Bareboat Charter Guide: How to Charter a Sailboat on a Sailing Vacation

Posted by Director of Education on April 12, 2017 under About NauticEd, Bareboat Charter, Coastal Navigation, Crew, Skipper | Comments are off for this article


Thinking about a Sailing Vacation?

Perhaps you are a little intimidated by the process? Don’t worry, here are all the facts.

But first, a fun slideshow from us.

First off, you need to know that there is nothing more fun than a sailing vacation.  And, if you can think of something more fun, then you can probably do it on a sailing vacation.

Second off, it is relatively easy to do but there are some things you need to know.

What is a Charter? And What is “Bareboat”?

A charter is just a fancy word for rent.  So when you charter, you’re renting a boat. Typically, it refers to a longer period of time such as renting a boat for a week or more.

Bareboat is a strange word, but it means you captain the boat yourself.

So going on a charter essentially means going to a sailing destination like the Caribbean, Mediterranean or the Pacific and renting a 28 foot to 50 foot sailboat for about a week or two. You can sail it with you as the captain (Bareboat) or you can hire a captain (and/or a cook). Often times hiring a captain is a good way to go even if you are experienced because the captain is a local and knows all the cool places to go. A cook is also a great idea relieve yourself of cooking; plus, they are experienced at whipping up some culinary delights in a cramped galley (kitchen).

What comes with the Boat?

Pretty much everything you need comes with the boat – it is not “bare”.  That’s why above we said it was a strange word. You will be supplied with:

  • a dinghy,
  • a dinghy engine (except some places in the Mediterranean; you should double check that – there is sometimes a $100 extra fee),
  • fuel for the dinghy motor
  • towels, sheets, and pillows
  • sails (haa haa)
  • diesel
  • propane gas for the galley
  • cooler – usually
  • a couple of starter bags of ice (except the Med)
  •  a bottle of rum (Caribbean) – if you are lucky
  • topped up tanks of water (semi-drinkable at a pinch – best to provision for drinking water)
  • charts (maps)

The boat comes with a refrigerator and freezer, toilets, showers, hand basins, and cushions to sit on. Essentially everything except food and sundries.

Boat Age

This depends on your budget.

  • Newer boats that are less than 3 years old are really really nice (but are more expensive)
  • 5 years old start to show their age a bit
  • 8-10 are sometimes getting a bit ratty
  • 12 years old or more is really hit or miss depending on the charter company

Some charter companies really look after their boats and some don’t; you have to rely on their social reputation if you’re going after one older than say about 7 years.


Provisioning means buying all your groceries for the trip. Some yacht charter companies will provide this service for you (at a premium). Many times marina grocery stores have a website and are set up to deliver the groceries to your boat on the day of your arrival. in the BVI is a good example.

Here is a great article we wrote on provisioning: 

Why Charter?

Even if you own a boat, chartering a boat is the ideal way go see other beautiful parts of our planet. The cost of about $5k on the outset might seem expensive. But that is your walk away cost. Once you are done – you’re done with cost. Everyone that owns a boat knows that the purchase price is just the start of the costs of a boat. With chartering, you wipe your hands clean when you step off the dock.

With Chartering, this year you can go to the Caribbean, and next year go to the Mediterranean, then the Pacific the following year. You’re not tied to a place.

With Chartering, your hotel and entertainment costs are included and many times you eat on board so you’re not paying restaurant prices for food.

When you add it all up, it is a relatively inexpensive vacation. ESPECIALLY if you grab a bunch of friends and all split the cost. In that case, you can get it down to about $100 per day per person.

Qualifications to Bareboat Charter

Except for a few countries, mostly in the Mediterranean, you don’t need a formal license to bareboat charter (captain your own boat). Don’t believe any sailing associations who say you must have one. What you do need, however, is a good sailing resume. Yacht charter companies will check your resume prior to letting you take the boat.

A good rule of thumb is that yacht charter companies require about 50 days of sailing experience, 25 of which as master of the vessel and some of that experience on a vessel within 10 feet of your regular experience. You should have some set of formal sailing theory knowledge

Responsibility wise, formal sailing theory knowledge is essential.  You should know these (and more):

  • All the rules of giveway for all situations for all vessels you might encounter
  • Colors and shapes of navigation marks including Cardinal marks
  • The IALA-A and IALA-B Lateral Mark system
  • Coastal Navigation
  • Electronic Navigation
  • Anchoring and Mooring techniques
  • Sail trim and reefing
  • Crew overboard retrieval
  • Maneuvering a large boat under power in tight marinas
  • Boat systems, including electricity system and water/wastewater systems
  • Storm management
  • Weather forecasting

NauticEd has an extensive Bareboat Charter Master bundle of courses for $175 that covers all this and more.

Additionally, NauticEd has a FREE electronic resume and logbook system that helps sailors build an acceptable resume for yacht charter companies. It produces a realtime

Available Destinations

There are so many to list. Each of the countries below have multiple ports of sail (locations). You could literally take a sailing vacation every year for 100 years and not go to the same place ever. A favorite starter location is the British Virgin Islands where the sailing is easy, the water is warm, there are few hazards, the navigation is mostly by sight, and there is a great selection of yacht charter companies to choose from.

