Chartering a yacht or boat in Devon should be pretty straight forward but there are things to bare in mind when it comes specifically to bare boat charter as opposed to skippered yacht charter.
Bare Boat yacht charter normally requires a higher standard of proficiency from the skipper: generally this will be the RYA Coastal Skipper or Day Skipper with plenty of miles.
There should be a hand over of the vessel. The handover is to ensure you know where the safety gear is and how to use it. It’s quite easy to zone out at this point, but please, stick with it. The second part of the hand over is to ensure that you are happy with reefing and to assess your boat handling skills which is important for the operator and you. If the operator feels you are not up to standard, they may offer a partial refund or a skippered charter instead. From your point of view, you’ll feel more comfortable having a quick refresher and the basics now to hand.
Financially, a boat is in a different league to that of a car. A typical a boat will be in the £100K plus category and they are much more difficult to handle!
Insurance companies place large excesses on boat owners or companies that offer bare boat charter, typically £1,000 plus. This is why you are normally asked for a refundable deposit, to cover the excess.
You also be asked to fill in a form detailing the current marks, scratches etc on the boat so that when it is returned, the company or owner can check to see if any new marks have been added. It’s important that you take good notice of this inspection at the beginning as money can be held back from a deposit.
Your Charter Destinations
It is extremely important that you check the almanac and feel comfortable with the passage plan and the destination be that a marina or anchorage. Don’t push the limits – it can lead to a poor experience, indeed. An example of this was last year, when one of our boats was in Torquay marina next to a group of chaps that had chartered another yacht: they asked where they were going they said maybe Totnes. They had a 40′ fin feel boat with a draft of 2 metres. Totnes is a long way up the Dart and it practically dries out. There is no marina or visitors moorings, so these chaps would have been balancing an expensive fin keel boat against a wall … should they have attempted it, more likely they would never of made it. They were quickly talked out of this, but it would have made the owner faint I’m sure!
Some quick points:
- Know the boat and know your own and your crews tolerances.
- Don’t risk putting boats against harbour walls.
- If you’re entering a marina, ask for assistance from the marina staff and make your life easier.
- Don’t attempt berthing in strong tidal situations. The urge to “just get in” after a long sail can be strong but it is a mistake and will cause damage if the tide is running. Don’t risk anything more than +- 2 hours of High or Low water.
There is another post here, that is worth further reading.
When you come back
The boat should be left as you found it – this means clean and tidy. Most companies can impose a charge if they feel the boat is not left in a suitable condition.
Any maintenance issues should be conveyed as well as any marks you may of put on the boat. It’s worth remembering that if any marks are found it will more than likely come from your deposit!