Some comments from
prior charter guests:
Our trip aboard Jalapeno was our best vacation ever! The experience, views,
and the time on the water was something you could not get from a hotel or
villa. Being able to visit all of the different islands was absolutely
amazing. We were able to discover so many different beaches, restaurants,
and enjoy each of the islands' awesome scenic areas. And we were able to
spend so much time in the beautiful Caribbean water swimming and snorkeling.
What a wonderful sailing experience!
We CANNOT say enough about Ray and Jennifer. They welcomed us aboard
Jalapeno with open arms and graciously shared her with us for our week away.
Their attention to detail was second to none. All of our wants and needs
were taken care of, from planning months ahead to the last time we stepped
off the boat. All aspects of the trip -- from the islands we visited, to the
delicious food they prepared for us, to all of our activities -- were
completely centered around our interests. Ray and Jennifer made it a
priority to make sure our experience on board went well above our
expectations! We can't wait to sail with them again!
Chrissy - Natorna Heights, PA
We had an incredible
week aboard Jalapeno! Captain Ray and Jen were wonderful hosts who worked
tirelessly to make our trip unforgettable. Ray plotted a course that
adjusted to our desires and everyone enjoyed each of the islands we visited
(St. John, Peter, Jost, Virgin Gorda, Anegada and Sandy Spit). Jen went
above and beyond to make sure our youngest son (age 7) had a great time and
both of our boys learned to sail. Ray and Jen were outstanding hosts
providing us history, information, beach and restaurant suggestions. We miss
the gorgeous views, boat drinks and great conversation!
Marga - Greenwood Village, CO
From the moment
Captain Ray met us at the marina with a friendly smile, we knew this was a
great vacation choice. We sailed for a week throughout the BVI's and really
had the vacation of a lifetime. Captain Ray and First Mate Jennifer, a
better team, you could not find, were accommodating, happy and extremely
knowledgeable. They made us feel right at home on their beautiful boat and
were just so easy to be around. It was very comfortable and all amenities
really were supplied. This was a first time experience for us so it was nice
that options were presented to us each day with lots of information about
what we might be choosing. The meals were wonderful and with three
teenagers, there was no shortage of food. We especially loved "Cocktails"
every night with well planned out appetizers and fruity drinks. We also had
three meals onshore and we were always given lots of ideas as to the best
places to go. Ray and Jennifer have this charter business down to a tee.
They know all the best snorkeling spots (and will accompany you if you
want). They know everything you will see when you are out and can teach you
a ton about marine life. Hiking to amazing vistas is an option on several of
the islands. We paddle boarded, swam and sailed (and what a great job they
did teaching my children about sailing). I really wanted a nice, relaxing
week with nothing to think about except which island we were going to next.
The week was perfect. Some nights we were moored in bays with one or two
other boats. To look at the stars in complete darkness, lying in a hammock,
is just incredible. Other nights, we went onshore where there was more
action and once were treated to an authentic pirate show. I really felt, the
whole week, that it was both Ray and Jennifer's mission, to make sure we had
the best vacation ever. If you are looking for an awesome sailboat
excursion, choose this boat. We love the Jalapeńo and the incredible
memories we made. We can't wait to go on another trip. Thank you Captain Ray
and First Mate Jennifer.
Wanda - Midlothian, VA
We thoroughly enjoyed
our sailing trip on the Jalapeno! Captain Ray and first mate Jen met or
exceeded all of our expectations as the crew. They are doing a great job
putting all their experience together and running the business. Clear
instructions, great service, good food, respectful behavior, professional
yet relaxed environment. We really liked being included in the
decision-making. Great information was provided about both sailing and the
areas we explored. It was a fantastic vacation.
Jim & Kristi - Fort Collins, CO
"The best vacation
ever!" That is a quote from our 17 year old daughter. I couldn't agree more.
We were looking for something different for our holiday vacation. We wanted
a unique, relaxing and uncrowded experience. The Jalapeńo, Ray and Jennifer
came through in a big way. From the first hour, I knew we'd made the right
choice. Once we left the marina and stopped for a snorkeling swim, I
realized I left my backpack in the taxi. Jennifer immediately got on her
cell, used her local contacts, and tracked down my backpack in 10 minutes.
After a "no big deal" trip back to the marina, my backpack was soon
returned. That type of above and beyond service is the standard. Ray and Jen
were not just the crew of the boat, they were an integral part of our
vacation and I couldn't think of two better people to spend it with.
