Welcome!

This site is about bareboat chartering power yachts in the Pacific Northwest. I created it because I want to help people get started chartering yachts and to help them have a great experience when they do. Too, I love boats and boating, and this  site is a way to share that love with others as well.

Chartering is a great way to enjoy boating without actually owning a boat, or to find out how much you really like boating before you buy one.

Of course, you can contact a yacht charter company directly, and eventually you will do that, but maybe you want to learn more about it before you make that call – how much does it cost, what kind of training or certification do you need, how big are the boats, where can you go, etc.

So that, I hope, is where this site can help. Over the last 20 years I’ve amassed hundreds of hours at the helm of various power yachts, from 32′ to 57′, from Victoria to Port Hardy, from long weekends to weeks-long adventures. I’ve been on small boats with too many people for too long, and on large boats for not long enough.  I’ve fiddled with numerous electronic navigation systems, radars, autopilots and satellite TVs. I’ve spent both gloriously peaceful and nerve-rackingly windy nights at anchor. I’ve had days on end of sunny skies and smooth waters, and I’ve been caught in conditions and situations I would rather have avoided.

But those are the only qualifications I have. I don’t have any professional training and I don’t hold any certifications that qualify me as an expert on yachts or yachting. So I will limit my comments to things with which I have direct, personal experience, and you should consider that everything you read here is the just the opinion a guy who likes boats but doesn’t even own one.

As you will see if you read more on this site, I love boats, and I love boat trips, so this is also a way for me to express and share that passion.

This site will talk about:

  • What bareboat chartering is and how to get started in bareboat chartering
  • What it costs to charter a boat
  • Equipment, books and clothing I have found useful
  • How I choose which yachts to charter and plan my trips
  • Some of the trips I’ve taken

What this site will not cover:

  • Sailing or sailboat charters (nothing against it at all, I just know nothing about it)
  • Chartering anywhere else in the world
  • How to navigate and safely operate a yacht
  • Anything about boat ownership

For the Love of Boating

Whether you own or charter, it takes a lot of time and money to enjoy yachting. So why do we do it?

The Pros & Cons of Chartering

I charter because I love boating but don’t want to own a boat. This is mainly a matter of time and money, and it’s a personal choice.

About me

Some facts that you may or may not care about.

17 Responses to “Home”


  1. 1 ted wilson July 22, 2014 at 7:46 am

    MY wife and I are experienced boaters and have owned many different power crafts, the latest was a 48 DeFever with which we did the ‘Great Loop” in a years time frame and logged 6K miles. We maintained and restored the boat ourselves with experience in Diesels, active stabilizers, generators, water makers, electronics, and navigation. We sold the boat and took up land cruising in a 40’ Phaeton motorhome. One of my bucket list items is to take my own trawler up the inside passage for a month or two. I would like to start the investigative process and do a charter in the summer of 2015 either alone (my wife and I) or find another couple to share the experience with. I’m afraid a 32 ‘ trawler just wouldn’t satisfy our desires from what we were used to. Any suggestions, contacts, or recommendations would be appreciated. We even had a crazy idea of trying to find someone that wanted to land cruise in our motorhome and doing a swap for the summer, complete with tow car and all. Not sure that is realistic or not. Regards,

    Ted Wilson – tedwilson11@gmail.com

    • 2 S.C. July 23, 2014 at 8:47 pm

      Hi Ted,
      Fortunately, there are many larger power yachts available for bareboat charter in the Pacific Northwest. You should have a look at the power fleets at Anacortes Yacht Charters (www.anacortesyachtcharters.com), San Juan Yachting (sanjuanyachting.com), and Northwest Explorations (www.nwexplorations.com). You will find many large (45’+), top-quality boats are available for charter – Grand Banks, DeFever, Fleming, Kadey Krogen, Selene, Nordic Tug, etc. For charters of 2+ weeks, it’s a good idea to reserve the boat a year in advance to ensure you get the dates you want.

      One month really isn’t enough to get to Alaska, unless you manage to arrange a one-way charter, and even then, that’s a long way to go in a month. For a month-long cruise I might suggest cruising from Anacortes or Bellingham (northern Washington State) to the northwest end of Vancouver Island (Port Hardy area and the Broughton Islands), perhaps as far as Bella Bella (about 1/3 of the Inside Passage) and back down, or circumnavigating Vancouver Island, which is a trip I’ve always wanted to do (in addition to Alaska).

      I don’t know where you would go to arrange a trade for your motor home or charter share – sorry!

      -SC

  2. 3 Jim Whitney February 22, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    Who do you know that might like to trade 5 days on their yaht for 2 days of great seats at the Pendleton Roundup and a quality place to stay at the Pendleton Roundup plus three days, a month later, of quality pheasant and chukar hunting including a quality place to stay for 2 people in eastern Oregon.

