Bareboating Yacht FAQ British Virgin Islands, Caribbean
All the Bareboating Yacht FAQ that you could want. Let’s focus on the Caribbean, with a great deal of it applicable in other cruising areas.
What is Bareboat?
A bareboat is an open boat. When you rent one, it comes without any crew or provisions (liquor, food, etc.). Vessels begin with linens, pillows, and towels, and some come with a small starter kit of dish soap, sponges, matches, rum, and water!
Galley items like pots, pans, plates, and cups are all on board, as are all safety items and anything you will need to operate or navigate the yacht.
Things that are not on board are the sport and personal items such as water skis, fishing gear, scuba gear, kayaks, Paddleboards, and Music.
What is the difference between bareboating and a crewed charter?
On a crewed charter yacht, you don’t have to lift a finger! Meals magically appear, drink are blended regularly, and the boat is kept clean. All you need to do is relax and enjoy it.
The crew will handle everything to do with your yacht. Think of it as an all-inclusive resort.
On a Captain only charter, the yacht comes with a Captain. He/she will take care of the boating aspect of things. He will drive the boat, anchor, and moor the boat. He will do all the daily checks and do the worrying if the wind picks up.
Your job is to help the Captain sail the yacht when he requires.
Your duties on a “Captain only is everything else, the cooking, cleaning and all aspects of day to day vacation life. Think of it as renting a vacation apartment with cooking facilities.
On a bareboat, everything is up to you; you have no outside help at all. You get to charter your destiny. It’s not as daunting as it may sound.
In areas like the British Virgin Islands, the whole area is set up to make bareboating as easy as possible. You will need to be able to either anchor your boat overnight or pick up an overnight mooring.
I have spoken to bare boaters who have visited the BVI for a week vacation every year for 12 years and never anchored a boat in their life. They always use moorings and, therefore, didn’t need to learn how. You will also need to do daily checks on the engines and battery charge levels.
Can I Hire a Captain for a day or 2 to get me settled?
It is a great way to start your first bareboat adventure. He will help and mentor you on everything you need to know to have a successful bareboat vacation.
You can even rent the Captain for the whole duration of the charter.
Renting a captain is a great way to hone up your skills, give you confidence in yourself and perhaps give other members of your party a piece of mind that “we can do this.”
Captains usually run about $200-250 per day. You are expected to feed them and tip them as well. A typical gratuity for a Captain Only Yacht Charter through a bareboat fleet would be $500 a week and up.
What qualifications do I need to for a bareboat Charters?
You will need to show that you have experience on a similar sized yacht. FleetsThey will generally let you take out a vessel up to about 10 feet longer than your experience. If your expertise is in a monohull, they will allow you to take out a multihull and vice versa.
Typically no formal license is required, except in Europe, like Greece or Croatia. There it is essential to have an Internationally recognized Captain’s License and a VHF certificate.
Your yachting credentials will need to show the experience of skippering, anchoring, and boating skills in a similar setting to the area you intend to charter. Of all the charter areas worldwide, The British Virgin Islands require the least amount of skills.
You can bolster your ability to rent a boat by taking on a paid captain for the first day or two or by joining up with one of the bareboat flotillas.
These flotillas travel as a group, they anchor together at the same spot each night, and the flotilla leader will make sure you are tucked in nicely. They are there to guide you through any questions that may arise during your vacation.
Next morning, all captains in the flotilla have a meeting and discuss the day, then as you’re ready, you head off on your way and meet up again that night. There is a small extra charge to be in a flotilla. It is customary to tip the flotilla leader at the end of the week.
How Can I Get a Bareboat Certification?
There is an official bareboat certification available. It is available through the ASA. It requires you to do some pre-study at home of items ASA101 ASA103 and ASA104.
The method followed by most to obtain this certification is to take a 10-night bareboat charter. In the first seven days, you have an ASA instructor on board. Some of this time must be on a monohull yacht. If you have rented a multihull, then often, the instructor has a small monohull sailboat available for this part at a small charge.