Friendly and funny and full of all kinds of interesting info about the
Virgin Islands, sailing, marine life...you name it. What was most amazing to
me was, at one of the busiest times of the year, several times, Ray would
find an anchorage with few or no other boats. The weird thing is, they were
in such fantastic places that you wondered why everyone else wasn't there!
The best snorkeling I've ever experienced, by far. Beautiful beaches to
explore. Hikes from our private beach, over a ridge to a busy beach with
lots of people and local food stands, or to an old lighthouse with thousands
of butterflies and hermit crabs along the way. Unbelievable. We opted to
have several meals on board...good choice. Great food from salmon, to
chicken, empanadas, to pork. The food was amazing and all prepared fresh.
Served with a smile and a glass or two of wine. Some nights that was
followed by a guitar session with Ray and our daughter or an astronomy
lesson. I'm telling you, this is a great trip. The boat is spotless, safe
and provided ample space for all of us. Ray and Jen's knowledge of sailing
is vast and we always felt safe, even in 7' waves in the open water. I could
go on for a while about how special this trip was, but the best thing I
could say, is just experience it for yourself. I was amazed how connected I
felt to the places we were and Ray and Jennifer too. Great people, great
boat, great food, great sights. No complaints. Do it!
Geoff - Chattanooga, TN
Our stay with Ray and
Jennifer on the Jalapeno was just as expected = terrific. A beautiful boat
based out of a lovely harbor in St. Thomas. Our trek around the BVIs was an
amazing adventure. Our hosts knew the ins and outs of every stop and even
had a huge social network amongst the bar, restaurant, motor bike rental and
other locals. The Jalapeno was in tip-top shape, clearly owned and
maintained by intelligent and detail oriented people. We were spoiled all
week. From Bloody Mary second breakfasts to treks to fabulous lobster
restaurants via Zodiac Boat. Top notch across the board. We would absolutely
recommend the trip to family and friends. My one word of caution is that an
extremely tall person (I am 6'4") could be challenged in the front bed with
a tall partner (5'8") due to the shape of the bow of the boat. Doable but
tight. There is a second bedroom just feet away. We had an amazing trip and
adventure and recommend the Jalapeno and Ray and Jennifer highly!
Eric & Viktoria - Baltimore, MD
Captain Ray and the
First Lady provide a relaxing, safe sailing adventure. They have thought of
everything in terms of their guests comforts and preferences. The forms
provided before sailing cover all necessary subjects and help them to
provide you with the kind of trip you prefer. Jalepeno is a beautiful boat,
and kept in pristine condition. Captain Ray makes sailing look easy, and is
a calm presence. We ate two meals a day on the boat, and each meal was
different, very tasty, and a nice blend of flavors and textures. The shore
restaurant recommendations were "spot-on". Captain Ray has an intimate
knowledge of the BVI, and his telling of the history and lore is very
entertaining. It was a delightful week and one we would highly recommend to
Wendy & Doug - Des Moines, IA
We chartered Jalapeno
after the boat we initially booked fell through, and we hit the jackpot!
Everything about our trip could not have been better. We had never done a
charter before and Ray was very friendly and easy to work with. Since we had
already booked our flights, Ray offered us the option to stay on board the
night before we left the marina and on the last night. We arrived back in
port just in time to catch a ride (that Ray arranged) to the airport.
Jalapeno is a beautiful boat! She is comfortable, spacious and full of
character. Jalapeno is well-loved by her owners, Ray and Jennifer, and well
equipped and provisioned. Anything you could want or need is on board. I
believe there is a tremendous advantage to chartering from someone who owns
the boat. Ray and Jennifer know all the nuances of Jalapeno and every day
flowed seamlessly into the next. Safety was a priority and we always belt
VERY safe and secure even on "windy" (for us!) days. Our itinerary was
"loosely" discussed before we started. We did hit all our "must see"
locations. Being flexible enabled us to discover some amazing spots that
were off the beaten path. Ray has some "secret" spots that included one
night with not another boat in sight! We stargazed in one of the darkest
places I've every been, saw the water glow with phosphorescent creatures,
did a little hiking, paddle boarding, scootering on Anegagda and lots of
snorkeling (which was amazing). We saw brilliant coral gardens, and Ray
showed us sea creatures that we never knew existed. We held furry (and
slimy) sea cucumbers, sea biscuits, sand dollars, conch and more. Ray found
lobsters, rays and turtles and took amazing underwater pictures for us. I
could go on and on about the snorkeling, it made us all want to get SCUBA
certified. Ray is very familiar with the islands and when there were too
many boats at one place, he always had a plan B (or C or D...)!
