NO BOAT? NO PROBLEM!
That’s right! You don’t need to shell out big bucks on a boat or have prior sailing experience to enjoy a vacation on the sea. Thinking of a voyage in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Asia or even the South Pacific? Just charter a boat!
When it comes to chartering, you have three options:
- Skippering the boat yourself, known colloquially as a “bareboat” charter,
- Having the boat ‘skippered’ i.e. getting an expert to show you the ropes, or,
- Hiring a “crewed charter” complete with a fully qualified crew that manages everything.
Your choice basically depends on your budget, experience and your vision.
PLAN, PLAN, PLAN
As with anything in life, better planning makes for smoother sailing (ha!). It helps to have a clear idea of what kind of vacation you’d like to have before stepping on a boat. This will also help guide what kind of boat you charter (eg: a racer, a cruiser, a catamaran etc).
If you’re thinking of setting sail soon, make finding a reputable charter company one of your first steps. Check references and advisors to ensure you are linking up with reliable companies like Moorings and Sunsail.
Many first time sailors are terrified about getting seasick, and I wouldn’t fault them. It’s definitely one of the more unfortunate consequences of being at sea. Luckily, there are ways you can help mitigate – but not quite cure -the symptoms. The key is to get in early and not wait until it’s too late to get cracking.
Here are some common remedies you might want to try:
- Medications – Dramamine, Bonine, waistbands, even skin patches may work for some once taken 1 to 2 hours before sailing
- Food – Ginger is the best and most natural remedy used to battle motion sickness. It doesn’t matter if you drink it, crew it, or sip it. It is never a bad idea to have a bit of ginger before or even while sailing
Staying up on deck in the fresh air and keep your eyes on the horizon also help alleviate symptoms. If you do get seasick, sit close to the rails and wait it out; this too shall pass.
SET YOUR OWN COURSE
One of the big perks of chartering a boat is that you are able to set your course. Imagine waking up in a new place every morning, with a new city to explore. The key difference between being on a cruising ship and chartering your own boat is that you have a lot more flexibility with the latter.
As a compulsive over-packer, this is the hardest part. It’s important to exercise restraint when packing for a sailing vacation because space is almost always limited. Minimalism is key; after all, all you really need are swimsuits.
PREPARE FOR ANYTHING
Because you are at the mercy of the elements and things can change in an instant, preparation is key on a boat. Make preparing for the trip a group responsibility and assign each member a task. Think of everything, from having enough of the essentials onboard – water, food, medications, documents, tool, gear, etc – to budgeting for cash and expenses. These should never be an afterthought. It’s not like if you can just sail into the corner store to replenish your supplies or that offshore ATM.
MORE THE MERRIER
Most of us don’t have the luxury of having a fully-crewed yacht. That means there’s plenty of work to be done and someone has to do it. Many hands make light work, so assign and agree on responsibilities onboard, have a few ground rules, and lend a helping hand when needed. Have kids onboard? Even better. Giving them something to do helps combat potential boredom and subsequent naughtiness!
SAFETY IS 1ST, 2ND, AND 3RD
There are dozens of precautions and requirements on a boat, andd while I still insist you don’t have to be a sailor to sail, it does help to be acquainted with basic sailing jargon.
Knowing to duck with the Captain shouts ‘BOOM’ can literally save your neck! Conditions change rapidly on the sea and having someone experienced on board is a lifesaver, as is being knowledgeable about the important safety features on board. Never set off without a safety briefing and an updated weather forecast. Know where the safe areas are on board, especially life jackets, lifesavers and what radio frequencies are useful in an emergency.
Wind in your hair, salty sea spray on our skin and the freedom to set your sails on your chosen course; for many, this is a dream come true. Sailing offers seafarers amazing and unforgettable experiences, not to mention the added bonus of impressive stories that last a lifetime. The ultimate sailing escape awaits and it is easier to set sail than you imagine.