First Timers Guide to Booking a Sailboat Charter – Part 1

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First Timers Guide to Booking a Sailboat Charter – Part 1

Imagine starting your day off with a dip in the ocean followed by breakfast on the deck and an anchor off a secluded bay with no one else around for miles. Booking a sailboat charter means many things for different people but what you are guaranteed to be in for is sailing around sun-soaked islands and filling your days with water-based activities and the adventures that await on land. 

A sailboat charter means you get to craft your holiday just the way you like it whether your ideal trip looks like a fun-filled family vacation, a luxury island-hopping holiday, or a pumping party celebration at sea. You get to choose your route, timetable, and activities and relax on your sailing holiday.

As a first-timer, this guide will help you figure out everything you need to know to get started with your sailboat charter. From some standard terms, you’ll come across, to what the booking process looks like and some frequently asked questions.

First Timers Guide to Booking a Sailboat Charter - Part 1

1. Glossary of Sailboat Charter Terms

To ease you into the world of sailboat charter and help you speak the lingo like a skilled sailor, here are some common terms.

Advanced Provisioning Allowance (APA). Advanced payment to cover the cost of additional variable expenses incurred during your sailboat charter. This could include fuel for the engines and generators, port fees, local taxes, food and drink, and laundry. Read more about APA here.

Aft. The backend of the yacht.

Anchorage. Where the yacht drops its anchor to stay for a period of time.

Bow. The front end of the yacht.

Cabin (stateroom). The sleeping quarters for guests and crew.

Day head. A bathroom usually found in communal spaces to be used by all guests.

Galley. The yacht’s kitchen.

Head. A bathroom.

Helm. Where the captain steers the yacht.

Knot. The speed at which the yacht is travelling.

Port. The left side of the yacht as you are facing front.

Starboard. The right side of a boat as you are facing front.

Stern. The back of the yacht (outside).

Tender (dinghy). A boat that a yacht carries or tows used for short day cruises, transfers to and from shore and water sports.

2. Choose Your Crew Carefully

Your very first step when deciding on a sailboat charter is to choose who gets to come with you. Sure, the destination and yacht that you want are big decisions but making sure you and your travel crew are on the same page will make for smooth sailing.

Discuss your individual preferences and no-goes with each other and agree on a budget that suits everyone. Also, consider if someone has had previous boating experience or can act as a skipper.

The size of your group will also determine how large of a yacht you’ll need. Most smaller yachts carry up to six people and even the larger superyachts are generally capped at 12 people. If you have a larger group, however, there’s always the option to hire multiple yachts on your sailboat charter.

3. Decide Where You Want to Go

This might be an easy step for some when it comes to your first-time sailboat charter. Perhaps a Caribbean island sailing holiday has been on your bucket list or cruising through the Mediterranean stopping to explore a new port each day. Or maybe you’re open to the possibilities and just want to experience life out on the water.

Two things you should take into consideration are the dates that you’d like to go on your sailboat charter and what weather you can expect. Travelling during the summer months might make sense, but some of the Caribbean will be under a hurricane watch. Likewise, Croatia might be the new hot spot for sailors and travellers alike but to avoid the crowds that descend during peak season, we suggest a sailboat charter in May or June.

Other factors to take into account include visa requirements, whether you need a special boating license and what harbours and anchorages are available. Not sure? A good charter company (below) can help you figure out the ideal destination based on who’s coming along and what you want to experience.

Here are some of the most popular places to hire a sailboat charter to get you started:

You can also read through our Sailing blog for inspiration or Yacht Charter news for the latest update on everything you need to know for your sailboat charter.

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4. Research Companies

Your next step is to find a yacht charter agent to help guide you through the booking process. While there are many ways to borrow a boat, sailboat charter through a professional operator is the most common way.

You’ll get access to a global network of operators, advice on which qualifications (if any) you’ll need for your sailboat charter, and help to understand any red tape. A yacht charter consultant not only gives you access to sailing knowledge but also personal experience and recommendations from people who are passionate about sailing.

Sailchecker’s team of dedicated Yacht Charter Consultants can help you refine your charter, provide a detailed quote and help bring your dream sailboat charter to life.

5. Pick the Right Yacht

If it’s your first time booking a sailboat charter, chances are you’re not going to know your catamarans and sailboats inside out, which is where your yacht charter consultant comes in. We can help you consider factors like level of sailing skills, comfort, and budget to choose the right yacht for your group.

If you’re travelling with family, you’ll need to decide on a yacht with enough activities to keep young and old entertained. Think water toys, onboard games, or even a dedicated room for movie nights and rainy day activities.

Want a luxe experience? Consider a Luxury Catamaran Charter where you can expect modern and spacious living space, a skilled crew that run the gamut from gourmet chef to onboard massage therapist, and thoughtful amenities like a jacuzzi on the foredeck.

You can even do a Bareboat Yacht Charter where no crew or provision is included so you can pick and choose the options you’d like to add. If your group already has a captain, then this is a common way to go.

If you have smaller or bigger groups, then there are more options available including Cabin Charter and Flotilla Sailing. Plus, your sailboat charter agent can always create a whole new experience depending on what your needs are. For more information on your sailboat charter options, take a look at our guide to How Yacht Charter Works.

6. The Booking Process

Now you know who you’re going to sail with, where you’re going to go, who’s going to arrange everything for you, and what kind of yachting experience you’re in for. The next step is to start making things formal.

When booking your yacht charter with SailChecker, we can help you through the whole booking process along with extras that you might not have thought of yet. These include:

  • Additional Provisioning Allowances
  • Routing
  • Crew levels
  • Cabin layouts
  • Bad weather mitigation
  • Sleep aboards or hotels pre-boarding
  • Flights

Get started by kicking off your enquiry and let us know what you’re thinking about. You can contact Sailchcker here.

7. Frequently Asked Questions

How far in advance should I start organising my yacht charter?

We recommend booking at least three to six months out for most charters. If you’re looking at a sailboat charter during the peak Christmas/New Year period or Mediterranean season (July and August), then aim to book six to ten months in advance.

What is the usual length of a sailboat charter?

Seven days is generally the minimum period but charters can be made for any duration.

Do sailboat charters allow children onboard?

Most yachts are very family-friendly and some are even equipped with children in mind. Some might stipulate a minimum age or request a nanny to be on board.

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