Ray and Jennifer are really fun and interesting hosts. We learned about the
history of the islands and heard great stories about the locals and islands.
Speaking of locals, it seems like Ray and Jennifer know them all--restaurant
owners, bartenders, and various other island characters. Food and drink on
the boat was wonderful and plentiful, and we had some very nice French wine
every night. Afternoons we were treated to rum punch, margaritas and
painkillers (or painkiller juice only for our 16 year old daughter). Highly
Carol - San Antonio, TX
We had a GREAT
time...well beyond my expectations! Ray and Jennifer took into account
everyone's wants and needs and did a great job of making the trip
interesting, fun and safe! We had a wide variety of ages on our trip and all
were accommodated very well! The boat was extremely well cared for and
comfortable. I felt completely safe...could just relax and have a great time
sailing, snorkeling and having a couple of "Painkiller" cocktails! (A
favorite on our trip!) It was a great experience that I would recommend to
anyone interested in sailing
Lynn - Leawood, KS
Ray and Jennifer were
wonderful hosts and I would gladly stay with them aboard the Jalapeno again!
Read on for more details, but I wouldn't hesitate to book a trip.
Before the trip, Ray was very responsive in answering our questions and
helping plan the itinerary. He is an expert on the various hot spots around
the islands and depending on your preferences (remote, snorkeling, diving,
hiking, party spots, etc.), he can tailor the trip to suit your every need.
When we arrived, we received a warm welcome and a delicious boat drink (aka
painkillers). My boyfriend and I shared a 5 day/4 night sailing adventure
with another young couple and we were comfortably situated in the jalapeno's
quarters. Our preferences were to limit sailing time and indulge in remote
onshore/offshore activities. We hit fantastic snorkel spots and beautiful
beaches and bays. Our trip consisted of visits to Waterlemon Cay, Jost Van
Dyke, Sandy Spit, King Garden (Tortola), the Indians, the Caves, and Salt
Pond. Based on our day's whim, there were two occasions where we modified
our destinations within a mere couple of hours.
Ray and Jennifer definitely work as a team, and we enjoyed learning some
nautical skills and helping out when we could. Both are killer cooks, with
Jenn generally manning the kitchen downstairs and Ray handling the bbq
grill. There were several recipes that we could not get enough of e.g. boat
noodles and Caribbean chicken salad (for lunch) and jerk chicken and pork
tenderloin (for dinner). We had two dinners ashore, but honestly preferred
Ray and Jenn's cooking. The sleeping and living quarters are very clean and
you can tell the care that the couple puts into the boat.
Ray and Jennifer are hospitable, kind, and full of interesting stories and
history lessons. We inferred that they have many repeat guests, and I can
understand why. Particularly memorable was the final night spent in Salt
Pond when Jennifer took two of us out for a night snorkel with flashlights
and we saw a sleeping nurse shark and swam with bioluminescent organisms (it
felt like I was floating in the stars). Afterwards, Ray spent 45 min
pointing out constellations in the star-filled sky. If you live in a big
city, the brilliant night sky full of stars will take your breath away.
This is best way to visit the Virgin Islands, where it's your first (like
us!) or millionth time. On behalf of all four of us who were guests on
Jalapeno, we can't wait to come back!
Leslie - Dallas, TX
It was everything I
expected, and more, especially the knowledge and insight Capt. Ray shared
while sailing. And the onboard food was outstanding. Best breakfast ever.
Would I recommend this vacation to a friend? Indeed I would, and as a matter
of fact, I already have. Would I take the adventure again? Hard questions to
answer. It's like wanting to climb Mt. Everest. Once you reach the summit
you begin to think of other challenges, likes sailing from the West Coast to
Al - Houston, TX
Our family of four
(myself, my husband, and two college age kids) had a wonderful four day trip
on the Jalepeno. Ray and Jennifer were extremely welcoming and a pleasure to
spend time with. We chose to focus on sailing, snorkeling, swimming and
relaxing, but Ray and Jennifer will facilitate whatever else you want to do
as well. We would highly recommend an expedition on the Jalepeno and would
love to go back some day for a longer trip.
