by Des Ryan
Wanting to charter? How do you decide which destination, which boat is suitable for you? Des Ryan interviews a number of brokers and charter operators and comes up with the following Six Top Tips which will be useful to achieve that fantastic holiday experience on a chartered boat, whether crewed or bareboat:
Chartering in Turkey
1. Location, location, location:
Whether you are bareboat chartering or want your chartered boat to come with a skipper, the location is naturally all-important. Your sailing skills, the type of boat, your preferences for non-sailing activities, your age, the budget and your family status will all have an impact on the destination you choose. If you're over 40 you won't appreciate a predominance of teenage drinking bars when you go ashore, if you're relatively new to sailing you won't want stormy conditions that might be scary for you and the crew. Similarly, if you love a challenge and a fast sail, you will want to choose an area that will, occasionally, give you a thrill.
The cost of air fares will be of major importance, as it will can be a high proportion of the overall cost, but it would be a mistake to choose a destination just because the air fare is cheap
But, if you haven't been to a destination, how can you be sure that it's right for you?
2. Broker, broker, broker:
At the end of the day, unless you are very lucky and get some personal recommendations from friends you can trust, you will probably have to rely on your broker to advise you, so the initial choosing of a broker is all-important. A series of telephone calls will inform you which brokers are knowledgable and which are not, and once you've found the right broker, stick to him or her.
When you ask questions laid out in Tip 1, the answers will soon sort out the good brokers from the others.
3. Budget, Budget, Budget:
You're best to tell your broker your budget expectations, including airfare, right up front. This can save a lot of time for both you and the broker. If your expectations are unreasonable, it's just as well to find out in advance. However, if you find you have to economise on anything, give the air fare the first consideration, and choose a nearer destination that isn't as far to fly. After all, there's probably just as good sailing in a destination which is cheaper to reach than one at the other end of the world.
If you still need to economise, much as you may not like this advice, DON'T insist on the newest shiniest boat in the fleet. When chartering, it's likely that you and your group will spend an extensive amount of time savouring the delights of the destination, and the time sailing, as a percentage of time spend on your holiday, will be probably less than 20%
The size, skill-sets and preferences your group is vital knowledge for your broker
Don't forget that you will also need to budget for food and entertainment, so it's a good policy to find out some indication of the average cost of this.
In addition, if you are chartering a crewed boat, don't forget to budget for the gratuity for the crew. The broker should be able to advise you on the appropriate level of tipping in the destination you are considering.
4. Crew, crew, crew:
While we're speaking of crew, if you have one, bear in mind the importance of the crew. They can make or mar your holiday experience, and are much more important than the quality or performance of the yacht. When getting references on a boat you are considering, pay particular attention to the comments by past charterer on the crew. No comment is likely to be a red flag
5. The boat, the boat, the boat:
As mentioned above, choosing the flashiest boat in the fleet may not result in the happiest holiday. Share with your broker the relative skills and preferences of ALL the people in your group to allow him or her to make the best suggestions. Do they get seasick? Do they like wake-boarding? Can they swim? How will you divide your time between anchoring and visiting marinas? How much cooking will you do on board or do you need to stop somewhere near a restaurant each night. Knowing these details will dictate your preferences in the facilities you are going for on the boat.
Don't forget, also, that on a sailing vacation people rarely spend much time in their cabins. Economise on these to put more emphasis on the public spaces such as the saloon and the on-deck spaces. Make sure that access to the water is an easy thing, and that the tender or dinghy is large enough and powerful enough for the job.
6. Season, season, season:
You may not have the luxury to decide when to go, and if this is the case then you have to go for a destination where the season is right for your dates.
However, obviously the more flexible you can be with dates the more options the broker will be able to give you, and the earlier you can book the better - say at least six months in advance. If there are deals offered, you'll have to consider why the deal is available. It may be that you will have less reliable weather, or maybe many of the local restaurants will be closed. If you are going for high/high season (Christmas or school holidays etc) you may have to book 12 months ahead to get your dates, and it will be sure to be at the highest price (with no weather advantage)
This is where a really good broker can help you find the greatest charter holiday, just especially designed for you and your group, whether you are a couple, a group of friends, or a family.