At the dawn of the Coronavirus pandemic in the United States last February, when many of us we were still traveling, I wrote in Forbes about the benefits of sailing with The Moorings. Since 1969, this company has offered bareboat charters for skilled sailors in some of the most desirable waters in the world. If you don’t fall into that camp, then you can elect a crewed charter, with a captain and a chef. It’s a maximum total of eight people on board either way, with space and privacy. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, like a conventional cruise ship. It’s relaxed, low key, and a spectacular way to unwind.
When the pandemic shut most travel options down, The Moorings was no different. Now their global hub is scheduled to reopen on December 1, 2020 in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). The sailing grounds for The Moorings include such Caribbean ports as Antigua, Grenada, Martinique, St. Lucia and St. Martin, as well as the BVI’s. Tahiti and the Greek Islands are also among their destinations.
A week on a catamaran in the Caribbean may sound pretty dreamy right now. Yet the fact is that a lot of us have no plans to fly in the immediate future and many of us simply do not want to leave the country until the pandemic is under control.
So The Moorings has adapted by partnering with Sailing Florida to offer its first ever domestic sailing charters out of St. Petersburg, Florida. Using Sailing Florida’s own fleet and staff, they’re offering a trip in the style of The Moorings for those who prefer to spend a week in Florida waters. This also makes it possible to drive to the port of embarkation, which is a game changer.
By booking an entire boat, you can limit the passengers on board to only immediate family and friends. If you elect a crewed charter, there is a strict series of safety protocols that the company has enacted. The onboard crew will be instructed to adhere to social distancing while on charter and encouraged to wear protective equipment when this is not possible.
The itinerary possibilities here are extensive as you sail at 8 knots along the West Coast of Florida, ranging from St. Petersburg Beach to possibly down as far as the Florida Keys. From fishing, paddle boarding and kayaking excursions on the waters of the Gulf of Mexico to shell seeking on Sanibel and Captiva Islands, it’s a slow moving and relaxing vacation. These waters are known for short passages between seaside towns, secluded anchorages, and welcoming marinas. Better yet, the unique aspects of a yacht charter remain. A sailboat can go where larger ships cannot, anchor in secluded bays, and stop at small towns and villages that are not on any traditional port of call.
A classic seven day sailing itinerary in these waters goes roundtrip from St. Petersburg, calling at Longboat Key, Siesta Key, Venice Inlet South, Boca Grande, Captiva and Sanibel Islands, Venice Inlet North and Sarasota Bay.
Sailing Florida utilizes a fleet of mono-hulled and catamaran sailing vessels, as well as some power boats. The sailing conditions are described as “relaxed seas,” and generally in the two foot range.
The price depends on whether you elect to sail the vessel yourself or opt for a crewed charter, but a ballpark figure for six guests with a captain and chef onboard is $15,000. That’s $2,500 per person, a cost that rivals that of a conventional cruise.
For more details, contact The Moorings.