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CYOA Yacht Charters Review

Woodstock, Georgia
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9 posts
129 reviews
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CYOA Yacht Charters Review

Since TA does not yet support Yacht Rental Companies, I am posting this review of CYOA Yacht Charters in Frenchtown here.

Summary: moments of good service overwhelmed by intentional time wasting, poor attitudes, and poor facilities.

My wife and I arrived a day early to scope out everything for an eight day sail with my father and stepmother. Upon speaking with the desk agent to see what we needed, she advised we should check in at about 9:30 in the morning the next day, which was fine.

The next morning, we checked in at about 9:45 a.m. to find the boat would not be ready for a couple of hours?!? We asked if we could take a look at the boat to gauge the storage onboard before we went shopping. We were given a resounding no and a voice from the cubicle (the owner?) said we would not be able to get our departure briefing until 1 p.m.

We decided to just go out and start our provisioning without seeing the boat and once we acquired the provisions, we returned and were allowed at first to store the dry provisions at the end of the dock, then allowed to board the boat and begin storing the gear and provisions at about 11:30 a.m.

We were given an inventory sheet to do before our briefing, diverting two of us from stowing gear to check to see if CYOA had done their job and were told if we had not completed the inventory by the time the guy doing the departure briefing arrived, they would postpone the briefing. Please bear in mind this is the first time my father and stepmother, in 17 years of sailing in the Virgin Islands, have ever had to complete their own inventory or been threatened with delay if they did not complete the charter company's work by a certain time.

The guy who performed the departure briefing was condescending and arrogant. We literally spent two hours with the departure briefing (another first for my father and stepmother) and did not clear St. Thomas until 3 p.m., which severely limited where we could go on the first day before the end of the day.

A note on the boat: we sailed on a FP Mahe 36, which was a decent boat, but had issues with ventilation (especially the port berth) and the main sail was a royal pain in the butt.

We were restricted from entering Cruz Bay on St. John by the charter company and instructed in both our departure briefing and in the literature aboard the boat to moor in either Lind Point or Caneel Bay and dinghy to Cruz Bay to clear US Customs/Immigration upon returning to US waters. We chose to moor at Lind Point and literally within 10 minutes we were rocked by the wake of a ferry which knocked one of our crew off her feet and down the steps from the galley. When we registered a comment with the charter company, they said no one from their company ever said we should moor at Lind Point.

Upon returning to St. Thomas, we notified the company when we would be back and they knew to expect us. We still had to wait upon arrival at their dock and the check out procedure took an hour and half, another first for my father and stepmother.

In short, it is worth your money and time to rent elsewhere.

52 replies to this topic
Saint Louis...
4 posts
1 review
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11. Re: CYOA Yacht Charters Review

To clarify things, we booked through visailing. So Tombvi, may say good things about cyoa, but visailing did nothing, absolutely nothing, to credit us or accomoadate for the problems we had. So, Tom, if you are going to promote cyoa, then stand behind them. Anything to make a buck?

Charlotte, North...
5 posts
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12. Re: CYOA Yacht Charters Review

We are experienced charterers in the Us/BVI, Bahamas and US. We had a good experience with CYOA in our only charter with them....good enought that we have re- booked for 2013

The staff was reasonably polite and prompt. I feel that the boat briefing and check sail were more than thorough and a bit tedious. i don't want to go through the inventory to the "t". I expect you will have the boat equippd as spec'd... That said...everything was there. The check back in was painless

We also received excellent suggestions during our chart briefing and used them to our advantage during our trip.

I feel Capt Jay and staff do a nice job, and I felt the boasts we're well maintained.

Colorado Springs...
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2 posts
7 reviews
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13. Re: CYOA Yacht Charters Review

Absolutely DO NOT charter with CYOA! Here’s my story.

First off, I chartered with CYOA last year through Virgin Island Sailing, the company TomBvi (see earlier discussion) reportedly works for. While I had no issues with VI Sailing - they were most helpful in finding me a boat that met my needs - TomBvi has a financial interest in helping CYOA. I would view his praise of CYOA with suspicion. Also, keep in mind that CYOA is the ONLY game in town when it comes to charter bases in the USVI (there are many in the BVI).

I’ve chartered with many companies throughout the Virgin Islands and other areas of the world and was actually impressed with some of the things CYOA does. They’ve been in business over 30 years so they must be doing something right. And like many things in life, there are no problems until there are problems.

