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An article written by our staff and featured in The Charter Connection

Jackie - April 2009

Cynful. Family Charter
Many of our inquires begin with "what qualifications do I need to charter a bareboat?" If you are interested in a bareboat charter you probably already have boating experience, it's just a matter of assessing your level of experience and ensuring it matches the boat size and area you'd like to sail in. Surprisingly, many people with plenty of sailing experience don't realize they are qualified to bareboat.

To find out where your qualifications stand, you'll be asked to complete a Skipper's Resume. It is not a lengthy form, but the charter operators like to see that you are experienced at helming, navigation, anchoring, mooring, docking, and in general terms have skippered a boat that is similar, or close in size, to the one you wish to charter, in similar conditions. Having ASA certification or an equivalent can be a plus if your actual sailing time is a bit short.

They do take into consideration that most of us do not own boats that are up to 50 feet, so length of sailing time and experience may allow you to charter a boat 5-10 feet larger than the boat you have at home. Even if you've never been the official skipper aboard a boat, you may be closer to bareboating than you think. Daysailing for 20 years or crewing on long passages will not qualify you for bareboating a large sailboat, but the experience certainly counts. In most cases, those who aren't quite qualified can still get approved to bareboat by taking a skipper for just a part of their charter - often just for the first day is adequate.

Learn to sail on a bareboat or crewed yacht charterYour qualifications are typically reviewed after you've made your reservation, when they receive your resume. If you'd prefer to know whether you're qualified or not before placing your reservation, (and if you're unsure we definitely recommend this), just call us to discuss your sailing experience. If you'd like us to review your qualifications, a great place to start is to fill out our online Skipper's Resume.

Each charter operator generally has their own form which must be completed, but our form covers the general questions found on most resumes, and will give us a very good idea of your sailing history. With this information in hand, we'll be able to advise you whether you're qualified to bareboat the boat types you're considering, and what skills you may need to brush up on. We can also recommend boats that would be a good match for you.

Catamarans have become very popular as they are particularly good for larger groups or those looking for more stability, but they also require slightly different skills. Some companies request you take a check out skipper for the first afternoon if you haven't sailed a cat before. Having twin screw experience is an asset. Cats really need twin engines because they are harder to maneuver with their beam and because without keels, they get affected more by a cross wind.

Bareboat CharterersWe find most people underestimate their experience, but it's important to fill out your resume honestly. The crew checking you out will quickly catch on if there's any doubt and can assign a check out skipper for a day or the whole charter (be ready to give up a cabin which they require). If you misrepresent your ability, not only are you putting yourself, crew and boat in peril but if there is an incident that involves an insurance claim your experience will be investigated. In these cases insurance coverage can be completely voided, so you would be responsible for the full amount of any damage.

In my years of sailing I have narrowed down to what I believe are the 2 best attributes a sailor can have - Common Sense and Caution. If you possess those, you will be fine wherever and whenever you are in command.

Sail well, Sail fast and Sail safely,

Wherever you want to charter, we look forward to helping you find the right boat for your party, at the right price. Tell us your plans and we will suggest some suitable boats.
(Photo credits, Ed Hamilton, Silent Partner and Andiamo)

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