How to charter a yacht?

Read a complete guide of how to charter a yacht. Make yourself prepared to enjoy your sailing holidays fully!

You are here because you would like to go on a sailing holiday on a chartered yacht. Perfect! I prepared this guide so that you can understand the complete process. The process is very easy but may be a bit energy consuming. In most of the way, chartering a yacht is almost the same as renting a car. Same, same but different as people in Thailand would have said. Therefore, I created this guide for you. I hope you will find it helpful. Feel free to drop me a line if something is unclear!

Organizing your very first sailing holidays on a chartered yacht is divided in 3 major parts. Before, during, and after the sailing holiday. Let`s dive in.

Before Sailing Holiday

Get inspired.
First and foremost start with creating a destination desire. In the end it`s great to know where do you want to sail. It may be as vague as `where it`s warm, sunny and there is some wind` or it can be as precise as `the Croatian coast near Dubrovnik where I can visit all the Game Of Thrones destinations….` It`s up to you. I am happy to provide you with ideas. Get in touch and tell me what your dream is. I have seen it all and organized sailing holidays on chartered yachts all over the globe already.

Organize your crew.
You know where you want to sail or at least that you want to sail somewhere. That`s a great starting point. From here it`s only easier. The second thing to decide is who you are going to sail with? The crew is one of the most important aspects of your sailing holidays. It will make your experience unforgettable or just nice. The great part about sailing is that it brings the best out of people.

  • Sailing with friends is great as you already have bonds made and you know what to expect. It`s a bit more comfortable but also have higher risks of temperament explosions :). However, if you are a group of good friends who understand each other well, meets often and have much in common, stay assured you will enjoy your time under the sails. Bonds get tighter, you create memories to talk over in cold autumn months, take loads of pictures which make a great souvenir and have the time of your lives. Just the thing you deserve!
  • Sailing with `strangers` on the other hand is more intense and surprising. You learn about yourself, you finally can be who you changed into lately, without falling into the status quo of your friends or family group. People tend to give their best while being on a sailboat with strangers. Don`t you worry however about mood-killers. Everyone who decides to join a sailboat crew with people they don`t know is perfectly aware of the environment s/he is going to spend a week in. That sort of people are open-hearted enough to step out of their comfort zone and meet others face by face, share a week of sailing, cook together, snorkel together, sunbath together and of course sail a sailboat together. Have a look at our sister company organizing flotilla sailing holidays if you are into that type of experience:

Set up last details.
Figure out these to zip everything together and for you to have an overview.

  • Date of your travel: as people usually can take holidays only on specific weeks, use Doodle to find the date when most of you can join sailing.
  • How long do you want to sail for? [Note: usually sailing holidays last 1 week but no one prevents you from sailing 2 weeks in a row!]
  • What is your maximal budget? As you are the organizer it would be great to suggest the budget per person for that holiday [note: remember that there are additional costs of sailing holidays in the form of: restaurant bills, basic groceries, marina fees, fuel for the yacht. On the trips that I organize it is around 150€ per person per week. It excludes arrival costs.

If you are unsure about any of your decisions – write to your organizer.

Contact Dominik
+43 681 814 033 13

I am happy to advise you on your next yacht charter!

Mon-Fri: 9-9pm
Sat: 10-8pm

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    Booking a Charter Yacht

    Choosing a yacht to charter is as simple as choosing a car to rent. Yes, it can be overwhelming at the very beginning. However, with a bit of patience and focus you will find your dream yacht. The difference is the use case for the yacht. In rental car you travel, on a yacht you live. You are going to spend on your yacht quite a few days, so of course you want to make the best possible choice. That makes people question every decision and rethink it endlessly.

    To avoid going in vicious circles, remember the following while choosing your yacht to charter:

