Marine Max 443

Imagine being able to create the next generation bareboat charter company using the best minds in the business. Imagine being able to have the financial resources to design and build the optimum line of boats for bareboat and crewed charters. The result is MarineMax Vacations – a next generation charter company in the British Virgin Islands.

  • Next generation charter boats should have WiFi hotspots and a Spectra fool proof watermaker. CHECK!
  • How about a genset and air conditioning – Ok a little decadent – but CHECK!
  • 3-zone stereo system… Oh, I forget to request – how about four different entertainment areas with lounging space for 14 and then sleeping space for six to eight. Three sleeping cabins with ensuite heads and showers – CHECK!
  • Grill on the flybridge. Davit for lifting the dinghy. Add SUPs and a few water toys. CHECK!
  • Two coolers – but no ice maker – ok still CHECK!
  • Full helm systems with chart plotter, autopilot, and engine instrumentation – CHECK, CHECK and CHECK!  You get the idea.

After years of chartering bareboat sailboats, I admit I feel terribly decadent and guilt-ridden with a luxurious boat such as this, which is also good on diesel fuel consumption. Yup, this is no longer roughing it on the water. (I’ll share more about our recent trip to the British Virgin Islands where we got to know the Aquila 443 better soon.)

MarineMax Vacations

Several years ago Lex Raas and Raul Bermudez left Tui Marine Group and their positions in the senior management team managing worldwide charter companies The Moorings, Sunsail, Footloose Charters and the canal boat charter operation, Le Boat. They teamed up with Bill McGill, the CEO of MarineMax, to create from the ground up a charter vacation company like no other.

If you are not familiar with MarineMax, they are the largest retailer of boats and yachts in the world with 56 retail showrooms and locations in 16 states, primarily in the eastern half of the U.S. and California. When we say yachts, we mean stellar brands like Ocean Alexander and others. Being part of MarineMax family as a customer includes assistance with other services like marine maintenance, insurance, and training.

Their motto is “We are United by Water.”


The company brings their customers together with many social events and arranged trips. It was natural that they looked to a build a charter operation starting with a base in the Virgin Islands for those times their customers want to go boating – and leave their boat at home.

For Lex and Raul, this was a dream come true. They could create the next generation charter operation from scratch based on their extensive experience. Also, they have a loyal customer base with MarineMax that values the boating lifestyle and a vacation experience to an incredible destination like the Virgin Islands.

MarineMax Vacations

MarineMax Line of Power Cats

Lex and Raul started by working with top marine designers and builders to create a unique line of optimized power catamarans. They did not start with a sailing cat and modify it to be a powercat. This clean sheet, design approach resulted in a line of three yachts with two, three and four cabins. The Aquila 44 became the MarineMax 443 and is their most popular model with a spacious master stateroom and room for kids or friends in two additional ensuite cabins.

They listened to customer feedback, and all of their boats include many new and innovative features for a bareboat charter, like a free built-in WiFi system that makes the boat an always on hotspot with unlimited data for the entire crew, a Spectra 12V trouble-free watermaker system, a Raymarine touch screen chart plotter and autopilot, a genset, air conditioning with individual cabin controls, an electric grill, and fresh water heads.

Aquila 44

Check out the Virtual Tour.

The living spaces are large with lots of headroom. The ample windows provide 360-degree views. The 443 galley has a window overlooking the back deck. Swing the window up, fold down the backsplash and you have a bar area where everything flows through from the saloon to the back cockpit deck, complete with two bar stools. The davit for the dinghy is built-in to the stern of the boat and makes it easy to launch the tender. The swim platforms are perfect for enjoying the clear blue waters of the Virgin Islands with platform space between the hulls to place a chair or two right at the water’s edge.

The flybridge has all the amenities from a fully equipped helm to a dining center complete with sink, grill and plenty of seating. In front of the helm, there are stairs that lead right down to the foredeck allowing the captain to assist with anchoring or securing to a mooring ball like we did at the world famous Baths. More on that later…

Down below, Two Volvo 225hp D4 diesel engines with V-drives power the props in tunnels to reduce draft and protect the running gear. At 2,000 rpm, she cruises at over  8 knots burning about 4.5 gallons per hour, better than 2 miles per gallon. Systems are accessible and the wiring is clear and well laid out. There are many additional innovative features you will discover when you cruise with the 443, and you might like it enough to buy one for yourself. The Aquila 44 is showing up in different areas of the country with new features where a buyer can utilize the extensive space to customize the boat for their family.

Charter Process

MarineMax Vacations re-engineered the entire charter process with expert staff that makes it easy and painless. They can help you plan your charter vacation from beginning to end for you and your whole crew including airline flights, transfers, and even your provisioning.

In 2015, they won the title of Best BVI Yacht Charter Company against 13 nominees in the Virgin Islands Property & Yacht Readers Choice Awards. In 2014, the Aquila 44 was named the Best Multihull in the 40’-49’ category by the editors of the AIM magazine group.

What does this all mean? They are doing it right! MarineMax Vacations is a next generation charter company, focused on a great customer experience from beginning to end, providing the best boats designed for fun and ease of cruising, located initially in one of the best cruising grounds in the world, the Virgin Islands.

~ Mark Bunzel, the co-author of Cruising the Virgin Islands cruising guide, has been charter cruising sailboats and power catamarans in the Virgin Islands for over 35 years.
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