When and Why to Use a Charter Broker

Author:
Updated:
Original:
A good charter broker will help you separate the wheat from the chaff

A good charter broker will help you separate the wheat from the chaff

Thanks to Google, there’s very little you can’t find online these days. So why, you might ask, would you need an intermediary or agent to book a bareboat charter vacation? The answer is that you don’t need one. However, you may gain value by using one, depending on where, when and how you want to experience your sailing sojourn.

A charter broker works like a travel agent, representing numerous charter companies in a region or around the globe. They have relationships with various organizations and can do the legwork for you in terms of identifying local companies, comparing prices and providing user reviews of the bases or even of the individual vessels. Think of them as a kind of Expedia for charter boats.

Brokers operate on a commission that is not paid by you, either directly or indirectly, through any kind of higher pricing. Instead, they get volume-booking discounts, which allow them to make a profit by giving you the same price you would get by going direct. In some cases, they may be privy to real-time deals that will allow them to also pass some of the savings on to you.

What’s in it for You

Okay, now that we know they won’t cost you any more, how can a broker help? For starters, some small charter companies at far-flung destinations may not take credit cards, so a broker who does (or accepts a secure online payment system like PayPal) can help with your transaction. Additionally, quotes from multiple providers can be shown in the same format so you can compare more easily. This applies to both crewed and bareboat charters.

Having an on-site advocate can also help in case there are issues on the charter itself. “We have relationships with the charter companies and can usually come to an amicable solution when something goes wrong,” says Chrystal Young, co-owner of LTD Sailing, a school and broker in Grenada.

Along these same lines, companies like LTD Sailing or Ed Hamilton in the Caribbean have first-hand “on island” knowledge of the condition of individual boats and can also advise on the best times to charter in terms of favorable weather or shoulder season discounts. This limits unpleasant surprises, which is always a good thing when on a charter. Think of a broker as a kind of an on-site insider. “We are not some guy in the basement booking trips. We’re out there sailing,” says Young.

Marin Susac of GlobeSailor, a French broker with 12,000 yachts listed at 1,000 providers, adds that her staff is constantly visiting the charter company bases it represents, getting to know the yachts and the managers. They also work with partners in lesser known destinations like Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean territories where charterers often fear to tread.

In the interest of quality control, Susac says GlobeSailor closely scrutinizes the client reviews it receives after each charter and helps with the new European charter certification requirements coming online in some countries. He notes that GlobeSailor also makes a point of revealing the name of the charter company to the guest as soon as the down payment is made and passes on any and all repeat-charter discounts. “We are transparent,” he says, “and can even arrange for additional extras… like a surprise birthday cake.”

That said, it’s important to remember that the success of the charter-agent model relies on how familiar a broker is with the bases they represent. With this in mind, Josie Tucci, general manager for The Moorings US, which works with brokers like VI Sailing and Tropical Yachts (though most of its charters are booked directly), cautions that “Some [brokers] are more familiar with certain destinations than others.” She adds that as an added benefit, The Moorings is an IATA full-service travel agency that can take care of all travel arrangements.

Nonetheless, while I could probably learn to wield Google as well as the next sailor, that doesn’t mean I either want to or have the time. Same goes for dedicating hours to researching destinations, comparing prices and guessing at the quality of the individual vessels on offer at various different small and mid-sized companies. Bottom line: while going direct may be the answer when booking with a large company at a known location when working with say, a small local charter provider halfway around the world, a broker may be just the ticket.

A sampling ofcharter brokers:

Ed Hamilton:ed-hamilton.com

GlobeSailor:theglobesailor.com

LTD Sailing:ltdsailing.com

Tropical Yachts:tropicalyachts.com

Virgin Island Sailing:visailing.com

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

Photo courtesy of GlobeSailor

February 2017

Related

Safe-and-Sound-Pelican-RUCK_CASE_PROPS_R20-614

Gear: RUCK Personal Utility Case

Safe and Sound An age-old problem for small-boat sailors has been taking care of their wallets, keys and other valuables while, say, tooling around the harbor, a problem that has only become all the more pressing in this age of cell phones and other digital products. Now, ...read more

Culebrita-Anchorage

Chartering: The Spanish Virgin Islands

The Spanish Virgin Islands are really a part of the U.S. along with Puerto Rico, and that means you can travel there without a passport or even a special international phone plan. You do, however, need to clear into the islands if you are arriving from the USVI or BVI, which are ...read more

CONNECTING-SHROUD-2048

Experience: Wild Ride

My Hartley 38, Moet, is pounding into massive Pacific Ocean seas. One week of continuous storm conditions has taken me 700 miles south of Fiji, heading for New Zealand. Every few seconds the bow lifts out of the water and hangs in midair for a moment while I tense my muscles, ...read more

01-LEAD-nSterling-ProCombi-S-2

Know-how: Inverter, Charger Combos Offshore

With solid-state inverters and domestic AC devices becoming increasingly efficient, it only makes sense for many sailors to install the necessary 120V AC power for the many appliances now finding their way onboard: including washing machines, TVs, microwave, laptops, chargers ...read more

IMG_5308

Chartering in the British Virgin Islands

Not for nothing are the BVI known as the “nursery slopes” of sailing charters. There simply is no better place to ease yourself into a first-time sailing vacation; for that matter, such is the appeal of these islands that many charterers return year after year. The islands ...read more

IMG_7831

Racing and Bareboat Chartering in the BVI

If not all who wander are lost, then not all who charter are content with sailing between snorkeling spots and sinking a few Painkillers at beach bars. Some want a dose of hard-sailing action blended in with their sunshine and warmth—the kind of action you can only get from ...read more

01-GMR19FP45_1194

Boat Review: Fountaine Pajot Elba 45

With new catamaran brands springing up like mushrooms, France’s Fountaine Pajot is something of an oak tree in the market, with a story that goes back to its founding in 1976. It is also one of the largest cat builders out there, sending some 600 boats down the ways in 2018. The ...read more