If this is your first time renting a boat, you may have some questions about the logistics. Consider this “boat rental 101.” We’ll start with what you need to know about renting a bare boat to sail yourself and then move on to what you need to know if you’re hiring a crew as well.
But first, a few notes for everyone:
Saturday schedules. If you want to rent a boat in the Mediterranean, you may have to rent it for a week starting on Saturday. This is how it’s done traditionally, and while some companies are shifting to a hotel-style booking model, many companies still prefer rentals to start and end on Saturday.
Itinerary: If you’re planning to sail during peak season to a popular destination, you may need to pre-plan your itinerary and book places to dock your boat, known as berths, ahead of time. Winging it is always an option, but that won’t work in very popular locales.
Insurance: Boat rentals come with liability insurance, but if damage occurs, you may be responsible for up to a few thousand euro. Most charter operators offer additional insurance, via a daily surcharge. They may also require a deposit to protect themselves in case of damages. If you don’t want to agree to a large deposit, some charters offer deposit insurance instead, which is a smaller amount but non-refundable. These details will vary by individual contract, so be sure to look at the details and ask if you have any questions.
How bareboat charters work:
If you’re an experienced sailor, you can likely rent a boat and crew it yourself.
Most operators accept the International Certificate of Competence (ICC). This certification is offered by different agencies, such as the American Sailing Association, or ASA, in the US and the Royal Yachting Association, or RYA, in the UK. Many charter operators also require you to upload your sailing experience to ensure you’re able to operate the particular vessel you plan to rent.
How crewed charters work:
Some charters are pre-marked as “crewed,” which means the boat has a permanent crew on board. Usually, the baseline crew is a skipper (captain) and a chef. The skipper is in charge of the boat and keeping you happy. He/she can help with itineraries, adventures, and so on. The chef covers food and drinks, and may also cover housekeeping.
With crewed boats, the crew have their own cabins that are counted separate from the berths (beds) listed as available to you. You won’t need to plan for, or worry about, accommodating them.
Another, potentially cheaper, option is to book a smaller vessel as a bareboat charter and then ask to hire a crew. These crew members then sail with you on a per diem rate.
In these cases, the crew will need a cabin. If there are 4 cabins available, one will need to be earmarked for your skipper, meaning only 3 cabins are available to you. Additionally, you’ll need to plan on additional provisions for your skipper. You can also wait and shop for provisions with your crew before you set sail.
Each charter company tends to have clear outlines about what is expected.
Whether you book a crewed charter or hire a crew separately, it’s customary to tip your crew based on service. The general rule is to tip 15-20 percent of their per diem rate.