The upcoming America’s Cup events in Valencia (semifinals June 1–11, finals June 23–July 4) have drawn attention to Spain, with its long coastline, maritime history, and many attractions, as a charter venue. If you are among the many sailors worldwide thinking about combining a charter with a trip to the Cup matches—or just thinking about sailing in Spain this summer—you’d best pick up the phone and start making arrangements right now.
I talked with Jill DelBello, a retired broker of both bare and crewed charter boats, who has put a great deal of useful information on her Web site, www.sailing-advisor.com. While all European countries require a sailing license, Jill says that Croatia and Spain are the strictest. One of the benefits of chartering with a U.S.-based company—The Moorings (www.moorings.com), Sunsail (www.sunsail.com), and Voyage Charters (www.voyagecharters.com) have bases in the Balearic Islands—is that you’ll get some guidance and help with the necessary documentation. If you decide to bareboat with a European company, Jill says, it is essential to get written confirmation, before you make a deposit, that your documentation is acceptable. Note that this can take some time and diligence; it is challenging, Jill says, to get companies in Europe to get back to you. Be sure to read (carefully) the “License Tips” page on her Web site.
Jill has worked with, and recommends, a number of European companies for bareboat charters in Spain. Among them are: Gotland Charter (gotlandcharter.com), with bases in Barcelona, Mallorca, and Ibiza; Sport Nautic (www.sportnautic.com, in Spanish), with bases in Valencia and Dnia; and Azul Sailing (www.azul-sailing.com), with bases in 10 areas of Spain, including Catalonia (Palamos), Levante (Valencia), Galicia (La Corua), and Andalucia. In her experience, these companies have English speakers on their staffs and are likely to respond to your e-mails.
Chartering a boat with crew will eliminate any concerns about licensing—or anything else, for that matter—and will put just about anywhere on the Spanish coast within reach. You’ll need a broker for this; to find one, search SAIL’s classified ads, or do a Google search for “crewed yachts.”
There’s more to chartering in Spain than cruising the Balearics (Mallorca, Menorca, and Ibiza), though these islands are the center of charter activity and have long been a draw for European sailors, beachgoers, and revelers of all sorts. Jill has posted useful notes on several Spanish regions under “Destinations.” Take a look; you might decide to sail where your friends haven’t gone before.