How to Charter a Boat – Step by Step
Chartering a boat for a sailing trip is for sure quite a project. If we split it into a few stages, you will get the idea of how simple is to charter a boat.
The first stage would be gathering a crew. If you wish to sail out with your family, the problem is already solved, but if you are to organize a group of friends for a sailing trip, then you find yourself into a bit of trouble. Not because your relations are not close and trustworthy, but because it is a hell of a torment to put together everybody’s schedules.
However, when it comes to determine the term for your sailing holidays, some things have to be explained. In case of chartering a boat in the Croatian Adriatic, the majority of charter agencies offer generous discounts for pre-season and post-season. In Croatia, that means April and May, and late September and October, respectively. High summer season (June, July and August) is the period of higher prices.
Early-bird or Last-minute Booking
Still, one can make a good deal even in the period of high prices. Early-bird booking is always blessed with discounts. If you are bit of a gambler then the last-minute booking could suit you. Regardless of a pricing system, it is fair to be said that there is a significant difference between sailing in Croatia in pre- or post- season and in summer.
Regarding the air temperatures, the weather in spring and autumn in the Croatian Adriatic are quite similar. However, spring might seem a bit colder period of the year because of the winds that might be stronger and colder than in autumn. Furthermore, the sea in spring is still rather cold, while the sun is still quite shy. But the days are getting longer. On the other hand, autumn sailing is becoming more and more popular because one can enjoy the destinations free from usual summer tourist crowds and noise, while the sea is still warm enough for swimming. But the days are getting shorter.
Finding a Suitable Charter Boat
Supposing that you have successfully determined your term for sailing holidays and you managed to gather the crew, it is time to find a proper boat. The easiest way to find it is to search for one that will fit the number of your crew. In other words, if you know the habits and lifestyle of your crew, you would be able to choose the level of comfort or sailing performances of your desired boat. Now we are getting closer to the real thing. Some effort is required in order to find a desired boat at the charter base nearest to your desired sailing region. Internet and social media can nowadays be quite useful in order to get specific information on the destinations or the popular sailing areas.
Yacht Charter Agency and Yacht Charter Company
At the moment we know when, what and where, it is time to get things more concrete. Supposing you have chosen a boat at the certain base in a certain period, it is time to make a crucial move. It seems more serious than it really is. The charter agency would send you a proposed charter contract. Down payment amounted to 50% of the charter price would be considered as agreement with terms and conditions of the charter contract. This first 50% is to be paid within not more than one week after receiving the proposal. It is highly recommended to read the proposal in detail. The remaining 50% is to be paid not later than 30 days before embarkation. And that is the point of no return. Once the boat is fully paid, money back in case of cancellation is in most cases impossible.
The next step of your sailing adventure would be your arrival to the charter base. Contact your charter agent in advance to organize you transfer from the airport, railway station, or the port to your boat. Once you have reached the office at the charter base, things get accelerated. Before embarking your floating home, one has to do the paperwork. It is nothing but putting together the crew list and leaving the insurance deposit.
The Crew List, Insurance Deposit and Optional Extras
A crew list is a mandatory document issued by the port authorities to every chartered boat. It consists of ID numbers and birth/nationality data of every crew member including the skipper with his licenses. Insurance deposit is taken to cover any damage done within the charter period. If there was no damage done, the deposit is brought back in full amount. Insurance deposit can be done either by cash and a credit card. If not ordered in advance, it is time to take all the extras you might use during the charter – extra towels, additional sail(s) such as spinnaker or gennaker, snorkeling gear, stand-up paddle, or similar. It is recommended to choose (and pay) extras prior to arriving to the base.
Check-in, Sail Out, Check-out
After spending time at the office with the paperwork and administration, it is time for the skipper to do the check-in. Charter staff shows the skipper the boat and they check every single system, gear and inventory of the boat. The skipper gets the instructions about do’s and don’ts, while the rest of the crew can use their time to get the supplies at the nearest supermarket.
This is all usually happening on Saturdays – common charter periods begin on Saturday and last for seven days. The boats are usually ready around 5 p.m. while ‘early check-in’ (from 1 p.m.) is considered an extra and has to be pre-ordered and paid. Charter companies usually expect their clients to be back to the base on Friday around 5 – 6 p.m. Clients are to bring back the boat in the original state (as taken) with fuel tank fully loaded. Charter staff will do check-out with skipper while the clients are to leave the boat on Saturday between 8 and 9 a.m.
This would be more or less everything one should know about chartering a sailing boat. There is lot more to be said about provisioning, route planning, behavior at sea, living onboard, etc., but it is impossible to include it all in one post. There is a lot more tricks and tips to come shortly. Until then, browse FAQ sections on your agency’s web page and many of your doubts would be solved.
I wish you a calm sea, fair winds and a strong mast!