What Is a Bareboat Charter?

07.09.2020 Fiona Mokry

If you’re researching yacht rentals, you’ve probably found your Google search turns up two options; a crewed charter or a bareboat charter. A crewed vessel is self-explanatory, but what is a bareboat charter?

A bareboat charter means you and your party rent and sail the boat on your own without a captain or crew on board. YOU are the captain and your friends are the crew, and that means YOU decide where and when you go. In short, a bareboat charter means complete freedom and exclusive privacy!

Ready to enter the world of bareboat yacht chartering? Even if you’re a novice, a little knowledge and experience goes a long way. This article includes everything you need to know to prepare for your first bareboat yacht charter. Read on for helpful tips and advice to make sure your first bareboat rental runs smoothly:

What is a Bareboat Charter Agreement?

Before you set sail, you’ll be asked to sign a Bareboat Charter Agreement. This is a legal contract that ensures you understand your responsibilities. It runs the gamut from defining the vocabulary used in the document and outlining the financial and legal responsibilities, to reviewing the disclaimers and waivers. So, what exactly is included in a bareboat charter agreement?

Your bareboat charter agreement normally includes:

  • your personal details, including passport number and emergency contacts
  • a list of all your passengers
  • arrival and departure dates
  • details of the yacht
  • your responsibility for running expenses; eg fuel, docking fees, moorings, food, water etc
  • information about insurance and indemnity
  • responsibilities for cleaning and damage repair
  • cancellation procedure

To guarantee you are fully prepared for your trip, we advise first-time bareboaters to read through this document prior to their booking to get a feel for the obligations. For convenience, we’ve summarized some of the most common expectations below:

What to Expect with a Bareboat Charter

When you rent a bareboat charter, you just get the boat. No captain or crew comes with it, so charter companies will want to see that you have experience captaining a vessel of similar size. Some countries might require that you have an appropriate sailing qualification, such as an ICC. It’s also helpful if you have another person in your group with a comparable skillset. You’re responsible for mooring, navigating, sailing, and most importantly the safety of everyone onboard, and you’ll appreciate an extra set of hands to lighten to load.

A bareboat charter means simply that the boat is “bare” of the amenities you’d expect with a crewed boat, which includes food and onboard entertainment. Come prepared with groceries and any water sport equipment you want to use while on holiday. If these are details better left to someone else, speak to the charter company about hiring an onboard chef, or – for example – a scuba or free diving instructor to guide your underwater experience.

The other option is to call into ports along the way to sample the local flavor which nixes the chore of cooking altogether. You can also bring your own fishing gear, or make arrangements to rent specific items, like a kayak or snorkeling equipment. On a bareboat charter, you make the call! 

Additionally, as the vessel’s captain, you’re also responsible for mooring fees, gas, keeping the water tanks full, disposing of trash, and returning the boat in a clean condition – among other things. These costs can mount up, so it's worth learning about how to avoid hidden costs on a yacht vacation.

The Freedom of a Bareboat Charter

While there are more responsibilities and planning needed to rent a bareboat charter as opposed to a crewed charter, bareboat fans agree that nothing beats the feeling of being in total control of your own adventure. With no one’s schedule to keep but your own, a bareboat charter can be as spontaneous or meticulously planned as you like — you sail according to your lifestyle. 

Not only does bareboating allow you an immense amount of freedom on the open ocean, it also ensures the complete privacy of your trip. While charter-provided captains and crew are always professional and respectful, bareboating means you don’t need to share your memories or your space with people you don’t know.


Challenges and responsibilities go hand-in-hand with renting a bareboat vessel. It’s important to read the bareboat charter agreement to understand what’s in store when you charter a boat without a crew. Once you’ve determined your skillset is up to the task, allow your experience to take you anywhere your heart desires.

What Is a Bareboat Charter?
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