Some of the more well-known destinations include:

The Mediterranean

  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Croatia
  • France
  • Spain
  • Turkey

The Caribbean

  • The British Virgin Islands
  • Puerto Rico
  • St Martin
  • Guadaloupe
  • St Lucia
  • The Grenadines
  • Martinique

The Pacific

  • Australia
  • New Caledonia
  • Tahiti
  • Tonga
  • New Zealand


  • Thailand
  • Malasia

Indian Ocean

  • Seychelles

Chart Briefing

Don’t be intimidated by going to an unknown location. The charter company base there will give you a very good chart briefing before you go and tell you about lots of cool places and sometimes even their favorite restaurants.

NauticEd has developed a very good chart briefing for the British Virgin Islands.

If you are a bit rusty on Navigation by Charts or Electronic Navigation, built into the Bareboat Charter Master bundle of course is a comprehensive Coastal Navigation course and an Electronic Navigation course.



Some companies carry insurance so that you max out of pocket is about $1000 or so. But some companies have a much higher deductible that can be as much as $5000. You can buy down this deductible to $1k or so by paying an extra $50 or so per day. It is a good idea to know this prior to chartering and making the reservation. When we quote our charter prices to clients we always include the buy down extra insurance cost. While 99.9% of the time there is no accident – it is still possible and paying a few extra hundred while on vacation for piece of mind is just a good idea.

It is a good idea to discuss with your friends the “what if” scenario? It is a big burden on the Captain (you) if there was an unforeseen accident. Are you going to pay the $5000 deductible or are you going to surprise your friends? It is better to buy down the insurance and have eery one agree to split the lower deductible cost.

Catamaran vs monohull

As Captain, you are pretty excited to sail a nice big boat and feel her heel over, but if you want to do this again you’d better make sure your crew does not get sea sick.

Catamarans are fantastic for a sailing vacations and help in reducing seasickness. The galley area is at the same level as the cockpit and so while under sail it is easy for crew members to go in and out of the galley without getting seasick. The boat does not heel over and this also reduces the likelihood of the crew getting seasick.

Catamarans are more expensive but you can also put more people on them to reduce the per person expense. True, Catamarans don’t point as high into the wind as monohull but it is only a few degrees off and besides you’re on vacation.

Some people are intimidated by the size of a catamaran but as long as you are an experienced sailor, you should not have too much problem. NauticEd provides a great Catamaran Conversion Course to help understand the differences. Catamarans are actually more maneuverable under power than a monohull because of the two engines; one in each hull.

Don’t too quickly discount a Catamaran. You and your crew will have a lot of fun.

Captained vs bareboat

This is you hiring a captain (usually about $200 per day) or you doing the skippering yourself. If this is your first time ever, don’t be embarrassed that you hired a captain. You’ll actually have a better time, you’ll probably go to all the secret hideaway spots that only the locals know about, you’ll be able to helm the boat whenever you want and you will pick up a lot of extra sailing tips from a professional.

You will need to charter a boat with a separate cabin for the captain. They will not sleep on the main salon couch.


A kayak and or SUP (standup paddle board) is almost a must.

Length of Time

Manytimes you can book for the number of days you want with a minimum of 6. In the Mediterranean, you have to book in multiples of 1 week starting on Saturdays. Most other places you can start and finish when you want.

Hired Chef

Sure, a luxury but the benefits… If you are going to the Mediterranean, don’t get one because most evenings you will be dining in the local villages and soaking up the culture.

General price range?

Week prices very with location and size of boat and age of boat and season and … but here is a general idea.

  • Monohull 37 feet (good for 4 crew) about $2500
  • Monohull 40 feet (good for 6 crew) about $3500
  • Monohull 45 feet (good for 8 crew) about $4500
  • Catamaran 38 feet (good for 6 – 8 crew) about $500
  • Catamaran 40 feet (good for 8 crew) about $6500
  • Catamaran 45 feet (good for 6 – 8 crew) about $7500

When should you book?

See this blog article – we created a really good infographic on when to book based on season and location

Best Times to Book a Yacht Charter

What to take

On time on the way to charter a boat in the BVI, the airlines lost one of the crew members luggage. At the store at the marina he bought a new pair of swimming togs, a tooth brush and a couple of teeshirts. Since he was only staying with us for 4 days that sufficed him for the time.

