A beginner’s guide to yacht charter

Hiring a boat or yacht is generally referred to as chartering. You’re essentially renting the use of a yacht, but because large vessels cannot simply be driven by anyone, you will normally be provided with a captain and crew that can safely operate and navigate the waterways and open sea. Smaller yachts can be chartered to experienced skippers without a captain or crew but they will need to provide qualifications to prove their abilities.

yacht charter

Sailboats and yachts are complex vessels requiring years of experience to be able to safely sail and navigate, therefore, charter companies will sell you an experience with the means to simply enjoy the boat and any luxuries that might be included. As a newbie to this experience, you might have a handful of questions about yacht charters, so we have pulled together some of the most important and frequently asked questions to help.

Yacht sizes and capacity

Yacht charters can vary quite widely in terms of size, starting from small 4-person vessels or can be huge, suitable for a group of up to 12 people.

A small yacht normally starts at around 32 feet in length and will have a capacity for a family or group of 4-6 people. Facilities on board will consist of a single separate bedroom, a small kitchen and dining area, a navigation system and storage space.

Large yachts for groups of 12 people are also available for charter from locations all over the world. These floating hotels are ideal for a luxurious experience for those who like to live a little. Sizes start from around 90-foot in length and go upwards of 200-feet. They also range in age, with many older vessels receiving modern makeovers. Classic yachts from the 1960s are often refitted with all modern facilities, which allows them to retain their nostalgic charm but keep up to date with everything you’d expect from a 2020s vessel. Vessels of this size are generally only chartered with an experienced crew.

Charters tend to be limited to groups of 12 passengers. This is due to international marine regulations stating that a vessel carrying more than 12 passengers is considered a passenger ship and has to comply with SOLAS (safety of life at sea) convention to ensure the safety of the passengers. This means that charter owners would have to adhere to a comprehensive list of stringent safety restrictions that are expensive to implement. If you are planning to have a party on a yacht charter this will be limited to 12 unless you are hosting within a dock or harbour.

Destination and duration

We live in Cornwall in the UK, a popular holiday destination for many holiday makers and tourists. With its fishing heritage and beautiful coastlines, there’s no shortage of harbours and dockyards, which makes for the ideal charter experience location.

But there are many more charter locations across the UK. Oyster Yacht Charter is a well-known company operating in the UK and US, providing yacht sales and charter experiences for destinations across the globe. So, whether you’re looking for a British Isles tour experience, or you want to explore further afield, you’ll easily find something suitable in most locations across the globe.

Most yacht charters will be available to book for either a weekend, a midweek (Mon-Fri), a full week or two weeks. There will be further options available depending on the company and destinations.

What qualifications do I need to charter a yacht?

As mentioned above, many companies will provide you with a captain, skipper and crew as part of the experience, especially with yachts over 50 feet in length. This means you don’t need any qualifications or prior experience.

For smaller yachts, you may be able to skipper the vessel yourself if you have the relevant qualifications.

To skipper a yacht by yourself you will be expected to have completed an ICC (International Certificate of Competence assessment). This internationally accepted qualification is a mix of theoretical and practical assessments.

Before you can be accepted onto an ICC course you will be expected to have an RYA Day Skipper qualification. This course generally consists of 5 days of practical lessons in piloting, preparing for sea and the care and maintenance of a yacht.

A prerequisite to the RYA Day Skipper course is a basic sailing ability with 5 days, 100 miles and 4 night hours onboard a sailing yacht. These can be gained by completing a Dinghy Level 2 basic skills course and practising with another qualified skipper. The Dinghy Level 2 course will cover rigging, launching and building confidence in sailing. It normally takes 2 days or 16 hours to complete.

How much does it cost to charter a yacht

Chartering a small yacht for a week can start from as little as £2000, if you are able to skipper. Adding a skipper for the week will cost another £1500.

If you’re looking for an experience on a large vessel with a skipper included, expect prices to start from around £12,000 for the week.

Of course, these are just starter prices and there really is no limit to how much you can spend on a yacht charter experience. There’s an unlimited number of options available if money is no object.

You can even add entertainment to your experience with the use of jet skis, a personal chef and an onboard movie theatre. The options are endless.

On top of the standard charter cost, expect to pay additional costs which we’ve covered in the next section.

What is included in a yacht charter?

Most yacht charters will include the hire of the yacht itself and the crew’s fee. There are however additional costs that you should understand and budget for. These might include food, beverages, bar, shoreside transport, fuel, dockage, port fees and cruising taxes.

On average you should expect to pay between 20 – 25% for sailing yachts and 30 -35% for motor yachts.

Depending on you location, destinations and charter length these costs will differ. It is also customary to tip the crew between 10 and 20% of the charter fee at the end of the charter.

