Know How: Picking the Right Charter Boat

Author:
Publish date:
Catamarans (left) offer a wealth of space; however, smaller crews (above) will do just fine aboard monohulls with less LOA

Catamarans (left) offer a wealth of space; however, smaller crews (above) will do just fine aboard monohulls with less LOA

Like Goldilocks, charterers look for a bareboat that’s not too big, not too small, not too expensive, not too complicated and generally “just right.” Just right, though, means different things to different people, and each charter has its own circumstances, so what’s a sailor to do? Here are some guidelines to help you choose the best boat for you on your next trip.

Number of Guests

There’s a huge difference between chartering as a couple and chartering as a group. Two people need less space and less water, but they also may not be able to manage a larger rig, or the relatively large main of a catamaran in a blow. Similarly, a 34ft monohull may be just the ticket for four or less. However, larger groups will need room to spread out, not to mention larger water tanks and bigger battery banks to keep lots of lights and fans running. In this case, a 50ft-plus monohull or a cat of 45ft or longer would be the right choice. That said, be mindful how much boat you’ll have to manage, reef and dock, especially when the weather isn’t cooperating.

Types of Guests

If you’re chartering with small kids or older folks with mobility restrictions, a catamaran may be ideal. Generally cats are more stable both underway and at anchor. Plus, they have more deck space giving, say, toddlers more latitude to explore. Cats also provide better sun protection for sensitive folks and offer less likelihood of seasickness due to their motion and lack of heeling. Finally, non-sailors may prefer cats due to their greater space, privacy and amenities, while the larger water tanks and room for installed watermakers on cats can help newbies deal with the conservation that goes with living aboard for a week.

Again, though, experience also plays a part, so when picking a boat be sure to consider both the level of your expertise and the skills of your crew. Are you really up to the task of driving and docking a large cat or a 57ft monohull sans bow thruster? Similarly, Med-mooring a big boat on a small quay in Greece or Croatia is no picnic without a good skipper and some seasoned deckhands. As an added benefit, if you’re not too handy mechanically, going smaller and simpler means you’ll have fewer systems to run and/or fix along the way.

Managing the tender is also a consideration. Most charter monohulls are forced to tow a dinghy, which slows the boat and can be inconvenient when docking and even dangerous in following seas. Cats, on the other hand, usually have davits, so you can lift the dink every trip and every night so it won’t be stolen.

Budget

Think long and hard about how much of your vacation budget should go to the cost of the boat. Bigger boats are costlier. Comparable cats are more expensive than monohulls (usually). Newer and better-equipped boats will also cost more than those that have seen several years of service. If you don’t need a watermaker, a large fridge, an on-deck BBQ or a brand-new dinghy, bargain charter boats may make sense. If, however, you’re planning the trip of a lifetime with multiple generations of family, you may want to splurge.

Going with off-brand charter companies can help tight budgets too. Of course, with some, you may get what you pay for. But with others, you may have the pleasure of dealing with a family-run operation that makes up in good maintenance and service for what it lacks in brand awareness and the age of its fleet.

Timing

Finally, as in life, timing is everything. If you absolutely must charter during holiday weeks, be prepared to pay more for less. Shoulder seasons, on the other hand, offer good deals that may allow you to get a larger or newer cat for the same rate as a smaller, older monohull in high season.

Getting it Just Right

The type of boat you charter will have a major impact on the quality of your vacation, but even if you get the oldest, smallest or worst boat in the fleet, your attitude can still make it the best vacation of your life. No matter the boat, the most important thing to bring along when chartering is a sense of humor.

November 2018 

Related

190205BeneteauFirst18

Beneteau’s new First 18

Beneteau’s new First 18 is a boat born to introduce you to the joys of sailing. This meticulously crafted sailboat is mellow enough for a great afternoon of cruising even in the lightest breeze. And when the wind picks up, she is also capable of thrilling speeds while delivering ...read more

Corsica

Charter Directory

Broker/Worldwide A2A YACHTING – Yacht Charter Worldwide A2A YACHTING +44 (0) 121 285 9009 Bajor Yacht Charters 800-524 8292 BoatBureau Charters +44(0)2033 933 878 Charter Sailing Unlimited 888-856-8310 CharterWorld world.reservations@charterworld.com Dream Yacht Charter 866-469 ...read more

Nathan-Bates-San-Diego,-CA

SAIL 2018: Reader's Photographs

Are you out there sailing, cruising and living the sailing life? If so, we’d love to see it. Send your sailing photos to sailmail@sailmagazine.com And don’t forget to sign up for our free eNewsletter. Check back for updates! We pulled out the drone to take this shot while ...read more

shutterstock_1158262783

A Catamaran Takes on the American Great Loop

After completing the European Great Loop on our 1987 40ft Catalac catamaran, Angel Louise, my wife, Sue, and I sailed home to the States and spent two years sailing up and down East coast between Maine and Florida, like migratory waterfowl. Eventually, though, we decided to ...read more

01-LEAD_Alex_Irwin

Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image Competition

The Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image competition once again captures the excitement that is sailing from around the world An impressive 109 photographers from 25 countries took part in last year’s Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image 2018 competition. And while Portuguese photographer Ricarado ...read more

judges2-1024x319-0219-600x

2019 Pittman Innovation Awards

For the past couple of decades, the digital side of sailing has become increasingly important, to the point where it’s now almost inconceivable going offshore, even aboard a daysailer, without at least a modicum of electronics onboard—a trend that has been very much in evidence ...read more