    1. Chartering a yacht from a popular port town is usually more expensive. What you are paying for is the comfort of visiting the popular town and exploring it without additional cost. Sometimes paying for this opportunity is totally worth it, sometimes not. Search online for some photos and decide if that visit is important to you.
    2. Large ports are usually close to the airport. Therefore, so arrival/departure on the route airport-marina will be shorter. The rule of thumb is that the further away from the airport the cheaper the yacht charter will be. Of course you need to pay for arrival to this little port but usually transfers costs are much smaller than the savings generated by choosing a yacht stationed far away. I am happy to help you out with organizing basics of these logistics. Contact me and ask questions that you have!
    3. Newest yachts are most expensive to charter. Unless you are keen on sailing in a James Bond style, chartering a bit older yacht (3-8 years) will be as satisfying experience and will allow you to save a few hundred €.
    4. Brand choice does not matter if you are chartering first time. It is important for you to make your own experience with sailing yachts so don`t pay attention to the yacht brand first time. Second time I would suggest chartering something else than the first time. After a few times you will know what are the details that you like
    5. Sleeping in the saloon is a good idea if you have not so large budget. Naturally it comes at a cost of comfort of people sleeping in the saloon. The bed is comfy there and normally the table slides down and one can make a double bed out of it. Anyone sleeping in the saloon should participate less in the costs of chartering and should be ok with sleeping in a place where others may be passing by during the night. TIP: take additional bed sheets from the fleet operator (on the check-in day) to create a visual separation for mental comfort. You will be surprised how much better it feels when you don`t have to see or be seen while sleeping in the centre of the yacht.
    6. Make sure the yacht has the auxiliary equipment you want. While browsing through different yachts, check the yachts` equipment list. If you are used to having a GPS plotter in the cockpit it would be a pity if the boat would not have one. The same applies to the bow-thruster, bimini or the type of the main sail: roll-in or fully battened.
    7. Booking early pays off. Not only you have the best price discounts, but also the yachts with the best quality/price ratio are still available. It is common for keen sailors to book their yacht 8-9 months in advance!
    8. Respect your time as an organizer. If you are the organizer for the group make all the people decide fast and make a small advance payment (i.e. 100€) so that you will be sure that no-one steps out in the last minute before paying. You would be surprised how often friends can change their mind about participation, especially if they never sailed before. And all of that usually after you spend time for pre-organizing, choosing the yacht and investing lots of your precious time.

    Choosing the Yacht to Charter

    Follow the best practice outlined below to choose a charter yacht efficiently.

    • Go to our charter engine:
    • 1st iteration: very quickly, select 3-5 yachts which more or less fit your criteria (these can be 1000€ above or 1000€ below your budget). Give it a rest and come back after 1 hour. Choose 1 yacht which you like the most.
    • 2nd iteration: select 3-5 other yachts which are around the yacht price you liked the most in the 1st iteration. Make sure that the charter price is maximum 500€ more or 500€ less than the yacht price you selected in iteration 1. Choose 1 yacht which you like the most.
    • 3rd iteration (final): select 3-5 yachts which costs is maximum 100€ more or 100€ less than the yacht selected in the iteration 2. These are your finalists. Decide on one or send these to your group to make the decision for you.

    Many people have troubles with making the final decision. I am happy to conduct this process with you and give my advice along the way. 

    Need support finding the right yacht charter?

    Tell me about your perfect boat and let me find it for you.

    Finalize the Charter

    Once you decided which yacht is going to be your dream yacht to charter, it`s time to seal the deal by payment.

    • Within 5 work days: send the deposit to secure the boat. The amount can be anything between 30% and 50% of the charter price. This most often is done through the bank transfer but if you prefer you can pay via credit card or Paypal.
    • Until 30 days before check-in date. Pay the balance to finalize the charter. Don`t worry you will receive an automated reminder.

    Crew list and skipper data 
    Around 2-3 weeks before the check-in date your fleet operator will send you an email asking for filling in the crew data (names, passport numbers, birth dates) which is needed to create a yacht crew list and register it with the government authorities. Not doing so results in fines when water police controls you. Additionally you will need to send a scan of valid skipper license.

    If you wish to cancel your yacht charter, inform your agent as soon as possible. If it is later then 90 days before the charter it will definitely be connected with loosing at least part of the deposit. This is not yet standardized and every fleet operator has different rules. Let your agent negotiate in your name. He`s got much larger leverage on the fleet operator, chartering many yachts throughout the year.