My problem began when I damaged the boat I chartered with CYOA by hitting a submerged rock (it’s a long story). I fessed up to the damage I caused and, as is normal, they already had my credit card swiped for the $1,500 insurance deductible. Contributing to my hitting the rock was that the chart CYOA gave me for navigation had been marked up BY CYOA STAFF during their charter briefings and their markings completely obscured an important navigational feature; i.e., the rock I hit! After discussing the issue with the owner of CYOA, John Jacob, he agreed to share in the pain and tear up the $1,500 credit card swipe, reducing my share to half, or $750.00. I asked him at that time if he would allow me to charter through CYOA in the future and he said yes, adding that any sailor that’s sailed for long that says he hasn’t hit anything is a liar. I thought the matter was closed.

Last week I started the process of renting a charter boat from CYOA for next month. Everything was moving along smoothly and they held me a boat until I could book my flights (almost $1,000 each!) Within an hour of booking my flights and notifying CYOA of my flight times the owner sent me an email saying I needed to send him another $750.00 for the balance of last year’s deductible. I can only assume that he figured he had the upper hand since I’d already booked my plane reservations. What he didn’t plan for was that I will never pay ransom money to any business that acts in such a fashion.

Yes, I will lose the money I spent on flights unless I can scramble and find another boat through another charter company. But Jacob’s greed and pride has cost a long-term charterer (we generally charter twice a year) plus he’s lost revenue for the owner of the boat I was about to charter, an owner that had nothing whatsoever to do with last year’s event.

My suggestion is that unless someone else opens a charter base in St. Thomas in the future, you charter with a BVI base. It’s a bit more hassle but it’s better than taking a risk with CYOA.

Oklahoma City...
1 post
2 reviews
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14. Re: CYOA Yacht Charters Review

Currently on the dock of CYOA facilities after 9 glorious days sailing the USVI and BVI in their 2011 44 Jeanneau - the Mei Nu. I'd read these reviews/opinions regarding staff demeanor and courtesy only AFTER my husband had booked the trip - glad I hadn't read them prior as I'm certain I would have attempted to steer him away from using them. For our experience, this group of people were a complete delight from all contact per-arrival through to departure. What a quality experience all around and would suggest that is likely the case for most.

Port Matilda...
Level Contributor
2 posts
7 reviews
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15. Re: CYOA Yacht Charters Review

We have visited the VI's at least twice a year for the past 8 years... We have used Sunsail, Moorings, Footloose and a few other charter companies during our years of bareboating. The past 2 years we have used CYOA exclusively, because of their impeccable service and the quality of their boats.

I seriously can not imagine the reviews from above. Everyone on the staff was always friendly and helpful. I am glad that they do a very thorough check out on the boat and have me as a renter to an inventory of the supplies, so I know if anything is missing.

Leaving from St Thomas is so much more convenient that trying to get to the BVI's to start/end the charter. I can't believe all the years we missed going to St. Johns, which is one of my favorite spots now. Provisioning is a lot easier too. When we land in St. Thomas we are on the boat within 30 minutes and our vacation starts!!! It is so much easier than trying to catch a ferry to Roadtown or flying into Beef Island and taking that 40 minute taxi ride.

I have recommended CYOA to friends who also have had wonderful experiences. I will continue to use CYOA exclusively.

Kansas City...
Level Contributor
161 posts
8 reviews
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16. Re: CYOA Yacht Charters Review

They should have clued you in before writing that it is "St. John".

Colorado Springs...
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2 posts
7 reviews
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17. Re: CYOA Yacht Charters Review

You will undoubtedly have no problems with CYOA until you have problems with CYOA. Until then; enjoy!

Level Contributor
2 posts
6 reviews
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18. Re: CYOA Yacht Charters Review

I agree with all negative comments above NEVER AGAIN not even if it was free!!! At least nothing broke that was not already broken

1 post
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19. Re: CYOA Yacht Charters Review

We have chartered close to a dozen times with CYOA since 1984.

They are our "go to" charter company.

The price and service is unmatched in the business.

I have found the staff top-notch and willing to do whatever they can to make your trip safe and enjoyable.

I do not own a boat with CYOA nor do I have a financial interest in CYOA.

They are simply great, and I would highly recommend them to anyone.

Level Contributor
12 posts
63 reviews
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20. Re: CYOA Yacht Charters Review

. I have no vested interest in CYOA. I have been chartering with them since 1996. I have had new boats and ones that have been in the fleet for almost 10 years. Only problem ever had was on a new vessel with a impellor. The staff I have always found to be extremely accommodating to our every wish. I under stand how some people can be put off by John's apparent attitude but I find him to be more of a loveable curmudgeon. When we have had a problem he has always jumped thru hoops to fix.

Unfortunately I have seen too many "know it alls" abuse the staff, bring back the boats with hidden damage and "credit card" sailors. Part of the responsibility of the charter company is to protect the owners of the vessel. I take the above reviews with a grain of sand and have had nothing but positive experiences. I equate it similar to the criticism of many of the hotels, after all it is the Islands.

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