By Marsha Dyslin
We have chartered boats 9 times since 1991 (to Grenada, British Virgin Islands, Bahamas, La Paz, British Columbia, Belize and have trailered our previous boat to British Columbia and Southern Cal. , sailing to Catalina Island.
Our first charter with the girls was when they were 5,8 and 10 years old, and we had 4 adults for the 3 kids. This summer, it was our kids who were pushing for a family sailing time.
Here are our top ten chartering tips:
1. Know your crew.
It is very different spending a weekend on a cruise out with someone in the slip next to you versus sharing a boat with them for a week! Most of our charters were with our kids or extended family. When we needed to fill the boat with others, we considered who would want to go on their vacation with US. We have done one trip that was all adults, and our last trip was with two boats, 11 people, the youngest being 17.
2. Know your crew’s priorities.
On different trips, we have been scuba diving or have been pretty isolated. Do people want to explore land, enjoy the night life on different islands, enjoy the quiet of the boat, see nature, sail all day or half the day?
3. Meals become important.
Is one person responsible for the meals? Eating on the boat or going out to dinners? We always planned for at least one night off the boat for dinner and the last night for leftovers! Who is going to provision the boat? We have usually planned an extra day at the location we are chartering from to go grocery shopping. With children, what the company would charge for
provisioning was very expensive, and probably not what they wanted to eat.
4. Decide on the location and length of your charter early.
Possibly six months ahead of time, or more, so you have the most selection in sizes of boats.
We have always chartered in the summer time because of school schedules. This is also the beginning of hurricane season. Our logic is that the company cares very much about their boat, so if there is a weather issue, they are going to get their boat to safe waters. We have not had a problem with this.
When choosing the size of the boat, consider how many crew. We have learned that even if the boat has 10 beds, Beds 9 and 10 are not likely places where you want to sleep. The charter company’s website will have lots of information about all the locations they offer for chartering and will provide suggested itineraries.
5. Have more than one person attend the captain’s briefing.
There is usually a captain’s briefing on land before you can leave the dock. The charter company gives recommendations for places to go and NOT to go. Have more than one person attend the captain’s briefing. We usually took really good notes that were helpful to look out halfway through the trip when we forgot some of the details.
6. Have more than one person attent the boat check out briefing.
It is good to have two people present for this also. It is hard for one person, usually the captain, to know everything, and have others are constantly asking questions. Many times we would have the boat check out be done the day before we left the dock while other members of the crew were provisioning.
7. Stay aboard the boat the night before you leave the dock.
There usually was an additional charge, but it was similar to a hotel. This gave us time to stow our gear, see if any additional questions came up that could easily be asked the next morning, and gave us an early start to the day.
8. Be willing to fix things.
But also be willing to strongly request a partial refund of the charter fee if things go wrong. We were once sent out with an almost empty diesel tank that ran out the second day. The indicator read full, but the tank was empty. It costs us a day of our charter for them to identify and fix the problem. Since that time we always visually see the diesel tank and don’t trust the gauge.
9. Explore the land from the marina.
Go to the market, meet locals. They have the best advice on hikes, or bakeries or restaurants.
10. Have fun.
Encourage the crew to learn and do as much as they want. It is their vacation too!
SJSC Meeting Coordinator, Past Commodore