Maine Cat Bahamas Bareboat Charters
Discover what you have been missing about bareboat charter
Pristine and crowd free. Harbors that invite. Nature that soothes.
Experience the crystalline waters, spectacular reefs and white sand beaches of the Bahamas Maine Cat Charters offers the finest location for sailing charter in the Abacos
Sailing in boats that really can sail.
Stable, roomy, fun, fast!
Maine Cats are performance cruisers. Come to the Abacos to Sail
Hope Town, Abacos, Bahamas
Civilized yet uncrowded
The Abacos consist of a string of picturesque islands, each having unique charms and personality.
Here, in villages first settled in the late 18th century by Loyalists who left New England after the American Revolution, the clapboard houses in pastel tones suggest an early Cape Cod moved to warmer latitude.
The Abacos are only about a 60-minute flight from South Florida, but the days here move at a much slower pace than in the neon-disco resort worlds of Nassau and Freeport. Activities most popular are, beachcombing along deserted coves, fishing, diving (several reef-rich underwater preserves, including Pelican Cays National Park), and exploring some of the 100 or so uninhabited offshore cays.
A favorite destination of knowledgeable yachtsmen and sailors, the Abacos are referred to as "The Winter Sailing Capital of the World".
Cruising The Sea of Abaco
The northern hemisphere's third largest barrier reef system, almost 100 miles long, stretches from Walker's Cay to 20 miles south of Elbow Cay. The Abacos' string of offshore cays inside the reef extends almost the same distance. This reef system and the offshore cays combine to create the eastern edge of the Sea of Abaco, with the large islands of Great and Little Abaco forming the western boundary. Ranging from 1.5 to over 5 miles in width, this sheltered body of water is relatively shallow throughout, assuring calm, safe cruising on waters known to be amongst the clearest in the world. While the majority of Abaco's cays remain uninhabited, several islands have "been discovered" by travelers and yachtsmen following paths less traveled.
Discover Hope Town
© White Sound Press
Amongst these "discoveries" is Hope Town, on Elbow Cay, a small 18th century picturesque village built around a protected harbour. One of The Abacos' more popular island hideaways, Elbow Cay is home to the most famous landmark in the Abacos - the red and white striped Elbow Reef lighthouse. Also called the Hope Town Lighthouse and the Elbow Cay Lighthouse, it is one of only three kerosene-powered lights in the world (all three are in the Bahamas). The large Fresnel lens floats in a bath of mercury and generates a light visible for more than 17 miles.
There is no motorized traffic in Hope Town, and the hilly streets must be explored on foot. Water is visible on both sides of the island -- the blue ocean on one side, the green harbor on the other. Elbow Cay is approximately 6 miles long and 1/4 mile wide. A magnificent barrier reef protects the long sandy beaches, making them perfect for swimming, snorkeling, diving, and fishing.
Friends and Amenities
Hope Town has several fine restaurants, lovely inns, good grocery stores with fresh baked bread, a drugstore, interesting shops with artwork, jewelry, and clothing; modern marinas, daily & weekly boat rentals, private vacation homes, historical museum, medical clinic and most importantly a genuinely kind and friendly population.
Come see why "it is better in the Bahamas."
Maine Cat Charters...the path less traveled.
12/18 - 1/8
1/26 - 4/7
1/9 - 1/25
4/8 - 5/19
5/20 - 7/31*
11/1 - 12/17
8/1 - 10/31
|Maine Cat 30||5||$3,572||$3,167||$2,768||Closed|
|Maine Cat 38||5||$4,789||$4,349||$3,619||Closed|
|Maine Cat 41||6||$6,182||$5,672||$4,638||Closed|
* MC 38 not available 5/31 to 11/1. Maine Cat 38 will be doing Offshore Sailing Adventures and Maine Bareboat Charters from June 1st to November 1st and will not be available for charter in the Bahamas.
Hi Lynn and Ron,
Here is a great blog with lots of photos of the MC 41, Irie Joe and Hopetown. https://alpha1ontherun.com/2017/01/11/livin-on-island-time/
Wonderful charter and lovely people.
Thanks again and look forward to sailing with you again in February.
