There is nothing quite like the moment when the engine is switched off, the sails are raised and the only sound is the wind in the sails and the slapping of the ropes on the mast. All eyes are on the horizon, the sails of fellow sea travelers dotting the vast expanse of blue. For some, the sight of fellow seaman is reassuring, pleasing even; others prefer to be the only boat around, purposely avoiding the crowds and seeking out remote islands and anchorages.
Simplicity, safety and convenience
With the increasing affordability of renting a boat, whether it is a skippered or bareboat charter or as part of a flotilla, has made sailing holidays for family groups and youth affordable, accessible and safe. A novice sailor, or even a complete beginner, can now rent a boat anywhere in the world, hire a local skipper or join a flotilla, and explore the area, honing their skills in the easy sailing destinations. This provides a valuable entry point into the world of sailing.
The revolution in technology means that weather updates, marine maps, travel tips and suggestions, as well as booking services, are at the touch of the button. ; providing a tremendous support to those with less experience.
Sailing for all…
Sailing holidays provide an exciting escape for city folk and those that are deskbound. Groups of young people, too, take advantage of the cheaper charters, splitting the price between them and many such groups can be found in the major sailing destinations enjoying the sights from the unique perspective of the sea. Opportunities abound in a climate where pricing is competitive and the market is saturated with offers; the idea being that anyone can sail.
….At what cost
All of this, of course, leads to increased traffic on the sea, crowded ports and marinas and a lack of privacy that might not sit well with some. Some of the more popular European destinations, like Croatia, are deal for novice sailors and known for their safety and ideal conditions. Distances between islands are small and the area is well protected from adverse weather conditions. This has resulted in overcrowding in the summer months and raises the question of whether charter prices should be increased. The Ionian Sea in Greece has similar issues, for the same reasons. There are, however, less crowded places in Greece, particularly in the windy Cyclades Islands where more experience is necessary.
A little luxury
Some bemoan the fact that there are now so many boats on the sea; making the experience less unique, the marinas and ports more crowded. Those that seek solitude have to go further afield and may have to experience more challenging sailing. The harder conditions provide experienced sailors with the option of avoiding the crowds. Of course the other option is to go for a more expensive charter; in areas where the charters and marinas are more expensive, there may be fewer boats on the sea. However, a pricey yacht charter does not necessarily ensure less crowded seas, especially in the easy sailing destinations.
Another advantage of a more expensive charter is the kind of boat on offer. Newer boats, more luxurious lines with modern conveniences and more space add a touch of luxury to a sailing holiday. You are also able to pick and choose the yacht of your dreams!
A charter for every taste
All in all the kind of sailing charter you choose depends on your budget, sailing experience and whether you enjoy a more social connection with other sailors, or a quiet and secluded experience. Even in the most crowded of seas, the beauty of having a boat is that you can sail to less accessible locations and find peace and quiet if that is what you seek.
Over to you
If you had the power to influence the charter world and its policies, what would you want it to be like? Would you prefer a generally more expensive charter with fewer boats around (more privacy off the coast) or an even more affordable charter with the risk of a more crowded coastline, or do you perhaps, hold the opinion that everything is fine the way it is?
Take our online poll and have your say.