What is a bareboat yacht charter?
A bareboat charter
is a boat rental. Bareboat means: "the pure boat". If you hire a bareboat, you get the boat without additional services, like renting a car. Bareboat charter is mostly done on boats up to 17 meter length. This size of yachts is usually still manageable for a leisure skipper. Boats larger than 55 feet usually have a skipper included in the charter price. Those are called "skippered charters" or "crewed yachts" or "crewed charters
Worldwide there are around 20,000 professionally managed bareboat charter yachts
. The Mediterranean Sea is the world´s largest region for bareboat holidays. The country with the largest proportion is Croatia with nearly 4,000 vessels operating in bareboat sailing holidays. In Europe, 90 % of all bareboat fleets are sailing yachts. Around 25 % are catamarans
. In America, the percentage of motor yachts among bareboats is much higher. Bareboat charters are by far the most preferred types of sailboat vacation among German-speaking customers. The British and other nationalities for instance try out also flotilla holidays and enjoy the social component of this kind of vacation.
What is a bareboat charter agreement?
The bareboat charter
agreement is a rental contract between the charterer and the owner of the boat. The object of the rental is to allow the charter guest to use the boat for a specific period for leisure purpose. The contract has to be undersigned before the charterer goes onboard. Local authorities often require that the charter contract is onboard during the tour and can be shown on request. Through clauses in the agreement, the owners' obligations of how and when to deliver the vessel are clearly defined. Also it describes the procedures, which need to be followed like check-in, check-out or what happens if there will be a failure of the boat's aggregates etc. The charter contract also includes paragraphs pointing out the liabilities of the renting party.
"The charterer is usually liable for all damages happening to the yacht or loss of its equipment."
An important aspect of the charter agreement is that the charterer who signs the contract is legally responsible even if he is not the skipper. This risk of the charterer can be covered by making a skipper liability insurance
and a charter deposit insurance.
A possible option for sailors who don't have too much experience would be a combination of skippered and bareboat charter. They could hire a skipper to sail the yacht for the first few days and gradually take over until they feel confident to navigate the boat alone. Another possibility would be a flotilla charter with a lead boat and a guide that gives assistance.
In the following we describe Croatian Charter Ports from North to South: Pula has two big marinas from where all charters start. Charter crews usually go south into the Kvarner Bay or the Kornati Islands. The Island Krk with the port Punat is another frequented harbor for Kornati Getaways. If you want to fly into Croatia Zadar, Sukosan and Biograd are very close to the international airport of Zadar. If you fly directly to Split airport, you better charter a yacht from Sibenik, Primosten, Seget Donji, Trogir, Solta on Rogac, Marina Kastela or the marinas directly in Split. For visiting the Southern Dalmatian Islands like Hvar, Brac or Korcula, you can hire a yacht from Split or Dubrovnik.
"The majority of bare boats are sailboat monohulls but catamarans and motor boats also can get rented without a skipper."
Bareboat Rental in Greece has been established already decades ago. There are a handful of harbors where you can book professionally managed bareboat yachts with or without a skipper. Most customers charter without skipper because they have their own sailing license. Just fly directly to Corfu and you can start your Ionian Island cruise from the Marina Gouvia. To explore the Ionian Sea you have further boat rental stations in Preveza and Lefkas. In order to sail the Sporades, sailors can charter sailboats from Volos or Skiathos. The biggest charter ports in Greece are in Kalamaki (Athens) and Lavrion. The marinas there are ideal for escapes to the Cyclades. Some smaller charter bases you can find on Paros. Other famous Greek Islands like Mykonos, Ios or Santorini are great to visit but mostly serve only day charter motor boats. Last not least a great sailing area are the twelve Dodecanese Islands. There, the two well known ports for bareboat rentals are Kos and Rhodes.
Why do sailors enjoy chartering a bareboat yacht?
The costs of owning a yacht are considerable and many sailors do not spend a lot of time on their boat. So for them it is much cheaper to hire a charter yacht just for the duration of the holidays. The second advantage is that in this way they can choose the location freely and don't have to worry about how to bring their own boat.
The bareboat rental contract guarantees that everything will be in order and running perfectly when you come aboard.
"All you have to do is decide which type of boat you need and where you want to go."
Another added bonus on a bare boat hire is that you have complete privacy. You and your family and friends will be entirely undisturbed as there is no additional crew. The boat is all yours!
What are the prices for hiring a boat without skipper?
The average weekly price for bareboat hire in the Mediterranean is about 2,600 €. In the Western Mediterranean prices are highest with average bareboat charter rates of around 3,100 € per week. The Balearics with Majorca and Ibiza are the most expensive boating destinations with 3,200 € a week on average. The further East in the Mediterranean, the lower are the costs for boat rentals. Greece and Croatia are the most competitive nations with average prices between 2,700 and 2,900 € a week. If you choose to hire a skipper instead of doing a bareboat hire, you can add a further 150 - 200 € per day on top of the price depending on the location.
