Dream Yacht Charter Shutters two US Charter Bases

Stock Island Yacht Club and Marina sunset

Photo: the former Dream Yacht Charter base at Stock Island Yacht Club in Key West

Dream Yacht Charter, a global charter management company, recently closed two of their US bases in Key West and Puerto Rico.

Dream Yacht Charter Key West

The Dream Yacht Charter Key West base was opened up during Covid and was always planned to be temporary. With travel restrictions to other popular bareboat charter destinations, it allowed Americans to stay in the country and continue to take charter vacations.

With restrictions easing, the base was shut down in the summer of 2022.

This is not surprising, despite any success they may have had. The Florida Keys and the Dry Tortugas are a tricky place to charter. I visited the base in August 2021 for a visit to historic Garden Key. You can read about my experience in my trip report write up.

In addition, the yachts in the charter fleet can also likely earn more revenue in the more desirable destinations, such as across the Gulf Stream in the Bahamas.

Dream Yacht Charter Puerto Rico & Spanish Virgin Islands

It’s less clear why the Dream Yacht Charter Puerto Rico base at Puerto del Rey was shuttered.

I also recently chartered with DYC in November 2020 to Puerto Rico, which serves the Spanish Virgin Islands cruising grounds. I got to see first hand why the base might be closed. 

Two reasons why they might have done this:

  1. Not enough demand from charter customers. With lower revenues, yacht owners may have requested their sailboats be moved to busier locations, such as the next-door US and British Virgin Islands. The Spanish Virgin Islands are still relatively undiscovered. I do think in the long-term, popularity will grow. You can read more about them in my cruising guide.
  2. I think the base was understaffed, which led to lower customer satisfaction. In turn, charter customers chose other options due to reputation damage. It was clear to me the small fleet had a some deferred maintenance and a team that wasn’t able to keep up.
Puerto del Rey on the eastern coast of Puerto Rico, just a couple hours from the Spanish Virgin Islands

Other charter company options in Key West and Puerto Rico

Trying to book in one of these destinations? Let the Yacht Warriors help you. We have relationships with the charter companies that serve these destinations and regularly take these trips ourselves. Learn more about booking with the Yacht Warriors.

For example, we recently chartered to the Spanish Virgin Islands from the USVIs on my recent November trip. Read about it here.

Sailing in Southern California on a San Diego Bareboat Charter

Sailing Southern California - San Diego Bareboat Charter

I’ve been planning a San Diego bareboat charter for a long time now. When I was stationed at Camp Pendleton, my now wife and I would escape down to San Diego Bay on weekends, where we first learned to sail. It’s the place that started it all.

We are planning a trip soon and expect it will be the first time we take our young kids aboard!

Come find out why I love San Diego as a sailing destination, how you can take this yacht charter trip yourself, and what I recommend for a week-long sailing itinerary.

Why you might like this San Diego sailing trip

  • Enjoy settled, predictable weather and protected sailing in San Diego Bay

  • Easy provisioning and logistics – the San Diego airport is less than 1 mile from one of the primary marinas – Harbor Island

  • Ample opportunities to dock or anchor close to onshore amenities such as beaches and restaurants

  • Potential for longer offshore passages to Catalina Island, or beyond to the Channel Islands

Why you might not like this sailing charter destination

  • It’s California, so the water is colder year round. This means 70 degrees in September (in the British Virgin Islands it would be 85 degrees). It’s possible to swim, but it’s chilly, especially if you have kids

  • San Diego is busy, so expect lots of crowds and elbow rubbing with your neighbors in most anchorages or mooring fields

  • Don’t expect the steady, consistent trade winds you’d encounter in the Caribbean. Local winds are determined by the sea breeze effect which will build throughout the day. You can read more about the San Diego sailing conditions here

Coronado Beach
Take a stroll along Coronado Beach and the Hotel del Coronado

San Diego bareboat charter trip highlights

  • Enjoy the buzz of America’s foremost military town: expect to see US Navy ships transiting the bay, jets taking off from North Island, or catch a glimpse of a submarine at the Point Loma base

  • Anchor nearby and enjoy beach days at the popular Mission and Coronado beaches

  • Sail (or motor) up the coast past Camp Pendleton, the U.S. Marine Corps Base, to Newport Beach

  • Cruise offshore for a multi-day stop at Catalina Island and the Avalon and Two Harbours anchorages

  • Take a sunset sail inside the bay and enjoy the city sights

  • Enjoy many shore-based excursion options including the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, Lego Land, or Sea World

Torrey Pines and north county San Diego
Torrey Pines and the coastline of north county

San Diego bareboat charter planning resources

Even though it’s outdated, Brian Fagan’s guide is the most comprehensive resource available for cruising southern California. His material also includes the Channel Islands and Catalina Island. Most of the information is still very relevant, especially on what to expect for weather conditions and offshore anchorages.

