Preparing for Your First Sailboat Charter

Written by Boatsetter Team
December 26, 2017

Embarking on your first sailboat charter is like entering a fascinating amusement park where the rides keep changing. When you’re on the water, you can encounter varied wind and weather conditions, and you’ll never get bored with the scenery. As an added bonus, you’ll likely develop valuable sailing skills, opening the door to even more adventures.

Get the most out of your sailing charter with these easy-to-follow tips.

Design Your Sailboat Charter Experience

First, decide on your charter’s duration. If you’re new to boating, a day sail will give you an enticing taste of the sailing life while allowing you to return home that evening. Or, maybe you’ve racked up some previous boating time, and you’re ready to spend a weekend (or even longer) on a comfortably equipped boat.

Next, choose one or more appealing destinations. If you’re embarking on a day trip, decide whether you want to sail all day, or anchor for a cooling swim and tasty lunch. If you’re within easy reach of a waterfront restaurant, and you’ve had some powerboat docking experience, consider heading ashore for lunch.

On a weekend sailboat charter, take the boat’s capabilities into account when making your travel plans. First, remember that a motoring sailboat travels much more slowly than a powerboat. Keeping that in mind, be very conservative in estimating your arrivals at restaurants and/or marinas, and in returning to the boat’s home dock. Build in extra time for delays caused by current, busy channels, or other unforeseen circumstances.

Select a Nicely Equipped Sailing Vessel

Choose a well-maintained sailboat that matches your sailing plans and comfort level. If you’re a brand-new sailor who’s taking the plunge with a day sail, consider a smaller boat on which you can gain some confidence. After you get some sea time under your belt, you can charter a larger, more complex sailboat.

If you have previously had sailing instruction, or have powerboat handling experience, you might be comfortable booking a larger boat for the day or weekend. Regardless of your choice, make sure the vessel contains an operational head (bathroom) and galley (kitchen), and has no existing maintenance problems.

Get Some Basic Sailing Knowledge

Before your sailboat charter begins, obtain some basic sailing knowledge, as that will increase your enjoyment of the trip. If time permits, take a basic sailing course that includes hands-on boat handling work.

If you’re pressed for time, view a well-rounded sailing video program, or buy a comparable book written by a recognized sailing expert. Learn about sailboat parts and terminology, sailing principles, and basic “Rules of the Road” that address navigational issues and encounters with other boats.

Of course, nothing beats hands-on instruction from a knowledgeable professional. If possible, hire a sailing-savvy licensed captain for your sailboat charter. You’ll learn essential sailing and boat handling skills, providing you with a solid foundation for future sailing trips.

Develop an Easy-Prep Onboard Menu

In choosing your sailboat charter’s menu, consider your trip’s length and the vessel’s refrigeration and food storage capacity. For a day sail, pack easy-to-handle sandwiches, snacks, and cold drinks. If your sailboat doesn’t have a refrigerator, bring a cooler and plenty of ice.

For a weekend trip, expand your “finger food” lunch options, and add simple breakfast foods such as yogurt, cereal, and muffins. If you’re feeling ambitious, and can confidently operate the vessel’s stove, whip up some bacon and eggs or pancakes.

Dinnertime options might include waterside eatery fare, pre-made cold salads and desserts, fresh pastas and salad, or marinated meat and veggies on the boat’s stern propane grill. Consider the weather when making your decision, as you don’t want to be stuck in a hot galley in summertime heat.

Get Your Sailboat Charter in Gear

Now get ready to pack your boating gear (including seasonal clothing, rain gear, sunscreen, and a hat). But first, find yourself a nicely equipped sailboat through Boatsetter, the leading boat-sharing company that makes it easy for boaters to connect with local boat owners. You can book a privately owned sailboat (or powerboat) near your home port, and licensed Coast Guard captains are always available.

You’ll find Boatsetter vessels in convenient coastal ports and on scenic lakes around the United States, along with international locations. So, park yourself in a comfortable chair with a cold drink, a calendar, and a contact list. Your first sailboat charter experience is about to begin!

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