    • 4 S.C. February 26, 2015 at 8:53 am

      I don’t really know anybody who would fit that description. “Borrowing” a yacht is a tricky business. The yacht itself is a $100K-$1M asset (depending on size and condition), and you can damage other yachts, or even injure or kill people, so proper insurance coverage is vital. I have a friend with a beautiful 55′ trawler who says I can use her boat “any time” for free! Yet I’m hesitant because I’m unsure of the insurance coverage, and I’m also nervous about breaking anything or causing any damage to the boat. A yacht charter company takes care of all of these things, and they make sure the customer knows how to safely operate and navigate the boat. I don’t think any private yacht owner would (or should) enter into a private trade arrangement w/o making sure the borrowing party knows how to operate the boat, and that both the borrower and the boat are properly insured for damages and liability. You might find an owner who has a yacht that is already in charter who would make that trade, but you would still have to pay the yacht charter company for their services (cleaning and maintenance of the yacht, making sure you know how to skipper the boat, giving you a briefing on how to operate that specific boat, etc.) and for the insurance (typically $50-$100 a day). I’m not sure charter companies would be interested in brokering a deal like that, but you could call and ask – worst thing they can say is “no.”

  3. 5 Debbie April 15, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Our family is thinking about cruising the San Juans this summer on a chartered boat..I .want a power boat with lots of space and a captain. I have some info from AYC for a 70′ Hatteras “Ocean Romance”…any other suggestions?

    • 6 S.C. April 18, 2015 at 9:18 am

      Sure, but I don’t do crewed charters (other than dive charters), so I cannot speak to the quality of these yachts. First, almost any yacht available for bareboat charter can become a crewed charter. Most if not all charter companies will find a qualified captain for any boat in their fleet for an extra fee, although sleeping accommodations can be a restriction on smaller boats. At AYC (possibly other bareboat charter companies) you can hire a captain for a few days to teach you how to navigate and operate the boat while cruising, then (assuming you become competent at operating the boat) they go home while you finish your cruise on your own (you pay for their transportation home). You mention “Ocean Romance,” but AYC also offers the 93′ motor yacht “Montego,” although it costs 50% more. A couple other options include the historic MV Olympus, and Northern Light. Here is a listing of other crewed charters in the Pacific Northwest. I will just add that I have no experience with crewed charters so I cannot offer any recommendations based on personal experience.

      • 7 S.C. April 18, 2015 at 9:45 am

        One other piece of advice – bring your passports so you have the option to go into BC, Canada. On a 1 week cruise you could easily include Victoria or many places in the Gulf Islands in your itinerary. For 2 weeks I would absolutely recommend you to go into Canada and go to Princess Louisa Inlet or Desolation Sound.

  4. 8 Joel May 14, 2015 at 6:05 am

    Hi, great blog! We are planning a cruise from the San Juans up to Desolation Sound this summer in a 26′ Sea Sport.

    I’m confused by all the tide tables available: CHS atlas, Ports and Passes, Waggoners — what’s the difference between these and what do you recommend?

    A second question relates to emergency beacons/communications. Do we need a EPIRB, PLB, or satellite messenger (SPOT)? Or would a handheld VHF radio with GPS and DCS work?

    One more question. What’s the best iPad chart plotter app for this area? Navionics, Garmin, iNAV, or?

    Thanks again for the great site and information!

    • 9 S.C. May 15, 2015 at 5:31 am

      Pay careful attention to wind conditions when transiting the Strait of Georgia. While the Sea Sport is a very seaworthy boat, the Strait of Georgia can be dangerous to small craft when the wind comes up, even in the summer. Not to mention that pounding through wind waves for hours can be downright unpleasant.

      Good question on the tide tables. Check the source of tide and current information in each publication. There are two original sources: CHS and NOAA. I recommend that you have access to both, particularly for currents – for whatever reason, NOAA publishes current predictions in several locations in British Columbia that CHS does not cover (e.g., Yaculta Rapids). I always purchase Ports and Passages as well as the official CHS tide tables and current tables. Between the two I usually find what I’m looing for. I also have Nobeltec Tides & Currents on my laptop, which is pretty comprehensive (both NOAA and CHS locations). Most navigation software (Nobeltec, Coastal Explorer, etc.) and chart plotters have some tide and current information built in, but you cannot count on them to have a complete set.

      For emergency beacons, a fixed mount (25W capable) VHF with DCS+GPS is generally considered adequate for inland waters, although it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have an EPIRB or PLB (make sure the PLB has GPS and is built for marine use). There are quite a few boats around Desolation Sound in the Summer, so even a 5W handheld is going to reach somebody in almost all situations (but I wouldn’t rely solely on a handheld). The exception would be if you plan to venture up Bute Inlet or Toba Inlet (day trips only, there are no safe anchorages in either inlet), where there may not be any other boats nearby, and you are surrounded by steep mountains. In those places a mayday or DCS signal from a VHF probably won’t reach the Coast Guard, and may not reach anybody at all. If you get into trouble there, a satellite-based device such as EPIRB or PLB would be the only 100% reliable way to call for help.

      As for iPad plotters, I am not an iPad user, so I have no knowledge of iOS chart plotter apps.

      Hope this was helpful!

      • 10 Joel May 16, 2015 at 5:12 pm

        Very helpful, thanks!

        How much wind would you say would be too much to cross the Strait of Georgia comfortably? What’s the best source of wind information … VHF, web, or other?

