Bareboat chartering is more popular than ever because owners of marine vessels have discovered that renting out a rig without having to supply crew, supplies, and other essentials is a great way to make money faster using their assets.


Amateur sailors love it, too, because bareboating offers them the freedom of the seas with few strings attached.


However, bareboating is absolutely not for those unfamiliar with the many skills, rigors, and safety training required to master the waves and return to port safe and sound.


No one should charter a bareboat without getting certified to handle the specific class of vessel chartered for the journey. The basic proficiencies one must acquire are:


Basic Sailing Skills


Piloting a boat is not nearly as simple as many people think it is. It’s not like renting a “car for the sea.” No area of the ocean is the same. Some locations are far more challenging than others. One must learn how to steer under sail power, reefing, trimming, mooring, anchoring, and navigation using charts and compass to handle all conditions.


All of these skills can be obtained by taking a course offered by the American Sailing Association (ASA). Take the ASA 101 course, which is basic keelboat sailing. Also, enroll in ASA 103. The latter is coastal cruising. Finally, ASA 104, bareboat cruising, is highly recommended.


Charter companies will welcome persons who have completed the above training regimes anywhere to command a boat.


Special Skills for Specific Locations


It can’t be emphasized enough. The sea is a harsh mistress because she bears a thousand faces. For example, if you’re planning to sail the San Juan Islands, competency in handling tides and currents is a must. In other locations, there is no need to worry about tides and currents. Now multiple this single example by at least a hundred. There are so many different conditions – reef barriers, light seas vs deep seas, cove navigation, deep heading – that you must be ready to handle with skill.




When you charter a bareboat, you are placing trust in the renter to provide you with a safe boat free of mechanical or structural problems. However, inspecting a boat you are going to trust with your life is a skill you should acquire. The best way to handle this is to ask the charter owner to conduct an inspection with you. Come prepared with as much knowledge as you can about all aspects of safety equipment and basic operations.