Sailing with a Skipper: What a Skipper Is and Does, Exactly

sailing with a skipper

If you’re thinking about taking a sailing holiday, first of all, great idea! You’ll love it. Second, you’re going to want to go sailing with a skipper, especially if you’re new to sailing.

“What’s a skipper?” you ask. Here’s a quick definition: A skipper is the person who commands a boat — the captain, if you like. They’re the one responsible for the boat, as well as the comfort and safety of those on board.

And while the term “skipper” might fit nicely into a tidy little definition, if you look at everything a skipper does, it’s quite extensive… and impressive.

Sail with a skipper

What does a skipper do?

The skipper on a chartered yacht will have the skills, training, experience, and license required to legally and safely captain the boat (or flotilla, in the case of a group sailing holiday). In that capacity, here’s a look what a skipper does:

  • Keeping everyone safe: The skipper makes sure everyone on board knows and adheres to safety protocols, starting from when you check in at the marina; they’ll also know what to do in situations like storms.
  • Planning the passage to the destinations: Understanding the currents and staying on top of weather predictions help the skipper choose the best time and course for sailing from one destination to another.
  • Mooring and casting off: The skipper guides the boat smoothly into and out of marinas, securing it for the night and freeing it in the morning.
  • Navigating the boat: From working a chartplotter to determining the wind direction, adjusting the boat’s heading, and trimming the sails, a lot of expertise goes into making a boat go where you want it to go.
  • Ensuring maritime laws and local regulations are followed: You don’t want to ruin your sailing holiday with a fine — especially if you had no idea you were breaking any rules.
  • Operating the equipment: Today’s boats come rigged with advanced safety and navigational equipment, plus the basics like the engine and water tank (and of course, the bells and whistles that make for a great experience); the skipper knows how to properly use and maintain every part and devise.
  • Recommending local spots to visit: A skipper can let you in on local secrets about the best restaurants, the most secluded beaches, and any unique spots to visit off the beaten path.
Skipper

How to book a boat with a skipper

Sailing with a skipper is pretty much the only way to take a boat holiday if you don’t have a boating license yourself.

To book a skipper on your boat holiday on Zizoo, tick the “I need a skipper” box when you’re entering your dates, destination, and number of guests. (Just remember: The number of guests on your trip must include the skipper!)

How to become a skipper

Being a skipper is a rewarding job — especially if you love sailing. Of course, becoming a skipper requires experience as well as serious training and certain certifications.

A commercially endorsed skipper will need to not only complete an official skipper or Yachtmaster course, they’ll also need to have additional qualifications such as courses in survival techniques and first aid.

It’s simpler to obtain a boating license, which would enable you to go sailing without a skipper. In that case, your state or country determines what’s required, but generally you’d need to take a course, pass a test, and pay a fee.

Final thought: Sailing with a skipper makes for a wonderful boat holiday

While having a stranger along on your vacation with your family or friends may sound awkward, it doesn’t have to be! The skipper is there to keep you safe and make sure you have an incredible experience.