Essentially, you need bring nothing. Here are a few items to think about bringing from home:

  • Little 12v dc to 110/220v AC inverter with USB outlets if you want to charge iPod, cell phone, camera battery etc that need 110/220 volts. (Some boats do have inverters or generators but do you really want the noise of a generator just to charge a cell phone?)
  • A 12-volt splitter and 12v USB plugs. This allows multiple 12-volt plugs to allow multiple devices to be charging at one time. Very important if you’re taking more than a few people on the trip. Everyone thinks their cell phone/iPod is more important than everyone else’s. You’re a hero when you pull one of these devices out of the bag.
  • European to American style plug adapter. (Many charter boats are made in Europe and thus have round style ac plugs. Check this but most of your chargers these days take 230 or 110 volts input so you’ll just need an adapter and not necessarily a transformer)
  • iPod and 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm audio jack cable
  • Tablet loaded with Navionics chart for your location. Many charter boats have a GPS. Some don’t and some will be broken when you arrive or will break sometime during the trip
  • Cruising Guide and Anchorage Guide (not really necessary because the charter company will provide)
  • A local area travel guide like Frommers etc.
  • Many times the charter co. will provide masks, snorkels and fins, however if you bring your own you’re guaranteed to have a good set.
  • Digital camera with extra memory sticks.
  • Cheap little hand towels. The charter co. will give each person two towels for the whole week. So these little towels can serve as face and hand towels and then finally as floor wiping towels.
  • Book of knots and a short piece of line – for the entertainment of the crew.
  • Deck of cards.
  • Other Fun stuff – we really have fun on our charters and we get into the mood. One time we took a Grinch suit.

Who to Take

Being on a boat for a week is a personality magnifier.

  • Grumpy people get grumpier
  • Drama people create maximum drama
  • Drunks get drunker
  • Happy people create more happiness


If this is your first time, even if you’re accomplished sailor you can hire a captain with no shame and actually have a better time. But you don’t need to – it is relatively easy to do it yourself. You should just be an experienced sailor and know what you are doing in and around a boat and the ocean.

Consider the Bareboat Charter Master bundle of courses

Experience wise, a good gauge is to have about 50 days of sailing experience; 25 of which as master of the vessel and some good skippering experience on a boat within 10 feet of what you are chartering. Anything less and the charter company will (should) turn you down as a competent skipper.

Good luck out there and have a ball.


NauticEd can find the best boats and the best prices across all the companies

NauticEd is an agent for all the yacht charter companies worldwide. We can find you the best prices and best boats. Chances are that we have been to that location so talk to us about which place is more fun and what not to miss when you are there. We don’t charge you a fee.

Inquire about taking a bareboat charter sailing vacation

Sailing Vacation Attitude

Posted by Director of Education on June 16, 2014 under Bareboat Charter, Crew, Skipper | Comments are off for this article

Your Own Attitude Makes or Breaks Your Own Vacation

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Southern St Lucia is known for the swarming and pushy “official guides”. Each one claiming that they are the official. Years ago when I visited by land and sea I was overwhelmed and was glad to leave. At one point we had a dozen “guides” pushing for us to hire them people whilst in the background men carrying machetes with 30 kids holding out their hands begging for money. Thus, this time around I wasn’t too keen to return – although they say it has become better.  Still we stopped over at the Pitons National Park because they are incredibly majestic and not to be missed in this lifetime.

The Pitons in St. Lucia

The Pitons in St. Lucia

About 2 miles out we spotted our first “guide”. With our research done, we already knew where we wanted to go and thus we didn’t need a guide to take us into the mooring field. We tried to wave him off. No luck. As we approached a mooring ball there he was holding up the loop. So we decided we’d get another ball. Nope – that didn’t work he just moved to the next one. Again we tried to wave him off. No luck. As we approached we clearly stated that we did not need help to lift the mooring loop 5 feet into the air and frankly I was wanting to document our aft pick up method for a NauticEd article. As we bought the ball alongside he put the loop onto our cleat then demanded $EC10 ($3). And his demand was insistent. This kind of extortion does not sit well with me and thus we refused to pay. This lead into a fairly heated reply from him with a lot of name calling at us making us feel very uncomfortable. He claimed we ripped him off because he had to spend money in petrol to come out to us. Within seconds another showed up trying to sell us fruit followed by 2 seconds later a jewelry guy and then a guy claiming to be the park ranger was demanding not very politely for $EC50 ($US15) for the mooring ball when we had already paid for ‘Rights to Moor in the national park” to customs in Rodney Bay earlier. It was all too much.

Upon reflection over a rum drink later on we concluded this: That we were there for our own selves to have a good time. Getting worked up over a few dollars is just not worth it – albeit it was extortion and intimidation tactics.  The right thing for ourselves to enjoy was to embrace the system that exists. We were not going to change anything by our righteous stance. There was no point in creating bad air on the boat over $20  when the charter cost plus airfares etc. was thousands upon thousands.

We decided thereafter we would embrace everything:
 The very next day a local sailor from Martinique somehow decided he was in a race with us.  In the wide space of the Caribbean, with both of us on port tack he bore up and parked his course exactly 100 meters ahead of us. We were both now on a broad port reach. He in a monohull and us in a cat. I decided to pass on the lee because I did not want him to get rounded up in the high winds at the passing moment. As I got closer I gave him plenty of room yet he began coming down again onto our track. Upon passing he was only 5 meters to windward. With both of our headsails luffing. I could not turn up to fill the head sail for fear of hitting him. To get away from him I would have had to gybe 90 degrees away from our course. Crazy.

As the overtaking boat I am obligated to give way yet he is also obligated to maintain course which he was not. As we completed our pass he began coming down further right in behind us with about 2 meters to spare. We pointed at our fishing line and held the rod up. He continued and gybed and went right in behind us catching our lure on his hull. All this with thousands of square miles of ocean. Go figure.