You will also need to allow for a berth on your boat for your ASA Instructor.
After the seven days, you get your certification, then drop off the instructor and spend the next three days honing your skills and gaining confidence.
This certification may allow you to be bare boaters in many areas and allow you to go into areas that non-licensed skippers can’t.
The perfect weather conditions and abundance of facilities allow the British Virgin Islands and the Caribbean to be a leader in receiving your Bareboat certification.
Briefings- Yacht and Area
The briefer will spend an hour to two with you. Your first mate should also be present.
- Where all the safety equipment is
- How to use the dingy safely
- Operation of the anchor and its windlass
- Where the backup anchor is
- How to use and care for the heads on board
- How the refrigeration and oven works
- Where the VHF radio is and how to use it for emergency and calls back to base.
- How to operate the engine and check the oil level
- How the Navigation instruments, GPS and Chart Plotter work
- Sailboats are instructed on the sailing control lines, raising and lowering the main.
Do not be in a rush, if you’re not 100% sure on what was just said, ask them to repeat it. There is no such thing as a dumb question!
Do I receive a Chart Briefing?
Done at a set time before your departure and is done with all the other captains who will be heading out that day.
- Thorough Description of the area, anchorages, where not to go and not go.
- Weather forecast for the week and what that means to you.
- How to get your daily weather forecasts.
- Often held as a group meeting, many questions come up and are beneficial.
- Some tips on the itinerary will be given based on the weather forecast, but remember it is your vacation to do as you please.
- In Peak Season, sometimes two slots of chart briefings are scheduled daily.
Extra Charges at the Bareboat Base
You will pay the damage and security deposit at the base. Damage and Security Deposit are given back when you return the yacht with no damage or lost items.
I hope you found Part 1 of our Bareboating Yacht FAQ helpful. Please ask us any questions on our Frequently Asked Questions page.
What should I pack for a bareboat charter?
Packing List for Bareboat Charters
- Two swimsuits, 6 t-shirts, and underwear. If you are female, you probably want a sundress or two that can double for going out for dinner. Males may wish to have a short-sleeved nice shirt again for going out to fancier places for dinner.
- Two pair of shorts plus the ones you are wearing when you get to the islands 🙂
- One pair of clean gloves (if you are on a bareboat participating in the sailing)
- One pair of sandals or flip-flops, perhaps only the ones you wear on the plane. Need to be able to get wet. You will mostly be barefoot on the boat. Make sure your footgear won’t leave black sole marks on a ship. If you have shoes that are not good for getting wet, then bring a pair of water shoes as well. It will come in handy, getting to beaches.
- Sun Gear which consists of 2 pair of sunglasses. (1 spare) Must be polarized. Have a lanyard with them, so they don’t disappear even better!
- A light rain jacket. If we get in some squalls, you can cool off quickly if you get wet + wind. Your rain jacket also doubles as a light coat if you get chilly in the evenings.
- Beach/Sailing Music (my phone) + a UBS cable
- Reading material (Kindles, books)
- Mask & Snorkel (If you wear prescription lenses or have your own comfortable, well-fitting mask and snorkel, bring it. Although most of the bareboat companies will put on snorkel gear for you or tell you were to rent it, I don’t find them the “best quality.”
- Towel – Bring one of those “light skinny towels” Even though your yacht will have towels, they don’t dry as quickly.
- Earplugs. If you have problems sleeping, a disposable pair of these for boat noises may come in handy.
- Refillable water bottle. Insulated preferred!
- Hat – to keep the sun off your head all the time.
- Chargers/batteries for electronics
- Non-Deet bug spray (DEET stains the fabrics and cushions on the boat. Many people like skin so soft too)
- Cel Phone/ International Roaming Package/ Local SIM card as you prefer. Quite a few of the restaurants and beach bars will have complimentary WIFI, and many of the bareboat companies now have modems you can rent for the week. Not cheap, I have found them fairly fast in the last couple of years.
