Choosing your charter boat
Choosing a boat implies a choice of layout and size. It is a little easier than choosing a charter area, but not much more. But hey! That's what the fun is all about: preparation and anticipation! Your boat selection will depend on the number of people in your party, your budget, your and your crew's sailing skills, and your comfort level tolerance.
Note: This article deals only with choosing a bareboat.
1. Cabin Layout: Number of People in Party vs. Comfort Level / Tolerance
It is your first consideration because it will determine your charter boat's minimum size and layout. If you have a party of 6, you know you need at least 3 cabins. Many charter boats have a layout that accommodates 2 additional people sleeping in the salon convertible settee. We do not recommend you do this, unless you don't mind the feeling of camping in cramped quarters for a week. Besides, you might run into some trouble when it comes to decide who will sleep in the salon! On the contrary, if you can afford it, we always suggest chartering a boat that has one more cabin than necessary. It can always serve as storage room for all that extra-gear, or as an additional quarter if someone wants to sleep alone during the cruise. It also increases your privacy (see below). If you have more than 4 people in the crew, we also suggest having 2 heads/bathrooms; 6 people for one head/bath is really inconvenient.
Always keep in mind that your layout choice will also affect your party's privacy. Typically, in a monohull boat, contiguous cabins are only separated by a plywood wall. Let's just say, without getting into graphic details, that mostly every sound or word in one cabin will be heard in the next. Catamaran boats usually have each cabin on separate ends of the hulls, therefore a lot more privacy can be had.
The layouts of all the boats in our fleet are available online. Take your time "visiting" boats and in the end, determine which layout you and your crew will feel the most comfortable with. There is no mathematic answer to this, as each crew will have different tolerance levels for comfort or discomfort, privacy or lack thereof - an early 20's crew will not have the same expectations as a group in their 50's. Now, you can choose a size.
2. Size / Budget / Skills
2-cabin/1-bath are usually in boats from 32 to 36 ft. 3 cabin/2 bath layouts -the most popular- come in any size between 36 and 50ft. A 4 cabin/3 bath layouts usually requires at least 46/47 ft. up to 50ft., unless you charter a catamaran. A 5-cabin/4 bath will be at least 50ft.
Obviously, the bigger the boat the more money you must spend. Of course the budget is shared between the crewmembers.
Now regarding the size, another limitation is your sailing experience -and your crew's. Handling a 38 ft. sailboat with 2 pairs of good hands is not a big problem when you know what you are doing. However a 50-footer is a totally different story, because everything is much bigger and therefore more difficult to control. It is not more difficult technically, but the forces are much higher: get over-canvassed with a 120% genoa on a 50ft. and you will have to deploy a lot of strength to shorten sail. So the bigger the boat, the more you have to anticipate and the sooner you have to prepare it for a coming squall, the sooner you have to reef. Therefore assess your skills and your crew's honestly and make your choice in consequence.