He then anchored in Cumberland Bay, St. Vincent – 50 meters away from our boat. In keeping with our new embracing ideology, I decided to take him a rum drink and have a talk. His claim was that we did not give him room and thus he had to do what he did. He did not have very many (none) apologies. I smiled and listened and wished him good voyages.

I left not to sure how, with land about 5 miles to port of him giving plenty of room to at least hold his course and how he was luffing us down off course gave him any room for justification. However, there seemed no point in arguing. I was sure however that in his own mind he felt wronged. He accepted the rum drink as an apology from me. The only explanation to that I can have is that he’s just a poor sailor and should take NauticEd courses. Haa Haa LOL.

There was no altercation and I moved on leaving harmonious feelings and me free to enjoy the rest of my evening knowing that I took the easy way out. Forgive and forget!

As we pulled into Cumberland Bay we also used our new attitude to interact with the locals constantly barraging us with stuff to sell.  Maurice our “boat boy” (it is a legitimate term used for people who help you handle mooring and anchoring your boat) was extremely helpful in helping tie our boat back to the coconut tree. We paid him $EC30 ($US10) and a few extra bucks for other help throughout the day.  With all the other vendors we objectively looked at their stuff and bought many trinkets etc. but also resupply of excellent fruit and locally caught fish (caught by a guy who acted in Pirates of the Caribbean (shot mostly in this area)). I even gave an onion some foil and some olive oil to a local who was cooking a fish for the sailor who cut us off earlier that day (Still no thanks were given to us from the sailor).

Just before entering Admiralty Bay in Bequia Island we read in the guide book about Kenmore- a local guy who races out in his small dinghy, not to greet you but to take high res digital photos of you whilst you are under sail (for a fee of course). And sure enough a few minutes later here he comes bouncing off the top of 2 meter waves holding up a very expensive camera and a whistle to warn you of his impending shutter finger.


Kenmore Local Bequia Photographer

Kenmore Local Bequia Photographer

Whilst you can decide to get sick of everyone trying to sell you something – again our new embracing attitude kicked in and we ran to the bow for the photo pose.

The next morning Kenmore arrives at our boat with very professional images framed print plus digital USB stick of us on our boat giving us a definite memorabilia of our trip. Which we gladly bought.

Hully Gully under sail

Hully Gully under sail at Bequia Island

What I’m presenting here is that you have the ability to make your vacation good or bad. You can embrace or not. You have already paid the thousands investing in this vacation, why not spend a few extra bucks on just having a good time. If you don’t think $us3 is worth a mooring loop lift of 5 feet  it is probably not – but just do it anyway. Chances are the local guy is friendly and can give you local information worth more than $3 anyway.

Have fun on your vacation.

Top Ten Good Captaining Skills

Posted by Director of Education on July 26, 2011 under Bareboat Charter, Crew, Skipper | Be the First to Comment

Captaining a bareboat yacht on a sailing vacation is an acquired skill.

All of a sudden you’re transformed from friend, co-worker, family and sometimes complete stranger into the authoritative figure with ultimate power. That’s not an easy formula so I’ve put together the top ten tips on how to be a great captain.

When people are led by good captains they do not even remember that they were lead. That means they just remember that the vacation went off with out a hitch and the boat seemed to work itself, yet somehow, every one contributed and a great time was had by all.

Good leaders make people feel comfortable in any environment. Your confidence and promotion of a good time for everyone will help people feel comfortable through out the trip.

Obviously as every one will tell you, your job #1 is to ensure the safety of the ship and crew, however following closely behind that comes the job to ensure that every one onboard is feeling comfortable with you and the vessel. So let me shout this out load and clear. NO SHOUTING OR YELLING. The bareboat charter sailing vacation is not time to prove how much you know or to be Captain Blye. It’s time to prove your quiet confidence and steady character amonst your friends and family. After all I’m sure you’ll want them to come back with you and one wrong snarl and you’re off the christmas card list.


  • Give up the helm time to others when practical and safe.
  • Don’t be the supreme commander, you can do that with a rubber ducky in the bathtub at home by your self.
  • Involve everyone in the sailing process (if they want)
  • Don’t always be teaching and preaching but offer to show, help, teach.
  • You’re not their to impress everyone that you can sail, instead impress people with these leadership skills instead. You’ll be liked better.
  • Make the dinners and do the dishes more than every one else.
  • Let others participate in the navigating.
  • There is no need to stay on schedule. If the others are having fun shopping in a cute little port or laying on the beach let them stay. It’s their vacation.
  • Read up on the local area with a travel book like Frommers and discuss the area and highlights of things to do with everyone.
  • Plan the trip so there is only 3-4 hours of sailing everyday. And plan to stay in a port or two for a full day.
  • Keep the boat tidy and clean. Every morning do a wash down of the boat, start the process yourself and I bet others will just join in. After a few days they will self start the wash down.
  • Every day, give yourself a reality check and ask yourself this: “Am I doing all these things above?”

