What is a Bareboat Charter?


What is a Bareboat Yacht Charter?

The first question many people have when looking to book a sailing holiday is: what is a bareboat charter, and how does it work?

A bareboat charter does what it says on the tin; you charter the full ‘bare’ boat, and supply your own crew to sail her. This is of course a little simplified, as the boat does come fully equipped, with sails and all necessary bits and bobs, but it helps illustrate the core concept.

In essence, bareboat charters put you in complete control of the itinerary, and can be the perfect choice for those looking for a dose of true freedom. They’re the perfect choice for experienced sailors looking to explore a region in more detail, or those returning to a favourite sailing ground.

Here’s our guide to the absolute freedom of bareboat yacht charters.

​Why Choose a Bareboat Charter?

Dufour 56 Sailing | Helm

What are the advantages of bareboat chartering?

A bareboat charter gives sailors a much greater degree of freedom than holidaying on a skippered yacht. You’ll take the helm and go where you please, at your own pace.

As you’re in charge of the itinerary, you can also have fun plotting your route for the holiday, involving as many of the crew as you like, researching the best places to visit and creating a sailing holiday that is uniquely yours.

Bareboat charters have the added benefit of complete privacy. With no one but yourself and your friends and/or family on board, bareboat charters are the perfect private getaway.

Cruiser 46 Bavaria

Hassle-free sailing
Owning a yacht is an expensive endeavour, especially for sailors who can’t spend a huge amount of time using and caring for their yachts. A bareboat charter offers you the perfect compromise, as you can stretch your sea legs without investing time and effort into maintaining a depreciating asset.
Chartering also grants you access to the newest yachts around, so you can enjoy the best of cutting-edge yacht design developments.

Most bareboat charters involve sailing yachts, either monohulls or catamarans, but if power is more your thing, there are a wide variety of bareboat motorboats available, too. There are literally thousands of bareboat yachts available in the world, available in all sorts of type, size and layout.
That’s where our industry knowledge and expert recommendations come in, to help you choose the right yacht for your group.

Trogir Old Town Sailing Holidays | Helm

Do I need any qualifications to bareboat charter?

Yes. Because of the responsibility placed on the skipper’s shoulders, in order to charter a bareboat, you will need at least some form of sailing experience with a boat of a similar to size.

On top of this, you’ll likely need some form of qualification or sailing license as an example of your skills on the water. Generally speaking, you’ll need to hold at least an International Certificate of Competence (ICC) in order to bareboat charter in Europe, and the rest of the world is at various stages of adopting similar legislation.

All RYA qualifications from Day Skipper upwards are also acceptable, and in Croatia they expect at least one person on board to have a VHF licence, too. There are numerous ways to get the desired level of qualification, and if you’re an experienced hand who just needs the bit of paper, many sailing schools now offer one-day ICC assessments, covering basic route planning and boat handling skills.

Uth Dufour 56 In Marina At Daytime 009


Certificates accepted worldwide include:

  • International Certificate of Competence
  • RYA Day Skipper
  • RYA Coastal Skipper
  • RYA Yachtmaster

You can choose whether to take a course at one of the many sailing schools in the UK, or add an instructor to your charter, learn in warm weather and get qualified while you enjoy a holiday.

But don’t worry - if you don’t have the necessary experience yet, a skippered or crewed charter is still an excellent option for your sailing holiday.

Dubrovnik Old Town Yacht Charter | Helm

On arrival

When you get to the base, you’ll go through a check-in process (remember to bring your certificate as this will needed as proof of competence) and a thorough yacht and safety briefing. A member of the team will take you through the operation of all yacht systems, from the engine to the heads to the air conditioning.

The briefing will also cover all safety aspects, from flares to lifejackets. It is your opportunity to check that everything works, and ask the base team any questions you may have about the yacht, or your sailing area.

Once this is completed and all paperwork signed, you’ll be free to set off on your bareboat adventure.

Bol Zlatni Rat Beach

Things to remember

There are several factors to consider when looking to charter a bareboat yacht. By acting as the skipper, you are responsible for the safety of both yacht and crew. You’ll also be in charge of plotting the route, and manoeuvring the yacht under sail and engine.

So make sure you’re familiar with what to do in the case of emergency, and listen carefully to the briefing at the start of your charter. It’s worth remembering that different sailing areas use different methods of mooring, so you’ll need to know the difference between mooring stern or bows-to in the Mediterranean, dropping anchor in Thailand and picking up a mooring ball in the British Virgin Islands.

As most countries now require bareboat skippers to hold a valid sailing licence, it is important that you make sure your licence is up to date, and remember to bring your certificate with you when you go. If you’re unsure about any of the finer details of bareboat hire, we’re on hand for any questions you may have

Greece Anchorage

Build your bareboat charter with Helm

Setting sail on a bareboat charter is the ultimate expression of freedom. As experienced sailors ourselves, we understand that bareboat charters are the best way to explore, and we offer a range of options all over the world.

Use our impartial, expert advice to build your own bespoke holiday, from the Caribbean’s crystal waters to Greece’s ancient culture and the historic coastline of Italy.

Explore bareboat options

For more advice on creating your perfect sailing holiday, email us at [email protected] or phone (+44) 0207 632 7567

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