Questions & Answers
I've always wanted to try chartering, but I'm worried about bringing the boat back after the charter. What is the return process like? Do we have to bring the yacht back to the slip or dock ourselves?
The return drill goes something like this:
Call in to base 15 - 20 min. prior to arrival. You'll be directed to the fuel dock and told which side to put fenders on. Some charter companies have a "drive in" option. They will meet you on your way back in, as you enter the marina channel. The charter company skipper will park the boat at the fuel dock for you. This is only really needed in the tightest of fuel docks. But, if you want this option, be sure you ask when selecting a charter company.
When you're ready to bring the yacht in, get the motor running and drop sail. Call the charter company and let them know when you're "15 min. out" and get the go-ahead to proceed in, If you would like to be driven in, confirm that you'll be met on the way. The company will also let you know on which side to place the fenders. Place the fenders on specificed side, shorten the dinghy painter, and make ready the dock lines on the same side as the fenders. With the yacht now ready for docking, motor though the channel markers, where you'll be met by the charter company skipper. They'll rev up the engines and head for the fuel dock and tie up with you.
Once at the fuel dock, you'll be met by a charter company agent. They will walk you though the fuel and water fill up procedures and help you if you need it. Usually, you'll top off the fuel and water tanks yourself. Remember, even though you're back at base, the yacht is still technically yours. The folks at the fuel dock will generally treat her as if she is yours and defer to you. Keep a close ear on the fuel filling the tank. Marine pumps don't always have an auto-stop feature when the tank's full. Just like anything sailing, you've gotta use your senses! Don't over fill or you'll need a bit of 409 to clean it up.
With fuel topped off you can move on to topping off the water tanks. A dockhand will hand you the hose and turn it on for you. No nozzles on these hoses, so be sure to put a good kink in it! Once the water is topped off you can move on to the final top up. The dinghy.
If your dinghy fuel tank is mostly full, you should not be asked to top it off. If not, it's time to crack out the gas and top off the dinghy.
With everything topped off, it's time to pay the piper. Fuel and water expenses for the full trip will be taken care of at this point at the fuel dock.
When you're done, a charter company agent will move the yacht to its slip for you. Some of the crew can go ashore from the base fuel dock, but keep a couple of them on board. More times than not, the slip you end up going to will require the fenders and dock lines to be moved to the oppisite side. On a Catamaran, the dinghy will also be moved one more time to the bow cleat, on the opposite side of the fenders. It moves to the bow so it is clear when the yacht is backed into the slip. With a Monohull, the dinghy can be kept amidships, opposite to the fenders. There is just more room alongside a Monohull. Check with your charter company about their return process. They all follow this basic outline, but it's good to know the little details that make each company's process unique. Don't worry, you don't have to remember all this stuff. It's good to have the basic process in mind, but the charter company will walk you though it, each step of the way.
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