Ok that was 12 but the extra two were worth it :). I didn’t make this stuff up though. The theory of it came mostly from a book I read called Lincoln on Leadership. His phylosophy was to always roll up the sleeves and get into the trenches. People follow more what you do rather than say especially when you’re in a new leadership role.

I’ve applied this phylosophy on the dozens or charter trips I’ve lead all over the world and I can assure you that if you pour the drinks, cook breakfasts and dinners, swab the decks, speak calmly and confidently, tell the jokes, go ashore to buy supplies before everyone gets up, give up the helm, be knowledgeable about the area and make good suggestions and just relax on the schedule, then everyone will remember you as being the BEST CAPTAIN EVER.

The top ten (12) tips on great captaining was extracted from the NauticEd Bareboat Yacht Charter Sailing Clinic which is packed full of real practical bareboat chartering tips guaranteed to enrich your charter sailing vacation and make you look like a star and it’s a requirement for your Bareboat Charter Master Sailing Certification. Take the Bareboat Charter Sailing Class online. And now available in a downloadable PDF. Did we mention our money back guarantee?

Bareboat Charter Sailing Course

Bareboat Charter Sailing Course

Go to


Have fun promote fun

The Grinch

The Grinch in Iles des Saints (actually just me having a lot of fun with a Christmas surprise for the crew)




How to Spring off the Dock with a Catamaran

Posted by Grant Headifen on August 12, 2010 under Bareboat Charter, Crew, Maneuvering Under Power, Skipper | Be the First to Comment

Next week we’re going to Tonga and the island of Vava’U for a week long NauticEd Flotilla sailing trip amongst the archipelago. After a rainy and relatively cool winter in New Zealand this year its going to be a welcome and fun trip. We’re bareboat chartering three catamarans from the Moorings. 21 adults and 3 three children aged 2, 3 and 6 are coming. Correction that makes 24 children I think by the excitement and way every one is acting so far. We’re looking forward to doing some excellent sailing, fishing, swimming in warm water, snorkeling under the rock wall into Mariner’s cave and maybe have a few lovely glasses of red wine under a warm evening sky. So in light of catamaran sailing then I thought this week we’d review a method of getting a catamaran off the dock when a difficult wind is blowing onto the dock. We needed to use this in the British Virgin Island last year and with some whacky wave action we also had to time it right. It’s just as well we used this method because, with the waves, some serious damage could have occurred.

Using a spring line to get off the dock with a catamaran

Using a spring line to get off the dock with a catamaran

The concept is pretty simple and effective. First tie a dock line from the front of the boat to the  dock towards the aft. Then turn the helm all the way towards the dock and engage the out side engine in forward. The thrust from the backward wash of water as depicted by the arrow onto the turned rudder plus the force moments from the outer thrust and inner dockline will act to turn the back end of the catamaran out away from the dock. You must position a crew member with a dock fender to hold it between the boat and the dock. When the boat is turned out a significant amount, you can engage reverse but make sure it is more than 45 degrees out, else you can be in trouble with the wind  pushing you back onto the dock. Once in reverse, turn the helm the other direction to get the boat moving in the right direction. Wait until the boat is a significant distance away from the dock before you decide to engage forward and swing the boat around otherwise the back quarter of the boat can broadside back into the dock, especially if the wind is strong.

You can apply a little reverse thrust to the dockside engine but keep it so that the tension remains on the dock line. The method of using the dock line rather than just opposing engines turns the catamaran more effectively when operating close to the dock because the  dockside front quarter is essentially trapped thus a simple rotation won’t work.

Make sure that the dock line is arranged so that it is tied to the boat then looped 1/2 turn around the dock cleat then back to the boat. In this manner the crew member managing the fender can, at the right time, release one end of the dock line and pull it back around the dock cleat to retrieve it – all the while standing on the boat as it pulls away from the dock. Make sure the end has no knots in it. Also ensure the crew member understands not to release the dock line too early because they will not be able to hold against the thrust force.

Obviously this concept works similarly for monohulls.

Full concepts of maneuvering sailboats under power, sailing rules and catamarans are covered in these two NauticEd sailing courses.

Sailing Certification Question

Posted by Grant Headifen on June 3, 2010 under Bareboat Charter, Skipper | Be the First to Comment

Here is a question posted by one of our students today with our response following.

On 6/4/10 1:54 PM, “Ted” wrote:


I have recently started through your courses in the hope of chartering next winter. My own boat is a 25′ Catalina. From your information it appears that I will not receive credit for my days on water due to my boat being under 28′. Is that correct and therefore will I not be able to progress beyond crew level 0?

Thank you for your time




Some of your small sailboat experience is counted. However, the sailing certification and experience that the yacht charter companies are requiring is that their customers have some experience on larger sailboats before they responsibly release a sailboat to anyone on a chartered sailing vacation. As you can imagine, sailing experience is a major factor for them in lending out their charter sailboats. When we consulted with the major yacht charter companies in the world to put this program together they were adamant and rightly so that a proper and valuable sailing certification would include some big boat time.

My advice would be to buddy up with some one the local yacht club who has a larger boat to gain the experience you’ll need.

