October 15, 2012

What charter type best suits you?

By Robert Cross

The ultimate holiday is to be found on a well chosen boat in the company of people who share with you and add value to the destination of your dreams. A sailing holiday is not a one size fits all experience. It is not an independent experience, there will be people on board to help turn your dream into a reality. Being on a boat places you in a micro community in which you play a role. The more you pay the more this role is reduced right up to the premium end of the market that is the fully crewed charter. But for most of us a sailing holiday is about sharing the experience and playing our part in making it a success.
Relaxing on trampRelaxing on tramp

The company and indeed your own ability will offer a mix of skills and characters, making every aspect of the trip enjoyable for those who participate.

Sunshine and chilled wine, good food and shared stories, snorkelling among colourful fish in warm waters, immerse yourself in the sweet fragrances of the tropics, sailing in soft sea breezes enjoying the motion afloat.

As the splendour of where you are takes hold my experience has been that most find a synergy with the people they are with. From this comes a holiday that will exceed your expectations.

You should identify your charter type, be well advised and choose your sailing holiday wisely.

How do I choose my charter type? Simple! ask yourself honestly "What charter type am I?"

Services and styles are available to fit with every charter clients expectations so it pays to be realistic as to what these are. This table may help as a guide and further explanation follows.

What type of charterer are you?BudgetCharter type

Low level of experience without sailing companions. Wanting a shared experience.

economy Flotilla, if have basic boat skills.
mid-range Private "by the cabin" skippered bare boat charter.
luxury Skippered/crewed bare boat charter

Low Level of experience without sailing companions. Wanting a private experience and like to be looked after by someone in a professional capacity.

economy Skippered bareboat charter 
mid-range Skippered and cook bare boat charter
luxury Fully crewed charter

Low level of experience with sailing companions. Who enjoy sharing their love of sailing and are prepared to take on the responsibility of skipper.

economy Bareboat charter or flotilla
mid-range Private "by the cabin" skippered bare boat charter.
luxury Cabin share charter

Experienced mariner without sailing companions. Wanting shared experience.

Enjoy sharing your passion for sailing with like minded people and happy to take responsibility with an active role.

economy Organiser of private "by the cabin" skippered charter.
mid-range Cabin share charter
luxury Fully crewed charter

Experienced mariner with sailing companions or novice friends who would like to enjoy a sailing holiday

Enjoy sharing your passion for sailing with like minded people and happy to take responsibility with an active role

or/ like to have someone else take all the responsibility with a professional crew dedicated to the boat and this cruising area to take you to the best places, provide fresh produce and arrange any additional pampering onshore.

economy Organiser of private "by the cabin" skippered charter.
mid-range Bare boat charter as a group.
luxury Skippered bare boat charter (you relax as 1st mate)

In between sailing novice and experienced sailor may require a mixture of the above. You may choose to take a skipper for just a couple of days until you gain confidence or book a bareboat as part of a flotilla to give you the support of the lead boat and the other charters.

Charter Types

Organised private "by the cabin" skippered bare boat charter

There is an increasing trend for an experienced yachtie to reserve a boat and proceed to sell cabin packages to a specific target market. Normally the organiser is an experienced skipper offering his services to cover his costs by placing a profit margin on the sale of the remaining cabins. The organiser takes on the responsibility of skipper and the organising of the charter. This skipper and most likely his partner are on board as equal participants of the holiday and require everyone to play a role on charter. This provides opportunity for individuals and couples to enjoy a charter at a reasonable cost.

The organiser of the "by the cabin charter" usually markets to a group with like interests. Some examples assisted by Sail connections are  members of a yacht club who take an annual flotilla, Penny Whiting sailing school graduate charters in Tahiti and Croatia or New Zealand Kite surfers annual pilgrimage to the Maraumu winds in Tahiti or a blue water cruising magazine that runs flotilla's in the Pacific and Caribbean. These are charters we assist to organise and market and offer our experience to ensure everything is well organised. We book the boat on favourable terms providing a marketing window during which time the deposit is refundable.

