Are you looking for a vacation that’s out of the ordinary – maybe something beyond cookie-cutter hotels and crowded beaches? Are you dreaming of the romance of swinging on the hook watching the sunset in a tropical anchorage, or do you want to give the kids an adventure complete with kayaking, snorkeling and sailing?
It’s not hard, all you need to do is choose a good charter company with appealing locations, present your boating resume, go through a thorough checkout, and present a credit card for an insurance deposit. OK, maybe there’s a little more planning to it than that – read our 10 Tips for Charter Planning – but a unique vacation is worth a little preparation.
Bareboat charters are rentals of boats usually owned by individuals under the management of a charter company. These may be large companies operating multiple fleets in different parts of the world, all year round, or local outfits that manage a handful of boats in season. Bareboats are most often 50 feet or less in length (46 or less for multihulls). Depending on the charter venue, a resume, careful checkout, and insurance deposit are usually required; in some locations a level of certification may be required. The charter company may encourage, or require, the skipper to take a professional captain along for a day or two until the charterer is comfortable handling the boat and its systems.
Larger companies tend to offer larger boats, typically in the 35 to 50 foot range for sailboats. Smaller companies in more seasonal areas more commonly offer boats 25 to 40 feet long.
Bareboat charter yachts have historically been sailboats, but with the introduction of sailing catamarans, power cats have been growing in popularity.
Charter bases today can be found in a variety of exotic locations from Thailand to Croatia and from Tahiti to the San Juan Islands. Some will take you to solitary tropical islands while others let you explore more temperate climes in areas with many shore-side cultural or historic venues to explore.
You also need to think about the boat – will you need the space of a catamaran for a big crew? Are you looking to sail or do you prefer the shelter of a powerboat in areas with shifting weather? Will you be more comfortable cruising dock-to-dock, or are you looking to get away from it all and anchor far from the crowds each day? Will you need a professional skipper or are you looking to bareboat?
It’s best to think through your objectives, realities and budget first, and then set your expectations as well as those of your crew. An extraordinary vacation will create memories and most likely the desire to charter again.