Using the services of a professional skipper instead of a full crew on your yacht or catamaran vacation is a great cost-lowering alternative to a fully crewed boat. If you will be bareboating in unfamiliar waters or if you will be chartering a boat that is larger or different from vessels that you may have captained before, (or both of the above), you should think about having a yacht captain on board for a few hours, a day or two, or for the whole itinerary.
Using captain only yacht charters can be especially true if you are transitioning from a mono-hull to a catamaran, for example, which is very common these days. This is very wise because after all, your safety and the safety of your friends and family has to come first. Let’s leave our egos at home, please.
Also, if you are unsure of sailing a bareboat by yourself, or if you lack the qualifications, you can get a skipper from the bareboat company. It does, however, entail a different set of dynamics on-board. Having said this, everyone still has to eat so the boat needs to be provisioned from the local super-market and groceries are expensive in the islands.
GET CHECKED OUT FOR AN HOUR OR TWO by an experienced yacht captain – especially for mooring ball pick-up and docking maneuvers and don’t forget the tricky Mediterranean stern-to docking procedures.
Things to remember about chartering a bareboat with a skipper
- The skipper does not cook. He runs the boat.
- He needs a full cabin and needs to share the use of one of the heads (bathrooms).
- You are expected to pay for or prepare his meals every day.
- He is not a baby-sitter; he does not cook, he does not do the dishes, unless negotiated directly and a nice tip promised.
- He or she are normally locals who are on a rotation style arrangement from a pool of skippers who work part-time with the bareboat company.
- You will not know who will be your skipper ahead of time.
- You still need to provision the boat from a local supermarket.
Other Captain or skipper-only charters can sometimes be arranged with boats that usually operate as fully crewed yachts or catamarans. Charters in the off-season dates are usually more receptive to these lower cost arrangements.
Under this scheme, the chef will be left ashore and the skipper will go on the charter by himself. In some cases, the chef will remain on board but only act as a “first mate” type person. In practice here’s what usually happens.
- Since most captain / chef crews are either married or in a relationship and many times actually live on board. The chef / stewardess will remain on board and occasionally help out with the breakfast and lunch preparation in exchange for a nice tip.
- The charterer is responsible for all meal preparation on board and clean-ups.
- The charterer must provision the boat with food and beverages.
- The charterer is responsible for feeding the crew, regardless of one of them not working since you can’t really cook two separate meals on board i.e. one for yourselves and one for the crew.
- If you eat ashore it would be normal practice for you to invite the crew to come with you.
- You will know your crew beforehand, since crew profiles are available for all crewed yachts (with some exceptions).
Having said all this, it’s important to remember that you will be on vacation. This doesn’t mean just your own vacation but your spouse and family’s vacation too. Spending time on meal prep and washing up does not always constitute every one’s idea of a vacation.
Fully crewed yachts and catamarans are still the most enjoyable and laid-back vacation in the world. Let someone else do the work – kick back and enjoy.