10 Top Tips to Choose the Yacht for You

Knowing your Bavaria 33 from a 34 and your Cruiser from a Vision…


A day doesn’t go by without both new and returning clients emailing me looking to book a yacht for the summer. But with so many options to choose from – 43 to be precise for 2018 – how do you choose between one yacht and another? Returning sailors tend to either choose the same yacht year on year as they’ve enjoyed her so much before, or they spotted a boat last year that caught their eye for their next holiday…easy! But differentiating between the yachts for a new guest of ours is a little trickier. Of course we have the Yachts page  where you can see the specifications list of each boat, photos of the interiors and exteriors… but if you aren’t sure what you are looking for, it can be a daunting task to look through them all making a shortlist. SO I’ve put together 10 top tips to take into account when making your choice, hope this helps ;-)

1. Twin helms or single helm?

Twin helms (wheels) certainly make the cockpit area feel much roomier. Outdoors is where you’ll spend the majority of your time during your sailing holiday so it’s really important to choose a yacht big enough for the cockpit not to feel cramped for the number of crew on board. Some find that the twin helms put them off when mooring in reverse as you are not stood in the middle of the boat, so it might be a little more difficult to judge the width of the yacht, or the position of the yacht when aiming for a space on the quay for example. However, a single helm can cause difficulty moving around the cockpit and particularly past the wheel.

My verdict: twin helms every time

choosing charter yacht

Roomy cockpit with twin helms

2. Fit into 2 cabins or spread out in 3?

Ok so based on 2 couples sharing a yacht together…technically unless your husband snores really badly, 2 cabins is adequate in terms of sleeping space. On the smaller yachts, if you have a choice between a 2 and 3 cabin of the same yacht, then it’s likely that the 2 cabin version will have slightly bigger cabins (and also a bigger heads). However if you do have the choice of choosing something slightly bigger with say 3 cabins, that 3rd cabin can prove useful in terms of storage & spreading out. It can get warm in the evenings so if you don’t wish to share a cabin, spreading out to a 3rd cabin can be a saviour.

My verdict: depends on the size yacht you are after. Small yachts (32-34) – go 2 cabin as the cabins & heads will feel bigger. Medium sized yachts – 3 cabins as you’ll get 3 generous sized cabins and still a decent sized heads. Then you get to the Vision 42 yachts which have 2 very large doubles PLUS a storage room come cockpit locker so plenty of room for storage, spreading out, large cabins – best of both worlds.

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Vision 42 with 2 large doubles

3. 1 head, 2 heads, 3 heads?

If it’s your first sailing holiday, you probably won’t be sure whether having 1 or 2 heads makes a difference or not. As a couple, you can manage with 1 heads of course as it would be just like having an en-suite in a hotel. 2 couples may prefer 2 heads, i.e. a toilet/shower room per couple. If you are having a skipper on board for the duration of your holiday, I would also recommend choosing a yacht with 2 heads. For parties sailing on the larger yachts like the Bavaria 45 or Bavaria 46, you are treated to 3 en-suite heads.

My verdict: 1 heads per couple ideally

sailing in the ionian

3 couples = 3 heads

4. Easy in mast furling or performance slab reefing?

Something first timers aren’t sure about. The majority of RYA Day Skipper training is held on yachts with a slab reefing main sail so some new clients like to stick to what they have likely recently learnt to sail on – makes sense! However, even if in mast furling is new to you, the yacht briefing given by one of our skippers on arrival will cover all aspects of the in mast furling system. We can even pop a skipper on board for your first afternoon to go for a sail with you to make sure you are 100% happy with the practical side of in mast furling! A slab reefing main sail certainly does provide better sailing performance and there are many possibilities when it comes to sail trimming, but if you are coming on holiday for a leisurely cruise, I’d stick to the easier system run from the cockpit.

My verdict: in mast furling

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In mast furling on Gracie

5. Is a new boat THAT much better than an older yacht?

One of the reasons most people sail with Sail Ionian is because of our exceptionally NEW fleet of yachts. We have new yachts arriving every year as the older yachts of the fleet move on. There is something special about stepping on board a shiny new yacht. The new smell for one, but also the modern design and all the equipment being in immaculate working order… BUT with the engineers and skippers doing SO much work with maintenance, repairs, and improvements over the winter period, the yachts come back year on year looking just as they did when they came out of the factory. Clorinda II and Zicatela have been in the fleet for a number of years now but continue to amaze us with their popularity. Zicatela is one of our RYA training yachts as she provides a very impressive sailing performance and Clorinda II is a firm favourite with her beautiful ‘classic yacht look’ interior.

