This is the last of my posts about what to do once you pass your Day Skipper. It covers skippered charter. The information is based on what happens in Greece, as that is the sailing area I know best, but some things apply all over the world.
With a skippered charter you get a boat and – not surprisingly – a skipper as well! You can usually choose to also take a hostess / crew in addition in which case it may be referred to as crewed charter.
There are two types of skippered charter. With some companies you can only charter the yacht and skipper together as a package, not bareboat (quite often the skipper is also the yacht owner). Very large yachts typically come with full crew only. You’re likely to get really good service on this type of charter but it is more suited to people who want to have a relaxed sailing holiday, without necessarily joining in much sailing, than for those who want to improve their sailing skills.
If you’re interested in this sort of skippered charter but want to be able to join in the action I can recommend Seascape Sailing who operate in Greece, Turkey, and Thailand. They have a pretty unique offering and you can join one of their trips as a single or couple if you don’t want to charter the whole boat. The amount of sailing you do each day will be a bit less than on your sailing course but they have nice big boats in attractive destinations.
The second type of skippered charter might be better called ‘bareboat charter plus skipper’. You choose the yacht that you want to charter and book a skipper to come on board with you for all or part of the time. All charter companies have freelance skippers that they can call on. Alternatively the RYA school where you did your Day Skipper course should be able to provide you with an RYA trained skipper or even an RYA instructor who will skipper for you.
With the first sort of skippered charter holiday you will probably be given an all-inclusive price; for the second type you normally pay for the yacht, skipper, and also fuel, food and any other expenses such as mooring dues.
The amount of ‘hands on’ activity that you will do on a skippered charter depends partly on what you want and partly on the skipper. Generally, if you have chartered the yacht and skipper yourself it is up to you to tell the skipper what you want to do and where you want to go. However the skipper is ultimately in charge of the safety of the yacht and crew so you would be well advised to listen to their opinion! Most experienced skippers are very good at accommodating their clients’ wishes.
The main advantages of a skippered charter are:
- you can do as much or as little of the sailing as you want; it’s good if you want to have some time free from the stress of always being in charge of the yacht
- your skipper will know the area and will help to ensure you have a good time
- your skipper will normally handle re-fuelling, mooring dues, getting water & electricity (although you will have to pay for these unless they are included in the price)
- the skipper will usually take the yacht into and out of the marina at the start and end of the trip – this is often the trickiest part.
- it’s a good way of visiting more challenging sailing areas, especially for the first time. If you absolutely must sail in the Cyclades as your first charter after passing Day Skipper, for instance, I’d recommend taking a professional skipper with you as well!
- if your skipper is an RYA instructor he will help you to progress in your sailing
- you won’t get the same experience of being in charge of a yacht as on a bareboat charter and at some point you have to make that leap
- you don’t have the yacht all to yourself (although most skippers are discreet and will disappear when required)
- the skipper will require a cabin so you can’t take as many friends or family with you
- your skipper will need to be paid and fed so it is more expensive than bareboat charter
We have quite a few clients who prefer to take skippered charters each year, even though they would be capable of sailing the yacht themselves. What they like about it is that they can take the wheel when the sailing is good, or they want to feel ‘hands on’, but if they decide they would rather sunbathe or read on a particular day they can do that instead and just hand over responsibility to someone else.
The key thing on a skippered charter is the skipper. Most are very good but we have heard some bad stories as well. In Greece you don’t need to be very highly qualified to be a yacht skipper. I’d recommend that, if you book a skipper through a charter company, you ask what his qualfications are and don’t use anyone who is not an RYA Yachmaster (or equivalent) with a commercial endorsement and an up to date First Aid certificate. For the best chance of improving your own sailing ask your RYA training centre to provide an instructor to skipper for you.
You may choose to only take a skipper for the first few days or you may want them on board all week. A popular option on a 2-week holiday is to take a skipper for the first week to help you revise your skills and give you some practice but then to sail bareboat for the following week.
If you think skippered charter would suit you we can arrange for a skippered charter on any size of yacht or catamaran. It’s a popular option for a first catamaran holiday. Just contact me and let me know your requirements.
PS: This is a reminder that we still have a few places left on our mile-building trip to the Cyclades, starting Saturday 5 October. Get in touch now if you want to come with us on this great week’s sailing.