By Ken Jones
A look at different types of yacht charter on the market - flotilla sailing, skippered yacht charter, crewed yacht charter, bareboat yacht charter
Chartering a boat is a good way to sail without the expense of owning your own boat. If you can't spend more than a few weeks a year sailing and few people can the the option of chartering is definitely worth serious consideration. It also provides the opportunity to sail different boats in varied and far off locations. Choose between sail and power. Get the right boat in terms of size dependent on the number of people chartering and the depth of your pocket.
Apart from the choice of the type of boat, size and cost there are various types of charter packages available and this article takes a closer look at what is on offer.
Flotilla Sailing - A great way to get started for those with an bit of an independent streak. And the social scene is can be something else. The flotilla usually comprises of 8/10 boats, one of which, referred to as the lead boat, carries a skipper, hostess and an engineer. The skipper will be responsible for ensuring that the guests on the other boats in the flotilla have the navigational skills and boat handling/seamanship skills required providing help and advice where required. The hostess will organise the social events - meals out in the evening, lunchtime barbecues and the famous last night party. The engineer is there to repair the boats while the holiday makers will do their best to break things as they learn to sail. My initial impression of this type of charter was that the whole thing would be a bit regimented with all the boats in the flotilla following the lead boat like ducklings do a duck. This is far from what happens in practice. The day begins with the skipper of the lead boat carrying out a briefing giving the destination you will be expected to make for during the day and any navigational considerations along the way and then you're pretty much on your own. The next time you see the lead boat will be at that evenings destination where the crew will be waiting to assist you with berthing. A great way to sail in company with the reassurance that experienced help is never more than a VHF call away.
Skippered Charter - Perhaps you're a bit short of experience or don't want the responsibility of managing the boat or the navigation. As the name suggests you charter the boat and the skipper comes with it. You're expected to make up the numbers of the crew but all the responsibility is with the skipper. In practice the level of involvement of the charterers is down to them. Most skippers are flexible enough to allow the customers as much involvement as they wish.
Crewed Charter - You get the boat, the skipper and crew and a good cook. This tends to be an expensive way to charter, you have to pay the wages of the crew and because you are carrying more people the boat is bigger and costs more to charter. But if your idea of sailing is sitting in the sun drinking a gin and tonic watching others do the work then this is for you. Most skippers won't stop you getting involved with the sailing of the boat if you want to but if you're wanting a more hands on experience consider an alternative form of charter.
Bareboat Charter - The ultimate freedom. All you get is the boat and a briefing when you collect the boat at the start of the charter. This briefing should include safety on board, a look at the way the various systems work on the boat and some local knowledge of the proposed cruising area. Then it's down to you. Before taking a bareboat charter you should have some basics of navigation and seamanship, the level of this knowledge in some part determined by the proposed cruising area. You will, for example, need more experience for a two week charter in the Channel Islands, just of the coast of France in the English channel, with its 5 metre tides and numerous rocks and shoals lying just beneath the surface than is required for an Ionian charter in Greece. No tides, very little to bump into in terms of hidden rocks and most of the sailing between islands is by line of site.
More information about yacht charter can be found at the Yacht Charter Directory.
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