Yacht charter operators

I’ve found two reliable charter rental operators, but don’t expect the depth of charter fleets you might find in other bareboat charter destinations.

  • West Coast Multihulls has a fleet of 7 catamarans. They require a minimum level of sailing experience as well as sailing certifications.

  • Harbor Sailboats, where we learned to sail, offers a fleet of 17 monohulls, most in the 30-40 foot range, with some larger ones as well. They are primarily Beneteaus. You might have to join the club to charter from them.

Bay anchoring reservations

The Port of San Diego manages reservations in the San Diego Bay for anchoring, mooring, and use of the Shelter Island guest docks. You’ll need to familiarize yourself with their reservation system and create an account. You can check availability as well. Make sure you plan in advance during the busy summer season.

Note that anchoring is limited to a 72 hour period for your sailing yacht. Anchoring begins and ends at 9:00am everyday. The main anchorages are Glorietta Bay and La Playa Cove (La Playa is weekend-only from 9:00am Friday-Monday).

The busy mooring field of Avalon, Catalina Island

When to go sailing in San Diego?

I think the best time to plan a San Diego bareboat charter is from July to October. I cover the reasons in more depth in my San Diego sailing conditions post.

  • There is less chance for prolonged periods of the dreary marine layer blocking out your sunshine

  • The weather is warmer, which helps offset the chilly California sea temperatures

  • It’s a good time to visit when other charter destinations might be off-limits due to hurricane season

  • It’s summer vacation, so there is a lot going on across the city, and it’s a great time to visit with kids

Coronado Bridge and the Glorietta Bay anchorage
The Coronado Bridge, Naval Amphibious Base, and Glorietta Bay anchorage

Week-long San Diego sailing itinerary

OK, let’s get this sailing adventure underway! Here’s how I am planning my week-long sailboat charter in San Diego.

Day 1: Cruise through San Diego Bay to Coronado Island

Since logistics are fairly easy in San Diego, I’ll assume you get off the dock at a reasonable hour and don’t need to undertake a sleep aboard. We aren’t going far on our first day.

Get the crew accustomed to the catamaran and take an easy sail south through the bay, enjoying the sites and military activity around you.

Cruise past the Midway museum and the HMS Surprise and then under the iconic Coronado Bridge. The Glorietta Bay anchorage is just on the other side past the Naval Amphibious Base.

There is a dinghy dock next to the Boathouse restaurant that can be used for a small fee, or pull your dinghy up on the beach.

Take an afternoon stroll along the Coronado Beach past the famous Hotel del Coronado. There are also many bars and restaurants to enjoy along Orange Avenue, within walking distance.

Mission Beach and Mariners Cove
Mission Beach and the Mariners Basin

Day 2: Enjoy a beach day at Mission Beach

Head through the San Diego Bay channel, passing Point Loma, and then up north. We are staying at Mission Bay for our second day, about a 15 nautical mile trip.

Mariners Basin is a well-protected anchorage where you can overnight. Note that there are many private moorings here, but it is still possible to find room to drop the hook.

Mission Beach is a perfect place to spend your day, and it’s fun to walk up and down the busy boardwalk and oceanfront walk.

Another option if you have kids? Seaworld is less than a mile away.

Newport Beach and the large protected marina

Day 3: Sail up the Southern California coast to Newport Beach

If you’re lucky you’ll have a favorable wind direction to raise your sails cruise up the coast. The prevailing wind direction is out of the northwest, so that may be tricky!

At a distance of 60 nautical miles, this is a long day! Set sail as early as you can.

Enjoy the beautiful coastline and picturesque surf towns of North County such as my personal favorite, Encinitas. You’ll next pass by Camp Pendleton, home of the 1st Marine Division.

You may encounter Navy ships conducting exercises or amphibious operations in this area. By law, make sure you stay as least 100 yards away.

After passing by Orange County and Laguna Beach, you’ll arrive at Newport Beach.

Contact the Newport Beach Harbor Master on VHF channel 19, or on cell phone to get approval for your free overnight anchorage. They require that you do not leave your sailboat unattended for more than 3 hours…they will come by to check.

