Owning a Charter Sailboat

Charter skipper David Kilmer shares insider tips on how to be a good charter boat owner, and how to decide whether it's the right decision for you.

November 4, 2013


Sunsail, San Franciso. Courtesy Of Sunsail

Do your homework: Talk to other owners, sit down with the management, take one of the boats out, and otherwise thoroughly investigate the charter company.

Plan on minor mechanical issues, dings, and scuffs: If you’ll agonize over letting other people take your boat out and over the usual wear and tear that comes with such use, then you probably shouldn’t be in a charter fleet at all.

Plan on racking up engine hours: In addition to powering your boat across all those miles to places the charter guests want to see, its engine will also serve as a generator. Even on windy days it’ll run for at least three hours.


Use your boat and participate in its care as much as possible: This is a great learning opportunity, and after all, it’s why you bought it.

Hire a really good maintenance professional: You’ll need the help. The right person can make or break your charter experience.

Be a good owner: Learn not to call the charter office on Friday when they’re prepping all the boats. Don’t sweat the little stuff. And don’t run your own boat aground. Did you know that the largest percentage of groundings in the San Juans, for example, come at the hands of owners, not charterers?


Learn from the company: We gained a lot of knowledge from its owners meetings, first-aid courses, and monthly newsletters.

Editor’s Note: This originally appeared as part of an article by David Kilmer called “A Charter Boat Goes Cruising,” which was originally published in the August 2011 issue of Cruising World.

Click here to read more about how to plan a charter vacation.


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