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Tips for Tips

BVI Cane Garden Bay by Stephen L France (85)

When I was invited to cover this subject, just for a second, I thought perhaps the topic was to be about gratuities for charter yacht captains. Of course I soon realised the subject was to be helpful hints on yacht and boat operation, but it has occurred to me that helpful hints on earning a good gratuity might be appropriate for many charter yacht captains.

The first thing to do is analyse the guests, their needs, likes and dislikes, expectations and abilities, so initial conversation is essential. It is wise never to bring up politics and religion; touchy subjects indeed.

A yacht charter captain maybe one who runs a bareboat or a fully crewed yacht with a chef/hostess combination. The former is not responsible for preparing meals, but if the bareboat captain is a good cook/chef as well, it will create huge goodwill if he/she volunteers to prepare a meal or two and helps with the cleaning up.

A professional chef who creates superb cuisine and a captain who has had a bit of practice as a mixologist can be sure of a good tip. However this is not the end all and be all of it; local knowledge of the area is also essential as well as sharing interesting historical facts, geological and natural points of interest.

The BVI has a veritable plethora of interesting locales and accompanying stories. I once wrote an article titled Disney couldn’t have done it better. There’s pirate history and the antithesis of peace loving Quakers of a high moral fibre. The ruins of the estates of famous Quakers, John Lettsome and William Thornton (designer of the Capital Building in Washington DC) are accessible today. The story of pirate skulduggery at locations like Norman Island, the Treasure Caves, and Bellamy Cay can have visitors enthralled. The nautical disaster of the wreck of the Rhone is fascinating as is the geological marvel of the Baths. The billionaires’ playground of Virgin Gorda’s North Sound with mega yachts and their helicopters is a sight to see and the sandy atoll, Anegada contrasts wonderfully with the rest of the BVI’s volcanic islands. Beautiful Jost van Dyke with several world famous beach bars is patronised by many in the music and entertainment world.


Details of all the aforementioned should be at the fingertips of all good charter yacht captains. After all, one of their important roles is to act as a tour guide. There are many scenic hikes in the islands and wondrous underwater snorkelling spots, and a great captain will know all of them and always have a secret hideaway anchorage to captivate the guests, perhaps with a gorgeous sunset or moonrise to cement an everlasting memory.

Driving the boat from mooring ball to mooring ball, leaving the guests to their own devices, and not engaging them in conversation will not endear them to you. And neither will a comment like ‘Tipping is not a city in China.’ Remember the adage, ‘You usually get what you give.’

Julian Putley

Julian Putley

Julian began his writing career while sailing the world in his small yacht, a Tayana 37, in the early 80s. He is known for his Caribbean bestsellers Sunfun Calypso, a satire on Caribbean island life and The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI.

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