Franci and Stephen
Hi Lynn and Ron,
If you are looking for a charter experience second to none, take one of the Maine Cat boats out of Hope Town in the Bahamas. We chartered the ideal Maine Cat 30 for ten days in April. The boat with its shallow draft, generous cockpit and sailing mechanics is perfect for the Sea of Abaco. The orientation by Captain Ron in Hope Town is simply the most complete and helpful that I have ever experienced. The conditions of the charter supplied by Lynn Vermeulen from their headquarters in Bremen, Maine are clear and reasonable. Their larger Maine Cat 41 would be ideal for a large group; the Maine Cat 30 is just right for a couple or a couple with one or two kids. I've chartered all over the world and find none better than the Maine Cat boats, staff and overall operation.
We just got back from a great week of sailing on Moondoggy! It was wonderful. We loved the Maine Cat 30! Ron is excellent, giving the best check out I have ever experienced. The boat was in great shape. We'll be sailing Maine Cats again...
Please know that our charter over the 2004 Xmas holidays was a terrific experience of which we have fond memories. Ron provided excellent support, the Maine Cat 30 was one of the best charter yachts we've ever sailed (out of 20+ different mono- and multi-hulls over the years) and, of course, the Abacos are our favorite place in the entire world.
David and I had a great time. For us the boat was like hanging out on theback porch while moving along at 10 kts. We were delighted with the comfortand exhilarated by the performance - and of course, blown away (pardon the pun) by the beauty of Penobscot Bay. As this was our first bareboat charter,we learned a great deal - especially about catamaran sailing - and developed some confidence in the process. Fortunately, Varekai was easy to handle and very forgiving.
We would definitely love to come back and do it again. Meanwhile, you've got me thinking about the possibility of owning one myself. Who knows?
Best regards to you and Dick,
We must have been living right because our Maine Cat adventure aboard Jasmine in March was absolutely superb! What a boat! We had our two grown children aboard sans spouses for the first time in 15 years and we can't possibly express what a fabulous experience we had. Another couple from Cape Cod joined us daily for sails and the winds and weather were not to be matched.
Ron Engle is a treasure. An excellent sailor and teacher and without parallel as a representative for Maine Cat. They are his "babies" and if I had a boat I would NEVER have anyone BUT Ron looking out for it. One morning sailing into Man-O-War Cay we passed Cosmic Mariner and Wind Spirit sailing out. What a site....If I sound a bit "overboard " it is only because we could only DREAM of another week like we had aboard Jasmine.
Thank you for such a marvelous opportunity. We hope to be aboard again next year.
Julie and Dave Bright
Dear Lynn and Dick,
We are just settling back into everyday life after returning from our ten days in the Bahamas, seven of them spent aboard Jasmine.
First, your choice of Hopetown as a base is inspired. it is as charming and unspoiled as the brochures claim, the harbour is very picturesque and protected, and the supplies available in the town are more than adequate.
We stayed for the nights we were not on the boat at the Hopetown Harbour Lodge, which was one of your recommendations. Again, an excellent choice; friendly people, great location, wonderful beach, and more than adequate food. I would recommend it unreservedly, and go back again in a flash.
Ron met us right on time, at the Lodge dock, took us back to the boat which was moored at his place, and started his orientation. I have seldom had such a thorough orientation, and certainly not from a charter company (NASA I might expect it from). One afternoon, when we found ourselves in an anchorage (towards the north end of Lubbers Quarters, on the east side) which was becoming increasingly exposed as the wind swung round to the east, we decided to head back to Hopetown, and called him to see if the mooring was available for the night. It was, and he took the time to come out to the harbour entrance to make sure we got onto the mooring safely.
The wind was blowing 20 to 25 knots almost the entire week we were on the boat, but I have to say that it was a treat to handle, extremely stable, predictable and forgiving. We watched people in monohulls - the few that were actually sailing - and they were definitely not having such a good time in that amount of wind, quite apart from worrying about when they were going to run out of water.
Ron's chart briefing was very helpful, and although we did not have time to go as far as we might have liked, we found some very nice anchorages, going as far north as Bakers Bay (which, as you said, is unbelievable, especially the beach on the Atlantic side) and south to Tiloo. More than enough to whet our appetites for a return visit.
