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Bareboat yachts with hired crew

Crewed Sailing Charter Holidays - Roles and Responsibilities

When you charter a yacht and hire a professional crew for the duration of your charter, it is different from when you charter a fully-crewed yacht with a year-round permanent crew on board. The crew is effectively being hired by you, even if they are appointed by the yacht owner or charter agent. Nevertheless, the skipper still has the final authority on board and there can only ever be one skipper on board.

The following information is provided to help you understand the different roles and responsibilities that everyone will have on board a crewed sailing holiday so as to avoid misunderstandings.

What to expect

In a crewed sailing holiday, the yacht is booked with a skipper and sometimes, if you choose it, also with a host / hostess or cook or deckhand. 

The skipper is familiar with the boat and the sailing area, but is also responsible for your safety and for the safety of the vessel at all times. 

The hostess is responsible for all domestic duties on board but also for takes care of the duties during your stays at ports, such as buying groceries or ice for the fridge, emptying the trash and cleaning and tidying up aboard.

When a yacht is booked with a skipper but no hostess it is expected that all domestic duties on board are carried out by you, the crew. It is up to you to keep the boat clean and organized during the trip.

Most of the time on board will be spent sailing, relaxing, and visiting beautiful locations. But on any sailing yacht, there is an emphasis on team-work and group collaboration. There is a skipper on board, but the crew is everyone else, so it is hoped you will all help out from time to time. You will be able to help with the sailing and even learn quite a lot.  

Life on board: The Skipper 

The Skipper: 

  • is responsible for the safety of the vessel at all times, it is his/her responsibility to ensure the boat leaves and returns to the dock without incident.
  • has the final say on all decisions that might affect the safety of the vessel, her passengers and crew. The safety of the Yacht and charter guests should always come first in the skipper’s mind.
  • should ensure that all safety equipment is checked and up to date, including engine checks and overall boat inspection.
  • must maintain the yacht’s condition to the best of their ability, including keeping the deck and cockpit clean and tidy.
  • must receive the daily weather forecast.
  • should handle any customs, immigration details, or marina entry formalities (where applicable).
  • (on sailing vessels) will prioritize sailing over engine use when guests request this, but only in situations where sailing is not hazardous to the vessel, guests or crew, and after taking into consideration the time required to reach a secure destination in good time (daylight hours, and/or as required to find a secure berth).
  • must communicate regularly and effectively with the guests regarding any daily schedules or changes to plans or activities.
  • has sole discretion to authorize use of the dinghy, outboard engine or water-toys equipment by the guests, but only when it is safe to do so. In most cases, the ferrying of passengers to shore and back in the tender, will be the sole duty of the skipper.
  • is not allowed to leave the boat except for short periods and only when the boat is perfectly secure in a port.
  • must not become in any way intoxicated or consume any alcohol while in charge of the vessel.

Before leaving the dock, the skipper:

  • must welcome their guests on board and be as accommodating as possible.
  • will help with the storage of the provisioning in the appropriate lockers.
  • should provide a full safety briefing to the guests and inform them of  the location of all safety equipment, including life vests, harnesses, flares and fire extinguishers. In the event that no second professional crew member is hired as first mate, the skipper should designate the most experienced and responsible crew member as his co-skipper, and ensure that he/she knows what to do in any emergency, specifically in the event of the skipper’s own incapacity. 
  • should use his local knowledge to help design the perfect cruise that meets the guest expectations.


The day’s itineraries should be flexible and reflect what the guests want, bearing in mind weather forecast and time required to return to base in due time. (Itineraries should not be made around the Skipper personal requirements). 

During the Cruise:

  • Each morning the day’s plans should be discussed with the charter guests.
  • The guests have effectively hired the skipper through the company and therefore are not responsible for costs associated with damage caused by the skipper during the charter.
  • It is the guests’ decision whether or not they wish the skipper to join them ashore for meals. Provisioning is put onboard for the crew as part of the package or alternative cash arrangements can be made with the crew for their meals ashore.

The Skipper’s duties do not include:

  • cooking, cleaning the interior, provisioning or shopping, acting as a tour guide or looking after minors.
  • sailing or navigating after sunset or before sunrise unless it is necessary for the safety of the vessel/guests/crew.
  • the skipper is expected to work 8 hours per day but will often, by necessity, work longer shifts. The guests cannot make requests that will force the skipper to work longer shifts unless the skipper is willing to do so.

Looking after your skipper

His meals are not included in the fee so please invite him to join you with your meals on board. You are not obliged to take him with you when you eat ashore in the evenings, but it is common practice to invite the skipper and many people do. Obviously there may be evenings when you prefer to be alone, but in those cases you should make sure that there is something for him to eat on the yacht or provide alternative arrangements. If you invite him, however, he may be able to take you to places you wouldn`t discover by yourselves, and the prices may even be cheaper. Taverna owners, recognising that the skippers may bring them extra business, may offer the skipper’s meal or extra bottle of wine for free, and in Greece, where it is usual to order common meals that everyone shares, the more people eating together there are, the cheaper per person the final price usually is.

