September 08, 2016 by James Kell

9 Things You Need For Great Barefoot Cruises

Get this right and you'll have the best. vacation. everrrr...

Barefoot Cruises are some of the best vacations you'll ever have. No shoes = barefoot = warm weather = ohh yeah. Gather a few of your loved ones. Go to a place with plenty of water and blue sky. Create your own [authentic] adventure. There are a few things to consider to get into Barefoot Cruises. None of them are too difficult. Here are some tips on what you need:

1. You need a boat.

True that.  Catamaran or monohull? While sailors could debate this one for hours, one thing they would all agree on: a catamaran has a more square geometry (=more like an apartment) and has its main space looking out over the water. These two things mean that for a family or bunch of friends wanting to do barefoot cruises, a catamaran is the way to go.

barefoot cruising sailing virgins

2. You need to know about boat length

Boats are volumetric. Their quoted dimension is linear. This can be deceiving. Let me explain: The difference between a 40' boat and a 44' boat is only 4 feet isn't it, or 10%, right? Well, wrong. Let's oversimplify and say that 40' boat is 10' wide and 10' deep. This means its volume is therefore 4,000 cubic feet. Now let's look at the 44-foot boat.  This 44-foot boat has increased *all* three of its dimensions by 10%, so it is 44' long, 11' wide and 11' deep. This equals 5,324 cubic feet. That's 33% larger by volume. Even though length only increased by 10%.  See what I mean? If you want help with sizing your boat, feel free to email me.

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3. You need a skipper

There are a few ways to move your boat around on barefoot cruises:

  • Hire a skipper: through your charter company or a great new Airbnb-like service called Antlos.  A charter company just tends to give you whoever they have available.  This can be quite a gamble as the skipper/instructor sets the tone on the vacation. Antlos gives you more transparency when choosing your boat/skipper;
  • Do it yourself: if you have the skills/experience you can skipper yourself (see this post to see if you have the necessary skills), or;
  • Hire an instructor: you can rent an instructor who will not only be your skipper but also teach you the skills necessary to skipper all future vacations yourself. Full disclosure: the instruction part is what Sailing Virgins does. It's awesome.

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4. You need Navionics

Your charter boat should [by law] come equipped with charts. You can also get some great apps to help you. There are a few out there but my favourite is called Navionics. It works on iPhone or Android (I have tried both, iPhone works best). It sells app by regions.  A region will cost around $20. This will get you all charts on the entire coast of the region you have chosen. Amazing really. Make sure you download not just the app but the individual areas you want. This is a two step process. Do this before you leave good wifi. You've been warned!

5. You need to know your weather

There are some great weather services out there.  Get more than one so you have a second and third opinion.  Check out for an awesome route planner (and our blog post about this here).  Put these apps on your iPhone: WeatherTrack, PocketGRIB and Windfinder.  If you have Android get Meteo MarineNOAA Weather and any GRIB apps such as SailGrib.

6. You need to get there

You may have your favourite travel app. If you don't try Skyscanner and Google Flights. Tripadvisor provides crowd-sourced advice but like any guide, paying too much attention to this may take the discovery out of your holiday.  Use sparingly!

7. You need list of books to read

Needed an excuse to buy a Kindle? Well, this is it. One thing a sailing vacation is good for is reading. No television on board (if there is one just pretend there isn't). If you have wifi make sure you limit it to an hour or two each day. Then you can live a little! Just sailing, swimming, listening to music, reading, eating, exploring, and relaxing. This is what life is about. One thing sailors tend to do a lot of is read.  If you're looking for books, email me. I love giving reading recommendations.  If you have any recommendations yourself, put them in the comments below.

8. You need cooking tips

Ask whoever is providing your boat if they have measuring cups and spoons. If not, take some with you. And a knife sharpener. Being on a boat is great for getting experimental and creative with cooking (if that's your thing). You are limited by a pretty small oven. But it's surprising what you can do (and how much fun it is) when you feel free.  Bake bread, make pancakes, gourmet fish dinners.  It's all possible.  Get weird.  Stay tuned to this blog for boat-specific sailing recipes.


9. You need to travel light

I could go on and on about traveling light. This should suffice: no matter how light you pack, there is something in your bag you will not wear during your vacation. If you're on a boat for a week you need almost no gear. For guys, I recommend two swimsuits, three t-shirts, two shorts, one polo, underwear, flip-flops, hat. For girls, if you like remove the polo/shorts and add a dress or two.  That's it. Honest. When you walk on a boat with hardly any luggage in a collapsable bag, don't be surprised if the skipper/instructor hugs you.  Rather than say to yourself "I may need that" go out on a limb and say "what do I absolutely need?".  You'll feel so much better when you do this.



Barefoot sailing cruises (otherwise known as bareboat cruises) are a fabulous way to spend a week with your loved ones (be it family or friends or both).  They are much easier to do than many people realise.  Even if you have never sailed before.  This post provides nine tips to those who are seeking information on how to do their first cruise.  We hope you enjoy this!

Sailing Virgins provides qualified sailing instructors and runs fast-track courses in the Virgin Islands. Leave a comment below to be sent a one-page pdf summary of this article. If you have any questions please email me to arrange a time for a free sailing vacation consultation.


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