We found the boat very comfortable for two people, and particularly appreciated the amount of space in the head compartment. The zip-down isinglas screens worked very well, and provided plenty of protection against the wind. There were so many well-thought out features it is hard to remember them all, but clearly a great deal of thought has gone into the boat, and they work to make the boat a pleasure to
We wish you every success with your business, and with the new Maine Cat 41 in particular. It would be nice to think that one day we may get a chance to sail one of them in the Abacos.
With very best wishes,
David and Nancy Wood
She sails great off the wind and we were making 7 knots and kicking butt. We were able to dive Sand Cay even though the swells were still there. It was worth it and a wet dinghy ride too and from. People askme how was the boat and I say "it's like sailing in a two bedroom condo." The width is so nice and the finish is simple and it works. The stern shower was great, and having the dinghy raise up inside the stern was great.
The layout topside is what impresses me as there is so much room and we had some great games of cribbage for a family of four. Everyone had their space when they needed it and the reading lights were great. I curled up each morning topside to watch the sun rise and just enjoy life on the water again. I am always happier when I am moving. We had some great snorkeling and Gordon had a Eagle Ray right next to him and Barracuda which he thought was a big bonefish. Thanks so much for all the help in making our trip one to smile at.
Just a few notes about our trip:
1. Abaco Multihulls:
Ron Engle couldn't have been nicer, more helpful or more professional.During the chart briefing, Ron gave us recommendations on anchorages that were not listed in the cruising guide that we took good advantage of. During the trip, based on our itinerary, we took a couple of occasions to call Ron on the VHF for anchorage recommendations based on current weather conditions, or minor questions about the boat. He was always immediately available and tremendously helpful. I wanted to do some fishing, and Ron made recommendations not only on locations, but also tackle. In fact, he installed a fishing pole holder for me just prior to my trip. It resulted in a nice 4 and half pound Mutton Snapper one day.
During the sail checkout, Ron took the time to make sure I understood the boat completely and would get the most satisfaction out of it, while keeping the boat in good shape. He reviewed tacking, jibing, heaving to, anchoring, everything. I only charter a few times a year, and some of the tips, even down to managing the dinghy, really paid off and saved me a lot of hassle. The lazy jacks and teflon guides on the mainsail track, make hoisting and furling the main a breeze.
2. The Boat
The Maine Cat 30 is the nicest boat I've ever sailed. It has all the advantages of a Catamaran, flat sailing, speed, lots of living and storage room; with none of the disadvantages like lack of visibility or having to choose being in the weather or being protected (on the "Winnebago" types). The entire deck space is usable all day during sailing. You can adjust how much fresh air you want by opening and lowering the vinyl curtains, so you can keep cool and have a nice airy lunch at an anchorage, then button up the front to keep down spray during spirited sailing. We kept the back open all day, and just buttoning that up at night, made a great space for dinner and cocktails and kept the boat warm enough for a nice sleep in February.
From the "First Mate", Julie :
The boat systems are just super and the salt water pump in the galley is really nice, we used a lot less fresh water than we thought we might. The double sink made that even more useful. The cookware quality was first rate, very heavy pans and skillets so nothing burned; even a French Press for coffee making!. Ron mentioned that the salon cushions and berth mattress was an upgrade and it was obvious. The master berth aft in the right ama was surprisingly roomy. I was thrilled with extremely generous supply of clean dry towels, more than enough for the two of us for the week, minimizing the need to reuse towels excessively. The clothesline, plenty of clothespins, enough hangers, right down to the supply of "Sailor's Soap" (we had brought our own, but were happy to see the little bottles there), made it a 4 Star Hotel on the water. With the Sailor's soap (that lathers in salt water) and the transom shower, Steve was able to shower each evening after snorkeling on the transomsteps. Then just a quick warm freshwater (from the solar shower bag) rinse, using the pressure sprayer in the head, and everybody was clean and fresh for dinner.
We probably spent 80% of our time in main salon though. The table was large and the benches were roomy. With the fresh air and visibility, it became the breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktail, reading nook, nav station,observatory, and all around best place to hang out all day.
