discuss food and the captain together, because Captain Charlie DeWeese is both skipper and chef. We were used to sailing our own boat and to bareboat charters, where we did the sailing and the cooking ourselves, so it was a real luxury (especially for my wife) to let someone worry about those things and simply enjoy the trip. Charlie enjoys cooking and is good at it, using fresh local ingredients whenever possible. Charlie prepared meals that were delicious, plentiful, and prepared and presented with care. And he did this while handling a 50 ft boat essentially singlehanded, with skill and calm confidence. As a sailor myself I can vouch that Charlie, who holds a Coast Guard captain's licence, really knows what he's doing.
Aside from his skills as skipper and chef, it was a pleasure to spend time with Charlie. He has an interesting life story of his own, but he makes the trip about you, not him. He finds out what you want to get out of the trip, and builds the itinerary accordingly, with flexibility to change on the fly. He enjoys people and is able to get along very well with all types of people. He'll spend time with you if you wish, and he'll make himself scarce if and when you want privacy. He is an excellent host.
We have chartered elsewhere with the world's largest charter company, and now with Sail Away, which must be one of the world's smallest. We found Sail Away to be big enough to offer a truly wonderful charter in the San Juans, but small enough to provide personal attention the likes of which we had never before experienced. We recommend Sail Away without reservation.
Bill and Barbara Young
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