The best place to hire a boat at the Costa Brava is Barcelona. However, Mallorca and the Canaries are the most requested bareboat regions in Spain. The biggest selection on Majorca you will find in Palma de Mallorca, El Arenal, Ca'n Pastilla or Porto Colom. On Ibiza the best ports to start a boat rental are Ibiza Town and San Antonio. Mahon on Menorca is a great port to explore the coast on your own by booking a day-charter with a smaller powerboat (locally also called "Lancha"). On the Canary Islands, you can rent sailboats without skipper from Las Galletas (Tenerife) and Arrecife (Lanzarote) to make your offshore experiences.
When it is the best moment to book a bareboat?
For early bookings done already in autumn and winter prices are about 10 % cheaper than in springtime. So it pays back to plan your bareboat sailing vacation at least 8 months in advance. The overall price difference between high and low season is nearly 40 %. If you can decide spontaneously, there are usually very good last-minute offers
available. Just be aware that the best yachts will already be booked at that time.
The best areas in Italy for bareboat holidays are the islands. Why? The islands have the clearest water and still preserved their typical mediterranean charme and adorable simplicity. The Tuscan archipelago with Isola d'Elba, Capraia, Giglio and Pianosa are a great destination for a one or two weeks itinerary. There are many marinas to start your Tuscan Escape like Piombino, Follonica, Punta Ala or Porto Ercole.
Another unique sailing destination is Sardinia. In the North you can discover the amazing Maddalena Archipelago and turquoise bays of the Emerald Coast. Just hire a boat from Cannigione, Portisco or Marina dell'Isola. Alghero is an impressive harbor town with a beautiful historic centre, absolutely worth visiting on your bareboat adventure. The South of Sardinia is still quite undeveloped. There you find wonderful white sandy beaches and picturesque granite and porphyritic rock formations. Even in high season months there is always enough place to find a secure anchor ground.
The unspoiled Pontine Islands, like Ponza, Ventotene and Palmarola are very popular among weekend sailors from Rome. These internationally quite unknown islands are reachable within a few hours when departing from the Gulf of Naples or Castellammare di Stabia.
Internationally very famous are Ischia and Capri. If you plan a bareboat cruise to visit them, charter a boat from Naples, Procida or Salerno.
Yachts for a tour to the Aeolian Islands are chartered best from Capo d'Orlando, Portorosa or Milazzo in Sicily. The volcanic islands, Salina, Lipari and Vulcano are spectacular. Be aware that during the high season the moorings are limited in the tiny harbors. Therefore, better visit the Aeolian Islands in May, June, September or October.
What types of bareboat yachts are there?
Sailing yachts are the most typical boats for a bareboat vacation
. However, motor yachts
and catamarans are also very popular on a charter holiday without a skipper. While sailing yachts provide for the classic yachting sensation, catamarans are a good option if you need more space. Bareboat yachts usually range up to 17 m length and larger boats are rented with a skipper and possibly more crew.
What licence do I need to steer a boat myself?
In order to hire a sailing boat
or motor yacht you need to have a licence or other documents like a Skipper CV, which provide proof that you have enough experience to steer the boat. If you intend to hire a boat yourself in the Mediterranean it depends on your nationality what type of licence you will need. Generally, the RYA Day Skipper Practical certificate, the ICC (International Certificate of Competency) or any national license that counts as equal is accepted. However, there can be still restrictions to it, like how far offshore you can sail. If there is a radio (VHF) installed on board, Croatia, Spain and Germany ask for a VHF license on top of the skipper's licence. Greece requires the skipper, a so-called "co-skipper", to backup the skipper's duties. More info about skipper licenses you can find in this article
What to pack for a bareboat yacht charter?
Generally it can be said that it is best on a bareboat charter to stick to the necessary items as space on board a yacht is limited. Saying that, you should off course be taking enough clothes for all types of possible weather at the respective location. A wind breaker is always required even if you are going to sail in warm tropical waters. Just don't put your belongings in a hard case but in a duffel or collapsible bag that can easily be put into a locker or wardrobe. Deck shoes with a bright sole keep the teak clean and your feet safe during manoeuvers. Bear in mind that usually there are no washing machines on a boating holiday, so maybe take some hand washing liquid just in case or buy some at the charter destination. Always bring a hut or a bobble hat to protect your head against sun or cold. Gloves are also recommendable in order not to hurt your fingers or sensitive skin when touching muddy mooring lines.
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