Steve, again: All the details are just right. The dinghy is very high quality (Zodiac) with a reliable (Yamaha) outboard and the davits made it a snap to deploy and stow. On other boats I've chartered, a back-breaking lift of an outboard over a coaming in pitching seas was required to launch the dink, and sometimes it just wasn't worth it to head ashore. With the Maine Cat and Zodiac with 3hp motor, any little spit of sand we wanted to call 'our' beach was a possibility for lunch. What are those purple flowers that were in bloom at ground level just in from the beach? They were beautiful.
The twin outboards (Yamaha again), were simple to lower and retrieve, and made mooring, anchoring, and raising anchor a snap. The dual thottle/transmission levers, forward and above the wheel (not requiring reaching through the wheel to the steering pedestal, like on some boats) allowed one hand throttling and shifting, and one hand firmly on the wheel. Maneuverability at low speeds is amazing. Once again, Ron made himself available for refueling, and watching him maneuver the MaineCat to a crowded fuel dock in a wind, gives you a real insight to its capabilities.
The last two days, we wound up sailing 26 miles to go 15 to get from Hopetown to Bakers Bay with unfavorable winds (to me, I'm not that experienced and I'm sure I didn't have her on the best point of sail). The last day, I went 16 miles to go 15 on a perfect reach (I was making 135 to 137 Magnetic from Bakers Bay to Hopetown, and the winds were strong and steady from the SW 220). The boat averaged a comfortable six to seven knots on 15-20 knot winds (10-15 predicted) with one reef in and it took just over two hours. We saw apparent winds of 25-28 knots.The boat speed makes an ambitious itinerary possible. In those winds, we noticed a lot of charter cats of the heavier "Winnebago" variety, didn't even have their sails raised. The stiffness of the Maine Cat rig inspired confidence in all conditions. When we had light winds, even 5-7 knots which would hardly move a heavy keelboat (I know, I spent a day making 1.5 to 2 kts in 37 foot Jeanneu), the Maine Cat moved out at near wind speeds on a reach (I believe it could exceed wind speed, but I'm not that good a sailor).
3. The Abacos
Gin Clear waters, reliable winds, eyeball navigation, great fishing, great snorkeling, nice people, unspoiled beaches, what more could one ask for? We split our time between dining on the boat and heading in to restaurants in Hope Town (try Harbour's Edge cracked conch) and even stopped into Pete's Pub in Little Harbor and had the "Valentines Day special" (crayfish stuffed baked Red Snapper).
Ron, Jay, Lynn, Dick, thanks to all of you. If anybody is struggling with the charter decision, feel free to forward this to them.
Best vacation I've ever had. We'll be back.
Steve Wolszczak / Julie Hoffman
Thanks so much for making our charter trip a great success. We had such a wonderful time! The Maine Cat 30 is a joy to operate and fun to sail. If I had the money and a place to put her, I'd buy one!
Ron Engle definitely made our trip! His knowledge and patient instruction got us off on the right foot. He keeps the vessel in impeccable shape. You have a gem of a person representing you in the Abacos.
We'll recommend your charter for all those who inquire.
Eric Wilson & family.
To follow up from our phone conversation last week about our charter...
My wife and I risked chartering a Maine Cat 30 with another non-sailing couple, who are old friends. The boat was perfect for our situation and for poking around the Abacos. The open bridge deck was definitely the highlight for us. It was the social (and everything else) center for the entire trip- comfortable, spacious, functional, secure-feeling. Having the option to zip open the "windows" let us control the amount of the outdoors we wanted let in. We saw (or even know of) no other boats that have this feature. At night, after our socializing, we could retire - each couple to our ownhull. The privacy this arrangement provided was at least 100% better than an equivalent monohull.
The flat sailing was a big selling point to our non-sailing friends, and seasickness (which they are prone to) was not an issue because the Abacos are basically well-protected and the boat well-mannered. We could anchor where no other lead bellied boat dare go because of the 2 foot draft - a major plus. The boat was spotlessly clean and obviously well cared-for and equipped for cruising by a realprofessional - Ron Engle. We would happily charter a Maine Cat again - it was a wonderful experience!
Rich and Elsje Klajnscek
You undoubtedly get tired of letters that run out of adequate vocabulary, going on and on about how much fun that someone had on one of your Abaco charters. So I'll be brief. It was good.