The skipper has a hard job to do and will need his rest, so try not to disturb him when he is resting. It is not his responsibility to cook (though he may choose to do so sometimes), clean or shop. The domestic duties on board are your responsibility, unless you prefer to hire a cook/hostess to do this for you. The skipper is responsible for the safety of the yacht and all her crew, so he has the final say on all decisions regarding itinerary and life on board. If the wind is over 6 Beaufort, he has the right to refuse to leave port, and if it is over 7 Beaufort, he is not allowed to leave port (except at his own risk).

The skipper is not obliged to work more than 8 hours a day, so please remember that his evenings are meant to be free. 

On return of the vessel

The Skipper... 

  • should respect the terms of the charter agreement and organize the return to the base in accordance with the contractual ending time.
  • should assist the charterer during the technical debriefing and check out of the inventory.
  • should stay on board till the guests leave the boat.

 

Hostess / steward - duties include: 

  • prepare breakfast and one other light meal (usually lunch) during the day.
  • prepare and set the table (inside the saloon or in the cockpit).
  • ensure snacks are available throughout the day if guests request and inform guests where to find these onboard the boat.
  • keep the galley area clean and presentable at all times.
  • remove garbage from the boat when possible.
  • ensure the fridge is well stocked with cold drinks and ice.
  • keep the common areas on the boat (the cockpit, saloon and galley) tidy and presentable.
  • wash dishes and keep common areas clean.
  • be available to do the shopping and provision for food and beverages.
  • assist guests in restocking the boat with provisions and beverages if necessary.


Hostess` duties do not include: 

  • cleaning private cabins or private WCs, unless by mutual agreement with the guests (guest cabins to remain private unless otherwise requested).
  • play the role of child supervisor or be responsible for the safety of minors who are the sole responsibility of their adult guardians.
  • play the role of tour guide – although they may share their knowledge and touring tips with guests as far as they are able.
  • working shifts longer than 8 hours per day unless by necessity. The guests cannot make requests that will force the crew to work longer shifts unless they are willing to do so.

The Cook’s daily duties during the cruise are the same as above, with the difference that the cook will provide up to 3 meals per day, including at least one hot cooked meal, unless guests prefer to eat ashore by their own arrangement.


Guests’ Responsibilities:

The guests... 

  • must provide a private cabin and use of 1 WC/shower to the skipper where separate crew facilities are not available.
  • must heed the advice and instructions of the skipper while on board, even if they disagree.
  • must allow the skipper to get a minimum of 8 hours rest each night, which implies not creating any significant disturbance while the skipper is resting.
  • must pay any associated expenses ashore, including extra provisioning / beverages.
  • must pay any port, marina or mooring fees (if requested)
  • must pay for fuel, shore power and water during the charter as required or the refueling of tanks upon return to base.
  • must provide provisioning package on board for the skipper or offer a portion of prepared meals to the skipper.
  • Guests must provide a private cabin and use of 1 WC/shower to the hostess/steward/cook where separate crew facilities are not available.
  • must allow the hostess/steward/cook to get a minimum of 8 hours rest each night, which implies not creating any significant disturbance while the crew is resting.
  • must pay any associated expenses ashore, including extra provisioning / beverages.
  • must provide provisioning package on board for the crew or offer a portion of prepared meals to the skipper.

On final return, the guests:

  • are responsible for their own possessions, packing and disembarkation by the appointed time.
  • should aim to leave the boat as close as possible to the condition they received it (besides normal cleaning and laundry).
  • must settle any outstanding expenses and pay for any damages or losses from the inventory caused by any members of their party.

(The guests can show their appreciation for the crew after the cruise, at their discretion, by offering a gratuity. The amount should reflect guests’ satisfaction overall and will be divided and shared amongst all crew members. An indicative amount is between 5 – 15% of the yacht charter fee, depending on number of professional crew hired.)

Any disagreement arising on board between the skipper and guests that can not be resolved by amicable discussion, should be relayed in the first instance to the base manager, or alternatively to the charter agency, as soon as possible. Any complaints that are reported after the charter has ended cannot easily be resolved.


On final return, the guests:

  • are responsible for their own possessions, packing and disembarkation by the appointed time.
  • should aim to leave the boat as close as possible to the condition they received it (besides normal cleaning and laundry).
  • must settle any outstanding expenses and pay for any damages or losses from the inventory caused by any members of their party.


Any disagreement arising on board between the crew and guests that cannot be resolved by amicable discussion, should be relayed in the first instance to the base manager, or alternatively to the charter agency, as soon as possible. Any complaints that are reported after the charter has ended cannot easily be resolved.

A crewed sailing holiday is an ideal way to explore Greece whilst simultaneously taking the well deserved break you need. With someone hired to take care of every aspect of the holiday, you won`t experience any of the set backs or difficulties that may have presented themselves, were you doing this alone. Apart from the expertise provided onboard, you also have crew, accustomed to the country and places you will be visiting, capable of advising you on the best options for your daily itineraries.