What kind of sailing holiday suits you best?
There are various options open to you for choosing the perfect sailing holiday
Bareboat Charter Holiday
Bareboat charters are where you hire a yacht and sail it yourself. It’s the nautical equivalent of car hire. Bareboat charter is ideal for people who like to be in control of where they go, how far and how quickly. They give you almost unlimited options for exploring at each port or anchorage.
You do however require an appropriate sailing certificate or skills and some yacht suppliers may require a second person to have similar experience (this is probably a good idea anyway). The sailing qualifications needed vary but generally an RYA Day Skipper or International Certificate of Competence (ICC) will suffice.
If you lack the qualifications or confidence required then a Skippered or Crewed charter is more suitable.
Most bareboat yachts are between 30 and 50 feet. Capacities are between 2 and 12 people. Your yacht will come fully equipped to local standards, the inventory will include charts and pilot books and safety equipment, though those with small children may have to supply their own lifejackets.
You pay your own fuel and if you insist on doing lots of cooking (unlikely) you might have to buy some gas. You are responsible for your own food and drink, and any mooring fees along the way are also your responsibility.
Flotilla Sailing Holiday
Much like a Bareboat charter, with Flotilla sailing holidays, you sail and live on your own charter yacht, the difference is that you are assisted and guided by a lead crew (on their own yacht), they help you follow a pre-set route.
Flotilla sailing gives you all the benefits of the lead crew’s local knowledge and means that you do not need to read up the pilot books and scrutinise the charts to plan your route.
You will get briefed each morning about the day’s destination and route. This covers things to see and do, how to get there, and swim stops en route. From there you sail at your pace. Set sail immediately or go later. Sail straight there, take a detour or stop for lunch. You don’t have to worry about finding a mooring space as your lead crew will have already arrived to assist.
Flotilla sailing holidays are a great way to dodge the crowds. Some routes take in places only accessible by sea, where facilities may be fairly basic. Even larger stops may be off the beaten track. But there are flotillas for those who like some night life too.
You’re not forced to socialise on a flotilla holiday but to many that’s part of the pleasure. Your fellow sailors come from all walks of life and in school holidays, flotillas are a great way for the kids to find mates. Many long standing friendships have started on flotilla.
Skippered Yacht Charter
If you want a sailing holiday but either lack the necessary qualifications, want some local knowledge, or just don’t fancy the physical work, a Skippered yacht charter could be the just the solution.
You pay the usual yacht charter price plus a daily rate for the skipper. You have all the usual options you would get if you were skippering the yacht yourself.
You can add a skipper to a flotilla yacht and sail in company with other boats, or you can take a bareboat yacht and go where you wish, at whatever pace you want.
Most skippers are more than happy for you to help sail the yacht, especially if you have chosen a larger yacht. It can be hard work sailing a 50 footer single handed. Many will also be happy to explain the boats workings and give you some informal instruction.
Skippers however are not always instructors and if you are really looking for sail training then you really need an Instructor not a Skipper. It’s not much more expensive (sometimes the same price) but does cut down the yacht choice a little. Most Skippers, will be happy to let you steer at sea, they will however want to moor the yacht themselves. Hitting the quay can be expensive!
Many people worry that a skipper will be intrusive. In reality, skippers will respect your privacy and will often disappear ashore once the days sailing in done, unless you ask them to accompany you to dinner.
The standard arrangement is that you are required to feed the skipper. No cordon bleu catering is required – just share your lunch with him. In the evening if you want to dine alone, just give him the price of an average meal and he will happy to look after himself. Alternatively invite them to join you, they usually know all the best bars and restaurants.
Crewed Charter (Lord Jim)
If you don’t want to sail the yacht yourself, or want someone else to look after the domestic chores such as cooking and cleaning, you need a Crewed Charter and Lord Jim is the perfect choice. Effectively it turns your yacht in to a floating five star hotel.
Crewed Charter covers a wide range of holidays, with a wide range of prices to match, depending on the level of services you want, and the size of the boat.
The arrangements are as for a Skippered charter but you have the additional services of a Captain / Hostess / Chef and an Engineer, they will sail, maintain and clean the boat, cook the food and ensure that you have everything you need to enjoy your sailing holiday to the maximum, with all your particular tastes or requests accommodated.
Your boat may be anything from a traditional sailing yacht with acres of varnished wood, to a sleek modern motor boat with glistening chrome and sparkling white superstructure.