- Motion sickness? Get a prescription for Transderm Scop or bring Bovine, ginger, or the wrist bands. Generally, this settles down if you are prone after the first 24 hours.
- Money and credit card: All but the tiny beach bars take credit cards. Not much American Express, though. Although there are ATMs on significant islands, there is not a lot, so they are often out of cash on a Sunday. You will need some money for gratuities for people.
- Passport. Even if you are American going to the US Virgin Islands, you will require one to go into the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.
- The cockpit will have a good shade cover. But everywhere else you’re getting direct sun plus the reflection. It’s like being in a sun broiler.
- -Non-spray on sunscreen. Spray-on sunscreen on the boat makes it slippery for everyone as most ends up in the air or on the decks. Look for a sunscreen that will not harm the reefs.
With all power yachts and most sail yachts, you start with a full diesel tank and have to refill it before you return the boat.
Moorings sail yachts are an exception within the Caribbean; they usually include fuel for a fee. For both Sunsail and TMM non-generator yachts, they have a pre-pay option, so you don’t need to refill the tank if you don’t want to.
You can have us organize rental gear for you, tell us what you need and it will all be delivered the morning of your charter. You are then free to go dive at will. Air fills are available all over the place. If you are on a larger catamaran, then you could also rent a compressor.
Many charters are all about getting together with old friends. Often this is all the guys, but it is also sometimes just the girls. There is no reason at all why it can’t be all the girls either. If you intend to have a rented captain on board please make sure to mention if you specifically want a female. There are many of them available but if you don’t ask, you may end up with a guy!
There is nothing more annoying than being thousands of miles from home, and having your credit card company freeze your account, thinking there is fraud going on. Generally speaking, if you use your card away from home to purchase something unless it’s for a considerable amount, it will not raise a flag. However, put your card into an ATM away from home to get even $10 out. Bingo it’s flagged. The best bet is to call the number on the back of your card before you leave home, tell them where, and how long you will be gone. Then everything should be ok.
Yes, it could be the week you decided to go on vacation if you are super unlucky. Buy trip insurance! Insurance generally costs about 7% of your total vacation cost. However, at this time of year, the price of airfares is as low as can be, and the amount of renting a boat can be as little as 50% of that in peak season. The math looks great.
In the last couple of years, the internet options have improved while you are out on the sea.
Not only has it improved, but the cost has come way down too. There are not too many areas of the world where you will not have an internet connection.
Purchase a local SIM card for your phone, and you are good to go.
Bareboat sizes range from low 30 feet monohulls up to catamarans ( power and sail) and monohulls in the high 50-foot range.
The size you are allowed to bareboat becomes larger every year though!
- Safety Equipment
- Dinghy Usage
- Operation of Anchor and Windlass
- Back up Anchor
- How to use and care for the heads (washrooms) on the boat
- Refrigeration and oven usage
- VHF Radio usage
- How to call back to the base
- How to run the engine and check oil levels
- Navigation Equipment including GPS and Charter Plotter
- Daily Weather updates
- If you are sailing, instructions on all sailing controls and lines
You can rent a boat up to about 10 feet longer than you are experienced in. It does not matter if you’re experience is in a monohull and want to charter a multihull or vice versa. Having a bareboat certification or recognized captain license may get you a larger boat.
Each fleet has different requirements which we will be happy to advise you on.
There is an official bareboat certification available. It is available through the ASA. It requires you to do some pre-study at home of items ASA101 ASA103 and ASA104. The course materials cost about $100 per person.
You will need to show that you have experience in a similar sized yacht. Typically the bareboat fleet will let you take out a vessel up to about 10 feet longer than your experience.
If your experience is in a monohull, they will allow you to take out a multihull and vice versa.
You can bolster your ability to charter by taking on a paid captain for the first day or two or by joining up with one of the bareboat flotillas.