        Thanks again!

      • 11 S.C. May 17, 2015 at 6:14 am

        Short answer: Get your marine forecasts from Environment Canada by listening to the continuous VHF broadcasts on WX frequencies, or via the internet. As winds in the Strait approach 15kts it will start to get bumpy, and even in the larger boats I tend to charter (over 50′) I won’t cross in winds over 20kts. It’s not going to sink your boat, but it could make for a miserable couple of hours. When you hear “strong wind warning in effect” definitely proceed with caution (if at all).

        The longer answer is that the marine forecast often calls for high winds particularly in the afternoon, but I have found that I can sometimes make a morning crossing and avoid those high winds. I’ve heard forecasts for 20-25kts and poked my nose out into the Strait in the early morning to find relatively calm seas. So then it’s a matter of making a judgment about how quickly the wind will come up and whether one can make the crossing and be in more protected waters before the winds come up. Too, I almost always transit Malaspina Strait – it’s more protected than the middle of the northern section of the Strait.

        Another good reason to listen to the VHF marine weather broadcast is that it will tell you whether area WG (“Whiskey Gulf”) is active. This is a Canadian Navy practice area due north of Nanaimo (right in your path to Desolation Sound). They usually use it for torpedo practice. One is free to navigate through area WG when it is not active, but when active it is off limits and the Navy does not like it if you go through it (and they will know).

        Also be aware of the combination of wind direction and velocity, and current direction and velocity. Tidal currents in the Straight of Georgia can run as high as 3kts in places. A 3kt flood current working against a 15kt wind out of the northwest results in a wind-speed/water-speed differential of 18kts. Too, wind against a current produces steeper waves than wind over slack water. On the flip side, a 15kt NW wind on a 3kt ebb current (wind moving with the current) only has a 12kt differential. So the same wind speed can produce very different sea conditions depending on the speed and direction of the current.

      • 12 S.C. May 17, 2015 at 6:41 am

        Also, the marine weather broadcasts give conditions at various observation points that will help you judge conditions before leaving – Halibut Bank, Ballenas Island, Merry Island, Sisters Island, Sentry Shoals, etc.

  5. 13 Bill Knorr January 15, 2016 at 11:24 am

    Any interest in a one way on Mystic Dancer in 2017 coming down from Sitka or Juno starting around July 15th? or return the boat after us from Port McNeil this summer starting June 30th (see the AYC special)

  6. 14 Linda July 7, 2016 at 6:55 am

    Wow, this is extremely helpful and very well done. We are planning our first 2 week holiday from Comox area, to Sunshine Coast & Desolation Sound. Very grateful for your site and have book marked it. Thank you SC!

  7. 15 Joel Wacknov October 30, 2016 at 5:17 pm

    Hello,

    I’m wondering if you’ve ever used Sirius XM weather on a chartplotter while cruising the inside passage, and if so how well it works in the area.

    Thanks!

    • 16 S.C. March 9, 2017 at 11:50 pm

      Yes, I’ve used it as far as Cape Caution (as far as I’ve cruised) and it worked great, including places where I could not get reception for the VHF weather broadcast. The owner of Mystic Dancer says Sirius XM weather works great all the way to Alaska. Based on our collective experience, I’d say it’s a more reliable source for getting weather than VHF. I also understand that cell phone coverage is quite good in Alaska, so that’s another way to get the weather up there, but cell coverage is quite spotty in BC north of Desolation Sound.

  8. 17 Johnny Myers March 19, 2017 at 9:49 am

    Thank you so much for your valuable advice. I too almost bought a boat and someone recommended the same thing you have, “charter first.” And it was the best advice ever and has saved me thousands and thousands and probably my marriage! The boat my wife and I were looking to buy was exactly the boat we would have ended up hating! Our current “must haves” in a boat are 180 degrees different from what we thought at the beginning.

    We joined a charter club in the San Francisco Bay area, took their training classes which enabled me to charter within their club. I chartered everything in their power fleet including a 29 Ranger Tug, 34 Benneteau Swift Trawler, Marlow Mainship 32 and 37, Jenneau Velasco 37f, Mainship 430.

    Starting five years ago we ventured to the PNW and fell in love! We have chartered from AYC (wonderful outfit) and 3 great charter companies in Bellingham. We have charterd the following in the NW; 37 Nordic Tug, 42 Nordic Tug, 41 American Tug and 46 Grand Banks. I am definitely finding my favorite aspects in a boat: pilothouse, flybridge, nice cockpit, walk around side decks, 3 cabins to accommodate my children, stabilizers, thrusters, keel protected props and rudders, nice davit and center console dinghy with large engine, real oven, large water and holding tank capacity.

    And with chartering you are exposed to a wide variety of electronics. While Raymarine is the dominant player, I have to say Garmin is my favorite. It is simple and intuitive.

    We are having so much fun on different boats and experiencing first hand their handling and operating characteristics. And once I retire and ready to buy I will be so much more informed with real life experience. That is so important for such a major purchase.

    Thanks again for your work here. Very well done and informative. Keep up the great work!

    Johnny


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