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I'm a good sailor but my experience is limited to small boats (Thistle, Laser, Sunfish). Some of my family think it would be cool to rent a sailboat in the Greek islands for a vacation, with me as the skipper. We are talking about a large boat, capable of sleeping 12 or so. What would I need to do and learn to be capable of handling such a boat? What kind of certification is required?

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I would suggest taking ASA104 first. That is the bareboat cruising class. 101 and 103 are prerequisites. I knew a guy who took them all in a week but typically you do 101/103 together and 104 later. It is much better to also have larger boat sailing experience but these courses are pretty stood.

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U Hu....

Greece, as well as the EU countries require a certification. ASA stuff is good, but not formally (or, should I say, legally) recognized. You should look into the RYA certification, I believe, it is called International Certificate of Competence... You can get it from RYA certified person in US (I believe, it is a two days event, with in-class and on the water boat handling test, 3 summers ago my club organized such a test, some Aussie dude out of Ft. Lauderdale flew in for an weekend, I do not remember other details) and it is valid pretty much everywhere a formal certification is required.

The paperwork aside, 12 crew means at least 45 ft cat or even bigger mono. Handling a boat like that with only a small boats experience, especially in tight harbors in Greece (and they are small, and usually, crowded in season) could be an adventure that I'd rather avoid. 

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Well... ASA do offer the "International Proficiency Certificate" for those who take courses through 104.  They claim that the charter operators will accept it. (From the courses that I took, I don't think that they should.)

I was going to buy one but it expires after five years, and it seems pretty iffy that I'd use it.  But the real killer was, I'd have had to take a photograph of myself. :wacko:

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Get a charter with a captain and first mate.  They worry about the boat, let you be as involved as you want to be and they cook the meals.  Everybody has fun, including you.  If you decide "Hey this was fun" Then do it again on your own.

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@fiddlecanoe Look at some Med mooring videos on YouTube. If you think you can do that, go for it. :D

Seriously, I have experience with slightly larger boats than you, and I wouldn't dream of skippering in the Med. We (four of us) chartered a day cruise on a Beneteau 35 in Nafplio Greece with a skipper and mate. It was great. I got to sail, swim, drink beer, and didn't have a worry.

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7 hours ago, fiddlecanoe said:

 We are talking about a large boat, capable of sleeping 12 or so. What would I need to do and learn to be capable of handling such a boat? 

Experience skippering such a boat shorthanded. As others have said, hire a captain and mate.

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To the op.

Hustle like hell to get papers, crew on other peoples boats, charter a 35 footer with your buddies...one of whom will have way more experience. Maybe charter it in a more benign setting.

If you are already a dinghy sailor, you need wheel time, manoeuvring under power practice, anchoring practice and docking practice.

Its not rocket science and you’ve gotta start somewhere.

Dont let your family hear about this blasphemous advice about hiring a captain. Keep the dream alive. Strive to be the captain and make sure your family tips you well for all the hard work. Bring your buddy that taught you how to anchor the 35 as first mate on the 50 foot cat.

Two year timeline. What you waiting for?

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On 8/12/2021 at 12:43 PM, toddster said:

Well... ASA do offer the "International Proficiency Certificate" for those who take courses through 104.  They claim that the charter operators will accept it. (From the courses that I took, I don't think that they should.)

I agree the courses are not enough. Experience is key. But depending on where you take them ASA classes can be crap or very good. I actually took ASA103 three times in three different schools, CA, FL and New England. The first a billion years ago, the second with my wife and kids and the third as a refresher on my own boat when I bought it. I also took 104, which I liked a lot.

The best of the 3 schools IMHO was Black Rock Sailing School in Rhode Island. If you took all 3 classes there it would be like 10 days. The biggest boat they have you on is a 46 though. They also have a catamaran class which I have not taken. Then if you feel you need to take the 2-day RYA cert on top of that, you at least have your ticket punched. 

I have no experience in the Med however; maybe do a training wheels charter in the BVIs first.

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On 8/12/2021 at 6:10 PM, fiddlecanoe said:

What would I need to do and learn to be capable of handling such a boat?