You will be able to advance to Skipper as soon as you log 5 days more on a sailboat 28ft or longer whilst you are acting as master of the vessel.

I hope that answers your question.


Grant Headifen
Educational Director


Dates announced for Tonga Sailing flotilla

Posted by Grant Headifen on February 8, 2010 under About NauticEd, Bareboat Charter, Coastal Navigation, Maneuvering Under Power, Skipper | Be the First to Comment

While I’m waiting for the America’s cup race to start and twittering the updates to the delayed start – I thought I’d add a blog update about our upcoming Tonga Sailing flotilla.


The dates will be August 30th to September 7th 2010.

Sailing in Tonga

Sailing in Tonga

Come join us in one of the most tropical sailing locations in the world. Only seven boats will be in the flotilla so contact NauticEd now at

Requirements are that the skipper must have reached the Bareboat Charter Master Rank – see the video about how to get to this rank at NauticEd Certification on youtube.

Essentially you must have passed the following sailing courses: Skipper, Maneuvering Under Power, Coastal Navigation, Bareboat Charter plus have documented a minimum of 50 qualifying days on a sailboat.

This will be one of the most fun sailing vacations you could have. We’ve got loads of fun activities planned every day including a mini regatta. Tonga is known for its whale watching, pure white sandy beaches, the friendliest people and tropical fruit like you’ve never tasted. Come on!

PRESS RELEASE: NauticEd Announces Pacific Island Post Graduate Sailing Flotilla

Posted by Grant Headifen on February 4, 2010 under About NauticEd, Bareboat Charter, Skipper | Be the First to Comment

NauticEd Online Sailing School will begin offering a Post Graduate Sailing Flotilla to its students. Students who graduate to the NauticEd Bareboat Charter Master Rank will be invited to celebrate their graduation by skippering their own charter sailing yacht with their friends and family for a week long sailing adventure.

tongaGrant Headifen, Educational Director and Founder of NauticEd, has previously lead dozens of successful sailing flotillas throughout the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Pacific. “This time we’re spicing it up a little with a sailing adventure to the Kingdom of Tonga” says Headifen. “Tonga is ideal for this type of trip. It’s navigationally a simple sailing ground and is a safe introduction to yacht charter sailing vacations for someone who has not ventured beyond local and familiar waters. It’s also a pretty awesome location to ‘come and get your feet wet’ ”.

The Moorings charter sailing base in Tonga is owned and operated by Shane Walker. “Tonga has always been an excellent sailing ground but has not been highly publicized because it is slightly off the beaten track – but that’s part of the allure – untouched beauty. NauticEd has chosen well, during the flotilla participants will almost certainly see humpback whales, other incredible sea life, breathtaking beaches and clear clear water, with consistent 10-15 knot winds”. Says Walker.

NauticEd students who have reached the Bareboat Charter Master Rank have logged a minimum of 50 days of practical sailing experience on large sailing vessels and have completed relevant courses online through NauticEd’s online learn to sail, sailing education program. The online sailing courses that are a prerequisite are:

  • Skipper course
  • Maneuvering a Large Sailboat Under Power clinic
  • Coastal Navigation” clinic
  • Bareboat Charter Clinic

A video explanation of the NauticEd Sailing Certification system is available at

NauticEd’s electronically managed Sailing Certification allows students and NauticEd to determine automatically if the student has reached the Bareboat Charter Master Rank. Once reached, the student will receive an official invite to the Post Graduate Sailing Flotilla. “This is going to be a really fun and excellent celebration event” says Headifen. “on top of the excellent sailing and fun navigational exercises, we’ll have GPS treasure hunts, a mini regatta, a 100m dash on the beach wearing mask, fins and snorkel, there will be spot prizes for best boat maneuvering, best dressed crew, sand castle design etc etc etc. Reaching Bareboat Charter Master Rank is really an achievement and we’ll be there to make sure the Skippers are appropriately recognized.

The NauticEd post graduation flotilla will take place in August 2010 – with exact dates to be announced. Sailors interested in participating in the sailing flotilla in Tonga lead by a professional Captain should contact NauticEd.


Sailing Resume – Logbook

Posted by Grant Headifen on January 18, 2010 under About NauticEd, Skipper, Videos and photos | Be the First to Comment

Here is a question posted by Nancy KnudsenEditor Sail-World Cruising. Sail-world is one of the largest and respected online sailing news companies ( to NauticEd this week. Followed by our answer.

On 1/16/10 6:47 PM, “Nancy Knudsen Cruising Editor Sail-World” <> wrote:

Hi Grant
I have a question about the sailing certification video you have sent me.   The practical experience that is mentioned in the video.  For a sailor not within practical distance of your facilities, how does this happen.  Do you take the word of the sailor that they have completed this? – or what happens.

As my readership is international, this is a very important point for me.  (I understand that if it is an honour system then the ‘verification’ process at the end would make up for this)

Nancy Knudsen
Sail-World Cruising

TetraMedia established in 2000, operates the largest online marine news network in the world. It now has regional sites around the world, with Sail-World UK-Europe, Sail-World Asia, Sail-World NZ, Sail-World USA, Sail-World Australia, Sail-World Cruising International, Sail-World Cruising USA, Sail-World Cruising Canada, Sail-World Australian Cruising, Powerboat-World and Marine Business News.

