About to do your first international charter? Once you’ve learned to sail on a live aboard sailing course, your first charter is the next, most exciting, step!
When you show up for your briefings at the charter company’s office, you’ll have a million things swirling around in your mind, and may be a little overwhelmed, and even nervous. Here are a couple of things you might not have thought of, that you should remember to ask during your briefing. They will make your trip much more enjoyable!
1. What local food or specialty should I try?
Wherever you go for your first charter, part of the fun of sailing in other countries is interacting with the locals and getting a chance to experience their culture first hand.
We love asking this question in briefings and it has led to discovering some amazing foods we would otherwise never have experienced. You have to try blackened Mahi Mahi in a vanilla sauce in Tahiti, or fresh ceviche from the local fishermen in the Sea of Cortez, and delicious “oil downs” in the Grenadines. Yet, without this question, it’s easy just to go for pasta or noodles.
2. Is the buoyage system used the US or international one?
Remember the “red right returning” rule from your sailing lessons (to remember what navigation buoys and colors you will see where)? Well that is true in North America, Mexico, Latin America and much of the Caribbean.
However, be warned: MOST of the world is the reverse, so make sure you ask which buoyage system is being used to ensure that you don’t end up upsetting other sailors or getting stranded on a sand bank.
3. Is there anything that can sting, bite or hurt me I should be aware of?
Most places have a couple of creatures that can make your sailing trip really uncomfortable! For our live aboard sailing courses in Mallorca, it’s the black urchins and the jellyfish. In Mexico, sandy bays can have lots of sting rays buried in the shallows, waiting for you when you jump out of the dinghy.
So find out what’s out there and what to do about it should you get bit or stung!
4. Where do I get rid of trash?
Don’t underestimate this question! When you are a couple days into your sailing charter and your trash is rotting away in some long forgotten compartment of your sailboat, you will wish you had asked this question. You can’t escape the smell of food that is going off, particularly when it’s seafood.
It’s worth noting that many small islands WILL NOT take your trash, so find out where you can find public bins to dispose of your garbage or pick up some tips from the company – the chances are they will give you the best advice.
5. Are there any local markets we can visit e.g farmers market, fish market or arts/crafts market?
We LOVE getting off the beaten path and finding local markets that don’t exist to cater to tourists. Often these markets will have the freshest local produce and goods, at incredible prices.
Knowing where the local fisherman sell the days’ catch is a great way to get some delicious filets to throw on the grill…
Let us know how that first charter goes! The Nautilus Team