If you have onboard water sports toys and equipment these are normally included in the charter price. Scuba diving equipment might also be included in the charter but if not, these can be added and arranged with local diving companies.

If you’re on a large yacht, the crew will generally be there to take care of your comfort. They’re not only there to sail and maintain the yacht but will look after you whilst you are on your charter. In many charters there will also be a dedicated chef who will cook and prepare meals whilst onboard.

Communication – Access to mobile signals and the internet

Pretty much all yachts will be equipped with a satellite phone for safety reasons, but using these for personal calls may incur charges. You may wish to use alternative methods of communication whilst on board your charter.

Personal mobile phones will work when near the shore in most locations. You tend to pick up a suitable signal when you are within 15 miles of land-based cell towers. Many yachts will be equipped with signal boosters which could increase this range up to 25 miles. This however doesn’t help when you are crossing an ocean.

It’s also quite common now to have access to satellite internet. Many yachts will be fitted with satellite equipment to access the internet and have their own onboard Wi-Fi network which can be used by the crew and guests. This will then allow you to communicate via Whatsapp or any other internet-based form of communication.

yachts of different sizes

Safety – How do I know the yacht will be in good condition?

All charter companies must adhere to strict local maritime regulations and laws in order to operate. Coastguards will regularly check the papers of the yachts to ensure everything is being checked and maintained. Operators can face large fines if anything is missing or not kept up to date.

If you are nervous about any aspect of a boat’s history and maintenance you can ask to see these papers which must be made available by law.

A full safety briefing will be provided on all charters which will go into detail about emergency procedures, life jacket locations and where lifeboats or craft can be found. Further details of fire extinguishers, blankets, first aid kits, distress signals and portable VHF radios will all be provided as standard on all charters.

Sailors Arms Newquay Restaurant (Vegan Food Review)

The Sailors Arms pub and restaurant is located on Fore Street in Newquay and backs onto the seafront, overlooking Towan beach and the fantastic north Cornwall coastline. We visited on a warm Monday lunchtime in early October keen to try some of their vegan food offerings.

We easily found a seat on the mezzanine which was perfect for this time of year as it provides panoramic views over Newquay, from Towan beach and the island house to Watergate Bay and all the way up the coast to Trevose Head Lighthouse.

We’d not been here before so were keen to find out if this pub restaurant was any good. We were keen to see how many vegan food options were available, if the food was tasty, what the decor was like and if the service from the staff was of a good standard.

Sailors Arms Menu and Vegan Options Newquay Cornwall
Sailors Arms Menu October 2022

Vegan food options at the Sailors Arms Newquay

We were surprised at how many vegan options there were as most pubs tend to have one vegan burger and maybe another option if you’re lucky. The Sailors Arms in Newquay had more than 10 vegan main meal options. Plus there are some vegan sides too and kids choices.

The bartender said it was a new menu and it had so many more vegan-friendly options than their previous selection. This is great news for us!

The vegan-friendly options at the time of our visit in October 2022 included:

  • Vegan pizza (two choices)
  • Vegan burger (two choices)
  • Vegan hot dog
  • Vegan tacos
  • Vegan gyozas
  • Vegan burrito bowl (two choices)
  • Vegan mac and cheese
  • Vegan cauli wings
  • Vegan topped fries (two choices)

As you can see, it’s not the place to come when you’re wanting a wholesome plant-based vegan meal, but when you’re in the mood for comforting vegan pub grub then it’s ideal. There’s a lot of options!

Sailors Arms Newquay Vegan Food Review
Vegan Burrito Bowl, Sailors Arms Restaurant, Newquay
Vegan Sloppy Joe Burger and Chilli Chips, Sailors Arms, Newquay

Our vegan meals at Sailors Arms in Newquay

We opted for the vegan burrito bowl which is served on a beetroot wrap, a sloppy joe vegan burger with chilli fries and a portion of vegan sloppy joe loaded fries.

We got a bit excited at all the vegan food options and totally overindulged with a meal each and a shared portion of vegan loaded-fries! It was definitely too much food – next time one meal each will suffice!

But we enjoyed every meal, even the chilli fries with the burger (these are optional) which set our mouths on fire!

Vegan Sloppy Joe Burger, Sailors Arms, Newquay
Vegan Sloppy Joe Burger, Sailors Arms, Newquay

Vegan food for kids at Sailors Arms Newquay

We were also happy to see on The Sailors Arms online menu for kids has a couple of vegan choices. We didn’t have the kids with us for our lunchtime date while they were at school, but we’ll take them back another time. Most pubs offer an adult vegan meal, but completely forget about the kids!

We are a vegan family so it’s good to see they offer a vegan burger or vegan mac and cheese at kids prices. So often we have to order them an adult meal at adult price and it makes eating out so expensive. I know the kids will be so excited there’s a pub that caters for them too as vegans, so we’ll be back to treat them soon.

