To Ken Ayers, many people who sail seem to be dreamers and wanderers.

“If only the shackles which hold me to my contemporary life could be broken… If only I could escape and go sailing at my pleasure.” These are thoughts many of us have often had. But most of us aren’t able to get away permanently. "It seems on every trip I encounter several people who have escaped to the world of cruising,” says Ken. During his travels, he has discovered that permanent cruisers have found the freedom in sailing that we all seek – a personal paradise that assumes whatever idyllic form each one of us envision.

Wanting a slice of paradise — even if only for a short time — Ken, his wife and three children chartered a boat in the Virgin Islands for twelve days, attempting to capture the spirit and soul of the Caribbean. They left worries behind and had the experience of a lifetime sailing from island to island and cove to cove. Their Caribbean adventure was aboard Cheek to Cheek, a Hunter 40.5 tri-cabin, rented from CYOA Yacht Charters in St. Thomas, USVI. CYOA specializes in chartering Hunters and they have twenty boats in their fleet ranging from 33 to 45 feet. "I found CYOA’s staff professional, polite, very knowledgeable of the area and more than willing to help", Ken explained. Choosing the right charter company is vital to a successful vacation. Ken read articles on various companies, narrowing his choices down to three, and finally picked CYOA because they were recommended by someone he knew and trusted.

There are other important things to consider when deciding to take a charter. Once you have chosen the company, you have to select the right boat. Remember to consider the crew you will have. If you have children, it needs to be familyfriendly, with plenty of livable space, privacy and comfort. More than one head and a swim platform are also good for an active family while cruising. Secondly, the right time of year can make or break a charter. The winter is generally popular for sailing in the islands; for the Ayers, however, June was the right month because everyone was out of school, areas were not as crowded and prices were lower because of it being the off-season.

"We went seeking paradise uninterrupted by contemporary society, and each of us found something very special," says Ken. He reflects on some of the special moments, like the beauty of a sunset while under sail. "It always seems different to see a sunset from a sailboat. I have sat there and watched as the brightness of day slowly transforms through a myriad of colors into night", he continues, "Watching the simple transformation of day into night could be paradise and it is a uniquely personal experience," he says.

Over the next twelve days, the Ayers sailed a clockwise route that circumnavigated the heart of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. They chose to start from St. Thomas and cruised to many destinations. They snorkeled with the sea turtles at Buck Island, took a tour of the U.S. National Park in St. John and ventured down the Sir Francis Drake Channel. They visited nine islands, dined at several restaurants, wandered secluded beaches, explored caves and also toured islands by auto. They embraced their new vagabond lifestyle while they snorkeled with a million fish on Monkey Point and in the end learned a lot about each other and themselves. The family considers it a very rewarding adventure. Ken Ayers and his family discovered paradise and, in the end, the Soul of the Caribbean.