Which yacht

There are so many yachts to chose from. Or are there? And which is right for you?

You may have less choice than you think. The larger yacht operators usually have several bases, and not all the yachts they offer are available at all the bases. They may not make this very clear as they want to impress you with the wide choice.  I’ve even known bookings to be taken for yachts that don’t exist, with clients only being told their chosen yacht is unavailable nearer the time.

One yacht, three different company names on the back

One yacht, three different company names on the back

Many yacht operators also have tie ups with other operators elsewhere, so they can offer a wider range of destinations. So a Greek operator may offer a Turkish operator’s yachts and vice versa, meaning the same yachts appear on both operators’ websites (not necessarily at the same prices). The same yachts may also be offered by agents and tour operators, so a single yacht could be listed on a dozen different websites.

So it can be hard to tell where a yacht is coming from, so harder still to tell the quality you’ll be getting.  Many yacht suppliers grade their yachts with descriptions like premium, standard, classic and economy. But these refer to the boats’ ages, it doesn’t tell you anything about the standards of maintenance.  There are yachts over 10 years old from some suppliers that I would rate as in better condition than 4 year old boats from others. And they may cost you a lot less too.

One thing is for sure, there are some cheap yachts out there. Some may be cheap because the operation is well managed, or because the owners aren’t out to make a fortune from their yachting business (for whatever reason).  But think it through, there may just be another reason why some yachts are cheap – they may be run on a shoestring with all that means for maintenance regimes.

This is your holiday and if the boat breaks down you might spend more in the bar whilst awaiting the engineer than it would have cost to get a better yacht in the first place! So don’t get carried away in the quest for a bargain, or you may miss out on what you want altogether. And it can pay to book through an agent who has no stake in the yachts he is selling (like me).

It's 17 years old but I'd charter it in preference to some newer yachts

It’s 17 years old but I’d charter it in preference to some newer yachts

You could of course try to hire a more up market make of yacht.  But look closely and you’ll see the same makes and model ranges appearing. Beneteau with their Oceanis and Cyclades ranges, Jeanneau (part of the Beneteau group) with their Sun Odyssey range, and Bavaria, account for the vast majority of charter yachts. You’ll find a few representatives from local manufacturers such as Ocean Star in Greece, Elan and Salona mainly in Croatia, and Catalinas and Hunters in the Caribbean. Making up most of the rest are yachts from Dufour, Hanse and the catamaran suppliers, notably Lagoon (part of the Beneteau group), Nautitech, Fountaine Pajot with their Athena, Lavezzi, Mahe and Bahia models, and Privilege.

So if you’re looking to sail on something more exotic, or a lean mean racing machine, the best way to get on the former is to do a private charter (though don’t expect the skipper to let you park it).  The easiest way to get on the latter is probably to buy one!

Many have a favourite brand but to me, there’s little to chose between them.  Most of the  manufacturers seem capable of turning out the odd “Friday afternoon” boat and some designs turn out better than others.  So for most the issues will be more fundamental.  The key things to consider are:

  • choosing the right size yacht – how many cabins and toilets (heads)
  • whether a monohulls or catamarans will suit you best
  • whether to charter an older or newer yacht
  • quality issues
  • inventories and equipments specs eg roller or slab reefing

There’s no right or wrong answer.  Sure, you shouldn’t put more people on board than the yacht is insured for (usually the number of cabin berths plus possibly one or two in the saloon).   But some people love catamarans, others loathe them.  Some prefer a newer yacht whilst others like something where any build quality issue have had time to be sorted, or simply can’t see the value in paying a premium price when they can have an older but otherwise identical spec yacht for considerably less.

Remember too that the more specific you are with your requirements, the less choice you will have, which might reduce the chance of finding a bargain or indeed finding anything at all in the area you want.

There’s much more informations on all the above in the Yachts section so read on.