Journalist and explorer, Meredith Price offers her expert advice on what NOT to do when chartering a sailboat abroad.
Want to take to the seas on your next vacation? Chartering a sailboat is easier than you think, just bear in mind these 10 DON’Ts for boating vacations and your trip will be plain sailing!
1) DON’T ASSUME SAILING IS FOR MILLIONAIRES
Chartering a 36’ sailboat in Europe can cost as little as 1,600 Euros a week. For six people, that works out around 38 Euros a night – far less than most hotels in Europe. And self catering will bring the price of your trip down even further.
2) DON’T FORGET YOUR LICENSE
Even if you’re a keen sailor, you probably don’t have a skipper’s license. In Europe, this is a must for any sailboat charter. Be sure to check with the charter company in advance about license requirements for insurance. If you do opt to pay a skipper, you may be able to find young sailing school graduates happy to come for free to log the hours. Just make sure you arrange your skipper well ahead of time.
3) DON’T IGNORE THE DETAILS
Don’t skimp on your charter company research. Check into the details before you book to find out about discounts on airline tickets or special offers during boat shows. Ask about extras, such as fishing gear, local taxes, fuel and water costs and marine park fees. These details can make a big difference to your costs.
4) DON’T BOOK IN HIGH SEASON
Booking right after or before high season means paying less, enjoying great weather, and fighting fewer crowds. Check peak season dates and weather patterns before you go.
5) DON’T ASSUME YOU’LL BE SICK OR BORED
Nausea, if you do get it, can be avoided. Try taking some Dramamine or wearing pressure bands on your wrists before you get on the boat. Bring some lemon slices and fresh ginger to chew on. Make sure you stay out of the galley, keep your eyes on the horizon and stand up if you start to feel sick.
As for boredom, don’t be afraid to leave the laptop at home! Between sunsets, storms, ever-changing cloud patterns, marine visitors, starry skies and dramatic shorelines, there’ll never be a dull moment on-board!
6) DON’T PACK SUMMER CLOTHES ONLY
Even if the forecast predicts hot and sunny weather, remember to bring deck shoes, a warm hat, raincoat and gloves. Layering is important because the weather can change suddenly and in high winds it gets chilly fast. If you get caught in a sudden storm you’ll be especially thankful for the rain gear.
7) DON’T BE COMPLACENT ABOUT SAFETY
Even if you’re an experienced sailor make sure you pay heed to safety precautions. Some basics include keeping your head down near the boom, watching your fingers with ropes, and attaching yourself to the boat when alone at the wheel. Discuss emergency situations with your crew so that everyone knows what to do in a sudden squall, man overboard etc. Take an easy, short sail on the first day to get everyone acclimated. Never, under any circumstances, leave the boat without any passengers on it (unless you’re anchored).
8 ) DON’T LEAVE YOUR COOKING SKILLS AT HOME
It’s cost effective and fun to cook on-board, the biggest challenge is using an oven that rocks with the boat. Learning how to move your body as you jibe and tack while standing over a hot pan is no easy task! In Europe you’ll find excellent wines and high-quality supermarkets everywhere. In most large port cities you’ll have access to organic products too.
9) DON’T OVER-PLAN
Because you’re dependent on the wind (which can be temperamental and tetchy) you’ll need to be flexible. Sailing often takes longer than you think and a sudden rainstorm can confine you to port for a few days. Setting destination deadlines can get stressful. Take the unexpected and enjoy the ride. As they say, it’s about the journey, not the destination.!
10) DON’T BE AFRAID
You’ve probably heard about people drowning after getting caught in high seas but boating is actually very safe. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, there were 709 deaths from boating accidents in 2008 – far less than car crashes. The vast majority of these fatalities could have been avoided had proper safety guidelines had been followed. (90% of all drowning victims in 2008 were not wearing life jackets).
Thinking of taking to the seas? Been on a super sailing vacation you want to tell us about? Let us know, we want to hear from you!