Bareboat yacht charter

If you know all about bareboat yacht charter, you can read more on the different areas or check prices and availability using the links right. To find out about the joys of bareboating, read on.

Bareboat charters are where you hire a yacht and sail it yourself. It’s the nautical equivalent of car hire.

Bareboats are ideal for those that like to be in full control of where they go, how far they sail and how long they stop at each port or anchorage. They provide the opportunity to get off the beaten track and explore less visited places, though if you don’t like to spend too much time devising your own route, there are numerous suggested itineraries, including on this site.

Many people are put off booking a Bareboat holiday because they have traditionally been sold on a yacht only basis, leaving you to arrange your own transfers and flights. However, I can offer packages with flights and transfers if you prefer.

There are still a few yachts under 36 feet available on bareboat, like these 32 and 33 footers

There are still a few yachts under 36 feet available on bareboat, like these 32 and 33 footers

You need an appropriate sailing certificate or skills and some yacht suppliers may require a second person to have similar experience (this is a good idea even when it’s not a requirement). The sailing qualifications needed vary from place to place but generally an RYA Day Skipper or International Certificate of Competence (ICC) will suffice. If you lack the necessary skills or certificates I would recommend a Skippered Charter.

Most bareboat yachts are between 30 and 50 feet, including catamarans. These give capacities between 2 and 12 people so if your group is bigger than this you will probably need to consider 2 yachts. If you are keen sailors, this can be a good idea even for smaller numbers – there is little more to do to operate a 50 foot yacht than a 30 foot boat and you don’t want your crew getting bored!

You can book the yacht alone, either direct with a yacht supplier, or through a UK agent (like me) and organise flights yourself. Alternatively you can book the boat and flights together through a UK tour operator or agent (like me, I’m very nice), with ATOL protection.

To get from the airport to the yacht most bareboat charter companies offer transfers, sometimes free, more usually for a small fee. Alternatively you can make your own way, either by pre-booking transfers on line, or just taking a cab or airport bus on arrival.

All yachts come with a dinghy but the outboard may be an optional extra

All yachts come with a dinghy but the outboard may be an optional extra

Your yacht will come fully equipped to local standards (ie don’t expect you’ll necessarily get all the gear that would be on a UK sail training vessel – there are places where the locals couldn’t buy a motoring triangle if they wanted one)!

The inventory will include charts and pilot books and safety equipment, though those with small children may have to supply their own lifejackets. Precise inventories vary but newer yachts are more likely to have autopilots and chartplotters. Air conditioning and BBQ’s, common in the Caribbean are rare on Mediterranean yachts.

In addition to the standard inventory, most suppliers offer optional extras. As with budget air travel, some operators use this to make the headline price cheaper. For example, some suppliers include an outboard engine for the dinghy, others include this for free.

The yacht will be insured but you will have to lodge a security deposit against loss or damage, usually taken as an authorisation on your credit or debit card. A few bareboat charter companies now offer a non refundable damage waiver as an alternative to all or part of the security deposit.  Security deposits vary with the size of yacht but can also vary markedly between suppliers. Unless you wilfully damage the boat, the security deposit is the limit of your liability – think of it as the excess on the yacht supplier’s insurance policy.

You pay your own fuel and if you insist on doing lots of cooking (unlikely) you might have to buy some gas. You are responsible for your own food and drink though some yacht suppliers offer a provisioning service. Any mooring fees along the way are down to you, except for the first and last night at the yacht’s base.

Most charters start on Saturdays for multiples of a week, though other start days and durations are possible. Charters usually start at 17.00 and finish at 09.00, though you may be required to have the yacht back in port the evening before the charter ends.

Your check in will include an inventory check, issue of ships papers, a yacht briefing and an area briefing, though the quality of the last two is variable. That done, you are free to go where you wish until the end of the charter, though there may be restrictions on taking your yacht in to other countries.

Don't try and fix problems yourself

Don’t try and fix problems yourself

You will usually have basic tools and spares such as fan belts and spare impellers on board.  Suppliers would otherwise prefer you to contact them if you need assistance and some provide a free mobile phone for this purpose. Don’t expect to be popular if you use it to call up for a weather forecast three times a day! For more on dealing with mishaps see Breakdowns and Accidents.

Many bareboaters never suffer a breakdown but it must be said that the quality of yachts available is variable. Some are superbly maintained, but I did meet one charterer not long ago (not one of my clients I hasten to add) who had been told that having cockroaches on board was normal, and it wasn’t a problem that one of the toilets was blocked – that was why the manufacturer had built the yacht with two!!

So be aware if you shop on price alone that they may be a reason why some yachts are cheaper than others. All boats break down sometimes, faced with the rigours of life in a marine environment compounded by the none too gentle treatment meted out by some clients! Using an agent to find your yacht rather than booking direct with a yacht supplier should improve your chances of a trouble free holiday.

Finally, if you’re looking for something a little different, why not consider some variations on bareboating, such as racing, regattas, one way charter, or an international charter, hiring the yacht in one country and visiting another.