Skip to main content

What if it Goes Wrong?

The word is "most."Most bareboat-charter companies are able to hire a skipper for you at most or all of their bases and most can also find an instructional skipper, should you want to brush up your basic sailing skills or acquire cruising-specific knowledge. Most of the time it goes well. You not only pay the skipper, but are also expected to provide a cabin on your boat for him/her as
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

The word is "most."

Most bareboat-charter companies are able to hire a skipper for you at most or all of their bases and most can also find an instructional skipper, should you want to brush up your basic sailing skills or acquire cruising-specific knowledge. Most of the time it goes well. You not only pay the skipper, but are also expected to provide a cabin on your boat for him/her as well as provisioning. This scenario is especially true of, but not limited to, charters in the Caribbean. I am of necessity speaking in generalities, since there are differences from company to company and from place to place; you can get specific information by linking to the Web sites of charter companies with bases in the Caribbean/worldwide and U.S./Canada through sailmagazine.com at Charter Cruising:Charter Companies.

Charter companies deal with skippers they have come to know and rely on over time. The world of chartering is small, and reputations, good and bad, are pretty much out there. The upshot is that the skipper who greets you on your chartered bareboat is likely to be knowledgeable and personable and, often, to end up as your new best friend.

Sometimes—rarely, but sometimes—this doesn't happen. We recently heard from a reader who, with his wife, chartered a boat in the Caribbean and requested a skipper who could help improve his sailing skills as well as act as a guide to the islands. Unfortunately, they were not only bitterly disappointed, but were alarmed by this gentleman's unsafe sailing practices.

I asked some charter-company people whether this could have been prevented. If you're hiring a skipper, they told me, you can ask to have a phone conversation with the skipper before you ever leave home. If the conversation isn't satisfactory, you can then ask the company to suggest someone else—and then be sure to do another telephone interview.

But suppose you've spent a day sharing the relatively small space of a typical charterboat and find that you and the skipper are seriously mismatched, and you and your companion(s) are miserable. What do you do then? Keep in mind that you're a valued client, not an indentured seaman, and contact the charter company immediately (you can reach them by cell phone or VHF, or from a phone ashore). Explain that you're finding the situation untenable and explain the reasons for this. At best, the company will be able to find a replacement skipper; at worst, you can ask the skipper to find a place for you in a secure and pleasant anchorage where you can spend the rest of your vacation enjoying the setting, the scenery, and the island without him or her, and arrange for the company to send someone to fetch you and the boat (if you're uncomfortable sailing it yourself) and return you to the base when your charter time is up. It's not the same as sailing, of course, but it can be a more than pleasant time, and you can enjoy your floating hotel room.

Amy Ullrich

Related

Rescue

Cruising: Safety Lessons Learned

It’s not often that sailors get a chance to put their rescue and MOB training to the test, rarer still that they do as quickly as newbie California sailor Khosrow “Koz” Khosravani did recently. If and when an emergency situation ever arises, though, it pays to be prepared. This ...read more

01-LEAD-'22.01.10_FALKEN-Maiden_Emma-Bow

At the Helm: Sailplans

The first thing you notice when you look at the sailplan for the Farr 65, Falken, which Mia and I recently added to the fleet here at 59-North, is the sheer number of headsails. Falken was built in 1999 as a racing boat to go around the world, and the crew would have carried the ...read more

01-PR-2-Throwing-it-Back-_©LaurensMorel

Racing Class Reunion

Where does an old VO70 go to retire? Right back to the racing circuit, apparently. This spring saw a remarkable contingent of Volvo Ocean Race one designs back on the water and duking it out on the Caribbean circuit. While it’s no surprise that some of the VO65 teams intending ...read more

05-Sailboats-moored-in-sheltered-waters-off-of-Kärrsön

Charter: Sweden

With 2,000 miles of coastline, 270,000 islands and seemingly countless bays and inlets, Sweden is truly a sailor’s paradise. One of the top sailing destinations here is the archipelago just outside the country’s second largest city Gothenburg (locally known as Göteborg), on the ...read more

fa70b13c-8eec-4c35-b30f-f89e497b469a

Crowdsourcing Age-of-Sail Weather Data

Although big, multi-million-dollar projects like the Large Hadron Collider and the human genome project with their legions of PHD’s tend to grab headlines, there’s still a part of play for the “citizen scientists” of the world. Amateur birders have long contributed to an ...read more

01-LEAD-Ultime-race-Yvan-Zedda,-OC-Sport-Pen-Duick

Ultims to Race Solo Around the World

For years now, maxi-trimarans, both solo-sailed and fully crewed, have been racing the clock on their own around the world in an effort to set ever faster records for the world’s fastest circumnavigation under sail. Back in 2000-01 there was also a no-holds-barred ...read more

P1-01-LEAD-018_CARYNBDAVIS_AMISTAD

Juneteenth on the Water

Discovering Amistad and Mystic Seaport Museum have partnered to organize their third annual Juneteenth festival, featuring concerts, speakers and a reflection on the lasting legacy of racial injustice in America. Declared a National Holiday in 2021, Juneteenth celebrates the end ...read more

Lead-2021-01-17-vue-03-34-av-tb-01

New Multihulls for 2022

Lagoon 51 In keeping with many of the more recently launched models created by French multihull builder Lagoon, the Lagoon 51 is all about comfort, “en plein air,” in particular, as the French might say. Topside, a whopping 80 percent of the boat’s flybridge is given over to ...read more