Yacht Charter Basics
Basic Information about Chartering a Yacht
The process of chartering a yacht can be exhilarating, but it also can be intimidating. It is often confusing and full of jargon, both boat related and contract related. Here is a quick guide to explain the basics of chartering for you. Each section has links to more detailed descriptions if you want further information on any particular subject. Or just contact us and we'll explain it all for you!
All Luxury Yachts and nearly all Motor Yachts come with an experienced crew that is familiar with both the boat and the local waters. This can range from a 'jack of all trades” skipper who cooks, cleans, sails and does repairs when necessary, to crews of 10 – 12 people (or more) on some of the luxury yachts who can take care of your every need and operate the boat like a 5 star floating hotel (gourmet cooks, experienced hostesses, water sports guides, and pampering!). The number of crew and functions they provide are usually listed in the description of the boat on our site, and we can provide you with further information and references if required.
New technologies and better design have also greatly improved the ability to deliver a truly stunning holiday experience on a Motor Yacht, with plush accommodation and all the toys. It is not uncommon to find a Luxury Yacht with hot tub, plasma screen TV with surround sound and satellite channels, Internet access, gourmet food served just as you like it, and an entire range of water sports including scuba, windSurfing, jet ski and water skiing. While these boats do not come cheap, again when compared to the price of a 5 star hotel for a week for 3-4 couples or a full family, you will often come out well financially and have the added benefit of the privacy and freedom that come from being on your own boat.
Personal preference plays a large role in your choice between a Catamaran and a traditional Monohull. While some purists wouldn’t dream of chartering a Catamaran, they do provide many features that make them a good and increasingly common choice for a variety of reasons. In general, Catamarans are easier to navigate in shallow water, provide great views from the spacious galley, have an excellent sun deck, and are can be more comfortable in a number of ways. You don’t have to climb stairs to go inside, and you get more privacy because the cabins are separated from each other.
Advances in boat technology have greatly reduced the amount of effort required to sail a bareboat, and made it safer and more enjoyable as well. GPS Plotters, Furling Mainsails and better boat design both above and below deck have taken much of the manual labour out of sailing, and therefore made a sailing holiday a viable alternative for a far larger number of holiday makers. A gentle cruise through the British Virgin Islands need not be as daunting as it was before, and the experienced sailor can find many new high performance boats for sailing on the high seas. If you want performance, you should look for a boat with a fully battened mainsail, which often now comes with a 'lazy-jack” that greatly simplifies lowering the sail. If you want greater ease while trading off slightly on performance, a self-furling mainsail that rolls into the mast is a great option.
'Creature comforts” are more and more being built in to the whole range of sailboats. Better ventilation systems, (even air-conditioning on many catamarans), CD players with speakers both below deck and in the cockpit, well equipped galleys, Autopilot and GPS, all combine to make sailing charters less spartan and more enjoyable for your crew.
Bareboat – chartering a boat where your party is the crew – is the nautical equivalent of trekking without a guide. Bareboat Chartering gives one the feeling of tremendous freedom, self-dependence, and accomplishment, and you don’t have to worry if you 'get along” with your skipper (or pay the costs). But bareboating does require that at least one of the members is an experienced sailor. It also requires that all on board take at least some responsibility for the ultimate safety of the group, and that the appointed skipper not only knows how to sail, but also how to organise and manage the crew.
Bareboats do best when it is clear that a single person is in charge, but that everyone has at least some role in the team. This can vary from hoisting sails to dropping anchor to cleaning or cooking (or rotating them), but a true team puts less strain on the skipper and has a better sense of shared accomplishment. Buying crew t-shirts or baseball hats prior to departure is a great way of building a sense of team with everyone.
If you want to sail and actively participate in the charter, but don't want to have the worries of mooring, or worrying about upcoming weather, local customs, we highly recommend that you hire your boat "bareboat with skipper". This is normally the best of both world's the skipper takes the worries away, but you can participate as much as you would like. For instance, we highly recommend adding a skipper, even if you are an avid sailor, if you have your family on board. You can all sail together and give everyone responsibilities, but you will be able to turn your full attention to being with your family. If you’re interested in a skipper for your boat, feel free to let your charter manager know and well arrange for one.
You have a wide array of choices in boat layout and size in most ports we cover. We recommend that you take the time to read the specifications and study the cabin layout, as you don’t want any surprises or disgruntled passengers who find out that they’re sleeping in bunk beds when they were expecting a double, or that the entire boat has to share one head. In general, we recommend getting a boat that is slightly longer, hence a few hundred euros more expensive, as the addition of just one or two feet greatly increases the living space on the boat. If you’re dividing the boat cost among several parties, the extra money will be a small additional outlay per person, and will almost always be significantly cheaper than a comparable stay in a hotel. As always, if you have any questions about the specifications, layout, or amenities of a boat, please contact us.
Boatbookings has a wide variety of Sailboats for charter ranging from 30 – 100 feet and greater, and from all the major boat manufacturers such as Beneteau, Bavaria, Dufour, and Jeanneau.
On the negative side, however, Catamarans are more tricky in light variable winds, don’t point as high upwind, and don’t tack as effectively. Because they don't have a deep keel, they get "pushed" sideways by the wind. You also don’t as often get the exhilaration of heeling in a strong wind.
For a more detailed discussion of the merits and layout of Catamarans, click About Catamarans. We also have a nice page on Crewed Catamaran Charters - a part of the charter business that's growing very quickly because of the great value, comfort and service provided.
Try not to pack too many destinations or too great of a distance into the itinerary. Motor Yachts are expensive to run for large distances, but more importantly, you will want to reserve plenty of time to just relax, sightsee, do watersports, and not be churning across the seas all the time.
Customers and friends always feel specially treated when a meeting or event is aboard a boat, as opposed to a standard on-land venue. You often get great word-of-mouth advertising as well! Whether for an afternoon, one day or several, your business meetings will be more special, and your events such as anniversaries, birthday parties and New Year’s celebrations will be more memorable on a Yacht.
There are many types to choose from - ranging from antique two masted yachts large enough to dance on the deck, to 100’ Power Yachts that provide your guests or business associates with the height of luxury. Increasingly, during high trade show times, we’re seeing customers who choose to rent a boat instead of a hotel room to be closer to the event at a lower price. This is especially effective in places such as Cannes during major trade shows like MIPIM or the Cannes Film Festival. For more information, click here for more information about Events and Static Charters. We have an office dedicated to events of this type - if you would like for us to make some suggestions or arrange for an Event please feel free to contact us.
Want to know more? We have a full section of articles in our Chartering Information section. You may also want to check out our "Frequently Asked Questions" page or look up terms you are not familiar with in our Yachting Glossary.