The Rochelle Experience


The Rochelle Experience


The Rochelle Experience: Building Confidence To Bareboat


The Boat

In early 2007, Capt. Witt purchased a new Amel 54 in La Rochelle France. Named "Rochelle" after her birthplace, she is a bit larger and more sophisticated than her older sister, the Amel Super Maramu. Rochelle is the product of an evolution of Amel cruising sailboats, inspired and built by Captain Henry Amel, of La Rochelle France.



Your typical day can begin with an early morning swim followed by a breakfast under Rochelle's Bimini top while you survey the beach you anchored near the previous afternoon. Your day may involve going ashore to sun on the beach, go shopping, walk through native communities or National Park trails, or attend ranger-guided tours. We may decide instead to prop up a few cushions and read a book. Your schedule is flexible to meet your wishes and when the time is right, we'll hoist anchor and move to the next anchorage. Incrementally your confidence will grow as you move safely from one anchorage to another. If you choose, your involvement with on-board daily activities including sailing, maintenance, and meal preparation, it will soon make you aware that bareboating your own charter is within reach - probably sooner than you think! Our teaching is informal and extemporaneous. We try to answer your individual needs. Our purpose is to be the last step before bareboating in the Virgins on your own. Our sail-and-learn cruises include groceries. All meals off the boat will be on your own and all liquor on board will be at the charterer's expense. The galley is well equipped and I'll help you get acquainted with the equipment! It's my belief that cruising needs to be a comfortable, enjoyable experience, that the art of "cruising" is that of "living" the good life. As such, we emphasize the need to relax, have fun, eat well, move safely from place to place and experience the beauty of sailing, the islands, their fauna and foliage, and the people with whom we will come in contact. Under no circumstances will we be in dangerous or frightening situations. Remember sailors, if you want your spouse to return to the islands we must have a comfortable experience during this cruise.

Your Arrival

Your arrival in St. Thomas will most likely be in the afternoon. From the airport you will taxi to the Rochelle at Tropicomm located at 6188 Estate Frydenhoj St.Thomas. After your initial orientation aboard, we usually go shopping for food, perhaps with an island tour that same evening. We like to let you do your own shopping; that way you get what you wish to prepare and eat. A few meals ashore during cruise are also generally fun and appreciated by all. I have spent many years cruising in the Virgin Islands and have experienced a lot of varied activities. If you have certain interests, let us know. We may have just what you are looking for. Having said that, our ambition is still to get you out on the water every day and get you comfortable in those Virgin Islands cruising grounds. Some of the subjects we like to see people gain experience with and what we consider important for your safety and enjoyment are:

  • Plan your cruise within the limits of your time and capabilities. We stress that getting to the most number of islands is not usually what makes a successful cruise.
  • Get to know the vessel on which you are sailing. Understand the basic operating systems, its limitations, and care will make "life" aboard less stressful and more comfortable
  • Don't take chances with anything or any situation. Safety and conservation should not only be your personal credo, but your rule of thumb when dealing with your boat; how you rig, navigate, plan and sail.
  • Sailing and cruising can be more than just boating up and down the channels. The ocean is a marvelous ecosystem. Snorkeling, beach combing, learning about plants and animals are wonderful natural world pursuits you can explore. We like to be observant with nature. We too, however must admit we are captivated by island culture, the little shops, restaurants, and watering holes. You'll find the people fascinating, even the tourists!

What To Expect

Since our purpose is to show you the Virgin Islands, where to go, how to anchor and care for your boat and yourself, and above all have fun doing it, basic hands-on sailing and boating familiarity is a plus for you before your charter so that you can get the most out of your experience. Please don't have unrealistic expectation of your abilities after one week if you have had minimal sailing experience. Basic "how-to-sail" knowledge beforehand will greatly help prepare you for our program. If you are a beginner, we can show you the basics, but remember, basic skills are best learned on little boats.

We do not have a "standard" trip of scheduled stops and activities that we follow and expect everyone to conform to. The same goes for the menu. Since we are on this journey together and you may be sharing in the duties of "running the boat", I try whenever possible to plan to do those things that will please your interests, tastes and previous experiences. That means we will need to sit down after you arrive and discuss what your wishes and expectations are, and what it is we can do to make the most of your time. Involvement in on-board daily activities including piloting, maintenance and meal preparation will soon make you feel comfortable with Rochelle and our movement through the Islands. It's a great self-confidence builder! Our philosophy is that cruising needs to be relaxed, casual and a comfortable, safe experience. After all, it should be fun, right?


Rochelle is a three cabin boat with potential sleeping accommodations for four guests. Two persons have a private cabin forward to port with a privacy door; two singles are in over and under style berths on the forward starboard side. This is a great arrangement for mom, dad, and the kids or a couple plus two singles. For larger groups, the skipper sometimes will surrender his cabin.

Costs To You

On our sail and learn cruises your charter fee includes the groceries, we will shop for them the afternoon you arrive. That way we buy the things you want to eat. Meals ashore are the charterer's discretion and expense (but appreciated by your crew!).  All alcoholic beverages are at the charterer's expense, as are mooring fees. customs, and immigration and cruising fees. Basic charter fees are $3,495 per couple, $4,295 for groups of three, and $4,995 for groups of four for seven nights' stay. For charters of two or more weeks we cover all fees associated with mooring, immigration, cruising and customs. One-half of the total charter fee is due at the time of reservation. The balance is due 90 days before the beginning date of the charter. Cancellations made 90 days before the charter starting date are refundable less $250 or are 100% transferable to another charter date. Reservations cancelled less than 90 days before the charter date are subject to a $250 fee for transfer to another charter date, and are refundable less $250 only if substitute charter can be booked to the charter dates.

What To Pack

You don't need much, just be sure to include your camera, CD's and DVD's, shorts, shirts, bathing suits and possibly a dressier outfit if you want to eat out posh. A pair of flip-flops and/or walking shoes; please no shoes of any kind on the boat at any time - if you must wear shoes please dedicate a pair for on board use only. Sunglasses, sunscreen (lotion; no oils, please!) and a big hat and long sleeved shirt is a good suggestion if you have had your lifetime supply of sun already. If you have snorkeling equipment bring it along, but if not, you can buy it at a reasonable price in St. Thomas. Nausea cures, if applicable, and insect repellent is always a good idea. Be sure to bring your own linens including sheets, pillowcases, a towel and washcloth and any other linen you will need. You can make anything from a double or larger work on any of the bunks. Please pack in collapsible luggage such as duffel bags, etc.


Read a good cruising manual on the Virgins and see what's available and decide what appeals to you. I like the Yachtsman's Guide, but there are others. If you want to practice navigation and chart plotting bring your charts and "stuff". Remember in the Virgins, everything is basically eyeball navigation.

Many sailors, some with extensive world-wide experience seem to have gravitated to the Virgin Islands. Here is a unique combination of volcanic formations all conveniently close to one another with protected seas, many beautiful anchorages and harbors and gentle yet sustained winds. It's truly a sailor's paradise. After your charter, you too will leave St. Thomas with memories of paradise and dream of returning!

Prepare to have the time of your life!