5 Tips for Renting a Yacht
By Burt Carey
If cruising the Caribbean with upwards of 3,000 of your closest friends on a large ship isn’t your idea of a relaxing vacation, you might want to look into chartering your own yacht.
Whether for a romantic getaway, a family vacation or spending time with friends or business associates, chartered yachts are viable options for novice and experienced sailors alike. They give you the flexibility to make as many ports of call as you’d like, or simply to set sail on the open ocean and soak in the plentiful sunshine. Here are some tips to make your yacht rental vacation a pleasant one.
Let Your Broker Help
When you contact a yacht-chartering company, you’ll be assigned a broker. The experience doesn’t have to be fancy or high brow. If you’re a novice sailor, let the broker know.
This is the person who will do your heavy lifting, matching your wants with your experience level to ensure your vacation gets the attention it deserves. You’ll need to know how many people will be in your group, where you’d like to go, and whether you will need to hire a captain to pilot your craft. Yacht-chartering companies are rather particular about renting these expensive boats. You’ll be asked to complete a résumé, especially if you plan to captain the craft yourself.
Your broker, after asking about your interests and who you will be traveling with, will explain your options and then go hunting to find you the best deal possible.
Those new to yachting will want to stick with the large and proven companies. You can’t go wrong contacting Sunsail, The Moorings or Ed Hamilton & Company. All can broker from a selection of hundreds of boats throughout the Caribbean.
Expect to pay the equivalent to a stay at a beach resort. Yes, this is a special experience but it doesn’t have to break your bank account.
The starting price in spring or summer for a yacht with a skipper and a cook averages about $200 per night per person, with food and drinks included. Most yacht rentals have a five- or seven-day minimum, with prices determined by season. Rates tend to go up during the winter in the U.S.
Typical rental craft in the 32-foot range are built for four to six people. Some of the largest rentals go to 52 feet and will accommodate up to 12 passengers. A boat’s size, age, amenities and staff are all figured into the cost. Larger boats may come with a steward – who doubles as your chef – and a first mate or deckhand.
Bare boating, or going it alone without a captain or crew, can be as low as $50 per person per night, and the charter company will stock the galley with the food and drinks you request for about $25 per person per day extra. Most rental yachts come with barbecue grills.
Tips for the crew are customary and always paid in cash. Figure around 15 percent of the charter’s overall cost. If the crew consists of more than a captain, you can simply give the tip to the captain and ask him to distribute it to all hands.
What to Bring
Pack light in soft-sided duffels. You really only need bathing suits, shorts and t-shirts for the most part. Bring something a bit more formal if you plan to have dinner at onshore restaurants.
You’ll definitely need sunscreen. Phones, cameras, electronic games or other electronics will need to be accompanied by extra batteries and memory cards. And for those long, leisurely days afloat, a good book might be in order.
Most boats come equipped with snorkeling gear, but bring your own snorkel if sharing a mouthpiece concerns you.
What to Wear
Onboard clothing should be simple. A bathing suit and casual clothes will suffice, and you’ll have no need of shoes. Of course, clothing can also be optional. It’s your choice.
How to Behave Onboard
It’s your yacht, so you can do whatever you’d like. There are no rules, and crew members for reputable companies must sign confidentiality agreements.
Professional captains and crew will make sure everyone stays safe, and they can help direct you to the best restaurants and ports.