BUT WHERE IS THE BOAT…??
In this unfortunate age of spamming and scamming, this is the dreaded phrase that Internet charter shoppers fear the most and where charter yacht brokers professional associations are useful. Arriving at the dock in, say, Phuket, Thailand or Tortola in the Virgin Islands, and – guess what? The boat’s not there or it arrives late.
Having spent a substantial amount of up-front money for the charter fee, spent a fortune on airfares and perhaps even a hotel night or two and then – NO BOAT.
That of course is an extreme case but there are other niggling little things that may have been misrepresented and that can turn a vacation into a nightmare – a crew that is somewhat less than cooperative, a cramped bathroom with a shower or toilet that doesn’t work, a “king-size” bed that now seems like a cramped bunk that was last used in a prison somewhere.
And, yes, the family or group who are committed Vegans but are served barbecue for dinner…!!
This where the different yacht charter brokers professional associations become essential, whether they be CYBA, AYCA, MYBA, FYBA, HYBA or other internationally recognized associations, all have an experienced membership, ethical standards to uphold and dispute-resolution mechanisms in place where clients, brokers, crews and owners can be held accountable.
So, yes, those pretty little logos on the websites and business cards and at the bottom of broker emails actually do mean something. They tell you that the person you are talking to or corresponding with actually has the expertise to offer a client the right solutions to his/her special charter vacation needs, that this person knows the boats and their crews intimately, and that he or she is knowledgeable about the cruising locations and itineraries and will offer you a hassle-free charter vacation experience.
The devil is in the details, they say. Very true, one of the most important “devils detail” is the charter contract between the client and the vessel’s owner. There are many different varieties of contract that are used in the charter business – too many, in fact, to talk about in any detail in this article.
Suffice to say, however, that experienced professional charter brokers need to have an in-depth knowledge of the different contracts that may be applicable to the different geographical locations, boat registrations, flags and owners preferences.
They need to have more than a passing knowledge of exchange rate mechanisms, international transfer of funds in different currencies, foreign bank accounts, etc.
Yachts can be flagged and registered in different countries, they move from one place to another, many vessels charter in the Caribbean in winter and the Mediterranean in summer. Owners may live anywhere in the world, crews hail from South Africa, South America, Europe or the United States. Clients reside and are governed by the laws of the country where they reside.
This means that contract enforcement is complex and is governed by Maritime Law (also known as Admiralty Law) since no specific individual country’s law will cover the complex circumstances of disputes arising from non-compliance and accidents on the high-seas.
Using a charter broker who is a member of one of the recognized associations will minimize the client’s exposure. Perhaps not eliminate all the possible problems entirely, but certainly minimize the risk. A good charter broker will only offer their clients vessels that are personally known to the broker and that are managed by responsible management companies and clearing houses that are known quantities.
In summary, brokers who are not members of a recognized association or even perhaps more than one association are missing out on an opportunity to learn more about their specialized profession and their ability to convey these qualifications to their clients by using the association’s logo.
First time clients, in turn, would be wise to only use brokers or charter agents who are members of qualified Associations and minimize the risk of ever having to ask the question “…..but where is the boat?……”
Just ask us instead.