How to Prepare Yourself for a Bareboat Charter

Written by Boatsetter Team
October 3, 2019

Last Updated on September 29, 2023 by Boatsetter Team

Rent a Boat Without Having to Hire a Captain

Bareboat sailing simply refers to a situation where you rent a boat through a company like Boatsetter without a captain. In order to do this, you often have to prove that you are qualified enough to safely manage the boat. This type of rental is especially great if you want a little more privacy on your boat rental, and also if you don’t want to deal with the added expense of hiring a boat captain. Bareboat sailing also gives you the complete freedom to guide your rented boat anywhere you like, and also to stay as long as you want in any particular location. When you rent a bareboat, you are truly the captain of your own ship!

A Few Things to Know before Booking a Bareboat Rental

As fun as it is, the process of operating a boat can be more difficult than it looks. It can take a lot of skill to control some boats, especially if you are talking about large sailboats in really windy conditions! Understandably, many boat rental companies will require you to fill out a sailing resume and present other types of documentation and qualifications before they will let you rent any type of boat on your own. They need to protect boat owners from inexperienced renters who might be just a little too reckless out on the water.

If you are trying to rent a boat through Boatsetter, you can read through some of our rental requirements and these stipulations should give you a good idea right away if you are already qualified for a bareboat rental or not. For example, one of the stipulations at Boatsetter is that renters must have at least a USCG 6 Pack (OUPV) Captain’s License or Master’s License, which means they have the qualifications to captain a boat with up to six people.

What Documentation and Qualifications will I need to Present?

In the rest of this article, we’ll discuss some of the documentation and qualifications you should prepare before applying to rent a boat, and we’ll also address a few of the other types of questions you will probably need to answer when you are trying to arrange a bareboat rental through Boatsetter. These could be a few of the questions you might be asked during the rental process:

  • Have you ever tried a bareboat rental before? If so, with which companies?
  • How many times have you sailed a bareboat rental?
  • What types of boats have you rented, and for how long?
  • What types of areas have you sailed in (oceans, rivers, lakes, etc)?
  • If you have ever owned a boat, what type of boat was it?
  • What were the dimensions (length and height) of the boat?
  • How many times have you anchored and under what circumstances?
  • How comfortable are you with grabbing a mooring?
  • What navigational skills and mechanical abilities do you have?

After you have answered these types of questions, there is sometimes a section that deals with previous crew members that you have had. Sometimes you can get credit if you have sailed before with more experienced people on previous trips, or if you previously rented a boat with a professional captain who was able to show you a few of the most important aspects of being in charge of a boat. It is always a good idea to have lots of friends who are more knowledgeable about boating than you because this will help make you a better sailor in the long run.

Some Tips on Operating your Boat

Being in control of a boat is not always easy. Sometimes you’ll see boaters acting as if they have all the time and space in the world. Don’t forget that conditions on the water can change drastically in just a few minutes. One minute you can be drifting along on a warm summer breeze, and the next minute, a torrential storm might be approaching. Always monitor the weather closely and don’t get lulled into a false sense of security out on the water.

Driving a boat can be very different than driving a car. For one thing, you are on the water rather than on land, so you have very little traction. The boat does not “handle” like a sports car! Especially if you are operating a motorboat, it is never a good idea to act like a daredevil and try to speed along the water. You can easily hit a large wake or have to turn too sharply, and the next thing you know, you might capsize your vessel. Keep in mind, also, that submerged logs, sandbars, and coral reefs can be hard to see when they are just under the surface of the water. Always be aware that the coast may not be as clear as you might think.

When you rent a boat, there are certain things that are almost required when it comes to ensuring your safety. First, make sure that you and all your passengers are wearing life jackets at all times. Second, as the driver of the boat, do not drink any alcohol while you’re on the water. Third, plan your route in advance by studying nautical maps and talking to local boaters who know the waters. It is much easier to make small adjustments early on than larger ones at the last minute. Fourth, attach a kill switch that connects to the ignition on one end and goes around your wrist on the other. Fifth, always dock your boat rental slowly and carefully to prevent any exterior damage.

In general, most of these safety tips are just common sense ways of avoiding potentially dangerous situations on the water. Learn how to read nautical maps and have a deep respect for the body of water you will be using. Get to know your boat in calm conditions before you start driving it at high speeds. By taking a few minor precautions, you’ll be able to avoid any problems while you enjoy your bareboat rental.

Some of the Best Ways to Become Better Qualified

All of these tips are great ways to become a better sailor. Through Boatsetter, you can hire a captain if you are not quite comfortable with bareboat sailing yet. If you would like to become more comfortable out on the water, there are plenty of classes you can take that will build up your experiences and fatten out your boating resume as well. Best of all, some of these classes can be taken while you are actually sailing, so you can combine a class with your boat rental vacation.

If you would like to try a bareboat rental for your next charter vacation, it might be a good idea to look into some of these options. A few of the most highly recommended courses include the following: American Sailing Association, Bareboat Cruising Standard US Sailing, or the Yacht Master Certificate of Competence if you are based in the United Kingdom.

Browse by experience

Explore articles