Vegan Sloppy Joe Topped Fries, Sailors Arms, Newquay
Vegan Sloppy Joe Topped Fries, Sailors Arms, Newquay

Honest thoughts on the Sailors Arms restaurant and vegan food options

The choice of vegan pub grub at the Sailors Arms in Newquay is really impressive. If you’re looking for vegan food in Newquay then there are multiple options and we were spoilt for choice. It’s also good to see a kids menu with a couple of vegan options at an affordable price.

The views from the outdoor terrace are great, but I think next time we’ll sit indoors to experience their cosy pub atmosphere. Winter is coming and I can already picture us visiting as a family treat one weekend, wrapped up warm, eating warm comforting food and having a hot drink after!

The prices are pretty standard for pub meals nowadays. It’s not the cheapest place to eat as a family, so it will be an occasional treat for us. Or maybe a more regular treat for us adults when the kids are at school and we can escape from work!

We liked the decor inside the pub and the bartender was really friendly, making us feel instantly welcome in a pub we had never been to before.

The food was as you’d expect from a pub, not too cheap but also not gourmet. To improve I’d add a side salad to the burger meal and more rice and beans on the burrito wrap instead of so much salsa. On the menu, they need to add an extra vegan tapas plate to the small plates menu (the minimum order is three small plates, but there are only two vegan options, doh!). I’d also add some sort of lunchtime meal deal or better prices to entice more people (and us) in for weekday lunch.

One meal we’re keen to return for is the vegan pizza! They have two choices for vegans and they are stone-baked pizzas which are always appetising.

Would we return? Yes, we would. When we next want a pub lunch in a friendly atmosphere with lots of vegan options for both adults and kids, we know exactly where to go!

Decor and seating inside Sailors Arms pub and restaurant, Newquay, Cornwall
Decor and seating inside Sailors Arms pub and restaurant, Newquay, Cornwall

Discovering Sailors Arms and their vegan food on OpenTable

We chose the Sailors Arms as we were looking for somewhere new to eat that had lots of tasty vegan options. We wanted some naughty pub grub and used OpenTable to search for restaurants in Newquay that had vegan food.

You can use OpenTable to search in any location such as for restaurants in Cornwall, or you can be more specific and search for a restaurant in an area such as Newquay, and book a table directly from their website. We did book a table, but being out of season in Newquay we didn’t really need to for a Monday lunchtime!

However, if you are visiting Newquay on a busy weekend, during school holidays or during the busy summer season then it’s recommended to book tables at restaurants! One of our favourite restaurants this summer was fully booked for six weeks!

OpenTable lets you see availability, opening hours, photos and menus, so you can decide if the restaurant is right for you. As we are vegan, I searched for vegan food in Newquay which showed us all the options with vegan food, so I didn’t have to trawl through menus to find these myself!

This is how we discovered the Sailors Arms did many vegan options, more than most pubs we have been to! Plus, they have an outdoor seating area overlooking Newquay Bay, so it was perfect to catch the last bit of sunny autumn weather.

View across Town Beach and Newquay Bay from Sailors Arms Outdoor Terrace, Newquay, Cornwall
View across Town Beach and Newquay Bay from Sailors Arms Outdoor Terrace, Newquay, Cornwall

Where is Sailors Arms restaurant in Newquay?

If you want to visit Sailors Arms for yourself, then you’ll find it amongst the hustle and bustle of the popular Fore Street in Newquay centre.

The address is 11-17 Fore Street, Newquay, TR7 1HB.

Here’s what Sailors Arms says about their venue:

“Overlooking Towan beach is the Sailor’s Arms; a venue that has been at the heart of Newquay’s community for over 150 years. It is popular with visitors and locals alike and offers a very friendly welcome to all. With a stylish and contemporary interior and a friendly and knowledgeable team, the Sailor’s Arms is the perfect place to visit, whatever the time of day. During the day, this is a family-friendly pub, boasting a menu that caters for every palate.

Head to the suntrap terrace and enjoy a refreshing cocktail, pull up a pew inside and gossip with friends over a bottle of wine, or share a platter of delicious treats. Whether you’re looking to hold a midweek working lunch or after a fantastic evening meal, the Sailor’s Arms has something to suit your needs.

A new range of hand-stretched pizzas is available, complemented by an extensive selection of premium draught and craft beer, wine and soft drinks. By night, the Sailor’s Arms transforms into a lively venue. As the lights go down, the music is cranked up and the partying begins.”

