Generally there is remarkably little variation in what you’ll find on board a charter yacht, but some things like autohelms and chartplotters are not yet universally installed and are more likely to be found on the newer or larger yachts. So you have some choices regarding the basic spec of your yacht and some optional equipment that can then be added to it.
Virtually all charter yachts will include a furling genoa, wheel steering, electric windlass, bimini, dinghy, deck shower, warps, fenders, lifejackets, harnesses, flares, fire extinguishers, GPS, VHF, charts and pilot books, manual plotters and dividers, fridge, cooker, hot water, cutlery, crockery, glasses, pans and a CD player.
If you are particular about your yacht, take care when booking – yacht suppliers can easily add an outboard if one isn’t included but if you’re desperate for say a bow thruster, these are either fitted or not.
The main choices are:
- Furling or lazy jacked main sail – most yachts have one or the another though there are just a few boats still with a plain slab reefed main but no lazyjacks. (All charter yachts have furling head sails).
Furling mains are pretty reliable these days and problems are generally user originated rather than due to the gear itself. They are easy to use, especially for short handed use. The sail shape is a compromise to enable it to roll up and you won’t get any battens, but they’re quite adequate for cruising.
Lazyjacks catch the sails as they fall which saves flaking it over the boom. The reefing system itself may be the traditional slab reefed type requiring a trip to the mast to put the cringle over the hook at the gooseneck. Newer yachts have a single line reefing system which, when it works, means the reefing can all be done from the cockpit. The number of pulleys involved means you may still need a trip to the mast but theses systems are getting better.
- Autohelm – enabling the boat to automatically steer a set course or a set angle to the wind. These are getting much more common, much to the nervousness of many yacht operators who fear users may forget to maintain a good look out.
- Chart plotter (electronic) – also getting more common, enabling you to see your progress from the wheel, set courses and waypoints etc.
- Bow Thruster – available on some of the bigger yachts though I still maintain they aren’t really needed except in the tightest of marinas and get people in to more trouble than it gets them out of.
- Wheel – there are virtually no charter yachts left with tillers. Some larger yachts have twin wheels though these can be a mixed blessing. Aside from taking up valuable sunbathing space in the cockpit, many yachts only have a throttle next to one of the wheels , meaning you can only helm from one side when mooring.
- Holding Tank – some suppliers fit them, others don’t
- Shore power facilities – often fitted in areas where there is power available on quays but there are still many areas with few shore side power sockets.
- Sprayhood – included on some yachts (not sure if that’s good or bad)
- Cockpit cushions – ditto
- Passerelle – most suppliers give you a plank, some bigger yachts have passerelles which may ocassionally be hydraulic
- Electric winches – sometimes on larger yachts
- Ipod input – on many newer yachts (or buy an FM transmitter)
- Cockpit speakers – on some yachts
- DVD player – on a few yachts
- Snorkels, masks and flippers – sometimes included but often of such poor quality I suggest you take your own
- Microwave – rare
- Radar – very rare
- TV – very rare
- Dishwasher – very rare
- Generator – vey rare (and anyone moored nearby will hate you if you use it)
- Heater – rare
- Air con – reasonably common in Caribbean, rare in the Med.
- BBQ – common in Caribbean, never in the Med.
- Solar Panels – very rare
- Outboard – you will always get a dinghy and some oars, but you sometimes have to pay extra for an outboard. Usually the most unreliable bit of kit on any charter yacht so make sure you see it running before you leave and fully understand how to start it.
- Bed linen – usually included but one or two suppliers have started to list it as an extra
- Towels – sometimes included, sometimes optional extras, sometimes simply not offered
- Comfort/welcome packs – contents vary but these may include basic provisions, linen and/or towels. Some suppliers also offer a full provisioning service.
- Spinaker/Asymetric – sometimes available as an optional extra but usually with a hefty deposit as they often get wrecked (due to useage not weather)!
If you’d like me to find you a yacht and have any particular preferences for any of the above do let me know, but as every supplier has a different way of advising specs and options, there’s no quick way of checking all the above and comparing between different suppliers (I’m working on a database to include on this website but it’s not my top job). So if you’re highly particular about lots of things then;
- It will take me a while to process your enquiry
- You risk ending up with a fairly small list of yachts to chose from!
Note that if you prefer to take your own lifejacket, be aware that many airlines ban the gas canisters (even though they have them fitted to all the plane’s life jackets). Check with your airline first.