Argh, pirates coming looking for mp3s and unreleased movies. How do I sail a yacht?
August 16, 2005 7:56 AM   Subscribe

What do I do to go about renting a sailing yacht? I've always wanted to go yachting and seeing "Dead Calm" the other day convinced me. I'm landlocked and have only steered boats of the outboard motor variety. I see that yacht rentals exist, but what training do I need? Can a few classes suffice? Are yachts affordable to the average joe? Would a non-sailing yacht be easier (and considerably cheaper) for a land lover?

I'm as land-locked as you can get but the whole idea of going adrift at see for a week or two sounds great. I have preference on where I want to go yachting but somewhere warm would be best. I don't plan on any kind of journey, just go out to sea and putz around. I'd also like to know if this is just for the super-rich or with a sizeable crew (say 5 others) I could pull this off for around $1,000 a piece (say a week or two)? I'd prefer to be as alone as possible and not have to hire a Captain Ron, it seems to me with GPS and a back up motor I couldn't get too lost.
posted by geoff. to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Shiver me homonyms, I meant sea.

I should mention that I plan on going around next spring so this isn't a next week type of trip. I would have all winter to at least read up and study the basics of yachting and navigation.
posted by geoff. at 8:00 AM on August 16, 2005

Response by poster: And should read "no preference" onto where I want to go exactly but someplace warm, i.e. either coast would be fine.
posted by geoff. at 8:05 AM on August 16, 2005

Best answer: Renting a yacht is called "chartering", and renting a yacht without hiring a captain to sail it is called "bareboat chartering". You can take US Sailing or American Sailing Association courses at a sailing school near you to learn to sail and then to be certified to bareboat charter yachts up to 40 feet long. If you've never sailed, you'll have to take the whole series of courses from Basic Keelboat through Bareboat Cruising, which will cost you a good bit (but be terrific fun).

Then you just need to find a charter outfit that'll give you a boat. If you show up with no cruising experience besides the courses, the charter company is likely to want to test your knowledge, and if they're not comfortable with your ability they have the right at the last minute to insist that you hire a captain, which may mean taking a bigger boat as well.

One good resource is LateSail, which aggregates discount charters worldwide. You should be able to find a boat in the British Virgin Islands for $2000 per week or so.
posted by nicwolff at 8:16 AM on August 16, 2005

Huh. I always thought the term was "land lubber", but I guess "land lover" makes a lot more sense.
posted by delmoi at 8:18 AM on August 16, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks for the information, do the same levels of certification exist for chatering non-sailing yachts? The price and time of the certifications look to be several vacations within themselves (which was what I was afraid of).
posted by geoff. at 8:28 AM on August 16, 2005

Best answer: Speaking as a beginner student of sailing, I can testify that the sport is easy at a basic level, i.e. get a two-person dinghy from point A to B to C and back in good conditions and under supervision. It is a lot of fun, provided you aren't prone to motion sickness and don't mind capsizing once every few hours.

But to take a larger boat on a multi-day trip on the open seas where weather conditions can turn extreme on you in an hour requires years of experience. Plus you need finely-honed leadership skills in order to manage the crew.

You won't be able to rent a sailboat without a captain unless you can materially demonstronstrate your experience. But you should be able to rent a boat with a captain within your price range if your group is willing to serve as crew.

Small motor boats are very easy to operate, though they have limited range. In most jurisdictions you just have to pass a small written test on safety procedures and the "rules of the road" (right of way, etc.) The rules governing larger motor yachts are a bit more strict -- you'd probably have to spend a couple months and a bit of money to work toward getting certified.
posted by randomstriker at 8:38 AM on August 16, 2005

I wouldn't encourage anyone to attempt to pilot a boat (sailing or power) at sea without significant experience in that environment. What you're looking to do as a one week adventure is something that people who are sucessful at this type of activity work at for years in order to obtain the necessary skills and experience. Those that don't, well, they become statistics.....