Each week, more than 165,000 newsletters are sent to subscribers, by its seven editors. More than a million individual boaters have visited Sail-World and Powerboat-World in 2009.

This is NauticEd’s response


Yes  – as with all charter company resumes – it is the honor system. It is completely impossible to verify time. Additionally the United States Coast Guard accepts the honor system for the USCG Commercial Captains license as do most other country licenses.

What I’ve been able to do is to also back this up with a Proficiency Verification by a NauticEd affiliated sailing school. Right now we are encouraging schools to be affiliated with us because there are a ton of “students” (we are all students) out there who don’t see the value in taking a basic course if they are already past that point. Thus the entire sailing school network is missing out on touching many students. With the verification check out, schools now can actually add this to their income stream thus it’s a big incentive for them to align. Students benefit by solidifying their resume to charter companies and by picking up a few professional tips along the way.

The technology is simple but clever. When an instructor is finished verifying a student’s proficiency, he or she simple logs into the site and clicks the verification button against the student. Before the student can get home, their certificate is updated with the Verification stamp.

We’re making it pretty simple for a school to sign up with us. They must be an established school with a website and have commercially legal instructors and follow our standard when performing a verification. A new system that we will implement shortly is a way for students to publicly rate the experience with the school on-line on our site. This ensures the school is providing an excellent learning experience for the students else they may get a bad rating. This I think is essential for the growth of the industry – no one in the sailing industry wants a single student to have a bad/boring/unprofessional initiation experience to sailing.

So to answer you question specifically – we plan on expanding our verification-training schools. However even with out a verification the honor system for building a resume is fine. Whats’ exciting to us is our sailing iPhone app which makes it easy for a student to update their resume on the dock in 2 clicks.

If you have any more questions please let me know.


Grant Headifen
Ph 512-696-1070

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Chronicles of a Sailing Yacht Charter Week in the BVI’s: Day 7

Posted by Grant Headifen on October 26, 2009 under Bareboat Charter | Be the First to Comment

Thursday 1st October

Savannah Bay BVI: There is nothing like a swim ashore and a morning run on a white sandy beach and that is exactly what I did on Thursday morning. We’d anchored in about 15 ft of water which meant the boat was about 200 meters from shore which made for a nice swim. Then I ran 4 lengths of the beach. Ahhhh.

Savannah Bay BVI's. Makes for a really nice morning run.

Savannah Bay BVI's. Makes for a really nice morning run.

After the run and fruit with yogurt for breakfast (which by the way is a really easy breakfast when you’re on a charter boat) a few of the others came ashore.

Savannah Bay BVI's

Savannah Bay BVI's

The weather was warm and the bay was very sheltered from the east. Plus the outer reef shelters the bay from any swells. Alexandra cam e ashore and we had some fun introducing her to small waves in the shallow beach.

Playing with Alexandra in the water in Savannah Bay

Playing with Alexandra in the water in Savannah Bay

Granpa also had some fun.

Gramps and Alexandra

Gramps and Alexandra

We bought the dinghy up onto the beach so that the waaves could not pull it back out in to the water and drift away. One way to stop this happening is to use the dinghy anchor and spike it into the sand. Under heavier waves we have in the past dug the anchor into the sand a little more to give extra holding power.

Using the Dinghy anchor to stop the dinghy from drifting away

Using the Dinghy anchor to stop the dinghy from drifting away

And of course you need to pull the engine up out of the water to stop sand getting into the water intake and causing the engine to over heat. Tilting the engine up also protects the engine and the mounts and propeller etc. There is a tilt lever under the engine and behind the transom. It’s a bit difficult to operate when you first start using it but after a while you get familiar with its operation. To put the engine down you pull the lever again and it unclips the engine.

The Dinghy outboard tilts up and clips in with the tilt lever.

The Dinghy outboard tilts up and clips in with the tilt lever.

Savannah Bay was completely empty and it was a delight having such a beautiful place on the planet all to our selves. Then we pulled anchor and motored around to the other beaches in the bay. Very impressive! Around the corner to the east is another part to Savannah bay which is a little more inhabited with some cottages.

A few cottages on the east end of Savannah Bay

A few cottages on the east end of Savannah Bay

Another view looking west.

At the east end of Savannah Bay looking west.

At the east end of Savannah Bay looking west.

To exit savannah Bay you must exit through the west end to clear the reef. But there is also another reef inside the reef that you must pay  attention.  The beauty of the bay may lull you into a false sense of safety so just read the guide and watch the charts, guide book  and especially the depth sounder.

A short motor to the south on Virgin Gorda is Spanish Town where we topped up with ice for the cold drinks.

Filling up with water at Spanish Town.

Filling up with water at Spanish Town.

At each place you have to pay for water and since we only had two days to go, we only filled one tank.

Spanish Town has a very nice marina with a full grocery store and chandlery. You can stay overnight in Spanish Town Marina if you like but it’s advisable in peak months to call ahead and make a reservation.

