Friday, December 23, 2011

Sail On – Top Tips For Sailing Holidays

Want flexibility? Choose sailing!
Ever since I heard the Commodores singing Sail On, I’ve dreamed of chartering my own boat and sailing the seven seas as they say.  OK, so Lionel Richie didn’t strictly have sailing on his mind but that’s the image it conjured up for me – and still does.

For the sailing aficionados or the merely curious, a sailing vacation is one of the most flexible vacations available.  Forget the itineraries, devise your own timetable and if you want to vary it while you’re out there, that’s just fine.

The independence of a sailing vacation holds a unique allure for many, and for those with sailing experience, bareboat charters offer some of the most attractive options.

Experienced or not, there are certain things to consider before you book your vacation:-

The qualifications required for a bareboat charter vary depending on where you’re heading for.  To arrange a bareboat charter in the Caribbean, experience often counts more than actual qualifications.  Fancy the far reaches of the Mediterranean and the culture of Greece? The Greek authorities will want to see your sailing certificate and your ‘first mate’ is also likely to be asked to sign a declaration as to his or her level of experience.

Useful Tip: Before you even think of setting sail, agree to some form of ‘hierarchy’ with your crew.  In the very unlikely event you encounter any difficulties which require a clear decision, the last thing you want is a mutiny!

When Should You Go?
The time of year you choose for your vacation has a significant effect on both price and destination. If budget is your prime consideration, then the decision on when to go may be out of your hands.

Useful Tip: It can actually be cheaper to charter a bareboat just before the Christmas and New Year holidays.  Most people planning vacations in December aim to celebrate the festive season in an exotic location. Why not celebrate in advance and be home in time to spend Christmas with the rest of the family?
Warning: Hurricane season in the Caribbean will often see a steep drop in prices for chartering boats.  I can’t imagine why!

Book Well in Advance
It may sound obvious but many charters are booked up to a year in advance.  If you’re serious make your reservation now and be flexible on lead time. Secure the destination and boat that you really want.

Useful Tip: If you have to take school holidays into consideration, it’s even more important to book with as much advance notice as possible. If you’re thinking of Florida, the Bahamas or the Caribbean, June and July are your best options as the heat is still bearable.

Know What You Are Paying For
Check and check again with the tour company so you know exactly what’s included in the price of the charter.  It can vary with each tour operator. As well as basics, you may find snorkeling equipment, towels and first aid kits included in the price. Check the inventory and don’t take any chances – take out full travel insurance.

Useful Tip: Don’t forget your sunscreen!
Planning your charter is lots of fun but don’t overlook the important stuff in your haste to confirm it.

Once you have an idea of budget and times you can go, the exciting part begins, choosing your destination!  You’re spoil for choice, from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, the Mediterranean to the Far East.  Whether whale watching, ancient history, lazy days on sparkling white sands or warm water snorkeling is your thing, all bases are covered.

Are you more of a landlubber than a seafarer and slightly daunted by everything we’ve mentioned?   Look at options for yacht rental that include hiring a crew. Relax in the knowledge that technical matters are in safe hands and you’ll soon find your sea legs.

P.S, don’t forget your Commodores soundtrack.

Penelope loves to sail and has a passion for travelling the world... and of course playing the Commodores along the way

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