Rochelle - Boston, MA
My husband, daughter and I recently completed a trip I’ve been dreaming of for
30 years and planning for two years. We met Ray, Jen, and Jalapeno in St. Thomas
and had a 16 day adventure to the Leeward Islands, including stops at St. John
(US Virgins), St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, Antigua, St. Barts, Anguilla, and
Virgin Gordon and Tortola (British Virgins). Our sailing conditions included
long passages with little wind, nice wind, and more than enough wind! We
encountered rough, sloppy seas, broken boat parts, and engine troubles. Through
it all, Ray and Jen maintained unfailing good humor and accommodated our every
need and want.
We had great drinks and meals, even if it required Jen setting the toaster up in
the floor of the cockpit to keep it from flying around. We had an awesome,
day-long celebration for our daughter, who turned 21 on the trip, completely
with mimosas to start the day and homemade birthday cake to end it.
Ray and Jen joined us for many land adventures and gave us recommendations for
several others that we enjoyed on our own. When our plans for activities one day
didn’t work out as expected, Ray jumped to the rescue and cleared customs for us
to visit some unplanned harbors, replacing frustration with delight for all. Ray
was a gracious escort for several adventures – star gazing, scuba diving, dinner
at Dune Preserve to see Bankie Banks, a late night dinghy ride back to the boat
at Cane Garden Bay, and a hike to the top of the hill overlooking Colombier.
This was our second charter on Jalapeno, and the boat was, as always, well
equipped and spacious. When Ray and Jen didn’t join us for land excursions, it
was because they stayed behind to do maintenance, food prep and cleaning to
ensure that everything was in top condition for us. We were spoiled rotten the
We made family and friendship memories to last a lifetime. I have tears in my
eyes as I write this – tears of sadness that our trip is over and tears of joy
at the wonderful reminiscences. Thank you Ray and Jen.
Sherry & Meredith - Memphis, TN
We wanted a unique sail, combining the benefit of experienced crew and
personalized attention. What we received exceeded all expectations. From the
raucous nightlife of Willie T's, to the edge-of-the-world feeling approaching
Anegada for a Christmas Eve feast of lobster, every day was more amazing than
the last. After relaying to Ray the desire for an informal ceremony "at some
point" along the trip, he adjusted the itinerary to include an early morning
stop at the tiny island of Sandy Spit. Who knew he and Jennifer were consummate
wedding planners along with all of their other skills. After thoughtful words
from Ray and exchanging of vows, we enjoyed the surprise of champagne and fluted
glasses, smuggled aboard the dinghy by Jennifer. It was the perfect spontaneous
moment to remember for a lifetime.
Of course, the food was wonderful and we were always well-supplied with a
variety of tasty drinks. Bloody Mary's are now ruined for me, because no other
bartender can measure up to Ray's concoctions.
At the end of the trip, we were sad to leave not only the Islands, but our 2
newest friends. I have a feeling we will be back for an anniversary!
Laura - Casper, WY
We thoroughly enjoyed our 'cruise' with Ray and Jennifer from St. Thomas to the
Spanish Virgin Islands. We would definitely recommend booking with Jalapeno. The
only reason that this is not a five star is that a five star would have a
helicopter on the deck....for us it was a five star for the adventure!
This kind of trip is not for everyone.....those that like floating on a high
rise may find accomodations and space inside a little tight...but for those who
want the comforts of home, good cooking, great meals ashore and a bit of 'off
the beaten path', this trip is for them. The accomodations are clean,
well-maintained and are comfortable for a couple (which we were). It can easily
accomodate a family or 3 or 4.adults (more would likely seem crowded...unless
very close friends).
Ray is an experienced and conscientious captain. We anchored in the most private
of coves (twice with no other boats at all)...great snorkeling, beautiful
scenary, splendid weather, etc. etc. We saw rays, turtles, lots of different
fish, octopi, even the occasional lion fish (unfortunately).
The rum cocktails were great (ask to try the dark and stormy).
The prices are very reasonable considering you have your own private ship with
crew that will tailor the itinerary to your own wishes.
Penny & Skip - Morristown, NJ
We just returned from a week of cruising in the BVIs with
Captain Ray Bryan aboard the beautiful Jalapeno. It was a fantastic trip!!
