Date toured: November 2007
A lot of sailing catamarans in the Virgin Islands are run by owner-operators, which is the industry term for people who offer charters onboard their own yachts. Some owner-operators offer charters almost begrudgingly, as a way to support their own cruising lifestyle. Others look at their yachts as a business, seeing themselves as eager hosts who offer charters simply to share the best of island life.
I’m happy to say that Mark and Sally Duncan, the owner-operators onboard the 46-foot sailing catamaran Viking Dream, fit the latter category. The British couple previously worked in retail, and they decided to take a break from the workaday world about six years ago. They spent their time driving RVs around Australia, New Zealand and the United States, doing stretches as long as Las Vegas to Alaska. Eventually, they found themselves working onboard boats for companies like The Moorings in the Virgin Islands, and they decided that boating could offer them the best of both worlds: travel and income.
About a month before I met them on Tortola, they had purchased Viking Dream from The Moorings in an effort to create their own charter business. They both had already earned their captain’s licenses, and they’d spent the previous four weeks updating the yacht for charter—including a new generator, a hard top bimini, new upholstery and varnish, a new flat-screen television, an iPod dock, electric toilets, and new exterior paint.
Their goal was to make a good impression at the industry-only charter yacht show that I attended. And they did—both with me and with several reputable charter brokers who told me, after an afternoon of sailing with the Duncans, that they thought Viking Dream was one of the best yachts in the entire boat show.
“We bought the boat because we want to do this job,” Sally told me. “It was a life and business decision. We aren’t people who do charters to support a boat we couldn’t otherwise afford.”
They feel they know both their boat and their cruising area well, having worked onboard this exact boat and similar ones for The Moorings before going out on their own. They’ve had charter clients from 4 months to 81 years old, and though they’re based in the Virgin Islands, they’re happy to entertain charter bookings as far south as the Grenadines.
Viking Dream herself takes six guests in three cabins, each with queen-size beds. That’s ideal for couples who want to split the bill, as well as the prizes they can earn while playing “Viking Olympics” games that the Duncans organize in the water.
The yacht was built in 2001 and has been used quite a bit, but thanks to the Duncans’ hard work right before the boat show, she looked to be in good condition. They already had six charters on the books well into 2008, and all signs were good that Viking Dream was poised to have a successful first year in the Virgin Islands charter market.
Her weekly rates are all-inclusive, ranging from $9,500 for two guests to $12,650 for six guests, depending on the season. With all the beds full, Viking Dream costs no more than $2,100 per person, per week, plus gratuity. (That figure includes all food, water toys, and ship’s bar.)
Viking Dream is part of the fleet at CharterPortBVI. Contact any reputable charter broker for details on how to book a vacation onboard.—Kim Kavin