That?s how Matt and Melissa felt in 2005 when they came to the British Virgin Islands as guests on a seven-day sailing charter. In fact, they liked it so much that sixteen months later they left corporate America behind to start their new life as yacht crew in the BVI.
Now they are the crew of Free Ingwe, a 45 ft. Leopard catamaran, and their job is to host your sailing vacation of a lifetime. Let them show you exactly how the BVI stole their hearts.
So what made them do it? What made them leave the security of home to live such an adventure?
Was it the gorgeous white sand beaches? The Caribbean water that shimmers in multiple shades of blue? Or the burning orange of the sun reflecting off the clouds as they wander the evening sky?
Was it the crash of the waves over the bow, or the soothing sound of the ocean as you sail downwind? Was it discovering an endless number of fish and corals while scuba diving and snorkeling? Was it actually being able to water ski and wakeboard in the ocean!?!? Or hiking the lookout mountains pirates used to spot their prey as they crossed from the Spanish Main? Maybe it was lounging in a hammock, sipping painkillers at the Soggy Dollar Bar?
It was probably a little of everything.
If any of this sounds good to you, come inside and plan your greatest vacation.
DECK & SYSTEMS
Up to 10 dives during the week
$40 per diver, per dive
FREE INGWE Crew Profile
Matt Neidlinger , USA
Hi. My name is Matt. I hope I?ll have the chance to meet you soon, but first let me tell you a bit about myself.
I grew up boating, waterskiing and fishing on the Mississippi River in northwestern Illinois. My father was a US Naval officer and he taught me to love and respect the water at an early age. I also inherited my love of travel from him.
I first visited the Caribbean in 1989 and I knew from that moment that the islands were very special. In the following years, while working as a diesel engine designer, I found myself spending all of my money on travel. So, I switched gears and worked in travel and tourism for the next decade. During that time, I realized that I enjoyed sharing the travel experience as much as the travel itself.
In 2005 Melissa and I chartered a yacht in the BVI, and that was all it took. We instantly knew that we wanted to share the beauty of the Caribbean with as many people as possible. One year later we moved to the islands to start our career as charter yacht crew.
I currently hold a USCG 50-ton Master License, and am a PADI certified Divemaster. In my spare time I enjoy waterskiing, wakeboarding, snorkeling, and hiking the trails in the BVI. I also love playing bartender and tour-guide to those looking for little adventure.
Come sailing with us and let us show you the Caribbean we fell in love with.
Melissa Neidlinger, USA
Hi! My name is Melissa, and I am the chef/first mate aboard Free Ingwe.
I am hoping to show you a little bit of the beauty and grace of the Caribbean, while creating meals to keep you full and happy.
I?ve always had an ?obsession? with food, be it eating or making it. So after I graduated from Indiana University with a degree I had little interest in pursuing, I enrolled in the Culinary and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. It was there that I was able to turn my obsession into a career.
I enjoy cooking? just about everything! I have a deep appreciation for all cuisines, from my own Midwest roots of comfort food to International zest. I enjoy taking an ordinary dish and adding an unexpected flair. It is my single greatest hope that I can provide meals that match the magic of your vacation.
I also enjoy boating and water activities. As a PADI certified Divemaster, I can assist in showing you the gorgeous sights of the world underwater. Enjoy snorkeling, water skiing, or just lounging in the water with a cold beverage? Me too! I will be on hand to offer suggestions on where to go, what to do, or what not to do!
My personal interests include hiking, scuba diving, water skiing, running, doing crossword puzzles, drinking good wine with great friends, and meeting new people.
Come aboard Free Ingwe, and let the cares of the world blow away with the wind.
FREE INGWE Specifications
FREE INGWE Testimonials
The Brown’s and Wallace’s, February 2012
Matt and Melissa,
"Sorry, couldn't resist the M&M... But its appropriate, sweet is what you are and our trip has been. As you know this is Jeff's and my 5th charter, all with different boats and crew. You are our favorite crew, maybe it's the Midwest cultural connection. :) Thanks for actually sailing everyday, making the dive experience so comfortable and being a wealth of knowledge about boating life in general and BVI in particular.
Melissa, we are looking forward to your first and every installment of your cookbook so we can eat like we have here at home. Please do honor us by visiting in September, if you have time!"