You may also want to arrange for a dockside slip.

Relax at one of the the many harborside restaurants, such as the Rusty Pelican. It’s also fun to cruise around the large marina in the dinghy and check out the many expensive yachts that call Newport Beach home.

northern coast of Catalina Island
The northern coast of Catalina Island with Two Harbours visible on the left

Day 4: Cross offshore to Catalina Island

The crossing to Catalina Island is about 30 nautical miles. Now is a great time to bust out your fishing gear if you brought some with you! Be prepared for some whale watching too – they can be seen year round in the San Diego cruising grounds.

We are going to first make a lunch stop at Emerald Bay on the northeast corner of the island. Drop the hook and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Go for a snorkel or do some spearfishing at Indian Rock.

Two Harbours is a rustic town named for the narrow strip of land that separates it from the western shore of Catalina Island. There is some shopping and a few restaurant options ashore.

You may also arrange for a scuba diving tour in advance. Dive operators could pick you up right from the yacht the next morning before you move on to the town of Avalon.

Avalon Catalina Island
The mooring field at Avalon and the iconic Catalina Casino

Day 5: Enjoy the lovely town of Avalon

You have lots of flexibility for today as you enjoy an easy 2-3 hour, downwind sail along the eastern coast of Catalina Island. Enjoy a lazy morning or get started early to spend more time in Avalon. Take in the beautiful surroundings or the rugged coastline.

Avalon is the primary destination for Catalina Island visitors, and receives tourists via the ferry from LA.

You have plenty of dining, shopping, and hiking options ashore! Take your pick and enjoy the people watching. Check out the hiking trail options here.

If you’d like to get back in the water, Casino Point Dive Park is a popular snorkeling and diving location you can access right from shore.

Day 6: Sail back to San Diego.

Another early start as we have 65 nautical miles to cover on our return trip to San Diego. Mean captain!

With the prevailing northwest wind, this should be a wonderful downwind sail. You might not even have to make a sail change. Raise ‘em up and enjoy a perfect full day on the water.

Since we are covering a lot of ground, we will plan to anchor again at Mariners Basin. Relax on the catamaran after a long day, or head ashore for dining options.

Shelter Island and the La Playa anchorage
Shelter Island and the Navy's North Island base on the right

Day 7: Listen to a concert at Humphrey’s from your dinghy

It’s a short day on the water. Check out Mission Beach if you missed it last time, or consider heading to Sea World for a few hours.

Make your way back into San Diego Bay, and head for Shelter Island and the La Playa anchorage – remember this one can only be used from Friday to Monday morning.

If you time the trip right, you can enjoy a Humprey’s Concert by the Bay. Dinghy over and get close to the action straight from your sailboat. The Bali Hai restaurant is also nearby on Shelter Island. It’s a local establishment serving up Polynesian fare and mai tais. This would be a great place to celebrate a last night’s meal with the crew.

Day 8: Check out day

Head back to your charter company’s marina and follow their check-out procedures. Most will ask you to hit the fuel dock and be off the charter yacht by 10 or 12.

Thanks for reading my post about sailing in Southern California on a San Diego bareboat charter! If you enjoyed it, please subscribe or check out some of my other articles, like this bareboat charter beginner’s guide.

Scrub Island to Welcome a new BVI Charter Company

Scrub Island to welcome a new BVI charter company

A new boutique charter company is making landfall in the British Virgin Islands. Dream Caribbean Blue will begin running crewed-only yacht charters from Scrub Island beginning in early 2023.

The company appears to already be managing several yachts in the BVIs and also plans to begin operations in the Bahamas and Grenadines.

How is Dream Caribbean Blue different?

They aim to offer a luxury experience complete with a captain and chef with each booking. Bareboat charters, where you skipper the boat yourself, are not an option.

Scrub Island is an excellent location – I last visited Scrub in 2018 for a charter with Dream Yacht Charters (who is planning to leave Scrub Island soon). It’s a great setting and you have access to all the amenities including secluded beaches, pool, and restaurants. Scrub is also conveniently located near the airport – it’s a short ferry ride.

The base location is important to their luxury value proposition: the setting offers guests a chance to book rooms at a high-end resort before, or after a charter. Or, it can be a convenient way to split up a part sea, part land visit to the British Virgin Islands.

Dream Caribbean Blue also offers yacht sales and management, but few details are available publicly.

The yacht fleet

They’ve chosen large, Bali catamarans for their fleet, with deliveries expected to begin later this year. Many of their yachts will be brand new. 11 yachts will initially be available for charter in 2023.

