planning a sailing holiday

There's an incomparable level of freedom attached to sailing holidays that makes them a popular choice every year for all types of couples, families and groups of friends. Whilst they require a fair bit of effort (and stress!) to organize, there's certainly no better way to break away from the world for a while than with your own vessel that can take you to an endless choice of destinations. For this entry of the Seachest blog, we've put together a short guide to planning a sailing holiday, including where to begin and where best to end up!

What to know before you Chart a Yacht

Making sure you have a boat is actually one of the most important aspects of a boating holiday, believe it or not, and luckily there are a lot of options available to help you get the ideal sail abroad. The important thing to consider first is A. What experience you have in boating and B. which option best suits that experience.

The common choice for most holiday goers with limited experience in sailing is to charter a yacht with its own experienced skipper and staff. This grants a greater sense of security to more nervous passengers, but also allows you to meet and learn from someone who knows all the best destinations, and will have plenty of stories to share. The prices for a boats themselves are often determined by the season, boat size, age and the daily rate of the skipper.

One popular choice for the experienced or more daring is a 'bareboat' yacht charter. This option means you get a fully loaded yacht without a professional skipper and crew on board, with all possible destinations at your fingertips. There's some obvious benefits to this option: privacy, freedom, and the chance to explore a new destination every day. It can also work out cheaper in the long run, though of course this option largely depends on how experienced you are.

Qualifications needed for a Bareboat Charter

Whilst the skippered option pretty much leaves little but the planning and packing, a bareboat charter requires a lot more preparation, in particular your proficiency on deck. For a yacht charter you need to have previous experience up to the Day Skipper standard, and should be competent at handling a yacht in close quarters, anchoring and mooring in varying conditions. You'll also need to have enough navigational and pilotage skills to plan a day passage and to locate you position if need be. There will also need to be at least one equally competent crew member on board. It normally doesn't matter if you've gained these skills sailing in UK or abroad,

Plotting the Perfect Itinerary

No point having that lovely boat if you have no where to take it! Whether you're chilling out in the Caribbean or having a ball in Malta, it's worth taking a good amount of time to research the best destinations in your area rather than winging it when you're on deck.

For bareboating, the best method is to research the charter companies in the area, and determine which island you want to have as a starting point. Things you'll need to take into consideration include the number of islands you wish to visit, the distances between them and the time needed to appreciate any available snorkelling, sight seeing etc. activities and shopping stops. Getting the necessary nautical charts and guide books before your holiday will be a huge help, and you can always ask the company you're renting your boat from for recommendations.

For those opting for the skippered voyage, most companies include full 7 day packages that can take you to a completely different island every day. Particularly for those who've never visited the region before, it can be a huge benefit to have someone experienced in embarking on successful voyages handle things for you; some itinerary packages even include airfare!

Recommended Destinations

Choosing a first time destination for a leisurely sailing holiday can be daunting, but there are plenty of locations that lend themselves well to skittish skippers. The British Virgin Islands are a widely agreed upon place to find your see legs, thanks to consistent winds, sheltered waters and with lots to do on shore.

The Balearics, Corsica and Sardinia are good options if you're after something a little more challenging, with stiffer winds and deep anchorages. Like a handful of other areas, they may require additional qualifications specific to the Spanish waters, but these can be obtained through a charter company, and may even allow you to access areas inaccessible to others.

For all future blogs relating to sailing holidays and how to get the most fun out of your boating, keep an eye on the Seachest Facebook page, Twitter and/or Google+.

Post By Graham