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Old 08-16-2014, 08:10 PM   #1
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Being new, and shopping for our boat, I've been advised a few times to charter a few boats that might be close to what I want...problem...where do I start looking to charter a boat? I live in the Beaumont, Tx area (Gulf of Mexico/Houston) anybody know if there's any charter operations anywhere near? Also, when you charter do they send a skipper, or is it just you and yours? Any info would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 08-16-2014, 08:19 PM   #2
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I can't answer for charters in your area, but there are several in SW Florida.
You have to submit a form outlining your experience. The charter co will decide if you need a capt to go with you or not. You will have to demo your skills on a check out ride the morning of the beginning of the charter. So even if you are gods gift to boat handling on paper, if you cant pass the check ride you get to enjoy the charter period tied in the home marina or pay extra for a capt and most likely a bigger boat $$$$. FWIW, all 4 of my charters had something go wrong that could have ruined the week if you can't fix or work around the problems.

1984 Monk 36 Hull #46
Englewood, FL and Cape May, NJ
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Old 08-16-2014, 08:22 PM   #3
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As to whether you need a skipper or not depends on your experience. You can discuss that with each charter company; many provide teaching captains and courses as part of their offerings. When we lived in Dallas, we chartered trawler style boats in the Pacific Northwest, where there are many large bare boat charter companies out of Anacortes and Bellingham (we used what is now Northwest Explorations), the west coast of Florida (Jung Charters and Chitwood Charters) and the SF Bay Area (Club Nautique, where I also took some excellent classes). There well may be someone in Galveston or Clear Lake, but I have no direct knowledge. There are also powercats available from the Moorings in the Caribbean and Florida.

"There's the Right Way, the Wrong Way, and what some guy says he's gotten away with"
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Old 08-17-2014, 07:00 AM   #4
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Part of my chartering/cruise business in Chesapeake Bay is just that. Showing people the different kinds of trawlers and how to buy, maintain and operate them. I do it here and down the ICW to Florida. Some people are too smart to buy one, though, and just opt to go out and leave all that to me!

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Old 08-17-2014, 07:14 AM   #5
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One approach is that before you charter you go look at a few boats. You can then have a feel for the size of boat and style in which you might be interested. A lot will depend upon whether you intend to use the boat on weekends or live aboard for weeks/months on end.

The sweet spot in terms of size is between 34 feet and 50 feet with the market moving to the 40s in size. There is no agreement as to what is the best size. The larger you go the more comfort and importantly the higher the initial and ongoing expense.

Once you have gotten a feel for the size with which you will be comfortable charter one for a week. As for location of the charter either near home or if you are going to fly think about someplace you haven't been and likely will not get back to. There are charter operations in New England, the Chesapeake, the Pacific Northwest and the Virgin Islands. All will supply a captain if appropriate.
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Old 08-17-2014, 09:33 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by High Wire View Post
So even if you are gods gift to boat handling on paper, if you cant pass the check ride you get to enjoy the charter period tied in the home marina or pay extra for a capt and most likely a bigger boat $$$$.
Not always. A few years back when we were getting started we chartered in South Florida. I told them up front we had limited experience and wanted a captain for at least one day, and probably several days.

The captain stayed with us for a 3 hour ride, pronounced us qualified, and left us at a marina. We spent the next 3 days pinned to a dock at Tween Waters while a storm came through. Never heard a word from anyone.

When the winds died down a bit we decided to move to Boca Grande. Never considered that we were in a sheltered cove and it might be different once we made it out to the main body. We made it about a mile north in the main channel when the boat overheated. I shut it off and dropped the anchor just outside the channel. We spent the next couple hours trying to correct the problem in high winds and rough water in the middle of Pine Island sound. They did send Tow Boat out to get us and brought us back to the home base. Finally made it there about 11:00. Nothing damaged except our pride.

Bottom line is we found out we were not even close to being qualified to be out there. My previous experience was a twin engine Sea Ray on an inland lake. It's not even close to being on a single engine trawler on the ICW.

Chartering is a fantastic idea. If you take a captain, make firm plans ahead of time and don't let him leave if you're not ready.
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Old 08-23-2014, 09:21 AM   #7
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We did two bare boat charters before we purchased. I highly recommend this because it's a way of testing the waters, so to speak, will you like the lifestyle? Type of boat you want, etc.

I spent quite a few years on the water with commercial fishermen during my job as a fisheries biologist. 25 years ago, I had a share in a sail boat, but hadn't handled a boat in years, especially a larger boat. My wife had no experience on the water. We startered things by taking power squadron together. Later, I had one of my commercial fishermen buddies take me with him when he was crabbing, I ran the boat while he pulled the pots, so I got to learn close quarters manoeuvring and docking. Pam did the women and boating course at trawlerfest.

When we did the bare boat charter, they checked us out and my handling skills we deemed sufficient for the charter and away we went. We respected our limitations, and didn't take chances with the weather or tides. The boat we chartered had steering issues. I'm not sure if the hydraulic fluid was down or the rudder was too small, but it was a "pita" to steer. Vessel systems were daunting, but we figured it out. Over the years I had spent a lot of time reading charts and relating them to land features. Also We had our iPads with us with the Canadian Hydrographics charts loaded, so navigation was not a problem. It turns out we never used the plotters on these boats, as our iPads served all our navigation needs.

The experience was worth it and reinforced our cruising dreams. It was one step in the process. We also learned a lot about what sort of boat we wanted. Were we nervous? Absolutely! But we stayed within our limitations, while still pushing the envelop.

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Old 08-23-2014, 02:47 PM   #8
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I can't help with chartering but several of us are currently in your local marina (Beaumont Yacht club). If you would like to tour a couple boats and have a chat, pm me.

You never really learn to swear until you become a boat owner!
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