Make the most of a charter briefing
Tap into charter staff knowledge to turn a good charter into a great one
One of the most common systems that charterers run into trouble with is the heads, and no one wants to spend their vacation arm deep in a head repair mission. Charter companies know this and typically offer very specific instructions on head usage. If you can gather the whole crew for that portion of the briefing, you’ll avoid having to repeat it at cocktail hour. Suffice to say, you should follow the instructions carefully because a broken head isn’t fun for anyone.
This is also the time to make sure you understand how to use the stove and where the solenoid and propane tank are.
With a good understanding of how the boat is rigged from your pre-briefing homework, spend time on the anchoring system, learning how to safely use the windlass. Check to make sure the bitter end of the anchor line is tied off, and make sure you know where the electrical breaker for the windlass is.
Talk to the base staff about the sailplan, particularly about sail setups for different wind velocities. Make sure you understand how and when to reef as, especially with big cruising catamarans, this may be at a lower wind velocity than you might expect.
Beyond the basics
Once the basics are covered, you can probe the briefer’s knowledge for tips that can make a charter really special. Most charterers have an itinerary planned before they arrive, but it’s a great idea to run it by base staff, who can offer thoughts on adjustments you may want to consider or special factors to keep in mind, such as leaving early in the morning for anchorages that require excellent visibility to pick through coral heads at the entrance.
They’ll also be able to offer great restaurant recommendations or even tips on the best dishes they serve. Sure, they might point you to their cousin’s restaurant but they might also tell you that on Thursdays she serves a special dish.
They are also the best people to consult about hidden gems: a snorkel spot that you might not know about or a gorgeous beach that most people sail past. If you need fishing advice they can probably offer help on that too.
It’s this local knowledge that is extremely helpful, so take advantage of the opportunity to learn some of it.
Before you leave the dock, make sure you know the best way to contact the charter base should something go wrong. Many charter companies in popular cruising destinations offer service while on a charter, but making the most of a charter briefing will make you a more self-sufficient charterer, and that’s the reason for a bareboat charter in the first place.