I like the Bali catamarans, having now skippered two of them for charter. You can read about my recent review of the Bali 5.4 here from a 2021 Exumas trip.

Bali 5.4 in the Exumas on a bareboat charter trip
The large Bali 5.4 with three main lounge spaces on our last trip in the Exumas

The Balis have great top-deck fly bridges and hang out areas. Forward, the trampolines have been replaced with a table and seating. Lastly, the signature garage door creates a convertible indoor and outdoor lounge space.

These larger cats are considered more party barges than sailing vessels; however, it seems that might appeal more to this higher price point crowd.

Expect to pay up for these fully-crewed, large catamarans. A Bali 5.4 will run you $34,000 for an 8-person crew. The Bali 4.8? You can charter one for $26,000.

Don’t forget the 15-20% tip that’s expected on top of these rates. If you plan to charter during peak holiday season, add on another 20% premium.

Bali 5.4 blue lights in the Exumas
Underwater blue lights are another of those upscale amenities you'll get with the bigger cats

Final thoughts

This announcement is par for the course with other changes underway in the BVIs.

More yachts, more crowds.

Bigger boats, more catamarans.

With demand surging for charter vacations, the British Virgin Islands should continue to benefit economically as they recover from Hurricane Irma and Covid restrictions.

San Diego Sailing Conditions

san diego sailing conditions

San Diego is the premier sailing destination on the west coast and offers excellent year-round sailing opportunities. Take note of some of the unique weather and marine features to be prepared for.

Here are the San Diego sailing conditions you can expect including the surrounding Channel Islands area.

great sailing conditions in san diego
Perfectly clear day for sailing in San Diego

Best time to sail in San Diego

I think the summer and fall months are the best time to sail in San Diego, in particular July and August. It’s summer vacation time when other popular bareboat charter sailing destinations may be off limits due to tropical storm activity.

The weather is warmer, generally in the mid 70s during the day and dropping into the 60s at night. Chances of rainfall are low.

San Diego sailing conditions offer a mild climate. That means you can undertake this trip any time of year – you just might need to trade that swim suit in for a jacket.

The winter months are better for whale watching, although the best chance to see the largest species on earth, the blue whale is, during the summer.

Sea breeze and prevailing wind direction

San Diego isn’t the Caribbean with it’s steady trade winds that seem to blow continuously from thousands of miles across the Atlantic.

Rather, it is considered a microclimate with marine conditions affected by the local geography.

The prevailing wind direction is from the west/northwest at ~10 knots, owing to the sea breeze effect that builds during the day. As the land inland heats up, the air at the surface rises. As this air is displaced upwards, it begins to draw in the colder air from the surface out at sea.

This effect will grow in strength during the day, before waning later in the evening as inland areas begin to cool off and there is less of a temperature differential. Check out Modern Marine Weather if you want to learn more about these type of weather effects.

In the morning and overnight hours, you can often expect winds that are quite light. The sea breeze effect can also reverse since inland areas cool off faster than the ocean. This can produce a land breeze at night. Take that into account for the San Diego area when you are planning anchoring swing room.

A marine layer present off the coast of Catalina Island

San Diego marine layers

Be prepared for gray, gloomy days if the marine layer is present. The effect is most common in May and June. They can also prevail in July and August, but their frequency diminishes.

I lived on the San Diego coast for 5 years when I was stationed at Camp Pendleton, and I always dreaded those days in May and June. Go a mile inland, however, and it might be sunny!

What is the marine layer? This persistent cloud layer forms when colder water temperatures interacts with warmer air. It can last for a few hours in the morning before burning off. Or, it might stick with you all day!

Santa Ana winds

Make sure you are familiar with the hot, dry, Santa Ana winds that sweep down from inland desert areas. These occur most commonly during the fall, but it is possible to encounter one any time of the year.

These winds often take on a north easterly direction. As they build towards the sea during the day, they’ll encounter and fight the sea breeze. Often times these two opposing forces will offset, leaving light winds in the bay and nearby coastal areas.

They can, on occasion, be much stronger. If this occurs, they can affect the usually well-protected, easterly exposed bays on Catalina Island, such as Two Harbors and Avalon. Be prepared for swells that might create breaking waves.

Thanks for reading my post about San Diego sailing conditions! If you enjoyed it, please subscribe or check out some of my other articles, like my guide to taking a San Diego bareboat charter trip.

