Get the Best Bareboat Charter Deal

Here are some tips to keep in mind when you want to take a sailing vacation and stick to your budget.

Mark Wakeman

Elaine Lembo

Broker Mark Wakeman has been in the business for decades, sending sailors on vacation all over the world with companies including Kiriacoulis Mediterranean and Tahiti Yacht Charters. He currently books boat for Tahiti Yacht Charters, Kiriacoulis, Dream Yacht Charter, and more than 80 charter companies worldwide.

During a spring 2013 trip to Southern California before I headed to Strictly Sail Pacific farther north in Oakland, I had a chance to catch up with him at his lovely home office just a few hundred feet from the water at Balboa Island, in the city of Newport Beach, California.

CW: First, explain the role of a charter broker.

MW: We ask clients questions and do the legwork to find the right trip for them. In most cases, working with a broker is an advantage, as it helps you stay within your budget. We are always in touch with charter companies. Most importantly, realize that it costs no more to book through a broker than going directly to the company.
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CW: Detail for us what's typically available, in terms of rates, offers, and perks.

MW: Some companies may include extra free-of-charge items such as one-way itineraries, outboard engines for dinghies, and cleaning at the end of a trip.
Here's a rundown of other common discounts and incentives:

• Last-minute bookings made 15 days or fewer from charter start date can include discounts of anywhere from 25 to 40 percent.

• Early booking discounts, usually six months to a year in advance, could be 10 to 20 percent. This is the best deal because you can get the best and newest boats.

• Bookings two to three months out are often discounted up to 20 percent, based on what is still available. The best boats are usually all booked by this time.

• Off-season charters sometimes allow extra free days of sailing, such as 10 days for the price of seven, or also, discounts of up to 25 percent.

• Repeat charterers with the same company usually are offered five to 10 percent discount.

• Promotional discounts are sometimes offered for certain dates and for certain model boats that aren’t selling well. These discounts could be up to 20 percent.

• Weeklong charters, as a minimum, are the usual requirement for any discounts. For six days or fewer, the charters are often offered at a premium price.

• Two-week-long, or longer, charters, are almost always offered at discounts ranging from five to 15 percent.

• Boat-show specials are often available for those who book at a company’s boat-show booth. These discounts can run 10 to 20 percent.

• Multiple boats in a group almost always can get clients discounts from 2.5 percent up to 10 percent, depending on how many boats are booked in the group.

• Some companies will reduce your price by up to three percent if you pay by check instead of by credit card.

• Boats that are 8-15 years old are offered by some companies at reduced prices. Make sure you’re comfortable with repairs if you book this type of boat.