If you’re considering chartering a boat in Sydney Harbour, then you will need to consider the type of boat, the type of charter and the time of year.

This can all be quite overwhelming if you’ve never chartered before which is why we’ve put together a small guide to help you base your decision. We explain the things you need to take into account, and offer tips on how to ensure you have a great trip.

Choosing the Type of Boat

Boat Types

The main types of boats available for charter are monohulls and catamarans. Catamarans have two hulls and have become the most popular type of boat that tends to be available for charter these days. Monohulls may still be an option but many boat owners often prefer catamarans as they are easier to sail, and they travel faster. Catamarans are also more balanced which makes it easier to walk on deck during sailing. This is especially useful for when you’re hosting an occasion onboard during your charter. Catamarans are often larger and while this is great for onboard experiences, it does take more room when docking so they may not be able to drop off or pick up at smaller wharves. Monohulls are more manoeuvrable and they are perhaps more exciting to sail. If you are looking for a self-drive boat that you can only take a few guests on, monohulls are perhaps the best type of boat to charter. If you are looking for boats with larger features, more stability and to enjoy occasions on, then catamarans are best for charters. In regards to the type of boat you choose from, as a guest you wouldn’t normally worry about whether the boat is a catamaran or monohull. The type of boat mainly concerns the boat owner or the skipper. If you are planning a crewed charter, you would instead focus on the size of the yacht and the features when considering which boat to charter.

Size

It’s important to consider the size of the boat as this will affect your party size. Larger sized boats will be able to accommodate a substantial number of guests compared to smaller vessels. Bear in mind your occasion when looking at the types of boats to charter as you will need to have a rough idea of how may guests will be joining you onboard for the duration of your charter. You may also want to consider if you’re hosting an evening charter event like a party or wedding reception, how many people the boat can accommodate overnight. Even on luxury yachts, the number of cabins is often limited compared to the number of dining or standing guests. It’s not necessarily a worry if there are fewer cabins than desired, but it does mean you’ll have to choose your wharf drop off point based on nearby hotel facilities.

Budget

Discuss your budget with your charter broker. They will be able to work around your budget and your requirements and make viable recommendations. Charter brokers will often be able to find you cheaper rates and better deals so communicating with them about your budget and occasions will prove advantageous.

Facilities & Equipment

Most luxury vessels come equipped with a vast range of facilities and equipment. You will find WIFI, music compatibility, BBQ, kitchen and bar facilities, cabins complete with en-suites, TV/DVDs and air conditioning. It’s not uncommon for state of the art luxury yachts to imitate first class hotel rooms in regards to their facilities, however not all boats have the same features. You can expect these types of features on luxury yachts but smaller vessels they may not have all those additional extras. Consider your occasion carefully and bear in mind what the boat has onboard when choosing the type of boat, you charter. The last thing you want is to plan a party and realise there’s no iPod connectivity. If you discuss your charter with your broker beforehand they will be able to help you find a boat based on your needs.

Choosing the Charter Type

There are three main types of charters you should know about; bareboat, skippered bareboat and fully crewed charters. Bareboats are self-drive charters in which you hire a boat and drive it from A to B on your own. You can still have guests on the boat with you but as skipper you have to drive and navigate the boat. You may or may not require a license depending on the boat and owner. Some boats have no license requirements where the owner will go through the ropes with you beforehand and teach you how to drive; some boats will simply require experience and others may want a full boating license. You will need to check with the owner or broker when looking at self-drive boats. It is important to note that self-drive boats tend to be smaller and are limited as to the amount of guests. Skippered bareboats are small self-drive boats, as above, but they give you the option to hire a skipper. The skipper works on a freelance basis and can be there for all or part of the charter. The skipper is handy to have on hand if you want to try driving a boat yourself but don’t feel comfortable holding all of the responsibility. If you’ve never driven a boat before, this may be the best option as the skipper can help you learn the ropes while you charter. Fully crewed charters include the skipper and a crew as you might expect. Larger and more luxurious yachts tend to have skippers onboard to help you and your guests enjoy the charter. Crewed charters are ideal for sightseeing or fishing, as the crew’s knowledge of the local area and hotspots is invaluable to boasting your experience. Likewise, with party occasions, crews are helpful to taking the stress away and ensuring everything runs smoothly. Crewed charters normally include a chef and catering staff, so you and your guests can be wined and dined. Some crewed charters do also, however, have bring your own food and drink options. This will be dependent on the boat type.

Best Seasons & Times for Boat Charters

Australia tends to be warm all year round and it’s very rare to find any weather restrictions that will prevent or hinder our boat charters. There really isn’t a best season in terms of weather to charter a boat but some seasons have more events than others and you may want to bear this in mind. For example, during the Christmas and New Year period, Sydney Harbour is very popular. Boat charters get booked up to a year in advance because of events like the annual fireworks display and the Sydney To Hobart boat race. If you were hoping to charter a boat for a party, this time of year might be preferable as the area is livelier. However, you will have to bear in mind availability might be scarce, unless you book quite far ahead. In regards to the best times for boat charters it depends on the occasion. Sightseeing tours of the Harbour can be done at any time of day, any day of the week, there really isn’t much advantage to specific periods. Fishing charters, however, have more luck earlier on in the day so these charters tend to start early morning and finish after lunch. Consult with your broker about your occasion and they will offer specific advice about the best periods.

How a Boat Charter Works