Charter holidays are a lot of fun, and a great way to explore some of the most beautiful places in the world. You may wish to sail on the Aegean, Ionian or Caribbean during a two week summer holiday, and charter companies around the world will be able to supply you a boat to suit your needs.
Broadly there are two means to charter a boat – flotilla and bareboat charter.
With flotilla charter you and a number of other crews will take a flotilla of yachts for a week, with a ‘lead boat’ of sailing experts who will be there to effect repairs and take the fleet around a prearranged route.
You’re not always sailing in a fleet, and as long as you make your destination every evening you’re more or less free to go any route you want.
Bareboat charter is a little more involved. You’ll rent a boat and may be given some supplies for the trip. You’ll have to bring the boat back intact. Insurance obligations will frequently ban you from night sailing but there isn’t much in the way of CCTV on the Mediterranean or Atlantic…
Where in the EU and South Africa the International Certificate of Competence is accepted, European charter companies would do themselves out of the American and Antipodean markets, and in only recognising American qualifications the Caribbean companies would do themselves out of the European markets – why cut some of the wealthiest customers in the world from your clientele?
Insurance companies generally have a list of the qualifications that their client charter companies will accept. As a minimum for example, the RYA Day Skipper or ASA Bareboat Cruising certificate should allow you to do flotilla sailing or even bareboat charter with a daylight restriction.
There are many and varied sailing courses available around the Americas, Antipodes and Europe. Have a look at our book – Learn to Sail – a Beginners Guide to Qualifications, Regulations & Licenses for the courses available in your area.
In brief, you will need a course that involves a lot of navigation and theory, as well as the practical skills and experience. Both the ASA 104 Bareboat Charter and the RYA Day Skipper courses require around 40 hours of classroom based tuition on the International Collision Regulations, navigation, and emergency procedures. You can do these courses at night school in most major towns and cities your home country (if it has a developed sailing syllabus such as the Netherlands, Denmark or Canada for example).
You will also have to do around a week aboard a yacht, learning how to put these skills into practice. You will also cover emergency procedures at sea, engine maintenance, and how to sail the vessel in the first place. In Europe you should expect to part with €800 for a course of this type, though this will vary according to where you are and what you want to learn.
It will also help to spend time getting a VHF license and a First Aid certificate. In many countries, but interestingly not the UK, you will need your VHF or First Aid certificate as part of the basic charter company accepted certificate qualification process. The VHF course is internationally recognised and takes around eight hours work. Expect to pay around €100 for that and the exam.
Many basic First Aid courses take a similar amount of time to the VHF courses. However, unlike the VHF certificate, First Aid generally has to be renewed every five years or so.
Sailing in the Caribbean in 2016?
The advantage of these sailing qualifications is that with few exceptions, you won’t have to renew so an investment of €800 all in will enable you to sail almost anywhere in the world with charter companies. You could start local on the Aegean or go further afield to the Caribbean, or even on the South Pacific around Australasia!
These qualifications will hold you in good stead and enable you to visit some of the most stunning places in the world at your own pace. Certainly worth the investment in the long term!
Without sailing qualifications, you can still go on a skippered charter vessel as long as the skipper has the neccessary certificates. Some just take you sailing where others will give instruction and tuition through one of many international sailing schemes.
Unless you want to spend the summer holidays challenging your liver and gorging on local delicacies of whatever kind, you may want to do something a bit more cerebral over the year ahead so that you can enjoy a bit more freedom next summer!