Empty marina in Spanish Town

Empty marina in Spanish Town

However this time of the year the marina is almost completely empty. So we had our choice of spots. There is also an internet wifi in the marina which is free so you can down load email if you REALLY have to.

After a sort stop in Spanish town Marina we motored a mile south to The Baths were we spent the afternoon exploring the cave and swimming.

The Baths: One of the high lights of the BVI's

The Baths: One of the high lights of the BVI's

The Baths are NOT to be missed. Even with 6 visits to The Baths now I would still return. It is a giant rock field all tumbled on top of each other creating strange shaped walk throughs and fun sea water pools.

You can spend hours there exploring the caves created from the giant rocks piled on top of each other.

You can even be silly (Deb and Susan) and pretend to hold the rocks up.

Holding rocks up in the Baths on a yacht charter trip to the BVI's

Holding rocks up in the Baths on a yacht charter trip to the BVI's

And of course, the swimming is awesome to.

Swimming at The Baths in the BVI's

Swimming at The Baths in the BVI's

Here are some other random shots of The Baths – just for proof that they are not to be missed.

The Baths

The Baths

The Baths

The Baths

baths 8

The Baths

The Baths

Get the picture?

Also not to be missed is snorkeling at the south end of the baths. The rocks continue into the water where coral has grown onto them populated by the most amazing colored fish life. In one place we found a small swim through under the rocks which was about 30 feet long also completely populated by fish.

Having spent an incredible day in The Baths, and having enjoyed Savanna Bay so much we elected to return there for the evening. A most spectacular sunset gave us an awesome end to another day in the BVI’s.

If you want to go to the BVI’s on a sailing yacht charter vacation – no worries – just get a NauticEd Sailing certification

Chronicles of a Sailing Yacht Charter Week in the BVI’s: Day 6

Posted by Grant Headifen on October 17, 2009 under Bareboat Charter | Be the First to Comment

Wednesday 30th September 2009

Bath time on a catamaran is pretty easy and fun for the little one. The catamaran galley is so big that there is plenty of room and the sinks are big. Consequently, Alexandra loved this time of day.

Alexandra Loves Her Catamaran Bathtub

Alexandra Loves Her Catamaran Bathtub

The crew set out in the dinghy to explore the rocky coastline and came back quite impressed.  Lee Bay is certainly a nice stop for overnight or an exploring lunch, not with a Northerly or Westerly Swell however.

We then motored through the Cut between Little Camanoe and Great Camanoe through to Marina Cay to meet up with the other Catamaran in our fleet. They had spent the night in the lee of Marina Cay and reported a very flat sea due to it’s protection from Scrub, Camanoe and Beef Islands.

Marina Cay in the BVI's provides a very sheltered mooring

Marina Cay in the BVI's provides a very sheltered mooring

We sent the dinghy ashore to grab a few bags of Ice at Marina Cay and then we moved 4 miles North East over to Great Dog Island were we had lunch and a swim.While waiting for the Ice, Kay tried her hand at maneuvering the Catamaran in amongst the buoys. She did well and got the hang of the dual engines and how maneuverable the catamaran is. NauticEd is currently building a flash interactive Catamaran maneuvering game which should be released by Oct 25th 2009. It will be embedded into the Catamaran Sailing Confidence Course.

Great Dog Island - British Virgin Islands

Great Dog Island - British Virgin Islands

We then moved over to George Dog island where the snorkeling is reported to be great and we were not let down. The BVI parks provide two mooring buoys on the south west of George Dog.

Excellent snorkeling at George Dog in the BVI's

Excellent snorkeling at George Dog in the BVI's

We then snorkeled around the point to the North West of Kitchen point. We’d highly recommend the snorkeling here. There was lots of coral and colored fish. Other boats reported that the snorkeling off Kitchen point was also impressive. Some of the crew also found some impressive rock cliffs to jump off into the sea. If you’re chartering a yacht on a sailing vacation in the BVI’s do not miss The Dogs.

Excellent Snorkelling at George Dog inthe BVI's

Excellent Snorkelling at George Dog inthe BVI's

Jumping from a cliff on George Dog BVI's

Jumping from a cliff on George Dog BVI's

West Dog - The Dogs BVI's

West Dog - The Dogs BVI's

After a very fun day at the Dogs we set sail for Savanna Bay on Virgin Gorda 2 miles South East of The Dogs. Savanna Bay entrance is not too tricky but you must follow the directions in the Cruising Guide as there are several reefs to miss.

Savannah Bay British Virgin Islands is truly awesome

Savannah Bay British Virgin Islands is truly awesome

However, once inside, wow, it’s a spectacular bay with three long beaches and clear water. Again with a swell from the north or North West this would be not advisable because it is completely open to those directions. If the weather conditions are right, Savanna Bay should not be missed. Several thatched shades are set up on the middle beach which is about 500 yards long. You can anchor about 200 yards off shore in about 15 feet of water.

At the end of the day we were rewarded with a stunning sunset. This picture was taken through the lens of sunglasses. Savannah Bay was one of the high lights of our sailing vacation.

Sunset in Savannah Bay

Sunset in Savannah Bay