Lynn and Jeff
Matt and Melissa,
"Our first time to BVI and I can't imagine a better way to see the islands. Pete and I own a sailboat in Vermilion, Ohio, and before this trip we had only over-nighted once on Lake Erie. Due to an incredible trip we just had with you, we are excited to become "real boaters" now. You two do an excellent job answering our questions on board and making us feel welcome. The food Melissa made was all outstanding. We couldn't wait until the next meal. You both work very hard so your guests have an amazing experience. Thank you! If you are ever in Ohio, please stop and stay with us."
Peter and Mary
The Engel’s and Klee’s, February 2012
Matt and Mel,
Not sure you could have made this vacation any better! Everything was fabulous. The food and the hospitality were beyond compare. The accommodations were beautiful. Thanks for opening up your “home” to us for a few days. You are a great couple with a terrific niche. Nothing but praise. Looking forward to the cookbook! Thanks for everything.
Ken and Lori
Matt and Mel,
We couldn’t ask for a more wonderful cruise! Thanks for inviting us and sharing your home. I never knew how much fun sailing could be!! Thanks for taking us to so many beautiful places. We enjoyed ourselves to the max! Mel – what can I say? I want to be able to cook like you. Each meal was delish and beautiful. Thanks for a wonderful relaxing and awesome cruise.
Ted and Julie
The McCary’s: Minnesota, April 2011
Matt and Melissa,
What a delight! You two are the consummate hosts who clearly enjoy your work and your guests. Your knowledge of the area helped make each day new and different. You managed to show us all the best sites – under and over the water. And in between you served delightful meals and snacks – not to mention the locally famous adult beverages… All in all, you wove a wonderful tapestry of memories for our first visit to the BVI. Once we look forward to expanding with you again!
Mark, Diane, Molly and Abby
The Tietze’s, Miller’s and Perry’s, New Jersey, April 2011
Matt and Melissa,
We’ve had a fantastic week. You could not have been more gracious hosts. Mel’s cooking has inspired me to go home and dust off my cookbooks, but the one I’m really waiting for is yours! Matt, thanks for finding all those gorgeous anchorages and dive/snorkel spots! The only thing that would have made it better was if we could have stayed another week.
Paul and Nancy
Best vacation we’ve ever had! The meals were outstanding as was everything else. Great diving. The surface intervals were as good as the dives. Time to start planning our next cruise with you.
Ditto to everything Harry said. I’ve been dreaming about this trip for months and it didn’t disappoint. Thank you both for everything!! I want your cookbook Mel.
Harry and Linda
Matt and Mel,
We had a great time! This will rank as one of our best vacations. Having owned our own small business, we have a greater appreciation of how challenging it can be. You are a great team. I appreciated watching you both. The energy you each put into your responsibilities was evident to us.
Keep up the good work!
Ken and Ann
The Reiling’s: Minnesota, March 2011
Mel and Matt,
What a wonderful week. We are so sad to be leaving Free Ingwe today. WE have had such a fun, memorable time seeing the islands, learning some history, snorkeling, eating, eating, eating (Yummy!) and so many other great memories. The kids will remember this vacation forever – in fact, the highest compliment is to be a destination to return to since we always do a different vacation every year!! Danny told us yesterday that we could come back to Free Ingwe next year because technically we see different islands every day!! That is the highest compliment especially from a 14 year old boy who is hard to impress!! You have rocked his world.
We have so many wonderful memories from our trip with you both. Thank you for sharing Free Ingwe with us and for sharing your knowledge and love of the region. We truly feel gifted for knowing you both and we hope we can show you some of our hospitality if you come our way.
Matt, the dives/snorkeling was AWESOME! Thanks also for the “off road” tour of the Baths. Next time I will do the jump! I think Kelly’s “ski” down the wall will be tough to beat! J
Mel, your cooking and hospitality was awesome! Fantastic food – a true epicurean delight. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the Reiling Family!
David, Kerry, Danny, Kelly and Sean
FREE INGWE Specifications
|LENGTH||45ft (13.7m)||BEAM||23ft (7.0m)||DRAFT||4ft 0in (1.2m)|
|YEAR BUILT||1998||BUILDER||Robertson & Caine||DESIGNER||Alex Simonis|
|GUESTS||6||CREW||Captain Matt Neidlinger & Chef Mel Neidlinger||REFIT|
|SPEED||6kts / 8kts||STABILISERS||None||FLAG||United States|
|ENGINES||2 x Yanmar 50hp|
FREE INGWE Accommodations
FREE INGWE can accommodate 6 guests in 3 cabins. The Master cabin has a queen size bed, shower and toilet. 2 Guest cabins have a queen size bed, shower and toilet. FREE INGWE is fully air conditioned through out. Crew has a separate companionway, heads and shower.
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