3 Strategies for Yacht Charters During Hurricane Season
I enjoy yacht charters during hurricane season for two main reasons: crowds begin to thin out and charter pricing can fall substantially.
But, you should be prepared to deal with some tropical mischief.
I've had my fair share of run-ins:
May 2018: experienced 30 knot winds and heavy rain in the Exuma Bahamas on the tail end of pre-season TS Alberto
November 2020: moved a bareboat trip within 48 hours of departure from Key West to the Spanish Virgin Islands due to the forecasted track of Hurricane Eta
November 2022: hunkered down from heavy rain at Flamenco Beach, Culebra while a tropical wave passed overhead - it later developed into Hurricane Nicole
Despite the storms, we had safe, enjoyable charters each time.
Want to take a yacht charter during hurricane season? I suggest you try one of these three strategies.
Pick a low/no-risk destination
Book with an option to relocate or cancel your yacht charter
Snag a last-minute charter with a clear weather window
Pick a low/no-risk charter destination
The easiest way to mitigate the tropical risk? Avoid it!
Pick one of these destinations that encounter few, or no hurricanes during the Atlantic tropical season.
So you still want to charter in the Caribbean? Try the Isle of Spice. While they can experience storms, they are far enough south in the hurricane belt that the risk of a major trip disruption is lower.
Take your pick of Croatia, Greece, or Italy. These are popular yacht charter destinations with well-established fleets. But, two words of caution. It can be hot, especially in August and September. Secondly, it's peak tourist season from June - August. Expect crowds at some of the more popular destinations ashore.
Ahh, the exotic Society Islands including Bora Bora, Tahaa, and Raiatea. While they do experience cyclones, they are in the southern hemisphere so storms occur mainly from January to March. June through August is considered the dry season with lower temperatures - similar to a February BVI trip.
Hawaii you might ask, really? I wrote about why bareboat charters aren't doable in Hawaii, but it's still possible to arrange for a crewed yacht charter. The summer months are the best time to go sailing in Hawaii. Check out my post for some inspiration on a Kauai itinerary - my favorite Hawaiian island.
Book with an option to re-locate, or cancel your charter
One of the benefits of booking with a charter company that has more than one base?
Some will let you move your trip if your charter destination is smack dab in the middle of a hurricane forecast cone. I did this exact thing in November 2020, shifting our trip to the Spanish Virgin Islands.
It is by no means guaranteed, but charter fleets typically aren't booked solid in the shoulder season and summer months. Check with your charter company or broker ahead of time about the potential to do so.
Alternatively, you can plan to bail all together. I typically do not purchase travel insurance, and in some cases, a tropical storm isn't going to get you your money back. If you go this route, read the fine print - policies that have an add on "cancel for any reason" are your best bet.
Snag a last-minute yacht charter with a clear weather window
In August 2021, I monitored long-range weather forecasts for days using Tropical Tidbits resources. Finally, it looked like we had a clear 10-day window for a bareboat charter to explore to explore the Dry Tortugas.
We booked the trip one week from departure and got a huge discount on the booking.
On a side note, don't do what I did...in Florida...in August...without AC. Well I was supposed to have AC, but that's another story.
Flight availability can make this strategy difficult to pull off, but if you have the schedule flexibility, it's a great way to charter in the off-season. There are some other downsides to chartering over the summer months. Many popular bars and restaurants close, especially in the British Virgin Islands (check out the current closure list). It can also be warmer, with lighter, more finicky winds. Better for swimming. Less so for sailing.
But if you're like us, and enjoy a secluded anchorage, sailing during hurricane season has some special perks.
Explore these related articles from the Yacht Warriors