Some of these charters follow a fixed plan offering sailing through a specific region while others place a boat in one area with various crew changes over the period that the boat is booked.

An organised private skippered charter has the advantage that it can follow a theme or more adventurous itinerary. The kite surfer's is a good example, a great bunch of people sharing their version of nirvana. Another is a blue water experience such as a group of yachtsmen taking their partners from Papeete to pick up a local guide at the Tuamotu group then carrying on to the Society Islands to finish in Raiatea. 2 x overnight down wind passages enjoying the wonderment of sailing at night to arrive at a area that is pristine and full of marinelife.

If you have an idea of what your ideal sailing adventure talk to us. It is possible we can work with you to organise this through a private skippered charter. 

With a private skippered charter there is also the opportunity to offer flotilla for those who would wish to tag along. Usually a small amount is paid to the organising skipper and he takes your requirements into consideration in his planning.

Cabin Share sailing holidays

In all of the choice spots you will find luxury charter yachts with set sailing routes providing an interesting itinerary for those wishing to take a charter in all or part of this region. Mostly these will be catamarans around 60ft with 5 double cabins. The crew will be a permanent couple sharing one of the cabins with the remaining cabins sold individually.

This is a professional skippered charter where you will most likely find yourself sailing in the company of international guests. The crew (skipper and hostess) will be multi lingual and dedicated to looking after your every need. They will be familiar with the boat and the cruising region. They will have local contacts or knowledge to gather fresh produce and cultural exchange. There is the option to connect with excursions and activities at stages of the tour.

A fascinating aspect of Cabin Share charters is there are many located in parts of the world that have little else in the way of established tourism, Cuba, Mauritius and Madagascar to name a few places of interest. Then of course there is Polynesia (including the remote Taumotu group of islands), the Caribbean and many regions of the Mediterranean.

At published rates a double cabin works out at about 50-30% dearer than what I would expect you to pay for a private skippered charter. Cabin Share charters will be on a bigger catamaran with professional crew, the level of luxury based on space and service will be of a higher standard.

If sharing with strangers is an issue these boats are available for you and your friends to book for private charter and as such represent the best value fully crewed charter option.

Flotilla Charter

Sailing in the company of other boats provides a level of support and guidance as well as the extra social dynamic of sharing the experience with people in the same figurative boat. In the popular locations there are fleets of boats set up to offer a set intinerary sailing in convoy. These boats tend to be smaller and easy to handle, invariably are late model and well maintained. The lead skipper is there to assist and morning briefings allow you to familirise yourself with any hazards with the unofficial evening debriefings providing a forum to reflect on  the challenges of the day with promise of an improved performance tomorrow. It's a very rich a rewarding way to build your confidence on a yacht while having an enjoyable holiday.

Sail Connections considers demand for regions not well serviced by Flotilla and have in the past organised Flotillas as well as teaming bareboats up with private skippered charters.

Skippered bare boat charter

Any bare boat charter can include a professional skipper and cook. This works much the same as chartering a fully crewed boat except you can size the bare boat to suit the number of guests. If it is just a skipper you will pay a day rate for this one employee, not a permanent crew. We can turn this bare boat into a crewed charter by supplying full staff, provisioning and any extra options you may require.

As with a fully crewed charter the professional skipper and hostess will be familiar with the region and be able to organise extra activities as well as surprising you with the catch of the day.

Fully crewed charter

Examples of luxury boats set up for the exclusive use of charter guest's short term stays start at around 50ft with the quality of vessels commanding prices starting from US$ 50,000 per week. The aforementioned 60ft fully crewed catamaran would be around 50% cheaper than this.

Your Comments

The Sail Connections Guarantee

One contact - every option - advice you can trust.

  • Matching any competitive offer 
  • Sourcing boats with discounts available
  • Personalising our proposal just for you
  • Qualifying the operator as well as the boat
  • Advising without bias based on 25+ years of experience

We will match any discount website offer on charter boat price, and still provide our customary high level of service. We do more than just book yachts!

Read our free charter guide for all you need   to know about planning your sailing holiday.