My initial thought is, Who the hell wouldn’t want to take a boat on the open ocean, see remote anchorages, and experience the adventure of bareboat chartering? The truth, however, is that boating life isn’t for everyone (but in my opinion, it is for most)!!
So who won’t enjoy bareboat chartering?
There are a few groups of people who may rightly avoid this hobby. If you don’t like to “rough it,” have a hard time getting around, or struggle with motion sickness, sailing might not be for you. I look at life on a sailboat like camping with an RV. You’ll have a lot of creature comforts, but most of them will be minimized. Small bathrooms, small kitchens, and small beds will be the name of the game. If you want double sinks, a jetted tub, and a king-sized bed, you’re going to be disappointed on most bareboat charters.
You also have to realize that boats are not ADA compliant. That doesn’t mean that you can’t bareboat if you are on crutches, in a wheelchair, or aren’t steady on your feet. I’ve seen many people having a blast on boats who, on paper, might not seem like great boating candidates. However, you need to think about how you’re going to make it work. You’ll be getting in and out of unstable dinghies, stairs are the only option for getting from one level to another, and the entire platform you live on is subject to wind and waves that move the “ground” you stand on. Your great-great-grandmother might have an amazing time, but you’ll want to ensure you’ve thought through the logistics of being on a boat with limited mobility and/or stability.
So who will enjoy bareboat chartering?
If you love camping, you’re highly ambulatory, motion doesn’t bother you, and you enjoy adventure? Bareboat chartering is going to be one of the coolest things you’ve ever done!
What should you consider?
As you plan your bareboat charter, it’s important to think through the entire experience. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of it all, but your crew and the logistics are important to consider. Ensure you think through the following:
Will everyone get along?
You’ll be cramming 4-12 people into a fairly small living area. If any of your invited friends get sick of one another at happy hour, they’ll probably murder each other by Day Two on a bareboat charter. Some people are not compatible, and when you must live together, work together, and play together, you can quickly find paradise becoming your personal hell when one person is blaring music at 2:00 am while others are trying to sleep because they get up at 6:00 am every day! Choose your group wisely, and if you have friends on two sides of the spectrum, you may need to go on two trips.
Is everyone helpful?
On a bareboat charter, there are a lot of chores that the group will need to do. You’ll be cooking, cleaning, doing dishes, raising sails, putting out fenders, opening the heads, etc. Some people will always do dishes, and others will never do dishes if left to their own devices. Drama will ensue, and people will be pissed. Think through the crew, their strengths, and weaknesses, and ensure that no one feels like they did everything and that someone doesn’t skate by doing nothing.
I highly recommend setting up a chore chart and ensuring that people know their assignment for the trip and/or the day. That way, expectations are set accordingly, and everyone can rest assured knowing that they’re not picking up more or less of responsibility.
Can everyone swim?
I learned this lesson the hard way. Angie and I have been swimming our entire lives, and we are strong swimmers. We’ll dive off the front of a boat without concern and swim to shore without thinking twice. That must mean that everyone can swim 100 yards, right? WRONG!
You don’t have to be an epic swimmer to go on these trips, but you do need to take precautions if you or a crew member can’t swim well. You also have to probe when people say the “can” swim. I’ve had people tell me they can swim, and then when I say we are swimming to shore, they look petrified. Going to your local pool and wading is far different than open water swimming from your boat to the beach! Don’t let people trick you into thinking they can swim!
The better question to ask potential crew members might be “Are you a strong swimmer?” That puts the question into better context, and gives everyone an idea of skill level at the outset.
If one of the crew members isn’t a strong swimmer, have a plan! Ideally, they bring some kind of life jacket that is comfortable and doesn’t look ridiculous. The odds of falling into the water getting in and out of the dingy is HIGH. Even the most experienced people, with a few drinks in them, are apt to end up falling backwards into the drink! Have a plan for your non-swimming friends!
If you like being outdoors, enjoy a little adventure, and understand that you’re going on a working trip where the ground below you is always moving, you’ll love a bareboat charter! If you need more information on what we love about bareboat chartering, see the “Why Bareboat?” post!