No I won't be brief. It was really, very, very good. The boat (I've loved the 30 since my first experience with Ron in 2001) was perfect for the wind, for the seas, for the crew and for the scenery. 360 degrees of breeze and blue green seas --- priceless. We slept 3 below and 1 above, and since the breezes kept blowing through the night, no bugs. The boat was declared extremely comfortable and accessible, even by my 70 and 80-year-old crowd!
We were fortunate to have fair winds (12-22 kts) every day of our visit. We saw passing showers on two days but they never got close to us.
We did our own provisioning and the cooking and fridge on the boat worked well for our breakfasts and lunches but with the cottage, we didn't really have to camp out. We returned to Hope Town each evening except one --- the kids (the four of us under 60) did an overnight to Guana.
Finally, I can't say enough about your agent and cohort in Hope Town, Ron Engle. His experience in every facet of sailing, from building boats to commanding the respect of your customers, is a true gift. He is firm, he is fair, and I'm glad to say, over the years he has become a friend. He was always on the spot for us and he made me a better sailor with his brisk way of giving instructions and passing along knowledge and responsibility. Jane, his wife and partner, is a favorite friend of my wife, Kathleen, and she never passed by our mooring without stopping to make sure we were happy campers.
Thank you for securing "Windspirit" for our upcoming return to Hope Town in October. It will be a real treat to sail this new ship. We will be returning to Hope Town in October of 2004 and are already planning to add a week cruise to our annual visit. If that crew fills up as fast as this October trip filled, I'm considering another summer charter in June or July of 2004. So you keep building 'em and we'll keep coming.
Looking forward to many more great days on your Maine Cats ---
the grateful ed
Your vacation begins when you fly into Marsh Harbor on Great Abaco. Several airlines service the area such as Air Sunshine, American Eagle, Bahamas Air, Continental. and U.S. Airways. From the airport you will take a very short taxi ride to Albury's ferry for a twenty minute ride into Hope Town. (This is very easy. Grab a cab right at the airport. They will be waiting. Most likely you can share the cab with others doing the same thing.) Our representative, Ron Engle, will meet you upon arrival at Hope Town and take you to the boat. After a complete chart and equipment briefing, you will go out for an extensive test sail. For further information about Hope Town you may check out Ron's website.
What's on Board
Your Maine Cat is fully equipped. Provisioning is an option but most charter guests prefer to do their own shopping in the two well-stocked markets in Hope Town within sight of the harbor. For a more extensive variety you may shop in Marsh Harbor, which is less than a half day's sail away. Several of the cays also have small markets so you may restock on your journey. The MC 30 galley is fully equipped and contains a 12-volt refrigerator and two burner stove and abundant room to prepare a gourmet meal while the MC 41 galley has a refrigerator, freezer and three-burner stove with oven and even more counterspace!
Conditions are optimal. Temperatures range from 75°F in January to 90°F in August. A 5-20 knot trade wind from the east is common. Daily sun is the rule with very brief and scattered showers during the summer. The coldest months are December through February when an occasional 60°F may be experienced. Great sleeping weather at night...not too hot and definately not cold!
Give us a Call
Once you decide to charter the process is easy. Just give us call. We'll check to be sure the dates you want are available and get you the necessary paperwork including the Reservation Form and a Sailing Resume for you to complete and mail to us with a check for half the charter fee. The balance will be due thirty days before you depart. We do not accept credit cards except for the damage deposit.
What to Bring Along
Passports! New rules as of Jan 8, 2007- REQUIRE U.S. Citizens to have a Passport for going and returning from the Bahamas.
Bring your sun-block, hats, swimsuits, dive gear, medicines, hygiene products. Dress is casual for dinner ashore.
Please call 1-888-832-2287 or send us an email to receive your charter information package or to make a reservation. Join us in the discovery of "the path less traveled" and what total relaxation is all about. You will never have a better charter sailing experience then aboard one of our Maine Cats. Give us a call today. (PS- Charter guests who decide to purchase a new Maine Cat within 90 days of their charter will be credited 50% of one week's charter fee towards the purchase price on their boat.)