If you can sail a dinghi you have covered 10%. Learn 12 V, in-mast reefing, wc and holding tanks, windlass, stern-to mooring, diesel breathing. Navigation is easy, in daylight. Do you feel comfortable with the responsibility for 10 lives on the sea? Or hire a crewed 50 feet.

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On 8/12/2021 at 6:25 PM, cmonkey said:

Get a charter with a captain and first mate.  They worry about the boat, let you be as involved as you want to be and they cook the meals.  Everybody has fun, including you.  If you decide "Hey this was fun" Then do it again on your own.

Best call, IMO. 

One of the jobs of the hired crew is to make sure that you and your guests have fun. If they feel that you’re up to helming, trimming, mooring, whatever, they will (probably) happily encourage and facilitate you. They might even teach you!

The additional cost of the hired crew diminishes as the size of your party increases.

The hired crew gives you huge peace of mind, allowing you to relax and enjoy the trip, and that’s the whole idea, isn’t it?

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In the last few years I’ve gone down the path you want to do, I sail a Nacra 5.8 beachcat mostly so I did the week long Day Skipper course on a 44ft Jeanneau to get my qualification. For my first family sailing holiday after research I decided to go with a near new 45ft cat in Croatia, it came with skipper and hostess, I believe just the hassle of getting a stern to mooring in a busy harbour, talking over the radio to someone who speaks a different language to arrange the mooring position, then dealing with the people that tie the boat on for a price (much lower price for a local) is soon cut out by having an experienced person handle them, our skipper in Croatia spent about half an hour yelling on the phone each day about 2pm, so that we got a position to drop the gang plank virtually in front of the restaurant we were visiting that night so no dinghy back and forward. The other side of the coin is I was entirely happy to charter a Jeanneau 44 bareboat in the Whitsundays the following year having no language difficulties. I have thoroughly enjoyed our chartering experiences, so much so that I was booked again to charter a 41 ft boat last week but that fell apart with Covid lockdowns here. 

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The small boats have taught you the "art of sailing", sail trim, helming, etc., but you still need to learn how to operate a big boat (using the systems, sail handling and evolutions with powerful loads, maneuvering under power, anchoring, docking, etc.).  That said, it is pretty easy to learn this stuff, you just need to spend some time on big boats.

Taking a bunch of courses, help out with deliveries, crew on some larger race boats.  All of this will add to your knowledge and skills.

Some random thoughts to keep in mind. 

The BVIs are a great place to do a first charter(s), as navigation is as simple as possible, you'll be picking up mooring balls (easier than needing to know how to anchor successfully), and there should be no need to dock at all (at least, Sunsail and the Moorings will put someone aboard to dock it for you at the end of the trip, if you ask).

The big charter companies (and some 3rd party trip organizers) offer flotillas, where a bunch of boats loosely follow the same route - with a lead boat with an experienced skipper and mechanic aboard.  This can really help to simplify a first charter, as you always have someone nearby to ask for advice.  I did such a trip on my first charter ever (in the BVIs) and my first (and, to date, only) in the Med.  It serves as a good "halfway" point between having a captain aboard, and being entirely on your own.  In the BVIs I wrapped the moorning line around the keel and was quickly shown how to use the dinghy to spin the boat around (a skill I've now used a few times).  In the Med, it was great, as lead captain essentially served as an air traffic controller during moorings - "start lowering the anchor now...." - which made the process infinitely easier.

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  • 3 months later...
On 8/16/2021 at 11:36 AM, madboutcats said:

In the last few years I’ve gone down the path you want to do, I sail a Nacra 5.8 beachcat mostly so I did the week long Day Skipper course on a 44ft Jeanneau to get my qualification. For my first family sailing holiday after research I decided to go with a near new 45ft cat in Croatia, it came with skipper and hostess, I believe just the hassle of getting a stern to mooring in a busy harbour, talking over the radio to someone who speaks a different language to arrange the mooring position, then dealing with the people that tie the boat on for a price (much lower price for a local) is soon cut out by having an experienced person handle them, our skipper in Croatia spent about half an hour yelling on the phone each day about 2pm, so that we got a position to drop the gang plank virtually in front of the restaurant we were visiting that night so no dinghy back and forward. The other side of the coin is I was entirely happy to charter a Jeanneau 44 bareboat in the Whitsundays the following year having no language difficulties. I have thoroughly enjoyed our chartering experiences, so much so that I was booked again to charter a 41 ft boat last week but that fell apart with Covid lockdowns here. 

