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

Ari-video

Ari Huusela Finishes the Vendée Globe

After 116 days at sea, Ari Huusela (Stark) has crossed the line and brought a close to the 9th edition of the Vendée Globe. He is the first Finnish skipper to complete the race. In a race this difficult, making it to the finish is a victory in its own right. Though the last ...read more

NewportBoatShow

Newport International Boat Show Announces Dates

This year marks half a century for New England’s largest boat show, and the celebration will be in person. In a statement released yesterday, Nancy Piffard, Show Director of Newport Exhibition Group said, “We are excited to kick off the boat show season in-person this year… We ...read more

Screen-Shot-2021-03-03-at-9.48.03-AM

World Sailing Trust Launches Global Participation Study

Two years after its global survey on women in sailing, the World Sailing Trust is surveying the entire sport in order to assess equity, diversity and inclusion. The survey will be conducted bi-annually to monitor trends and progress. "By researching the sport, the aim is to ...read more

01A-LEAD-Finished-table

DIY: A Better Saloon Table

The original saloon table in my Down East 45 schooner was a single heavy sheet of 3/4in laminated plywood, 27in wide by 57in long. It was supported on two substantial aluminum pedestals locking into a set of large round collars screwed to the sole. There were two annoying ...read more

02b-screen-shot

Salty Dawgs Recognized by CCA

The Salty Dawg Sailing Association (SDSA) has long been the go-to organization for high value, affordable rallies, but when Covid forced the sudden closure of borders in the Caribbean, it pivoted to organizing the Homeward Bound Flotilla. Its experience organizing rallies came ...read more

FB-BHM-1024

SAIL Black History Month Series: James Forten

James Forten was born on September 2, 1766 in Philadelphia to free Black parents Thomas and Margaret Forten. Forten attended a Quaker school as a young child, then went to work with his father who was a sailmaker. His father died when he was still young, and Forten worked ...read more

sailme-app_ SAIL

5 Ways Sail.me Helps You Monetize Your Boat

Ready to earn some extra funds by renting out your boat or yacht? Sail.me is an interactive service that allows you to monetize your boat in a secure, safe, and easy way. A user-friendly app and website will help you manage reservations, add-ons, and set customized routes to ...read more

VendeePromo

2020-21 Vendée Timeline

As a spectator event, France’s Vendée Globe never disappoints, and the 2020-21 edition of the quadrennial round-the-world race was no exception. From equipment failures to climactic rescues, heartbreaking abandonments and a breathtakingly close finish, this edition, which ...read more