Capt Ray goes out of his way to get details of specific desires, preferred
locations and food preferences...and he delivers in a very thorough manner.
He was an excellent and tireless teacher, since our main request was to improve
our sailing skills, and we came away with a wealth of his personal knowledge.
Although Capt Ray has been sailing in the Virgin Islands for many years and has
"been there, done that" countless times, he was still enthusiastic about joining
us on excursions and taking pictures for and of us. And he's quite
accomplished and artistic in the galley!! Even thoughtfully decorated the boat
for our anniversary dinner. The Jalapeno is one beauty of a boat!!
Well cared for, clean and comfortable. We could have easily and happily spent
many more weeks aboard and were very sad to leave her.
Michele - Canyon Lake, TX
Christmas and New Years Sail - It was unique and special to
spend both holidays on Jalapeno. We had a tree and lights, so did other
boats lighting up the night sky. We liked the flexible and customized tour of
several islands. All of our requests to see places like Anegada, The Baths, The
Indians, Foxys, were fulfilled. We had the best snorkeling and hiking. The
lobster on the beach was a highlight, but all 5 dinners on the boat were
outstanding. Ray is very concerned with safety and we loved having all 4 sails
up and clipping at 9 knots. All very controlled. This was a real
vacation/honeymoon where we had lots of leisure time and lots of good company.
Renee & Bob - Reno, NV
My wife and I and another couple
scheduled a two week sailing trip in the Virgin Islands with Captain Ray and his
First Mate Jennifer, and it was absolutely fantastic! We were greeted on day one
with great cheer, great food and delicious drinks, and it kept on going through
the rest of the trip. Captain Ray lets his guests not only help plan their trip,
but also lend a hand with boat duties for as much or as little as they desire,
no matter your experience level.
Jalepeno is a top-notch vessel that is meticulously well maintained and
she sails like a dream. Captain Ray and Jennifer not only know the local
hangouts, but also the local hide-aways where few other travelers roam. It was
fantastic to awaken to the sound of birds and surf in the morning, and be able
to jump off the boat and take a morning swim in the temperate waters around the
many islands that we visited.
Depending on your travel plans, Ray and Jennifer also own a bungalow which
sleeps several people. It was a great place to spend a couple days before and
after our sailing trip soaking up the local sights of St Thomas. If you stay at
the bungalow, keep an eye out for ‘Fred’ the local lizard who paid us visits
several times while by the pool.
Jalepeno Charters is an A++ for anyone wanting a very low key sailing trip
around the Caribbean. You are guaranteed to have the best time of your life!
Jeff & Jill - Minneapolis, MN
PS – We are new fans of Cruzan rum and the ‘Vanilla Killers’!
Last summer my husband,
daughter and I bareboated in the BVIs and had a wonderful trip. We saw Ray and
Jen in several anchorages and shared drinks, photos, and a walk to Bubbly Pool
with them – experiencing a taste of their hospitality. This spring my daughter
and I were planning a mother/daughter trip for her first college spring break,
and we decided to go back to the islands. We considered bareboating, but I knew
I would be more relaxed if someone else worried about whether the anchor was
holding at 2:00 am, so we decided to charter Jalapeno with Ray. I was a
bit reluctant to sail with a captain, because we didn’t want to give up our
independence and share the boat with someone else. My concerns proved to be
Ray was the most accommodating host. The boat was extremely comfortable and
well appointed and maintained. The food and drinks were delicious and
plentiful. We got to visit many new places and several old favorites that I
hadn’t been to in 30 years. I don’t think Ray said ‘no’ to a single request all
week! He was captain, bartender, chef, tour guide, photographer, music DJ,
historian, naturalist, and cruise director extraordinaire! The entire
experience was good for my Caribbean soul, and we made some wonderful
mother/daughter memories that will last a lifetime. My one word summary of the
trip is AMAZING. Wouldn’t change a thing! Thank you Ray!