And, heck, as far as leasing/renting a boat, I won't let anyone take my '13 Boston Whaler up the river without knowing that they've sufficient experience and know the area well.
posted by HuronBob at 8:49 AM on August 16, 2005

Best answer: I would definitely support taking lessons and learning your way around boats before attempting to rent anything on your own. Sailing is an art AND a science...especially sailing on the ocean.

Kansas City is not as landlocked as you think. You can inquire at Jacomo Sailing Club. I don't know how close Blue Valley Yacht Club is to you, but they are also in Kansas. There is also the Johnson County Sailing Society.
posted by jeanmari at 9:40 AM on August 16, 2005

I've sailed across Lake Michigan a few times as a crew member but not as a captain. Please listen to me carefully, taking a sailing boat out into the ocean alone, without significant experience, is a very good way to get yourself killed.

I've never tried renting a sailing vessel before but I would think it is pretty unlikely that any company that rents boats would let a cabined boat go to anyone without a few years experience.
posted by 517 at 10:02 AM on August 16, 2005

Best answer: I have bareboated -- and skippered -- a number of times in the US and British Virgin Islands -- the best vacations of my life.

I suggest taking a "maiden voyage" with a boat and captain. A number of companies offer sailing lessons, as part of the package.

I can recommend CYC (Caribbean Yacht Charters) - headquartered in Marblehead, MA with boats in USVI and BVI, but there are many bareboat chartering companies throughout the Caribbean. Check out Sail Magazine and other publications for reputable outfits.
posted by ericb at 10:30 AM on August 16, 2005

Bareboat Charter Companies .
posted by ericb at 10:32 AM on August 16, 2005

Another voice of caution follows:

Lessons are required by charter companies for a dern good reason. Sailing (said the sailing n00b) isn't that hard, but, to me at least, the distance between a normal situation and an emergency is much shorter than it is in, say, a car -- What I mean is, if one little thing goes wrong, and you don't have a way to solve it, you're suddenly in a very bad situation. You can't just pull over and call someone on the cell phone... you're in the middle of the ocean!

The moral is that it's not something you take lightly or go into unprepared. Personally, I don't go out without being accompanied by very salty folk indeed.

Tune in to channel 16 and listen to all the people who decided it would be a hoot to own a boat calling the coast guard for help. Mayday, mayday, my sails are on fire, over.

Captain Bringdown
posted by Hildago at 2:06 PM on August 16, 2005

If seeing "Dead Calm" made you want to rent a yacht, I'll pass on your kind invitation, thanks...
posted by rob511 at 5:54 PM on August 16, 2005

Best answer: A note of un-caution. While I agree it would be foolhardy to take a yacht out with no clue, it really isn't that hard to sail. Don't let people put you off with scare stories.
I would suggest you get a few friends together and charter a boat with a captain.
Certainly a week sailing with an experienced skipper will get you a long way toward the skills to do it yourself in future, and will let you find out if it is something you would like to pursue.
While I'm at it, how about considering chartering in the Med for a real adventure?
posted by bystander at 9:38 PM on August 16, 2005

My time sailing in Mexico taught me a hell of a lot, but one of the sweetest things was how nice (if eccentric) most of the folks in the cruising community are. And how broke, often, as well.

One option if you have the time is to find the bar near or at the marina where most of them hang out, make some friends, see if they or anyone they know might be amenable to heading out for a while if you pay for the food and booze and fuel. A lot of the cruisers I've known did stuff like that all the time, if they got along with the folks asking.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:45 PM on August 16, 2005

Different places have different requirements, for good reason. Sailing the Med is not at all like sailing in the English Channel (extremely tricky due to tides). So chartering in the Med has a lower standard.

There are schools in the Med set up to teach you what you need and issue your license to bareboat, in a time that will fit a vacation.

My own desire (which is why I know about this) is to charter in Greece and sail the Aegean, hopping the Greek Isles. Beautiful place, weather and people, and not so treacherous. You're never too far from a port there.
posted by Goofyy at 1:00 AM on August 17, 2005

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