Where to go Sailing During Hurricane Season

Looking for a yacht charter to take during the summer vacation months, June – August?

It’s possible to go to the usual popular yacht charter destinations such as the British Virgin Islands or the Bahamas. Some crews enjoy this period of time since you won’t have to fight with crowds. Do your homework though. In the BVIs, many of the popular bars and restaurants shut down for peak hurricane season mid-August to mid-October.

If you’re like me and love a secluded anchorage…not a problem.

But what if you want to mitigate the risk of a trip disruption from a tropical system?

If you want to go sailing during hurricane season I recommend the destinations of Grenada, the Mediterranean, French Polynesia, or Hawaii.

A hurricane season sailing charter destination, Grenada
Hillsborough Bay in Carriacou, Grenada


While located in the Caribbean, the Isle of Spice, Grenada, is located just outside the primary hurricane belt. Yes, sometimes storms do hit the island, such as Hurricane Ivan in 2005, but they are far less common than other charter destinations in the windward and leeward islands.

Storms that venture to this part of the windward Islands are usually well forecasted. They develop from tropical waves off the African coast that march westward across the Atlantic. Most pass relatively harmlessly every few days without developing, like clockwork.

Keep in mind you might have a day or two of gusty winds and higher than normal rain chances as a tropical wave passes.

St. Georges Grenada in the Windward Islands
The beautiful St. Georges, Grenada

The odds are in your favor, but make sure you monitor developments in the tropics. I talked a bit about the resources I use in one my recent newsletters.

Stay on the west/southern coast of Grenada in it’s many bays and beaches, or venture further north to the enchanting island of Carriacou.

If the weather is favorable, you could even expand your trip with a visit to the Grenadines.

If you want to learn more about Grenada and the windward islands, I highly recommend the Sailors Guide to the Windward Islands by Chris Doyle. It is excellent and has everything you need to know to plan a Grenada yacht charter.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

The Mediterranean

Take your pick: Italy, Greece, or Croatia. These are the popular destinations that have well-established yacht charter fleets.

While the Mediterranean doesn’t experience hurricanes, the local winds that blow should not be overlooked.

There is a common adage in the Med: there is either too much wind, or too little. Could that affect your plans in the Summer?

Perhaps, but the good news is most of these local winds such as the Mistral or the Bora are quieter during the summer months. I found this guide to be quite helpful in understanding them.

But, take the Sirocco, for example. It’s a hot, dry wind that can reach hurricane strength and blows from the south off the Sahara. It does occur sometimes in the summer.

Mikrolimano, Greece

Two other things to consider for a summer charter in the Med? It’s can be hot, particularly in August and September. If the winds are light, you’ll want to make sure you have an AC, if possible.

Second, the crowds. It’s peak season for visitors. Yes, you can spread out on the water, but for popular destinations ashore you should expect more than a handful of other visitors.

French Polynesia, a summer sailing destination during hurricane season in the USA
Beautiful island of Huahine from above

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French Polynesia

Ahh, the exotic islands of Raiatea, Tahaa, Bora Bora, Maupiti, and Huahine. These make up the Society Islands’ cruising grounds of a Tahiti bareboat charter.

Why does French Polynesia make a good option for summer sailing? They do experience cyclones, but since they are in the southern hemisphere, they occur during a different part of the year. Most frequently in January – March.

Approaching Raiatea from deeper water
Approaching Raiatea from deeper water

June – August is considered the dry season with lower temperatures – similar to what you might experience with a January to March BVI trip.

Another consideration? Prices may be higher as you are competing for airfares with all those honeymooners!

The Bali Hai cliffs at Tunnels Beach
The spectacular cliffs of Bali Hai - you can anchor right here of Makua Reef


I dove into the possibilities of a Hawaii yachtcharter in this post. Don’t count on a Hawaii bareboat charter. You’ll need to settle for a captained charter…for good reason.

The summer months are the best time to go sailing in Hawaii. You’ll avoid the potential for the northerly swells that create the famous surf breaks during the fall and winter months.

Weather conditions are more settled and rainfall, more predictable. Yes, hurricanes or tropical storms are possible, but they are often not much of a major threat.

I also like the convenient travel options from the USA, but again, it will be busy over the summer.

Honopu Beach at the Napali Coast
This is what draws me to a Hawaii charter, the Napali Coast

Thanks for reading my post about where to go sailing during hurricane season! If you enjoyed it, please subscribe or check out some of my other articles, like this one about my favorite Caribbean bareboat charter destinations.