Sherry & Meredith - Memphis, TN
We loved our trip on
board with Captain Ray! We have done many trips on sailboats and I would say
this has been my favorite! Ray takes immaculate care of his boat, unlike some
captains we have experienced. I would say this is where it is most obvious
that he considers it his home, and not just a hole in the ocean. We did a
Captain only charter and Ray was incredibly skilled at sailing the
boat while providing snacks and refreshments, he also creates a fine dinner at
the end of the day. He will give you the chance to do some work on the boat
if you do a captain only charter ie: hoisting sails, pulling sheets, cranking
wenches, and manning the wheel and I am sure he will give you the opportunity
if you are interested even if you have his first mate aboard. Ray is
incredibly organized in getting your preferences together for your trip and
putting your itinerary together, I was very impressed! We got to do
everything we wanted to do on our trip, which was some of everything! We will
definitely be doing another trip with Ray one day, hopefully sooner than
Victoria & Seth - Vail, CO
We sailed with another
couple and had a great time aboard the Jalapeno . We had planned for 4 days
and extended it to 5 days while on the water. Ray had a great and diverse
itinerary for us in the BVI's. It was a neat trip.
Don & Cheryl - Ohio
We've had the good
fortune to sail with Ray and Jennifer in the Caribbean on three different
occasions. All of our sailing adventures were absolutely wonderful. All were
different. All were exciting. What never varied though were Ray and Jennifer.
Their hospitality, professionalism, skillfulness, knowledge, enthusiasm, sense
of humor, and dedication to their clients was exceptional. Their willingness
to allow us to learn, to be part of the crew made our charters that more
memorable. We were constantly advised on all matters of our sail, and were
always a part of the decision process. Captain Ray was always in charge which
assured our comfort level and sense of security on the Jalapeno, but we were
never dictated to or made to feel subservient to " the captain's" will or
orders. Our experiences in the islands were enhanced by Ray and Jennifer's
extensive knowledge of sailing in general and the islands in particular. The
food was great. The boat drinks were too! We were made to feel at home on
the Jalapeno and also at their beautiful home in St. Thomas, Villa Margarita,
which we were fortunate enough to book while on the island. We felt welcomed
and put at ease from the beginning until the end. We plan to return to the
Caribbean as soon as possible and will definitely be sailing with the Bryans
George & Denise - Truckee, CA
My experience...where to start...it was
an experience of a life time.
Captain Ray is absolutely wonderful at balancing all of the
relationships sought for in this sort of experience. While you are there, all
those on board really do become a family, but he does a great job at balancing
the captain with the welcoming friend while all the while being very laid back
and non-invasive. On that particular note you will not find a more assuring or
On another note as a person, to remain with for the 10 days,
unbelievable. He can take you to all the great spots, whether they be tourist
based or private. On my trip we went to a local bar and got to meet Eric Stone,
and get a private concert, since the place was empty. He is a big Boat Show type
artist. But all the places were based on exactly what we were looking for...a
very customized trip. And Ray knows everyone; the locals, the bartenders...it
makes you feel right at home, not like a tourist.
Darby - Bedford, PA
PS - A weakness of mine is
great food....and Oh the food on that trip...amazing!
We are lucky to have
logged quite a few great vacations in our lives but the top of our list is the
Jalapeno charter in the Caribbean. Barring hurricanes, just about any trip to
the Caribbean must be nice but I don't see making the trip again unless we plan
another charter. To begin, the Jalapeno is fabulous, meticulously cared for,
plenty of room above and below to navigate without running into something every
turn and to have some privacy when you want it. We had 6 people on board and
never felt crowded. But, if you want great company, Ray and Jennifer are
fabulous hosts and experts on island culture, folklore, flora and fauna. We ate
and drank what we wanted, stopped where we wanted, for how long we wanted and
were able to dictate how we wanted the trip to proceed each day...and we were
allowed to change our minds as well! You can't get any closer to an ideal
vacation and we look forward to another adventure on the Jalapeno as soon as
Miranda & George - Bend,
I write this just about an hour after
working on some of the trip details for our trip on Jalapeno in March--our
second. That in itself speaks volumes since my husband, Mike and I have a
huge "bucket list" of travels we want to fulfill, so we rarely do a trip twice
-- sailing with Captains Ray and Jennifer is something we will probably put on
our "annual must do" list. In a nutshell, it's wonderful! (we've traveled a
great deal and Jalapeno ranks among our top trips).
First and foremost, the Jalapeno is one beautiful, comfortable
boat. The Bryans have their quarters in the stern (a large bedroom and bath),
but the rest of the boat is completely set up for guests. The best way to
describe how it feels being on board is that you are a cherished guest, a part
of the crew, and never an imposition. The boat is very clean and well kept,
beautifully organized (so even when we had 8 of us onboard one day no one felt
crowded or in the way), and very, very comfortable.
