Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out

Bareboat vs crewed charter yacht


Before we start, a little reminder just in case: A bareboat is a unit that is chartered
with no crew at all. The charterers are entirely in charge of the boat, including
provisioning, for the whole duration of the cruise.A crewed boat operates only with a
professional live-aboard crew, a skipper and a cook or chef, usually a couple, and,
typically, has many more creature comfort than an equivalent bareboat.If you are
vacillating between bareboat and crewed yacht ownership, this section will help you
define the main pros and cons of each option, both being in the configuration of a
managed charter fleet, and within a range of 45 to 50 ft. boats. This section does not
debate ownership of a privately managed crewed vessel, usually a larger unit the
management and the economics of which are completely different. We will soon
publish a special section dedicated to that kind of ownership.In the Caribbean, as far
as we know, two Charter Companies are offering that kind of management are: The
Moorings™ and Catamaran Charters™.We will first highlight how the management
contracts differ between those two Charter Companies. We will then outline the
differences, bare vs. crewed, between two vessels that are either identical, or within
the same base price range. A. Diffe rent cre wed boats ma nagement
contracts Basically, one company –Catamaran Charters- manages the boat's
marketing, bookings and administration on the owner's behalf, but the latter pays all
expenses presented to him by the company. The company is compensated by a
commission ratio on the charter bookings.The other company –The Moorings-
operates on a "turnkey" basis: the company pays 100% of the boat's expenses and
manages everything for the owner, but keeps a much larger chunk of the charter
income.In both cases though, the buyer will typically acquire the bo at from the
Charter Company itself, which acts as a broker for the purchase.It is important to
understand this, because one w ill f ind those same conceptual differences between
several charter companies, whether they manage crewed or bare boats. One solutio n
– the former – is supposed to be more transparent because the owner pays the
expenses directly and therefore can see for himself what is expended on his boat.On
the other hand, the turnkey solution is probably more "hassle -free".B. Differe nces,
bare vs. cre wed1. A c re wed boat is more expensive to buy Once we have
determined that the base prices are in the same neighborhood for a bare boat and a
crewed one, in reality, an identical crewed boat w ill be more expensive to purchase.
In effect, in order to do the charter work within the parameters of the industry, the
boat needs to be fitted with a lot of additional equipment, most of it being items of
comfort.A few examples: Possibly an air conditioning system (a major marketing
element in the Caribbean charter industry); sometimes a small generator and a
water maker; "toys" like a windsurf, kayak, snorkeling or even a scuba diving
equipment; larger dinghy with sometimes a bigger engine for water skiing; upgraded
navigation electronics and sound system; several sets of bedding equipment, linen,
towels; full sets of silver/glassware; complete cooking equipment, toaster, coffee
machine; etc, etc …The list can be very long, but will vary signif icantly depending on
the level of luxury the boat will be chartered at. Not e: If you choose a Charter
Company offering a turnkey solution, your boat will be delivered w ith all the
necessary extra-equipment already on board and installed.2. Cre wed boat
management is more complicated2.1. Fact: A crew is on board makes a major
difference. it is a know n fact that in the crewed charter business, the crew (not the
boat) makes or breaks the cruise. Problem is, the turn over among crews is usually
very high – at least in that range of boats. And that may create some occasional
instability in the management of the boat --very often, a crew will not stay more
than a year on the same boat and will look to move up to a larger unit. It is called
career management and there is nothing one can do about it.2.2. Owner may not be
his/her ow n masterUnlike on a bareboat, the owner might sometimes f ind it odd to
be on his/her ow n boat with another skipper w ho has his/her own idiosyncrasies and
certain ways to do things. That might create light conflicts or frustrations, expressed
out or not. That is why some owners, every so often, choose NOT to take their crews
with them w hen cruising. But when they do that, it creates another set of problems:
The crew has to be lodged somew here else, fed, etc. 2.3. Necessary financial
arrangementsFor the times the owner decides to cruise w ith the crew on board,
there has to be a very clear, mutually understood, f inancial agreement. If the ow ner
pays the crew's salary directly, there can be an agreed upon bonus to reward an
excellent boat maintenance; or for each charter that gets good reviews from the
charterers. There also can be a percentage of the bottom line profits of the boat.
Also, if the owner uses the boat a lot, a flat "gratuity" can be added for each cruise
taken by the owner with the crew. However, if the owner does not pay the crew's
salary directly, like in The Moorings type of contract, only a per-cruise-gratuity has
to be considered. Now, this is something the Charter Companies w ill not tell openly
to a potential buyer, because this adds significantly t o the cost of using one's own
boat: A satisfactory one-week cruise typically generates a $1,000/1,200 tip (based
on a $9,000 base price cruise). But this is customary in the industry: Gratuities
usually contribute to +or- 50% of a crew's total yearly wages.3. C rewe d boats can
bring in more incomeCrewed boats earn more money per week than identical or
equivalent sized boats, which one can easily understand. But they also can bring
more income altogether than a bareboat because they will not necessarily work a
lesser number of weeks. For example, a Caribbean based catamaran in the 48ft. -
55ft./$10,000-15,000 per week range, can easily work 20 to 25 weeks a year.The
financial impact of this point here is significant. We will soon publish dedicated
spreadsheets for calculations on crewed yachts operations.4. Cre wed boats will
usually grow old in better shape4.1. One can easily understand that a live-
aboard professional crew w ill attend the day-to-day maintenance with a much better
efficiency than a land-based staff would episodically do on a bareboat. In effect, the
crew lives on board, and therefore the boat becomes their home. As a result, a good
crew will maintain the boat as impeccably as they would maintain their ow n house.
For technical upkeep, a good skipper will attend the repairs as they are needed,
every day, or at least as soon as he gets off a charter week. Therefore, with the
exception of parts on order, all maintenance items should always be under control.
Similarly, all the boat logbooks w ill be updated on an ongoing basis. 4.2. Because of
the crew's presence and handling of the boat during charters, the yacht will not be
brutalized, damaged, soiled or mishandled by careless or incompetent charterers. A
very comforting thought for the owner, as unfortunately, the sailing competence of
bareboaters can often be seriously questioned!5. A cre wed boat can be a learning
experie nceInterestingly enough, an owner can sometimes learn a lot while cruising
with a professional skipper. If you are lucky enough to have on your boat a very
experienced captain (some of them have crossed oceans or even circumnavigated)
you can benefit a lot from his/her knowledge of seamanship. At the very least, you
and your kids will hear great passage and cruising stories! I belong t o that category
of sailors with a very humble approach of the elements, and I believe there is always
something new to learn about sailing, and/or about the sea and its environment. I
was fortunate enough to have an exceptional captain on our family boat f or almost 3
years, and although a licensed captain myself, the amount of know ledge I acquired
from him was tremendous.6. Travel fa rthe rUnless you are a very experienced sailor
yourself, you will have a tendency to cruise in the geographic area where your b oat
is based. A professional skipper will allow you to travel farther and take your boat
places you might not have been able to go to alone, and in probably safer and more
comfortable conditions. This is –see #5 above- another opportunity to learn and
expe rience even more.And even if you are a seasoned yachtie, it is comforting to
cruise far know ing there is another pair of experienced hands on board. 7. Slac k off
a bit!Lastly, a full crew is great when, once in a while, you just want to relax and do
strictly nothing on board your boat. A few examples: You won't have to wake up 3 or
4 times during the night to check on your anchor, as I do. Or your w ife and yourself
will not have to do the cooking and the dishes every day. It is not something easy to
imagine w hen you have bareboated all your life, but it is very enjoyable sometimes.
And you get used to it very quickly.

To top