Many of the students we have taught to sail over the years have gone on to charter yachts themselves in subsequent years. They often ask us questionsand so I’ve put together some information for first time charterers.
This first instalment deals with choosing a charter yacht and the costs you need to consider.
Biggest is not always best and there are some excellent boats to be had by chartering through small companies or directly from the owner, but for your first charter we’d recommend sticking to one of the major companies. They should have good, well maintained boats and will have the resources to come to your assistance if anything breaks or stops working. Sun and salt water make the ocean a hostile environment for anything mechanical or moving – even new boats will have problems from time to time.
We now act as agents for some companies that have charter yachts in Greece and can get you quotations for prices from two or three good companies.
You’ll have enough to worry about when you first set out as a skipper without pushing your skills to their limit. We’d suggest choosing a yacht a few feet smaller than the boat you trained on. Our main teaching yachts are 44 and 45 ft so, if you’ve passed your Day Skipper successfully at Aegean Sailing School, you’ll find anything up to about 42 ft easy to handle. Many people prefer to start chartering on a 36 – 40 ft yacht and this is a nice size for a first yacht, with room for family and friends.
Unless you are on a tight budget, we’d recommend that you have enough cabins for everyone to sleep in a cabin, rather than having to use the saloon. Berths are often shown in the format 10/4. This means the yacht can accommodate 10 people, but only has 4 cabins. The other two people will need to sleep in the saloon, where there is a fold-down table that converts into a bed. If you will need to use the bed in the saloon make sure the company show you how to convert it as part of the handover – I’ve scratched my head a few times trying to work out how to do this on a strange yacht.
The newer and bigger the yacht the more expensive it will be. You may have to choose between newer or bigger to fit your budget. If you book with a reputable company you should find that their older yachts will still be in good condition, although obviously not as shiny and bright as the new ones. For your first charter avoid anything very cheap and old, however, as the chances of mechanical or other problems will be greater. You don’t want the worry of having to deal with a problem when you are inexperienced.
Check what is included and not included in the price of your charter. You may have to pay extra for GPS or outboard engine. Most companies provide linen but some do not include towels in the price. End cleaning of the yacht is typically not included; you will pay this in cash on arrival.
Most yacht charters in Greece start at 17:00 on Saturday and finish by 09:00 on the following Saturday. If you want different start and end dates you will need to shop around. You will find it very difficult and expensive to have a charter that overlaps a weekend. The company will lose the potential for chartering two week and so they will charge you accordingly.
You will need to return the yacht to the base the evening before your charter ends so plan to be in port not too far away on the penultimate night.
For chartering in Greece you will need to provide copies of two sailing licences or sailing resumes for two people who will be on board to prove that you have sufficient experience to charter. One of the licences can normally be RYA Competent Crew but the other must be at least RYA Day Skipper Practical.
You’ll also need to give the company full names, nationalities, and passport numbers for all crew members. This is needed for the crew list that they must submit to the port police before you can take the yacht.
Normally the licences and crew details are required two weeks prior to the charter start date.
You will need to pay a deposit, typically 50%, to book your yacht. This will generally not be refunded if you have to cancel so you should ensure that you take out travel insurance to cover you in the event of cancellation. Most companies will try to oblige you if you need to change the date of your charter but it will depend upon availability of yachts.
Before the company lets you sail away in their expensive yacht you will need to provide a security deposit. This is an amount that they retain against any damage to the yacht. There are two types of security deposit – refundable and non-refundable.
All companies will offer a refundable deposit. This is normally around 1300 – 1500 euro, although it may be more for larger yachts. It covers the excess on their insurance policy. You leave the amount on deposit with the company, either in cash or on a credit card, when you take the yacht. At the end of your charter, the company will check for any loss or damage. If they find anything amiss they will deduct an amount to cover the loss. If you are unaware of the cost of items such as fenders in Greece, it can come as a nasty shock when you have to pay for a replacement. Take care.
In the event of a major problem, such as hull damage or loss of dinghy and engine, you will lose the whole of your security deposit, with the rest of the repair or replacement being covered by the yacht’s insurance.
If your yacht is damaged by another vessel it is up to you to get information from those involved in the incident, including a declaration from a third party. You should not be liable for damage caused by another yacht as long as you are able to provide credible and thorough evidence. You should report any incident to the local port police, taking the name and registration number of the other yacht involved.
Breakages caused by normal wear and tear are not the responsibility of the client.
Some companies offer the option of a non-refundable deposit. This is a set amount per day, about 30 euro for medium sized boats. You pay this when you take the yacht but you do not get anything back when you return the yacht. For new charterers this can take some stress out of the week. You don’t have the additional worry that you might be charged for an expensive repair if you accidentally scrape the yacht.
As for a hire car, you will pay for the fuel you use. You will have a full tank of diesel on departure and you must return it full. You should allow 80 € – 150 € per week for fuel but this depends on how much motoring you do, the size of the yacht and the sea state you encounter. Make sure that you put fuel into the correct tank – diesel in the water tank is not a good idea.