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Sailing Yacht Charter: Don't be Fooled by Pirates

Oct 13, 2007
Even if you've loved your sailing experiences so far, the thought of taking on a yacht on your own can be a daunting experience. But there are many options available for yacht charter, which won't mean you'll need to be the modern-day Jack Sparrow, or a gnarly sea dog with impeccable seafaring knowledge. It can be an exciting way to bond with work colleagues, have an adventure with family or friends, or get your hands on a boat to take part in a regatta or race.

Your options range from leisurely, gin-palace style motor cruising to do-it-yourself sailing in a catamaran or standard yacht, with or without the support of trained skipper. Popular destinations include the South Coast, the Isle of White, the South of France, and the Greek Islands, but you can crew on a bigger sailing yacht that can take you as far afield as the Canary Islands. If you're a beginner-sailor, your best option is to look for somewhere with protected water, predictable weather patterns, and lots of moorings.

If you're looking for a do-it-yourself yacht charter, you could opt for a 'bareboat charter' where you pay for a (normally fully-equipped) boat and backup service, or choose a pay-by-the-day skipper service. A standard yacht ranges from 31 to 46 ft berthing between 4 and 10 people, and you'll normally need to choose between a standard rig with lazy jacks and sail bags or more sophisticated in-mast reefing that will improve manoeuvrability. A range of older and newer boats will give you the choice between a traditional tiller or more modern wheel steering. A luxury sailing boat may include on-board central heating for cooler climates.

If you opt for a bare-boat charter, you'll need to have a basic level of competence, backed by a recognised qualification such as RYA Day Skipper, which you may even be able to gain in situ at your yacht charter destination. If you're new to sailing, you can hire a skipper on a pay-by-the day basis, who will take charge of your team. Even if you're a qualified skipper, to begin with, you might want to have a professional skipper on board to give you confidence for the first few days of your charter.

Other possibilities include assisted bareback charter, or flotilla charters: in the first case you follow a pre-determined route, with a professional skipper on a training boat at close proximity, but with some opportunity for independent sailing and mooring. Or you join a group of yachts travelling together in a traditional flotilla arrangement, led by a professional skipper.

If you've decided to go sailing with a group of friends, you'll need to give some thought as to who will train to be skipper. That person will need to take charge, and not be scared to give orders; not just in life-threatening situations but even in terms of everyday arrangements such as meal times.

Prices for yacht charter vary according to location, age of the craft and specifications. A week's sailing in Europe may range from 850 pounds on an Elan berthing up to 6 people in low season, to up to 2,800 GBP for a 2-headed Bavaria 46 berthing up to 10 people in high season, including the saloon area. Assisted bareboat charter will cost around 200 pounds extra on top. You can hire a skipper for around 500 pounds per week, but you may also need to cover the costs of their meals.

If you are bitten by the sailing bug and can't wait to go again, you may even consider owning your own yacht, which can be offered on a charter basis to other sailors, under an assisted management scheme.
So there are many ways to get your sea legs, some of them much less demanding than others, both in terms of sailing expertise and financial outlay. All of them avoid the need to resort to buccaneering.
About the Author
Shaun Parker is an expert on yacht charter. To find out more see http://www.nisosyachtcharter.com/
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