Yeah, I was in Croatia 2 years ago too, we rented a catamaran for 7 days, best decision ever. I think the skipper is the most important part when renting a boat in a foreign country. He can make your trip 100 times more pleasant. We had a senior local skipper who gave us some great tips why travelling with him. We rented at yachtscroatia.com . We departed from Split then went to Hvar, Brac, Korcula and the best part was Vis. Coming back 100% :)

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From what I have seen, the ASA courses are pretty worthless. Like any association like that, it will depend completely on who the instructor is. It is usually for brand new sailors. I think some Med charter companies will accept it, but that does not make you any more prepared. In my opinion, you spend a lot of money for a piece of paper saying you are fully qualified to do something, rather than focusing on actually teaching you. Kind of the American was with associations.

I would recommend spending the time/money doing an easy charter as practice in the BVIs. The moorings will rent to anyone with a credit card and a pulse. but there are plenty of school type programs that will teach you to charter, and will likely give you a piece of paper at the end of it saying you are qualified. There are lots where you can sign on with a group of others wanting to learn the same thing, keeping the costs reasonable. But make sure the experience is actually big boat sailing/living. So avoid the ASA schools that will take you poking around in a dinghy on a bay, with someone wasting your time quizzing you on the points of sail and boar terminology. 

Googling quickly, something like this may be good if you want to charter with a group of friends in the BVIs (and who doesn't): https://www.bviyachtcharters.com/bvi-sailing-school/

Or something like this would be more school based, and give you that ASA piece o' paper: https://horizonyachtcharters.com/bvi/bvi-learn-to-sail/

Caveat: I am not endorsing either, I have never been to a sailing school. I own no pieces of paper saying I am qualified, but I have skippered bareboat a lot in the Caribbean (and have worked with both of the companies about. My only point is to go for someone offering the experience you need, not the paper you need. Oh and ask the instructor before signing on if they will teach you med mooring.

 

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Between boats one year I joined a club program run by some local colleges. They asked me all about my "accreditations and certifications"; power squadron classes, ASA certs, etc. I'm all in favor of a mandatory license program to operate a water craft on public waterways but have to admit none of my experience is documented. The sailing director wanted our family to enroll in their basic boat handling course. I asked for, and received permission to demonstrate competency based upon decades of boating experience and ownership of boats from 14 to 46 feet LOA and so on. I thought this should qualify us to take out a Capri 14 for a few hours. We tacked, gybed and docked a few times in front of the instructor and he reluctantly signed us off to take the boat out but only in the basin in front of the facility until we had completed his course. We decided it was fine for newcomers to sailing but a waste of our time.

In contrast, we have attended practical training events including Safety at Sea seminars and the Training Resources Safety Institute in San Diego. I think the Maritime Safety Institute on the US East Coast has a similar program with all manner of training for cruising sailors up to professional level merchant marine, ocean research, fishermen and offshore platform workers and I was pretty impressed with them. I would look them up and see what they might have to offer in the way of a chartering program.

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4 minutes ago, kinardly said:

In contrast, we have attended practical training events including Safety at Sea seminars and the Training Resources Safety Institute in San Diego. I think the Maritime Safety Institute on the US East Coast has a similar program with all manner of training for cruising sailors up to professional level merchant marine, ocean research, fishermen and offshore platform workers and I was pretty impressed with them. I would look them up and see what they might have to offer in the way of a chartering program.

I have taken SAS training as well. I found it valuable, and worth doing. I guess I am not wholly undocumented. Agreed on all points here.

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