People love holidaying on the sea and rather than choosing a huge cruise ship it is possible to enjoy the sea on winter sailing vacations. There are now many companies offering bareboat charters or crewed charters to allow you to get a real taste of sea life in more personal surroundings.
Winter Sailing Destinations
As the weather gets colder at home, people head for sunnier climes. Those looking for a sailing holiday can do the same too. A popular destination for winter sailing vacations is the Canary Islands. Thanks to their geographical location, these islands, with their subtropical climate, make an ideal winter getaway. In addition, with seven large islands and a number of smaller ones there are plenty of places to visit, though the waters around the Canary Islands can be challenging.
Those willing to go further afield for their winter sailing holidays can head for the Caribbean. The obvious disadvantage to the Caribbean is the distance and therefore the cost. However, once there, bareboat charters or crewed charters are numerous and readily available. Cuba, Belize and the French Islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe offer some interesting alternatives for those looking for sailing in the winter. The charters tend to be cheaper than on some of the more well-known islands, whilst the facilities are still top notch. Waters are not notoriously difficult in this area but novice sailors are advised to charter a crewed yacht.
Crew or not?
Once you have decided on your winter destination, you need to choose your boat. If you are an experienced sailor then you can choose a bareboat charter. This is when you just hire the boat, and your crew are responsible for everything else: navigating, sailing, mooring, cleaning and cooking. Whilst it gives you immense independence, it also carries with it responsibility and it is essential that someone is an experienced sailor. Most charter companies offer a choice of boats. Consider your route and itinerary, the size of your crew and the level of experience of your crew in order to choose the best boat for your needs. Consult carefully with the charter company to help you in this.
Not everyone is a sailor nor has the money to charter a crewed boat. There is, however, an alternative. It is possible to do a bareboat charter but one that includes a skipper. The skipper will be responsible for all aspects relating to the boat and the voyage, your ‘crew’ can get involved as much or as little as they like. Skippers tend to be local to the area and know the waters extremely well. In addition, they can give good advice on which places to visit, which beaches are the best and recommend great places to eat and drink. Prices and destinations will vary depending on the size of the boat and time of year, for example.
Finally, some people feel that holidays are for relaxing and if that is your idea of a winter holiday then you could charter a crewed yacht. This of course is the most expensive option but all the logistical details are taken out of your hands. You, as the charterer, still decide your own itinerary and do what you want when you want but the crew do all the work.
A winter holiday chartering your own boat in a sunny part of the world sounds ideal whether you are an experienced sea dog or not.
Richie Duvall writes regularly on nautical holidays for a range of sailing websites and blogs.