Charter News: Checkout Tips

Author:
Updated:
Original:
inspect the engine

It’s important to inspect the engine when checking out your charter yacht

I like to pay special attention during my charter checkout because from years of learning the hard way, I’ve come to realize that the time to figure out what will go wrong later is before you leave. Also, while I listen to what the base managers are telling me, I also keep an ear open for the what they’re not telling me. They know their boats better than anyone, trust me, so listen carefully during the checkout. Don’t let them off the boat until you know the ins and outs of all the onboard equipment and feel comfortable with how it works.

Test the VHF Radio

Most charter boats will come with a fixed VHF radio. You could easily assume that it works, but don’t. My rule of thumb is always bring a handheld VHF as backup. Don’t just turn it on, but make a call to another boat nearby and have them call you back. Also, make sure you have a plan B if it fails later on.

Turn on the Chartplotter and Instruments

Chartplotters come standard on charter boats these days. You want to make sure that you turn yours on, and that you understand its basic functionality before you leave. If it uses another language (like French), ask the checkout manager to change it to English; chartplotters don’t come with subtitles.

The same thing goes for instruments. If you’re uncomfortable converting meters to feet, reset everything before your first anchoring. Also, Be sure to ask about any offsets that many have been programmed in so you know whether the instruments are reading from the waterline or from the keel.

Get Personal with the Engine

Charter boat engines do a lot of work, partly because they’re used for both propulsion and battery charging, and partly because people often drive from point to point without ever setting sail. Charter engines are also usually in good shape. That said, make sure you know where your toolkit is and that you have extra engine oil aboard. Have the checkout manager open up the engine compartment and check the bilge, oil level and the coolant before you leave. On a catamaran, do this with both engines.

Evaluate the Electrical System

Electrical systems have been my No. 1 problem on charter boats. The batteries are often mistreated by guests. Because they’re expensive, charter companies tend to use them well past their prime. Because of this, you should know where the batteries are and how many amp hours you have remaining to use. It would be a shame for your trip to be ruined because someone forgot to turn a fan off or left a light on. A good preventative measure is to ask how to combine the batteries in case of low voltage due to the fan/light scenario. Understand and test your battery monitor, and ask if there is an inverter.

Ask about Fuel and Water Tanks

Know the size of your fuel and water tanks, and how many of each you have onboard. If there is a tank monitor, find out if it works–they seldom do. I’ve been on boats that indicated the fuel tanks were full at both the start and end of a seven-day charter, clearly not accounting for the fuel we used along the way.

Guests tend to use quite a bit of water, so it helps to know where the fill is and if you have a key for the deck fitting. Locate the water hose onboard and visually inspect the manifold you’ll need to use to switch from an empty tank to a full one.

Test the Galley Basics

Ask the checkout manager to show you the steps of starting the stove and see if there is a breaker on the panel, as well as a solenoid. Lift your propane tank to see how full it is and make sure you have the proper tools to switch propane bottles if the fitting is corroded.

If there is a foot pump at the sink, see if it’s fresh or saltwater and check the freshwater pump breaker on the panel. Ask if the fridge is engine driven, and how it’s turned on/off. If you plan to barbecue, lay eyes on the grill to see if it’s charcoal or propane. Make sure you have a supply of one or the other.

Go Through the Steps of Reefing

Know how to reef. Whether it’s simple slab reefing or an in-mast system, check whether the lines are at the mast or led aft to the cockpit. If they’re not labeled, pull on each to understand what it controls.

As you’re doing so be sure to see if the previous charterers left a reef in the sail. You don’t want to get surprised when you raise the main for the first time. Knowing how to reef quickly, safely, and effectively is essential—especially in areas of heavy wind.

Don’t Forget the Dinghy (and Outboard)

Inspect the dinghy. Know where your foot pump and paddles are. If the dinghy is on davits—especially common on catamarans—understand how to raise, lower and secure it while underway. Ask if there is a lock (and key) for the outboard as well as the dinghy. If at all possible, start the outboard. Also be sure to ask about fuel and extra oil, especially if it’s a two-stroke. Always have a backup plan if possible.

Charter Chat

The Moorings has added powercats in the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. (moorings.com). It has also announced a new destination—the Spanish Virgin Islands. A variety of power and sailing cats can be chartered out of Marina del Rey in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

When she’s not chartering in exotic places, Zuzana Prochazka cruises Southern California aboard Indigo, a Celestial 48

January 2017

Related

09-Map-Route-VG2020

Vendee Globe Village Closing, Race Still On

Following the latest national lockdown measures announced by French President Emmanuel Macron as part of the fight against Covid-19, the 2020-21 Vendée Globe Race Village will be closed to the public beginning Friday, October 30th. The Vendée Globe will still take place as ...read more

Register-2048

Register of Circumnavigators Launched

Just in time for a fresh class of Vendée Globe sailors to attempt their circumnavigations, The International Association of Cape Horners (IACH) has taken on the responsibility of maintaining an official register of sailors who have completed solo circumnavigations by the Three ...read more

FPO skys0tlm8jlrpynehcpe_NEW

A Half-century of Cruising with SAIL

I cannot say I have been reading SAIL magazine since the very beginning, but I come pretty darned close. Sometime around 1974, when I was in high school, I began buying it every month at our local newsstand and saving every issue until I had great stacks of them, as carefully ...read more

B&G-Halo20+-side-facing

Gear: B&G HALO radar

B&G’s HALO series of radars now includes the HALO20+ and the HALO20, a pair of compact radomes expressly designed for use aboard smaller sailboats. The units measure 20in in diameter and weigh a mere 11lb. The HALO20+, in particular, delivers a full 360-degree sweep every ...read more

PICTON CASTLE under sail with stunsls WV7 compressed

Picton Castle Seeks Crew

The Picton Castle is set to begin its eighth circumnavigation this spring under the command of Captain Daniel Moreland. A professional crew of 12 will guide up to 40 trainees at a time as they learn about all aspects of sailing the bark, from steering to lookout, ...read more

DSC_0013

Ask Sail: Keel Attachments

Q: I have an early ‘70s Catalina 27. The keel bolts look pretty good. My question is, why not glass over the keel to bond to the hull rather than changing the bolts if, or when the bolts are too far gone? I haven’t seen anything on this, so could you discuss? Full-keels are ...read more

04-GOPR0511

Book Review: Sailing Into Oblivion

Sailing Into Oblivion by Jerome Rand $15.99, available through Amazon As refreshing and inspiring as Jerome Rand’s 2017-18 solo-circumnavigation may have been, his account of the voyage in the book Sailing Into Oblivion: The Solo Non-Stop Voyage of the Mighty Sparrow may be even ...read more

01-1970-Dec

50 Years of SAIL

Back in early 1970, Bernie Goldhirsh and the recently founded “Institute for the Advancement of Sailing,” publisher of an annual sailboat and gear guide, launched something called SAIL. A half-century later, a look back at the magazine’s first few years provides a glimpse into a ...read more