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“fabulous introduction to sailing - Highly recommended”

Great Escape Yacht Charters and Sailing School
Ranked #1 of 4 things to do in Opua
Certificate of Excellence
Auckland Region, New Zealand
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“fabulous introduction to sailing - Highly recommended”
Reviewed May 28, 2013

We had a wonderful long weekend with the Great Escape team. As almost novices we got a lot out of the two days instruction and we were confident enough to go out on our own for a couple of days round the bay. Our teacher Michelle was fantastic and (importantly) patient, and we enjoyed meeting Darren who runs the Great Escapes business. We will absolutely be back to sail round the beautiful bay of Islands with Great Escape.

Note that the sailing lesson/charters offered by Great Escape are a very good deal - far cheaper than any other sailing school we know of. Not surprisingly the boats (at least the smaller ones) are fairly "no frills". However my view is that these basic sort of yachts are best to learn on, and if you want luxury you need to be prepared to pay quite a bit more.

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
Thank Ana S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GreatEscapeNorthland, Manager at Great Escape Yacht Charters and Sailing School, responded to this review, October 20, 2013
Hello Ana

I am so happy you had a great time sailing with us and I hope you continue sailing. The bay of Islands are perfect for learning. Michelle is wonderful and such a great teacher we are fortunate to have her on our team.. She and her family have just sailed from NZ to Fiji and are, as we speak sailing to Vanauatu, she will be back with us soon

Fair winds Ana, hope to see you again
Darren
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64 reviews from our community

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  • English first
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English first
Cambridge, New Zealand
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Three men in a boat”
Reviewed March 30, 2013

Three Middle Aged seasoned sailors chartered a Great Escape 31 Raven, a well appointed and well maintained craft. Before getting aboard, we managed to sample the local Yacht Club at Darren's recommendation and were made very welcome with good food and beer!
We chartered for three days and with the local knowledge of Darren his proposed route saw us dipping in and out of the islands before heading into more open waters around Cape Brett to Whangamumu harbour. Perfect advice. A great sail in predictable winds, making for some great sailing and a fantastic spot for the first night. The second sail saw us enjoying the challenges of inland sailing around the many islands with switching winds before mooring at an idyllic bay. the final day saw us close our tour of the island with a stop for morning tea at Roberton Island, were we were greeted by one of Great Escape's, friendly "learn to sail trainers" for a chat and a catch up. The final sail down the Veronica Channel was pure reflection on a great three days sail and on a easy to sail and responsive craft.
Darren the owner meet us as we moored up in Opua and listened to our travels, perfect finish to a great sail. The Bay of Islands must present itself as one of the best inland waters in the world. Great escape is clearly well position to either introduce new sailors to experience this environment the best possible way, or for the more accomplished sailor to journey around great bays or experience equally spectacular coast lines beyond the Bays. Darren could do enough, from the first phone call to meeting us on the RIB at the final mooring. We will be back again. Cheers Darren. Blandy

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Blandy911
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GreatEscapeNorthland, Owner at Great Escape Yacht Charters and Sailing School, responded to this review, March 31, 2013
Hi Blandy
Thanks for your feed-back.
Glad you guys had fun, Whangamumu is a stunning place.. look forward to seeing you in November
Darren
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Tauranga, New Zealand
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“just do it its awesome”
Reviewed March 12, 2013

I have just returned from a 9 day yacht hire in the Bayof Islands .My partner and i chartered a 30ft Nolex which was just the perferct size for what we wanted.We chose Great EScape because they were competitive price wise, and were so easy to deal with and helpful..The boat was in good order and sailed beautifully.It was a centre board so we had great anchorages close to shore.There were good navigational maps on board so we really saw and loved most of the BAy of Islands
Darren the managing director was tops he and his business really impressed us.
He is very experineced in his field and has a great sense of humour to go with it.
We love the way he has a learn to sail programme on the smaller yachts for those new to sailing also.
He also met us after the sail in a bar in PAhia and bought us a drink which was a lovely way to end our holiday
Would totally recomend the type of holiday we just had with Great Escape Yachts lovely winds warm sea and plenty of sun and cheaper than a camper van!!

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank Rosie h
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GreatEscapeNorthland, Manager at Great Escape Yacht Charters and Sailing School, responded to this review, March 15, 2013
Hi Rosie

Really glad you had a great time, it was so nice meeting you and Ian. Look forward to seeing you again.

Darren
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Auckland Region, New Zealand
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Good weather so should of being a better trip”
Reviewed January 14, 2013

The location is easy to get too. The boat we hired- a 25ft nolex was in below average condition. For the price paid i expect the boat to be kept in a good use-able condition but there were things not working such as the tiller extension was non existence having being removed and one of the main winches was broken. Further examples were that the icebox did not have its chilling system working and the charts were rough and old. I expect these to all be on the owners check-sheet before they rehire it out, they should definitely be offering discounts on arrival for such poor/non existent equipment. It also wasnt in some respects decked out in a standard as to what i expect from a charter such as it did not have a self furling jib.
Perhaps the most off putting part of the trip was the attitude of the woman co-owner she did not make us feel welcome, which was in stark contrast to the man co-owner. We did not feel she treated us like customers should be.
Response time to communication from them was very good.
I suggest you thoroughly enquire of them the status of the facilities of the boat before you sign up

Visited December 2012
Helpful?
3 Thank Martin H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GreatEscapeNorthland, Owner at Great Escape Yacht Charters and Sailing School, responded to this review, March 6, 2013
Hi There..

Very sorry you felt this way.
We have clearly stated on our website the equipment provided on the boats. the Noelex 25 are a great yacht that are simple and well priced.
They are not designed to have furling headsails and the sail area is so small that it is not warranted, these boats form the basis of our sailing school so beginners need to learn sail changing etc.. and are perfect for the budget conscious.
The next boat up and suited for more experienced sailors is the Noelex 30 and for an extra $80/day you get all the equipment you missed, I am sorry we didn't properly interpret your expectations and could have done better at matching you with a more suitable yacht.

There is no excuse for you being made to feel unwelcome at Great Escape ( the female co-owner is no longer involved).

I feel we offer great value, to sail one of the best sailing destinations in the world for $250/day.. not bad..
Regards
Darren (male co-owner)
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Auckland Region, New Zealand
Level 3 Contributor
18 reviews
11 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Helpful, friendly, great value”
Reviewed March 1, 2012

My family hired the Catamaran from Great Escape in January for 4 days. It was very well fitted out, in great condition and had really good living and sleeping accomodation. It was a good bit cheaper than catamarans from other bigger charter companies and you can book by the day rather than a whole week.. and although perhaps not as new with less bathrooms than other cats, was perfect for us. Especially liked the freezer, fridge and fantasitc BBQ off the back and the large eating area. This is a family run business and they were extremely helpful, from booking right through to the end of the charter. Highly recommend. Bay of Islands is a great cruising spot for young families, plenty of islands to visit, sheltered water for swimming off the boat and lots of blue penguins and dolphins to spot..

Visited January 2012
Helpful?
1 Thank Shobo_111
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
GreatEscapeNorthland, Owner at Great Escape Yacht Charters and Sailing School, responded to this review, March 24, 2014
Hello and so glad you enjoyed your experience with us, especially pleased you felt safe with us. I hope you continue your sailing and it would be nice to see you again..

Regards
Darren
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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