14+ vegan-friendly restaurants and plant-based cafes in Newquay, Cornwall

When you visit a new place, especially as a vegan, it can be hard to know where to find vegan-friendly and plant-based food options.  Having moved to Newquay in Cornwall in 2021, one of Cornwall’s most popular summer tourist destinations, we have been checking out some of the local vegan-friendly offerings.  We have much more to explore but have found a lot of choices so far.

So if you’re in Newquay and looking to grab a bite to eat that’s plant-based then read on.  Here are the places we’ve tried so far and keep an eye on my blog as I’m sure we’ll be sampling many more soon!

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Best vegan road trip food ideas (with no fridge)

On our European road trip, we travelled 1700 miles across Europe in our Mazda Bongo. The longest drive was 10 hours! As a family of vegans (2 adults and 2 young kids), we had to come up with lots of vegan road trip snacks, main meal vegan food ideas and packed lunchboxes that didn’t need refrigeration. Our Bongo is not converted and we only had a cool box, which wouldn’t keep food cold for long when we set off from home in the UK. If you’re looking for vegan road trip food ideas that don’t need a fridge, read on as I share a huge list of road trip food ideas based on what we took with us!

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Best places to SUP in and around Newquay Cornwall

If you’re a keen paddle boarder or even if you are thinking of buying a paddle board to use in and around Newquay then the following information should help you get the most out of your visit.

Stand-up paddleboarding is a great water sport that offers both exercise and relaxation. As a portable and affordable alternative to surfing or motor water sports, the stand-up paddleboard is ideal for your holiday on the north coast of Cornwall.

Newquay is a fantastic place to enjoy your paddleboard due to the variety of beaches, headlands and scenic coastline. There aren’t many places in Cornwall that offer this many beautiful locations so close together.

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BEST things to do in and around Mevagissey

If you’re in Cornwall or planning a visit then Mevagissey has to be on the ‘must visit’ list. This humble little harbour town located on the south coast of Cornwall is a truly lovely place with plenty going on for visitors throughout most of the year.

Mevagissey is a famous and popular Cornish town because of its outstanding picturesque setting and historic harbour. Many people come to Mevagissey every year to explore the fishing town and take in the breathtaking scenery.

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Exploring Roughtor and Brown Willy with kids

Visit the highest peak in Cornwall and explore the surrounding moors with this amazing walk around Rough Tor, Little Rough Tor and to the top of Brown Willy. This is an adventure for the whole family with loads of amazing views, rocks to climb and wildlife to experience. It’s a great family fun day out.

Within this article, I’m going to share our experiences of this beautiful walk with our kids and point out a few helpful tips so that you can be prepared and get the most out of your visit. We visited during the summer (August) so it was at the height of the holiday season. Our kids are aged 7 and 10 so it’s always interesting to see how they get on during our slightly longer walks.

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St Erth to St Ives train ride (STUNNING coastal views)

If you’re looking for an easy way to access St Ives without the hassle of trying to find a parking spot in one of the busiest towns in Cornwall then read on. Here’s our St Erth Park and Ride review with lots of helpful information to plan your journey.

It’s also one of the best coastal train rides in the whole of Britain with stunning scenery. I’ll share some photos below so you can see the type of amazing coastal views to expect!

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Watergate Bay to Mawgan Porth, South West Coastal Path walk

Since walking from Perranporth to Newquay and also from Porth to Whipsiderry to Watergate, I’ve really wanted to explore the next stretch of the South West Coastal Path walking from Watergate Bay to Mawgan Porth.

I finally ticked it off my to-do list this week as I enjoyed an amazing 10km walk from my home in Newquay, past Whipsiderry and along the South West Coast Path at Watergate Bay to Mawgan Porth… where Ben greeted me with a lift home and a warm pasty! Yum! (Cauliflower and onion bhaji from The Cornish Bakery if you’re wondering… vegan-friendly!)

Read on to see my thoughts and photos from this glorious stretch of the coastal path.

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Glendurgan Garden, National Trust, Cornwall

Last Sunday we visited Glendurgan Garden in Falmouth, Cornwall. It’s a National Trust site and so we had free entry and parking with our membership. Glendurgan is around a 50-minute drive from our home in Newquay through some lovely leafy country lanes around Falmouth.

The weather had looked a bit iffy on Sunday and likely to rain, so we looked for something to do that might be slightly sheltered or indoors on the National Trust app. Glendurgan looked great as although outdoors, perhaps sheltered with large trees and they had a couple of activities for the kids and a cafe if needed!

Thankfully, the weather stayed dry for our visit, but it was freezing! After a week of warm 20 degrees celsius, it was around 15 degrees on the day we visited and we really felt it, even in coats and trousers!

Since living by the coast we have really found the weather so unpredictable, especially with the coastal winds which can really cool down the temperature if they are cold!

Anyway, here are some photos from the Glenurgan gardens and a little information about what to expect if you decide to visit yourself.

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