    During Sailing Holiday

    Check-in day

    1. Do the paper work in the fleet operator office. Upon arrival to the marina, find the charter office (you will receive a little map before) and fill all the papers needed: signature on the crew list, pay the security deposit (1500-3000€ returnable in full if no damage is made to the yacht) or pay the damage waiver insurance (not returnable but you have 0€ responsibility for the damages done to the yacht). If you are sailing with a skipper provided to you by Sail-Planet we can offer a damage waiver in the amount of 250-350€ in which case our skipper is solely responsible for all the damages done to the yacht.
    2. Do the check-in on the yacht. Once you finalized all the paper-work, go for a coffee J The next thing to do is to make a check-in and it is an intense process and requires your (or skippers) full concentration. One of the staff of your fleet operators will meet you at an agreed hour on the yacht and will go with you through the basic check of all the equipment and yachts functionalities. Sails will be hoisted, engine started, all tools presented, electric panel explained… etc… it lasts usually a good hour if done thoroughly but can take longer. This is the most important moment of your sailing holiday. Ask all the questions you have, take all the notes you need, and take your time. The staff member most likely will be ushering to finish things fast but it is important to stay cool and make sure you understood all the explanations. Additionally if you find any little malfunction (if you are chartering old yacht that is more probable) that is the time to point it out, fix it or ask the staff if it can be fixed for you.
      Check-in sounds much scarier than it actually is so keep calm and do it step by step. Remember that every staff member of the fleet operator wants you to have a good time, so ask for help when needed and just be a sailor – take the challenge! You are going to do perfectly fine!
    3. Provision the yacht. Last but not least before leaving the port is to provision your yacht. Sometimes it is possible to order all the groceries online and have them delivered to your boat. Sometimes crews prefer to do it themselves. It`s nice to pick the fruits you like on the veggie market and hand pick the wine. It`s much more personal and social. Supermarkets are normally close to the marinas. There is a non-written rule that it is ok to take the shopping cart out of the market and bring it back later. Some people take taxis to bring all the groceries to the marina which is a great strategy if the supermarket is a bit further away. 

    Sailing Holiday

    Finally! The time has come to enjoy your holiday on the sea. Let the winds guide your way or follow the route you prepared before! Visit remote bays for lunch stops, snorkel and discover the underwater world, practice your sailing manoeuvres, have a cup of coffee while you sail, eat well in local restaurants, feel the breeze on your cheeks, stroll through historic towns, … simply enjoy your sailing holidays!

    Remember that having a good pilot book (every charter boat has one on board) or having made your research earlier will make your holiday much more comfortable. Knowing the area that you sail in lets you be calmer about the route changes when the weather, wind or moods on board change. Feel free to explore Sail-Planet for route suggestions and area descriptions.

    Check-out day

    As all great things must need to come to an end, sailing holidays do too. This is how it is going to look like. Plan in your passage well so that you have plenty of time swimming and snorkelling in a remote bay. Except that this is what is going to happen.

    1. Refuel and come back to the marina. On the last day, just before coming back to the port you will need to refuel the yacht. It`s a good practice to do it in the morning or very late afternoon to avoid queuing for to the fuel station. If it happens that you will need to wait long, use this time wisely and either have a coffee or ask the crew to pack their luggage already. That will save you time later when most likely you will want to go out and dine somewhere in the city.
    2. Do the check-out procedure. Upon arriving back to the marina one of the fleet operator staff will do the check-out with you. Basically it`s a time for checking if you did any damages to the yacht and if you refueled the yacht back to full. It is much shorter than the check-in procedure and lasts around 15 minutes.
    3. Disembarking from the yacht happens normally the next morning after coming back to port. It needs to be done in the morning hours, normally until 09h00. That gives time to the cleaning teams to prepare the yachts for the next sailors willing to enjoy the sea!

    After Sailing Holiday

    After coming back home it`s a great idea to exchange photos with other participants of the trip. There is plenty of photo sharing platforms to choose from (Google Photos, Yogile, WhatsApp). Naturally after sailing is before sailing. The best way to avoid after sailing depression is to start looking for another inspiring sailing destination to sail in. Very often even the same country has a lot to offer. For example just in Croatia there are 4 very different sailing regions where you could easily spend 4 weeks sailing and see different type of landscape and nature. Sail-Planet is here to provide you with some ideas.

    I hope that this First Time Charter Guide will be useful while preparing your first sailing holiday on a chartered yacht. What questions do you have? What feedback? Let me know in the comments!

    And of course, feel free to contact me and ask for advice on your upcoming yacht charter!



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    Great Yacht Charter Regions For Beginners

    These are the best regions to start with your sailing holidays. Croatia is our all time favorite because of very well developed infrastructure and sights. Greece is great because of it`s mood of collaboration between sailors and slow-paced villages. Caribbean is simply a paradise.

    Catamaran sailing along Croatian coast.
    Charter yachts moored in Greece
    Yachts moored in the Caribbean.

    Our yacht charter booking engine lists all of these and many other yacht charter locations. Feel free to find a boat you like.
    Drop me a line if you need advice or support.