Three Things to Bring Along on Your Next Bareboat Charter

Number One: “An Open Mind”

View of P{hosphorus
View of Phosphorus in Highborne Cay, Exumas, the Bahamas, from the top of a catamaran mast.

The other day I found myself thinking about the importance of keeping an open mind when planning a bareboat charter or even for that matter planning any type of charter. Depending on your experience you can usually choose to charter a boat to sail on your own (Bareboat charter) or you can ask for a captain to take you on the trip and there are many additional amenities you can choose when preparing to charter a boat. Wherever the journey may take you there is one very important concept for me that always tends to rise to the top of the list..  Keeping an open mind is important for so many different reasons, not the least of which is the fact that no matter how much planning you do in advance, something is likely to change. Simply allow yourself to be open to that change and the overall chartering experience will be fondly remembered when the journey is complete.

Number Two; “A Positive Frame of Mind” 

Think about how much fun you’re going to have on your next adventure. Then imagine how difficult that adventure might become if something goes wrong with your dream. What if, for example, your mainsail doesn’t come down after you’ve raised it up for that day’s sail. Could it be that you’ve made some sort of operational error when raising the sail in the first place? Perhaps it’s just a simple question of a twisted halyard that was wrenched up to tigh and go stuck, likely because the power winch simply kept pulling even though the load had become close to unbearable. Needless to say I found myself up on a mast recently untwisting one of those halyards. Once properly seated the sail simply comes down of course but even though it’s likely operator error caused the problem in the first place, there’s a risk that anger and stress can become overwhelming among an inexperienced crew with high expectations. Inevitably, one problem leads to another and another and by the time the trip is over, the stress levels are so high that everyone tends to forget that their goal was to relax and enjoy. Consider accepting the fact that something is likely to go wrong, especially with a group of vacationers who may have some experience, but tend towards making mistakes simply because they’re not always on the water, or in a boat. The key to having a good experience on a bareboat charter is to understand that things are likely to happen that are out of your control, but if you take many of these experiences as part of the adventure instead of the causes of all the problems, you will be amazed at how much fun you can have, and how truly memorable an experience onboard a bareboat charter can be.

A twisted halyard can cause some real stress on a charter boat. The key is not to let that happen… The stress that is, after all you’re on vacation right? The world isn’t going to end because something goes wrong with a halyard.

As examples go, this is an interesting one because when something happens on a boat, and it probably will happen, these are the types of things that can be remembered as part of the adventure rather than part of the problems. When you bring a framework to this type of travel that allows everyone on board to continue to enjoy themselves there’s every argument to be made for the key personnel to maintain a positive fram of mind when situations arise rather than looking to others for blame..  Planning to bring that positive attitude to the adventure will only make it that much better..

Number Three; “Reasonable Expectations” 

For sailboat charters, or for motoryacht charters one thing is very important to remember, especially if you’re planning to be on your own without a regular crew to assist you. Usually a charter fleet is well maintained by a staff of dedicated people who work hard every day to assure that the boat you’re renting is going to be ready for you. They’ll also work hard to make sure it is well kept and clean. The newer the boat, the more likely you are to find that everything is in perfect order and you’re experience will tend to be better with a newer boat. Having said this, guess what.. Newer boats cost more to charter, and thus the problem.. If you’re looking for a good price, then understand there are reasons particular charter boats are less expensive. In some cases, companies will actually make it clear that the prices are a result of age and maintenance. Needless to say everything is relative and when you develop a relationship with your charter company you can begin to get a real feel for the value of getting into a newer vessel. If you don’t know where you might end up, one way is to simply ask the person helping you with reservations. They’ll be able to give you some good tips as to the age of the boat and how well it has stood the test of time. The size of the boats is of course another factor in their overall price but again the newer the boat… Well you get the point..  As long as you understand when you make your reservations that you have chosen a specific vessel for a specific reason and if you arrive with expectations of your vessel that are unsustainable then the adventure will be marred by this issue for the entire vacation. If, on the other hand you arrive, content with the knowledge that bareboat charters are by their nature rough on boats and that there may be a few things you may need to accommodate on board, then you’ll have a much better trip and a much better overall experience.. Don’t forget to help the entire crew with those expectations.. Be careful not to over-sell your plans and unless you’ve made the move to something beyond bareboat chartering such as adding a captain and a chef, or choosing a top of the line crewed vessel then be careful not to expect those types of services or that type of vessel and everything will go very well..

Ted has a great view of Highborne Cay and Phosphorus from the top of a catamaran mast

Keep an open mind about your trip, help everyone keep a positive attitude going in, and don’t expect more than you bargained for.. Three key concepts to keep in mind which will make your trip so much more enjoyable.