Ray is a highly trained, incredibly knowledgeable, and very
professional skipper. He and his wife are both Outdoor Emergency Care
technicians (equivalent to an EMT, but in a wilderness setting), and they are
the type of people that come hell, high water, pirates, an overflowing toilet,
an empty Rum jug (gasp!!) or anything that could possibly get thrown at you --
they will handle it with calm professionalism, a great sense of humor and
utmost ease. I've been on other charter and private boats before, and
Jalapeno is truly the most comfortable, relaxed and "safe" feeling boat I have
Because Captain Ray is so well established in the Virgins, he
knows all the best places to go, the best times to go there, and the best
route to take. He adapts the schedule (as in very flexible) to meet your
needs and wishes, and can steer your in the best directions for scuba,
snorkeling, swimming, hiking, dining, shopping...whatever your hearts desire.
He and Jennifer are both ski patrollers, so they are physically fit and
active and can lead you on some wonderful outings. For example, whereas my
husband Mike and I are overgrown kids and want to 'do it all', my sister was
along. She is recovering from a very serious medical condition. Ray was able
to incorporate her into the activities at exactly the right level for her. He
knows when the best snorkeling places will be crowded, and when not--and got
us there in time to play. He is a superb underwater guide, and knows the
local animal life, flora, and fauna well.
Do you want a quiet trip? They'll make it happen. Are you
more the partying type? They'll make that happen and show you the best
watering holes around.
Ray is also an outstanding (truly outstanding) chef,
bartender, and barista. The only reason we didn't gain weight on the trip was
that we stayed so busy in the water and out! And man, can he fix those
Caribbean drinks!! Definitely put Painkillers and Bushwhackers on your menu!
A typical day went kind of like this:
* Awaken at 7 to the smell of fresh coffee brewing.
* Weigh anchor (or untie from the buoy) and leave the cove you spent the night
* Sail a few hours to a great snorkeling hole--with caves and coves to
explore. Ray outfits you perfectly (if you don't have your own gear) and can
leave you to explore on your own (while he stays busy on board), or he will go
with you and show you some of the amazing underwater sights.
* Lunch might be onboard (fresh salad, tuna, pita, fruit, cheese...is it too
early for a Painkiller? Not in the Caribbean!) Or maybe it's lunch on Cooper
Island and a snorkel with the starfish and Barracudas. Or maybe it's the
Indians, swimming through a fish storm--and gee, I hope that 8 foot shadow
underneath isn't a shark. (It's not)
* Kick off from your lunch/snorkeling place and dance the Jalapeno through the
aquamarine caribbean waters. Want to try your hand at sailing? Ray will turn
her over to you under his laid-back, watchful eye. Rather sit on the bow
(think Bow Sprit) and feel like you're flying over the waves? Or maybe you'd
rather kick back on a deck chair with a book....you choose. There is no
hurry -- Jalapeno sails through caribbean time.
* PM: Maybe a quick stop at Soper's hole. You rest on board while he deals
with immigration (you are in British territory now!) , then off you go into
the village to dine, shop and explore.
* Evening: Jalapeno snuggles up against Salt Island. You take the dinghy
ashore and hike around the old salt ponds, up the hill and look out over where
the wreck of the Rhone is. Are you certified divers? There's a primo spot!
* Supper: Onboard; maybe a wonderful jerk chicken bbq; maybe steak or fresh
fish. Tomorrow night--Anegada and fresh lobster after a full day of reef
snorkeling and playing on the beach.
* After supper: perhaps a quiet night talking over drinks, maybe a stop at a
local watering hole for some dancing--maybe just stargazing in the hammock.
* Bed time. The bunks are soft and comfie; you sleep like a log. Worried
about stays banging in the wind? Ray knows how to shore up Jalapeno so the
only thing you hear is the breeze and the sound of the waves lapping at the
What shall we do tomorrow? Whatever we feel like.
The only negative? It has to end. Stepping off of Jalapeno
and into the taxi back to the airport was made bearable only by knowing we
would come back this year.
On a scale of 1 - 10; I rate Ray's charters a 20. Mike and I
can not recommend them highly enough -- and trust me, we've been on a fair
number of trips (from Galapagos to Alaska). Jalapeno truly ranks number
Brigitte & Mike - Vashon, WA