Ever thought of heading off to charter a sailboat or powerboat in some exotic location,,,,,except you had no idea where to start or how to do it? Read on-
I was like you- I had been to the British Virgin Islands once before and fallen in love,,,,and now I wanted to go back,,,on a boat of my choosing. Problem was,,,I had no idea how to do this or if I was even qualified to run a boat in a foreign country. Most folks who want to charter a boat somewhere outside of their own home cruising grounds have some idea how to run a boat,,,,so I’m going to write this series with that assumption in mind. If you don’t know how to run a boat even at a rudimentary level,,,,you need to think about a Captained charter (probably not a bare boat charter); bare boat chartering is the of the next 2-3 posts. Now, some decisions have to be made to start the process of bare boating:
1. Where do you want to go? I just faced this hard question several months ago when I was working on doing another bare boat cruise myself with my family. We seriously considered going to Croatia; but the costs of flights, the language differences with two small children and the lack of local knowledge helped to guide my decisions. Please think though this for yourself, there are charter bases in major boating areas all over the world, and I’ve looked at most of them carefully. We also thought through chartering out of La Paz, Baja Mexico. This was a serious consideration, since I’ve been there before, we speak the language, the flights into the area are relatively easy and the sailing is fun. However, unlike some other destinations, you’ll want to go here for the animal life, quiet relaxation and off the grid experiences. Since we already know we’re going here on our own boat in the not too distant future, we decided to find an area to charter in that had all of this to offer plus some nightlife. Again, think through your location decision very carefully, keeping in mind who you think is going with you and family considerations. The beaches and coves in Croatia are really, really pretty; but you might not be as comfortable with the liberal sunbathing practices and music late into the night of European standard,,,,especially if you’re not prepared for it. The beaches and coves of Baja are completely opposite; as there’s few people, few shopping opportunities once you leave La Paz and no nightlife except for the animals in the area and the fellow boaters. Where you want to go also dictates flights and travel adventures just to get to the charter base, keep this in mind also,,,,as places like Thailand, Croatia and others may require some travel just to get to the boat you want to charter. Where you want to go MUST also be kept in mind with regard to WHEN you want to go chartering. You’ve got to keep in mind that Caribbean, some US and some Central American and Mexican bare boat chartering will be dictated by hurricane season, generally with few charters July through October due to weather. Chartering in the Mediterranean is also dictated by weather,,,,with fewer charters in the winter months when there’s challenging weather.
2. How many people are you taking? This dictates boat size, flights, food costs and other things. We’ll talk about this in-depth in another post.
3. How much experience do you have? The first bareboat charter we did (where we ran the boat) was well before we owned our own sailboat and without loads of time on the water. We had done the basic keelboat and intermediate sailing + plus my past experiences sailing as a kid. Then I took some classes on NauticEd and off we went. Knowing that we didn’t have loads of sailing experience, we opted for a powerboat that first time in waters where strong navigation skills are in low demand (BVI). This was the right formula for that first time and the right thing to do. The FOUR women on board loved having a Captain and Champagne Fairy and I got some valuable power boating experience. Since I’m well past the age of having much to prove to anyone,,,,the real advice I’d give you on the subject is to admit to yourself how real and ready your skills running a boat truly are. Sailing in the BVI can be challenging (there’s wind) and power boating can be interesting if you mess things up. A real man will admit when he’s out of his league and usually women will be ok with that,,,,try a chartered boat with a Captain and Chef and you might have a better time than running your own boat. LF2SF’s roving reporter spent a week in the BVI on a chartered boat with a Captain and Chef last year,,,,,and had a great time.
We’ll follow-up this blog post with more about chartering bare boats as we go!