1. The right destination at the right time
When and where to go? Depending on the dates and period of your vacation, it is essential to choose a destination where the sailing conditions will be ideal. Generally speaking, prefer the Atlantic and European coasts for the summer season and the more exotic destinations in the Caribbean for the winter season. Also judge your ability to navigate in certain areas, for example Brittany is a more complex navigation area with tides and areas with rocks. On the other hand, the Caribbean generally offers beautiful conditions where it is easy to anchor your boat with a calmer sea.
Some ideas of destinations to sail in winter:
– The West Indies
– Thailand and its islands
– The Seychelles
– The British Virgin Islands
Some ideas of destinations to sail in summer:
– The French Atlantic Coast
– Greece and its islands
– The Balearic Islands
The choice of your destination will determine in part the choice of your boat. Depending on your sailing program and your destination, the sailing conditions are different and more or less adapted to certain types of boats.
2. Rent the most suitable boat
You are numerous and looking for comfort? Opt for the catamaran.
Indeed, catamarans are real houses on the water. With very spacious spaces, you will find the cabins in each float of the boat and a large living area with kitchen in the center of the boat. The front trampoline is also ideal for relaxing and enjoying the sun. It is also the ideal boat if you are sailing with children asit does not heel and therefore remains perfectly stable. With its shallow draft, you can easily get close to the coast, making it the ideal boat for sailing in the Caribbean or Greece. Thanks to its bow thruster you can easily maneuver it even in harbors. The night at the dock will be slightly more expensive for catamarans.
Are you looking for sensations and reactivity? Opt for the sailboat. As the boats are more responsive, they are also much more enjoyable to steer. The feeling of speed will also be more important thanks to the heel of the boat with the force of the wind on the sails. The shape of the hull will also allow you to go upwind better to reach your destination in a more direct way. On the other hand, the space on board is more limited and the deck offers a reduced living space.
3. Check all administrative formalities before boarding
Whether you are sailing in France or abroad, there are specific regulations for sailing that must be taken into account. Here is a list of the main points to check before your departure:
– Conditions of entry into the country
– Specific local regulations
– Areas closed to navigation
– Certifications and special permits required
– Regulations according to the flag of your boat
4. Prepare your itinerary in advance
The key to success is to work on your stopovers beforehand! Learn about the places you want to visit and set up a sailing schedule. Plan your cruises based on the beaches, local restaurants and coves you want to visit.
The choice of route will depend on the wind direction and the places you wish to visit. Generally, it is ideal to sail with a crosswind to make a direct course and maximize your speed. But if you need to go upwind during your itinerary, it is better to do it at the start and then go downwind or on the beam. Generally, you will make a loop to return to your starting port. It is recommended that you plan to travel 15/20 miles per day, 50 miles maximum. The distance covered also depends on the speed of your boat, for a cruising boat count an average speed between 3 and 6 knots. If you wish, you can also sail at night to discover a new anchorage each day.
In addition to the navigation software and maps built into your GPS, it is recommended that you prepare your route by assessing hazards, buoys and lighthouses. You will have to understand the local weather phenomena as well as the current areas and plan for fallback anchorages protected from wind and waves according to the bad weather. Studying the marine block, is an excellent initiative, especially when you rent a boat abroad far from your usual sailing area.
5. Calculate and control your budget
There are many ways to travel the world, but boarding a boat is undoubtedly the most beautiful way to travel. But these vacations have a cost that it is important to anticipate before departure.
Today, thanks to boat rental, you no longer need to own your boat. Of course, the budget per person will depend on your destination, the type of boat you choose and the duration of your vacation.
But here is an average budget for a 7-day cruise:
The boat rental : Between 2 000 € and 4 000 €.
Airline tickets: Between 300 € and 500 €.
Food: 15 €/20 € per day/person
Nights at the port : 30 €/ night
To this, you can of course add services such as the rental of a boat with a skipper which represents an additional cost of 200 € per day.
For a week with 6 people you should therefore count on a budget between 800 € and 1 500 € per person.
Tip: Once on site, set up a ship’s fund so that everyone can contribute to the daily expenses of the boat.
6. Putting together your crew
If you are a young captain, or if this is your first cruise, take a second skipper on board if possible and try to leave with a crew that is already at least seasoned in navigation.
Before your departure, remember to brief your crew on the main rules on board and the main safety principles. This step is essential for the smooth running of the cruise. Also offer a small training course to the crew, to relieve you of some of the navigation tasks.
On board, you will be a real Captain for the crew, so you are responsible for the good understanding on board. To do this, don’t hesitate to assign tasks to each person and establish schedules. Depending on the skills of your team members, you can even define roles.
7. Embark with the right equipment
Every vacation has its own set of essentials, and there are many essentials at sea to ensure a safe stay in the best conditions.
Above all, think about the safety equipment adapted to each crew member with special equipment for the youngest. If your crew is not moored, also anticipate seasickness problems with dedicated medication.
For personal equipment, the list is long, but above all think of taking warm and cold. Indeed, even if the weather conditions are ideal, the temperature felt on the water can be different and the weather conditions can be very changeable. Sun protection is also important to avoid burns and sunstroke (caps, sunglasses, UV protection and sun cream).
Tip: Take appropriate footwear to avoid slipping on the deck and a soft waterproof travel bag to take up as little space as possible in the boat.
8. Ensure a good supply
Successfully provisioning your cruise means estimating the quantities and above all not forgetting anything. Indeed, when you go on a cruise you may not come back to land for several days. So you need to plan to meet your needs and those of your crew.
Here is a list of some of the essentials:
– Fuel for your boat and water for common use
– 2 l of water per person per day
– Fresh food
– Non-perishable foods that are easy to store
Remember that once you are at sea, your water and energy reserves are limited. For example, for showers, invite crew members to jump into the water and then rinse off summarily on the boat deck. For electricity consumption, think of external batteries but also of running the engine 1 hour a day to recharge the batteries.
Tip: Store your fruits and vegetables in a hanging net to improve their preservation.
9. How to check-in your boat
If you rent a sailboat, you will carry out a check-in with the renter before setting sail. The objective is to complete the administrative formalities but also to present the boat. This is an opportunity for you to ask as many questions as possible about the operation of the boat. Even if you are used to sailing, each boat is different with its own operating modes. The most important point is to check that everything is working on board: engine, electricity, rigging, sails… Take the time to look at everything, this will avoid you many disappointments during your navigation and when you return for the return of the deposit.
10. Manage your navigation
Once your preparation is complete, it’s time to embark! When you have the captain’s hat on your head, the most important thing for a successful cruise is to respect the main safety and navigation rules.
When you call at the port, remember to notify the harbor master’s office before your arrival if possible to reserve your spot and check availability. If you decide to spend the night at anchor, make a double mooring line and dive to check that the anchor is well attached.
Don’t forget to always adapt your navigation plan to the weather conditions which will have to be analyzed every day.
Be a good sailor, take out your sails, adapt them to the wind strength and direction and enjoy your cruise.
Thanks to Voiles et Voiliers for this article