Bareboat sailing travel guide

There’ll be a point on your bareboating holiday when you’ll anchor up between a super yacht and a fishing vessel, and wonder exactly how you got here. The water is impossibly clear, the beach ahead is almost indecently bare of other visitors and you’ve got a fridge full of beer. Get used to it. For a week long bareboat charter, this is just what your life is like.
Imagine waking up at anchor off the coast of Antigua and having a morning snorkel straight off the boat. Later, you’ll pore over a chart and plot a course to the biggest slice of yellow sand you can see.
In bareboat sailing you’re given your own sailing boat for a week. You’ll need at least one confident sailor in your party with an RYA Day Skipper qualification, but the rest of your crew can be as motley as you like. With your boat comes almost total freedom: spend a day snorkelling and exploring, or set out towards the island on your horizon. On bareboating holidays you can tackle more challenging sailing areas than you would sailing in a flotilla. Sail further, sail faster, and start seeing that spray fly.

Read on in our bareboat sailing travel guide for more details.

Bareboat sailing is…

the next best thing to owning a boat – or possibly actually better, since you can sail all over the world without pulling an Ellen MacArthur.

Bareboat sailing isn’t…

for people who don’t like close quarters, active holidays, and too much responsibility.

When is the best time to go on a bareboat sailing holiday?

Bareboating holidays usually last one week. In European destinations they run on set departures every Saturday in summer from May to October. More unusual destinations – Grenada, the Seychelles and Antigua – do not have set departures. Bear in mind that bareboating can be very expensive at peak times, especially over the Christmas break. Late spring’s a cheaper, quieter time to go. Before you set off, you’ll be given a weather forecast for the week, and you’ll keep an eye on it throughout the week. The weather worsens in autumn in Europe and hurricane season in the Caribbean runs from June until November.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Bareboat sailing or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Bareboat sailing, month by month

December to March is peak season for Caribbean sailing. Competitive sailors flock to the Grenadines for Grenada Sailing Week at the end of January. In late April and May, the Caribbean is quieter – and usually a little less expensive. Since you’re booking your own berths every night, you might have more chance of getting in everywhere you want to stay if you travel in this time – except the last week of April, when the massive Antigua Sailing Week takes place. Meanwhile, the Seychelles, which is governed by two monsoon systems, has a transitional period between April and May, where the islands experience very little wind. Not particularly exciting for sailors. May marks the start of sailing in Europe – charter companies operate bareboating holidays once a week from now until October. May to September is a nice time to go bareboat sailing in the Seychelles, where a dry south-easterly breeze will fill your sails. June can see winds rising across Europe. In the Ionian Islands, the maistros, a north-westerly wind, builds throughout the day, offering great afternoon sailing. It’s very hot in the Caribbean, and June is also technically the start of hurricane season. July and August is peak everything in Europe: high temperatures, big crowds, and lots of cruise ships. Luckily, you’re not confined to the coast on a bareboating holiday, and can escape all three – ask the staff at the base for their recommendations. September is quieter in Europe as those summer crowds die down. The water is getting to its warmest, so you won’t be able to resist a swim at lunchtime. Bareboating ends in Europe in October. It’s the start of autumn’s slightly worse weather – which can mean exciting sailing for more experienced sailors. October marks the second of the Seychelles’ shoulder seasons, sandwiched between the two monsoons, when there’s not very much wind. From November to April you can’t bareboat in Europe, but you certainly can in the Caribbean. November to March is a wetter season in the Seychelles, with the monsoon bringing north-westerly winds.
Written by Eloise Barker
Photo credits: [Page banner: Yacht Rent] [Is/Isn't: Markos Mant] [Best time to go: Matthieu Da Cruz]