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Even if you have your own sailboat, a good way to learn more about sailing is to charter a boat. Chartering a boat is basically renting it. You can rent all types of boats and yachts that will give you new sailing experiences. You can then add those skills to what you already know about sailing from your own boat. A good way to start is by chartering a boat for a holiday weekend. This will introduce you to a new boat without overwhelming you. There are seemingly endless options advertised on the Internet from Florida sailing charters to Bahamas sailing charters to Caribbean sailing charters. If you book a bareboat sailing charter, you won't have a crew to help you so you should make sure you meet any and all requirements of these private boat charters.
To find the one that's best for you, you can search online under the area you want to sail, such as the British Virgin Islands or you can search under bareboat charters, sailing rentals or sailing charters. Read the details about such a charter carefully. Make sure your sailing resume meets bareboat charter requirements. Most bareboat charter companies will make sure you can provide evidence that the skipper has previous charter experience or owns a similar-sized boat. You might also be asked for evidence that you have at least one experienced crew member.
When you charter bareboat-style, before you leave you should feel confident that you know about the following on the boat you plan to sail: location of safety mechanisms and equipment, safe operation of the winches, reefing lines, anchor(s), VFH system (and mayday instructions), engine operation, halliard's and any systems new to you.
If you've been studying sailing, you might think you are ready for a charted trip. There are a myriad of sailing charters from which to choose, including many types of boats and many destinations. But, don't set out to charter a boat using only GPS navigation technology. You must also learn the art and science of charting your own course. GPS navigation systems do help sail boaters but they cannot tell you about certain water hazards; only charts can do that.
Only a few tools are needed to chart on a paper chart. Use pencils so you do not make permanent marks, especially since you are new to charting. Practice charting for a long time before you attempt to do it yourself on a private boat you have rented. You will need a plotter, dividers and drawing compasses. Most people find two-handed dividers easier to use. If you find an academic course on plotting it might be best to take it so your skills will be topnotch before you charter a boat. A parallel ruler will allow you to measure the distance between two points. To measure distance on a chart, you need to compare the distance between two points with the latitude scale on the side of the chart.
Reading symbols at night is tough so make sure you have a light. You may also want to use a magnifying glass during the day. Tidal information will likely be covered on your chart but you can also use a tidal atlas for the sailing area you plan to chart. This is why a GPS system is not enough; it cannot give you tidal information. Additionally, electronic instruments do make charting a course on a chartered boat easier but never rely solely on them as they all fail at some point.
Finally, carry a lead line tied to a piece of lead as a backup to determine depth. You can mark the line with colors to devise a depth system that suits you and the sailboat you have chartered.
If you want to book a private boat charter, you have your pick of locations: Greece, France, Tortola, Belize, Tahiti and more. But, you should be aware--if you are at the helm--that different countries may require different sailing techniques to sail successfully. One area in which you'll need to be particularly careful is in anchoring. When you complete the tasks needed for a sailboat rental, your mind is likely to be focused on safety--GPS systems, mooring lines, operating the basic sailing mechanisms. And, you should be focused on safety. But, sometimes that leads to a lack of focus in other key areas.
Anchoring problems often occur in the night when sailors are sleepy. An example is wrapping the dinghy painter around the propeller. If this occurs, the bow of the boat can be pulled under the water to the point where the engine stalls. You might be an expert at anchoring your own sailboat, but a rental might be a different story so cover all details on anchoring before you leave the dock.
When on a charter boat, try to choose a place to anchor that is alongside another boat with similar characteristics. Also, in protected waters when there is a breeze on a hot night, consider taking the anchor line to the stern from the bow so the stern will head into the wind. This will allow the sleeping area to be cooled. Remember, these kinds of tricks may not be on the mind of the person renting the boat, so you must take responsibility to ask about different situations and how they affect the boat you charter.
Are you looking for a unique vacation idea? You have some experience sailing and you want to be out on the open water, anchoring when you decide you want to stop and enjoy the local cuisine and culture of a small island. You want to be able snorkel in the blue water but not on someone else's schedule. But, maybe you want all this and some sailing help that's close by if you need it. If you like meeting new people, a flotilla sailing charter might be best for you. Flotilla sailboat charters can offer you the chance to cruise through the Caribbean or the Mediterranean. You can have some time alone with your spouse or family and you can also join up with others in your group.
In a flotilla charter, you might sail with up to 10 or 12 other yachts and have a lead crew that offers help when you need without being too obtrusive on your private time. You will likely get a flexible itinerary with suggested places to anchor for the day or moor for the night. Sometimes in a flotilla charter, all the boats meet at one place to have a party on the beach. Then you can meet people who also enjoy sailing and share your experiences and know-how with them. If you want to find such a private boat charter, search the Internet under "flotilla boat charters" or go to specific charter company sites to see if they offer this type of sailing yacht charter. Depending on the type of boat and the location, the prices for flotilla charters will vary. Some people make lifelong friends on flotilla charters while others meet new fellow sailors each year.
To ensure you have a good experience, check out the credentials of your lead crew. Also, check out the company through an organization like the Better Business Bureau.
There are so many sailing rental and sailing charter experiences available that it's hard to choose which one to go with. Consider these facts:
*90 percent of Americans live less than an hour from a navigable body of water.
*Some half-day boating charters can be as little as $500 while vacation destination charters can be under $2000 per person. (Some charters include a cook and crew while others do not.)
If you charter a boat and learn to sail in a place like New York or Florida, you can then use that knowledge closer to home by renting a boat on a lake or other large body of water. Some sailing schools like Offshore Sailing School offer vacation sailing excursions whereby you can learn to sail and enjoy other vacation features like swimming, hiking and waterside meals. Then, you might be ready to charter your own boat for a family vacation. If you build your knowledge of sailing slowly through sailing rental options, then you can invest more slowly in the sport.
Historically speaking, a yacht is a pleasure boat of any size and type. This definition holds true in many countries today, too. The sport of racing sailboats is sometimes referred to as yacht racing. In the U.S. you will find that a yacht usually refers to a luxurious boat that is about 40 feet or bigger. Other sea lovers only call a sailing boat a sailing yacht if it particularly graceful, well proportioned and the ultimate in seaworthiness. Whatever the definition of a yacht, many people have had the best vacation of their lives by chartering a yacht. The beauty of yacht charters is that the captain and crew are provided with the yacht. Whether you love the technical aspects of sailing or not, you'll likely have a good time on a yacht. For obvious reasons, these types of sailboat rentals are more expensive than other private boat charters like flotilla charters and bareboat charters.
To find a vacation yacht charter, you can search the Internet or meet with a travel agent. If you want to book your yacht vacation online, you can also use a broker. A good broker is familiar with all the types of yacht charters and companies that are out there and can help you find the best one for you. This will cost you more but save you lots of time in conducting your own research. Remember, if you are new to yacht charters, you'll have to find at least three companies that you initially like and then narrow your choice from there. That could take a fair amount of time.
If you want to book a yacht charter, look for one that:
*offers a flexible itinerary.
*offers up front cost information.
*offers all your provisions including ice, fuel, water, snorkeling gear and other amenities like kayaking.
Some people with sailing experience can book a private yacht charter. In that case, your yacht should offer a GPS navigation system, chart plotter and autopilot.