Planning a Sailing Vacation: Differences between a Bareboat Charter, Captained Charter, and Flotilla

By: Charter, Destinations

There comes a moment when you are sprawled out on a beautiful beach and you look out at the ocean and see a sailboat and you wish you had opted for some time on the water. That doesn’t happen to you? Ok, we’re actually talking to those of you who see the sailboat and want to go sailing. Why not learn to sail while on vacation?

Taking a sailing vacation is as easy as planning any other type of getaway except that you’ll learn to sail while on holiday and you’ll earn a few ASA Sailing certifications while on vacation. We have featured destination sailing schools in the past with our Exotic Places to Sail and Learning To Sail in The Florida Keys and 5 Reasons To Learn To Sail in San Diego.

What Type of a Sailing Vacation Will You Embark On?

Bareboat Charter
When you embark on a bareboat charter you are on your own. While the charter company might help you with some maps, tips, and emergency support, you are basically on your own to set your itinerary and your provisions. You essentially rent the boat and agree to bring it back by a set date. No crew, no schedule, no timetable other than a start and end date.

It should be noted that charter companies do have plenty of options for you when deciding on a bareboat charter. You could choose to hire a chef or crew to help with the voyage. Charter companies will also help you get provisions so that food and drink are conveniently waiting for you when you arrive at the dock. Some charter companies will also help you organize SCUBA diving in nearby ports as well excursions on nearby islands.

While bareboat chartering sounds like an entirely independent sailing vacation you can choose to structure it as little or as much as you like.

Captained Charter
When you request a captain with your charter the heavy lifting is taken care of for you. Someone else will navigate and set an itinerary for you based on local knowledge and conversations with your group. In some cases, your captain will get you preferential treatment at local spots that would otherwise have been off limits or find you secret hideaways known only to locals. That fresh croissant that shows up for breakfast only happens because, while you slept in, your chartered crew took care of everything for you.

A captained charter works well in unfamiliar waters or in ports where you are sure you would much rather just enjoy sailing and exploring and not be caught up in managing navigation, anchoring, clearing customs and handling all of the tasks required to keeping you and your guests safe. Leave it all to a captain and he/she handles as much or as little as you require.

You will be tipping someone at the end of a captained charter so factor that into your sailing vacation budget.

The option for a flotilla really is a combination of options when it comes to a sailing vacation. You can have someone else at the helm or you can choose to go it alone. The biggest key to a flotilla is a group of boats cruise together so a built-in social network is created. The phrase “safety in numbers” comes to mind but more importantly, a flotilla allows for a large group of like-minded people to engage in a fun sailing vacation together in a loosely organized arrangement. Boats will follow along on an itinerary and some organized events are planned to create a sense of community.

Within a flotilla, you might have experienced sailors sailing alongside newbies off on their first charter. Often times groups of people will be earning their ASA certifications while on a sailing vacation. The flotilla serves a diverse function as it allows a large group of sailors to have a community experience while still enjoying an independent vacation.

See a list of upcoming ASA flotillas >>

Can You Take a Sailing Vacation?
Yes, you can, and here are 5 things to know before you go. Pro tip: Take a look at ASA 104 and consider taking the Bareboat Cruising course to prepare you to set off by yourself.

Where Would You Go For Your First Sailing Vacation?
A few ASA schools specialize in sailing vacations where you actively learn to sail while out on the water. You’ll earn your sailing certifications while on a sailing vacation.

Sailing Schools For Your Sailing Vacation

Spinnaker Sailingspinnakersailing.com650-363-1390451 Seaport CtRedwood CityCA94063United States
Courses Offered:
101, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 114, 117, 118
Nautilus 680-7902Marina CostabajaLa Paz23010Mexico
Courses Offered:
101, 103, 104, 114
Northern Breezes Sailing School – 542-9707DuluthMN
Courses Offered:
101, 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 111, 114
LTD Sailing – Living The Dream! 450-7163Blue LagoonSt. Vincent and the Grenadines
Courses Offered:
101, 103, 104, 105, 106, 114
Blue Water Sailing 763-8464924 NE 20th AveFort LauderdaleFL33304United States
Courses Offered:
101, 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108, 114