Sailboat Charter Qualifications

Are you ready to charter a sailboat on your vacation? Cruising World's charter guru Elaine Lembo breaks down the qualifications you'll need.

Chartering a Sailboat

Courtesy of Offshore Sailing School

If you’re a boat owner or sailor who has coastal sailing experience on boats comparable to the one you’re chartering, you should have no problem. For the potential skipper, companies ask for a sailing résumé.

You should be familiar with basic boathandling procedures (including docking and anchoring), know the rules of the road, and be familiar with basic seamanship, navigation, and piloting.

If you’ve achieved certification from a reputable school offering either American Sailing Association or U.S. Sailing courses, companies and brokers want to know, so include that in your sailing résumé. For some international areas, requirements are more formal; check with the company you plan to sail with.

When you arrive at the boat, you’ll receive an orientation from base staff who know the sailing area. They provide an overview of the boat and its systems and of the cruising grounds, including any special navigational notes, desirable areas, restricted areas, and other local knowledge. Before departure, it’s also a good idea to inspect the boat yourself and ask company staff to answer any questions you have.

Before they give you the go-ahead to set sail, most companies will give informal checkouts. If they feel your skills are a little rusty, no problem—they’ll put a skipper on board for all or part of the charter (at your expense). If you’re at all unsure of your skills, it’s painless to hire a captain for the first day or two until you become confident.

There are thousands of bareboats out there, with small and large companies in places near and far where you’ve always dreamed of sailing. So why not take advantage of an opportunity to see the world the easy way?