Bareboat Secrets – Bareboat chartering gives the feeling of tremendous freedom, self-dependence, and accomplishment, and you don’t have to worry whether you’ll “get along” with your skipper.  But, bareboating does require that at least one of the members of your crew is an experienced sailor. It also requires that all on board take at least some responsibility for the ultimate safety of the group, and that the appointed skipper not only knows how to sail, but also how to organise and manage the crew.

If your group is keen to sail and all have basic experience but are a bit apprehensive, it is normally possible to arrange for a skipper for a day or two while everyone gets used to the boat and each other.  All luxury yachts and nearly all motor yachts come with an experienced crew that is familiar with both the boat and the local waters. These can range from a “jack of all trades” skipper who cooks, cleans, sails and does repairs when necessary, to crews of 10 – 12 people on some of the luxury yachts who can take care of your every need and operate the boat like a 5 star floating hotel (gourmet cooks, experienced hostesses, water sports guides, etc.)

Advances in boat technology have greatly reduced the effort required to sail a bareboat, and made it safer and more enjoyable as well. GPS plotters, furling mainsails and better boat design both above and below deck have taken much of the manual labour out of sailing, and therefore made a sailing holiday a viable alternative for a far larger number of holiday makers.  If you want performance, you should look for a boat with a fully battened mainsail, which now comes with a “lazy-jack” that greatly simplifies lowering the sail. If you want greater ease and are willing to trade off slightly on performance, a self-furling mainsail that rolls into the mast is a great option.

“Creature comforts” are now being built in to the whole range of sailboats. Better ventilation systems (even air-conditioning on many catamarans), CD players with speakers both below deck and in the cockpit, well equipped galleys, Autopilot and GPS, all combine to make sailing charters more enjoyable for your crew.  Draw up a list of desires when you book – you’ll be surprised how many your bareboat will meet!

Personal preference plays a large role in your choice between a Catamaran and a traditional Monohull. While some purists wouldn’t dream of chartering a Catamaran, they do provide many features that make them a good and increasingly common choice for a variety of reasons. In general, Catamarans are easier to navigate in shallow water; provide great views from the spacious galley; and have an excellent sun deck.  What’s more, you don’t have to climb stairs to go inside and you get more privacy because the cabins are separated from each other.

New technologies and better design have also greatly improved the ability to deliver a truly stunning holiday experience on a motor yacht.  This is where you get the plush accommodation and all the toys. It is not uncommon to find a luxury motor yacht with hot tub, plasma screen TV with surround sound and satellite channels, Internet access, gourmet food served just as you like it, and an entire range of water sports including scuba, windSurfing, jet ski and water skiing. While these boats do not come cheap, again when compared to the price of a 5 Start Hotel for a week for 3-4 couples or a full family, you will often come better off financially and have the added benefit of the privacy and freedom that come from being on your own boat.