My verdict: the year of the yacht is not the most important thing to consider… but I do agree that chartering a new yacht is rather special

sailing in greece

Clorinda II

6. Monohull Yacht or Catamaran?

It seems chartering a catamaran is quite a specific request so quite often when I do get an enquiry, it’s quite obviously worded whether someone is after a yacht or a catamaran. And it’s quite difficult, if someone is after a catamaran, to try and sell them a monohull and vice versa. Most people are after a catamaran if they are a big group of friends looking for a lively week partying on board, if they have passengers on board who get sea sick or if they tried a catamaran once and could never convert back to a monohull due to the insane amount of living space! Saying that, yachts sail much better and in the peak summer months, yachts are easier to get into harbours with.

My verdict: yacht if you are on a family holiday, catamaran if you are travelling with a bunch of friends and like to spend time anchored outside of harbours

catamaran sailing greece

Enjoy the catamaran’s immense living space

7. Is air conditioning important?

It’s unlikely you’d stay at a hotel in the middle of the Greek summer without any air conditioning… but staying on board a yacht out at sea is very different. Even when temperatures are scorching on land, the sea breeze blows through out on the water and makes sitting out on deck a pleasure. Even at night, it’s rare for the night’s to be completely still so with hatches open (and mosquito blinds pulled across), you will get some air movement below deck. We also provide wind scoops and cabin fans (on the majority of yachts). If you do choose a yacht with AC, it is lovely to open the companionway in the evening when you get into harbour and the cold air to hit you BUT it’s certainly a luxury and not a necessity.

My verdict: book a second week ashore and enjoy AC then, not on board

Fans in the saloon and cabins

8. Do I need a yacht with a bathing platform?

The majority of newer yachts these days all come equipped with large drop down bathing platforms – literally the whole transoms fold down to extend the length of the yacht by another 3-4ft. A fantastic invention for those who like to chill out with their toes trailing in the water on a beautifully calm day, or for sunbathing on at anchor. The smaller yachts fold down manually, they do require a bit of a weight on them at a certain point but easily manageable. The larger yachts have motorized platforms at the switch of a button making the whole thing look incredibly smooth and sophisticated. Long gone are the sugar scoop days, the drop down bathing platforms are certainly designed for cruising holidays in mind.

My verdict: the bigger the bathing platform the better

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Grand Cru’s large transom

9. Big or small?

This should have probably gone further up the list as it’s quite important! This one really depends on your experience. If you are newly qualified, stick to something in the smaller size range of yachts we have on offer – like the Bavaria 33 or the Bavaria 37 if you are a slightly bigger group. But what if we can’t all fit on a yacht that size I hear you ask… First of all consider whether as a newly qualified skipper you are confident in chartering a large yacht just for the sake of keeping your 7 or 8 pals happy. It is a big responsibility and should not be taken lightly!! However, if you have plenty of experience or would consider having one of our professional skippers on board for a couple of days, then by all means choose something bigger. These days, yachts are getting wider and wider anyway providing far more space than their equivalents say 10 years ago. Just remember small boats can fit easily into small spaces in the summer months.

My verdict: this one is completely down to personal experience so if you aren’t sure, best to email me on info@sailionian.com with details of your past sailing experience for my verdict

luxury sailing greece

The Hanse 495 requires plenty of previous experience

10. The name

Surprisingly, some people are swayed one way or another when deciding between two yachts by the names…! Maybe the names Karin or Ella offer some sentimental value, or if you fancy yourself as a winter skier, then Off Piste might be the yacht for you. The great thing about Sail Ionian though is that, unlike anywhere else, you can actually choose your yacht by specific name – not just the size/spec. If you choose Calm Souch when you book because you specifically want this yacht, then when you arrive we will have Calm Souch ready for you.

My verdict: not the be all and end all but if your skipper is a ‘Bossy Boots’ then we can offer the perfect yacht…

sail ionian

Bossy Boots

This post was written by admin