Staying Safe

Family Vacations, Summer 1996

Staying Safe

Choosing a Charter

There are three sailboat-chartering options for families. To decide which is best for yours, evaluate your sailing ability and your willingness to shoulder the responsibility for your brood's safety at sea.

Bareboats: Experienced sailors can charter boats without a professional skipper or crew aboard; this gives you the most freedom and privacy but also requires greater skill and responsibility. Before booking your boat, charter companies will require documentation (licenses or sailing resumes) of your boat-handling skills. Upon arrival, you'll be thoroughly briefed and checked out before being given the helm. It's always desirable--and sometimes necessary--to have more than one able sailor aboard.

Crewed Charters: Your boat comes with a paid skipper (and possibly a mate), who will be in charge of sailing the boat, keeping it clean, overseeing provisions, and, in some cases, preparing meals. This is the most expensive, least stressful way to sail; you can pitch in as much or as little as you wish. Be sure to request a crew that enjoys sailing with kids, specifying your children's ages.

Flotilla Charters: For those who can't quite stomach the price tag of a crewed charter, there's flotilla sailing: A group of boats follows a lead boat manned by a skipper and a bos'n. Cabins on the lead boat are considerably discounted from the cost of a personal charter, and families usually find the camaraderie among fellow charterers to be well worth the loss of freedom.

Copyright 1996, Outside Magazine

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