In Search of Bareboat Wisdom - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 20 Old 04-13-2017 Thread Starter
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In Search of Bareboat Wisdom

My wife and I are doing our first bareboat charter during the last week of June. We're moderately experienced sailors, but novice bareboaters. I'm hoping that you can offer some advice - things to do and mistakes to avoid. For those interested, we're planning to cruise the North Channel of Lake Huron. Please forgive me if this is covered in another post, I tried some searches, but came up empty.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 20 Old 04-13-2017
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Re: In Search of Bareboat Wisdom

Go with the expectation that somebody else's boat is just like most of ours': There is always something that is broken or on the verge of breaking. If you go with the expectation that for the money you are spending, the boat should be perfect, you will diminish your enjoyment of the trip.
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Re: In Search of Bareboat Wisdom

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Go with the expectation that somebody else's boat is just like most of ours': There is always something that is broken or on the verge of breaking. If you go with the expectation that for the money you are spending, the boat should be perfect, you will diminish your enjoyment of the trip.
Hah! Yes, it seems like something is always broken on a charter boat.

I never trust the autopilot. I'll test it under motor, and if it can hold a course while motoring for a significant period of time I *may* give it a try with the sails up.

Ovens seem to be frequently inoperable, including on my last charter. We figured out how to make biscuits on the stove top. Had one where the refrigerator didn't work, so it was essentially an icebox.

I'd bring a handheld VHF, because sometimes even the radios are spotty.

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Re: In Search of Bareboat Wisdom

Check out everything, almost like you are buying the boat. A good check might take an hour. Check all engine fluids. Check electrical systems. On both the charters I have done in the past year, I paid extra to do early boarding on the boat the night before, to avoid a hotel stay. This proved to be helpful because we had the evening before, and about an hour in the morning, during which I was able to get very familiar with the boat.
One had a completely dry bilge, the other had constant standing water, but it didn't increase through the night, which was comforting. One boat had a fridge, the other an ice box that drained into the bilge.

Both boats did not have working anchor lights. One charter operator gave us a portable battery operated light to hang from the flag lanyard so we didn't have to delay our departure while they repaired it. The other had a light on the mast that came on when I flipped the switch that was labeled "Steaming Light" but it appeared to be a 360 degree light (mislabeled?). Nothing came on when I flipped thw switch labeled "Anchor Light".

One boat had one non-working 12 volt outlet so I had no way to charge my emergency back-up handheld VHF radio. In the future I will bring a cigarette lighter plug with alligator clips attached to charge anything in an emergency.

Taste the water in the "fresh" water tank to see if you will want to drink it or if you want to add jugs of drinking water to your grocery list. Confirm that the water, fuel and holding tanks have been filled/serviced. Be sure that the shore power has been hooked up for a while and properly so that you have fully charged batteries before you leave. (Be sure that the battery switch is set to "All" so that both you starter battery and house batteries are charged.

Check to see that you get to take the shore power cord, mooring lines and water house with the boat, if you will be visiting at any marinas.
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Re: In Search of Bareboat Wisdom

On our last charter the company rep said that one customer complained that their food froze in the freezer.

Expect the unexpected.

+1 on the advice to check out everything. If something is broken or amiss before you leave, point it out to the company, otherwise your credit card may be charged for it.

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Re: In Search of Bareboat Wisdom

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Originally Posted by midwesterner View Post
Check out everything, almost like you are buying the boat. A good check might take an hour. Check all engine fluids. Check electrical systems. On both the charters I have done in the past year, I paid extra to do early boarding on the boat the night before, to avoid a hotel stay. This proved to be helpful because we had the evening before, and about an hour in the morning, during which I was able to get very familiar with the boat.

...
This also allows for time to get any show stopping issues resolved before they delay your departure plans too badly.
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Re: In Search of Bareboat Wisdom

There's good advice above. I've never bareboated myself but have managed a small charter fleet. The piece of advice I'd add is to take it easy on the itinerary. So many customers seemed to want to visit as many and/or as distant destinations as possible in their 3/4/7 day charters. Then if the wind was light or from the wrong direction, or they wanted to stay put on a stormy day, they'd end up having to spend the whole trip motoring from one place to the next. Leave time in your schedule to sail, even if that means drifting around for half a day at two and a half knots and not covering much distance. There's a reason you're chartering a SAILboat, right?
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Re: In Search of Bareboat Wisdom

Check the propane.

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Re: In Search of Bareboat Wisdom

My general rule is to stick with newer boats. Our first Caribbean charter was a 2 yr old boat that looked like it was 10 yrs old, with blown out sails. It couldn't go to weather to save itself. I didn't believe it was only 2 yrs old until I verified the Hull ID number!

We had a 5 yr old Moorings boat (end of Moorings service life before going to second tier, like Footloose) and it was tired. We had another major charter brand boat with refrigeration and radio issues that had us lose a day waiting for repairs.

That said, we eventually hooked up with a more reputable operation in St. Thomas and had no problems--cosmetic or otherwise-- with a 7 yr old yacht. That was the 8th time we had chartered with them and we knew we could count on a higher standard.

So, do your homework and check for reviews. Ask the charterer about the specific boat you will get, regarding age and condition. Then try to do an overnight on the boat before your charter and look everything over. Do a THOROUGH checkout and don't be rushed.

Another thought: we always buy our own cruising guide and chart(s) for the cruising grounds and plan ahead. We bring the guide and chart(s) and even bring our own handheld chart plotter with charting for the cruising grounds. That way we can minimize surprises.
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Re: In Search of Bareboat Wisdom

You will wear fewer clothes than you might think. Bring as much quick dry stuff as you can.
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