GUIDE TO RENT-A-BOAT OR CHARTER FOR THE FIRST TIME
GET TO KNOW HOW, WHERE AND TO WHOM
The yacht charter or boat hire, whether a sailing yacht, a motor boat, or a megayacht can be a tricky business, if we haven't done it before. However, it is seamless if we trust someone to provide us with the best options to satisfy our needs. If we don't have that help, the process can be complicated to the point of deciding not to pursue adventure.
Depending on the purpose of the charter or boat hire: private sailing event (holidays, celebrations stag / hen parties, weddings, birthdays, etc.); or company event (Maritime Marketing, on board conventions, business incentives, training, team building, gift trips to our best employees, customers, etc..) - it is essential to select the type of boat conscientiously.
Mar Infinito presents you some recommendations to consider when hiring a charter, decision to decision:
Decision 1.- Navigation Area and Base Port for the charter
In Spain you can hire leasure boats in most of the Peninsula or Mainland, in the Balearic and Canary Islands, being the most popular the Balearic Islands (Ibiza, Formentera and Mallorca), Valencia, Canary Islands and Catalonia. There are areas where you can sail throughout the year, and other areas only during the summer, and areas where you need to look more carefully at the weather reports. For instance, the Canary Islands are good to navigate most of the year, and in Denia (Alicante), Marbella (Málaga) and Palma de Mallorca, whose bay is well protected from the predominant winds. In Cadiz there is problem with the Eastern Winds that cannot really be predicted, but that can offer you some of the best sailing waters and coasts. Menorca is an amazing place, but the winds are also sometimes to strong, so it is well worth picking the right season with the help of wheather historicals. The weather in Spain is quite regular, and there are sources to check the weather you can do on a site, a specific week of the year.
There are many aspects to take into account when deciding on the base port of the charter, such as where the crew come from, and what they must do to reach the area where you want to navigate. It is much easier, faster and cheaper approach the place of destination by land than by sea. The most practical is to choose a homeport that is as close to the point where we want to navigate as possible. For example, if we navigate one day in Cabrera, it is in your interest to rent the boat in Mallorca.
However, sometimes it may be more interesting to rent the boat further away, and take time to navigate to the destination area. For example, if we are 5 people that want to sail in Ibiza, and we reside in Madrid, we have to calculate what it costs us to get to Ibiza, and then the costs of renting the boat. Assuming the boat rental price is similar, it may be more interesting to rent the boat in Denia, which is 45 nautical miles from the island. That way, exchanginh 5 airline tickets for a road trip of 4 hours, the sailing vacations can become much cheaper. Another example, may be a group of people from Barcelona that want to sail in Menorca, where there are many charter boats. An interesting option may be to rent the yacht in Barcelona and navigate to Menorca. The drawback of these alternatives, is the time spent sailing from the home port to the destination.
Decision 2.- To Charter or Rent a complete boat or to Rent a Place on a boat
The decision to rent a sailing boat or a motor yacht depends on the number of people who want to share the trip, the time available, the taste for speed or quietness, and of course, the budget. The most economically efficient option is to organize a group as large as the navigating and sleeping capacity of the boat. The maximum number of nagivating places in the charter boats is usually 12 including the skipper. This is the number you should remember for day charter. If you are planning on sleeping on board, you should look at the nuber of berths, not forgetting to reserve a place for the skipper. Sailing boats normally have a convertible sofa in the salon that becomes a double berth seemlessly.
If you don't manage to form a large enough group, there are interesting alternatives. There are a few boats offering already planned trips. This option is a nice way to meet new people, sea and sailing lovers, with whom you will probably share some of your life philosophy.
Decision 3.- When to rent a boat and for how long
This decision may be given by your availability of time, and when you can take the holidays. However, it is worth knowing the savings or overpayments that can take place depending on the season we choose to rent the boat. If you have the possibility to move the holidays, that can be the best idea.
In general, charter companies offer different prices for the same boat, depending on the season. Normally there are three seasons: the High Season takes place in August, including July in some cases, and most companies include Easter (although normally is considered Mid Season). Mid Season is June and September (and July if it is not High), and the Low Season encompasses the rest of the year. In areas where the weather allows, firms divide the Mid Season into Mid Low Season and Mid High Season. Some companies have up to 9 different seasons ... In many cases the price you pay in high season, is almost twice as much as what you would pay in Low Season.
There is a coincidence between the companies regarding charter hire periods. Boats can be rented for single days and complete weeks, although some companies offer Weekend packages, and rent by Half Days, and even Hourly.
Generally, Charter Weeks are counted from Saturday to Saturday, although there are exceptions. Embarks take place on a Saturday afternoon and disembark the following Saturday morning, so that the charter company has time to prepare the boat for the next customers. Sometimes it is possible to embark on a Friday night, if the boat has not been rented the week before, but this is a courtesy that can not be imposed.
The Day Charter usually lasts around 8 hours (from 11:00 to 19:00 approximately) and the half day is usually takes 4 or 5 hours. The day rental option does not normally include the overnight aboard. It is important to note that it is very complicated to rent boats for individual days in high season. Charter companies reserve their boats for full week rentals. The exceptions are those boats specifically dedicated to Day Charter. You will also find Last Minute offers launched by companies that have had a last minute cancellation on a week charter, and have the boat available to rent during the days of that week.
Decision 4.- Sailing Yacht or Motor Yacht
The type of vessel will greatly depend on your preferences in the way of enjoying the sea and you have basic holidays. If you like the speed in the water, or what you want is to use the time to the fullest, visiting many beaches, coves and places, and do not want to spend much time in the journey, your option is to rent a motor boat. If what you want is to enjoy smooth sailing, enjoying the ride, unhurried, learning to sail, enjoying the sport, the best option is to rent a sailboat. There are more rental sailboats than motor yachts in the charter market.
The cost of renting a sailing boat, will almost always be lower than the price of renting a Motorboat. First of all, at each and every boat lenght, motor boats are more expensive to purchase than sailing yachts, so its rental price has to be higher to amortize the value. In this line, the deposit is also higher for a motor boat to a sailboat. In second place, the motor boat engines consume more fuel than those installed on sailboats... not to mention that the saling boat usually navigates without the need of the engine, with the exception of port maneuvres.
For any taken lenght of boats, sailboats are roomier than the motor boats. This is partly because of the space dedicated to the big engine room of the motoryachts. But also, because sailboats are higher (or deeper) since they are designed to be stable in the water, and not to slide over it like a motor boat does. In practical terms, this means that ot fit any given number of people, the motor boat you will need will be bigger than the sailing boat.
Decision 5.- Rental boat with or without Skipper (with Crew or without Crew)
It is mandatory to have the services of an skipper or captain if no one in your crew holds the qualifications and experience required. We recommend hiring an experienced charter skipper who knows the boat and sailing area perfectly. However, charter companies usually have these professionals available. It is also interesting to count on these professionals in cases in which the skipper needs to learn more, or can do with a bit of qualified help on board.
If we hire a charter skipper we must be aware that we will have one more person in the boat, and we have to count on him for just about everything. Normally, the skipper sleeps with us on the boat (unless we hire him only for navigating during the day, and he goes back home to sleep). If space permits, you should reserve him a cabin, if you can not, he can always share a room, although it is normal for them to sleep in the boat's salon, or on deck if the weather permits. As a person we hire for our trip, he will have all expenses paid by us, and he will eat from whatever the rest of the crew eats on the boat.
Even if hiring a Skipper is having a stranger on board, professional skippers are often very interesting people, nice to be with, and hold people skills, that help exceed the expectations of the trip, and there is a lot to be learned from them. They tend to be people who know when they have to be there and when they should leave, and act accordingly.
Although it may seem obvious, it is important to note that the skipper is not a home service person, but a qualified and experienced marine professional. You can hire additional professional crew for services as required: cleaning, cooking, additional sailors. If you choose not to not hire these professionals, everybody on board is supposed to share all the work on board. It is also of utmost importance to know that the skipper of a charter boat is the maximum authority in the boat, and is responsible for the ship, for the persons on board, and their interactions with third parties at sea, with everything that entails.
Decision 6: Signing the charter contract¡; Tariffs, prices and payments
At this point we will realize that each company sets rates and offers in a totally different way. We will need to extract the information we need to able to compare. The information we need is simple but not always easy to collect:
- Boat Rental price: We need to know if the offer includes taxes or not (the price difference may be as much as 21%). The newest ships are the most expensive, but also some that have better conditions or more equipment (air condition). In general, charter companies offer new boats not exceeding 4 years. If boats are older than that, that fact should be reflected in the price.
The price should always include mandatory insurance and of charter, mooring in base port (with some exceptions) and full fuel tank.
- Deposit: Boat charter is similar to boat rental in this respect, where the deposit is something that we pay, but we will get back if we return the boat in the same condition we took it, and with the diesel tank full.
- Price of the Skipper: Prices range between 130 and 180 € / day depending on the area and charter period duration.
- Boat Cleaning after charter, sometimes it is included and sometimes it is not. It ranges from 80 to 130 €.
If we are not clear about any of these things, it is always interesting to contact the company to make sure we have all the information.
- Necessary Extras: Some companies charge for bed linen and bath towels. Others include it in the price. Should be consulted. The boats are usually fitted with the necessary equipment for people who fit the same.
- Optional Extras: While a RIB or dinghy, is often included in the standard equipment, its outboard motor may not be. Some companies rent diving or Snorkle equipment for their boats. The motorboats can sometimes be ordered with plenty of water toys which are usually paid separately. The sailboats may have option to rent additional sails, like Spinnakers or Gennakers.
Once we decide that we want to go for the offer, the next step is to make the reservation. The charter booking means typically a payment of 50% of the total rental price of the boat. The remaining 50% will normally be paid a week before embarking. There are minor differences in this respect from company to company. The day of embarkment we shall pay the outstanding expenses of the contract, which will normally include the salary of the skipper, the final cleaning and the extras hired.
We must bear in mind that once we have the boat, we have to provision for food and cleaning products. This is an addition to the charter expense, and it complicates the logistics, especially in ports where we do not know the existence of supermarkets and their weekend opening schedules. To solve this, many companies offer the boat provisioning service. This means that when you get the boat you will find everything you need. This service costs a fraction of the shopping amount.
Each company has a different policy regarding cancellation of the charter. You can contact the the charter company and ask before making any payment. You can also use cancellation insurance if you think there is a risk that your sailing holidays may be jeopardized.