Want to charter a boat, but it’s your first time? You’ve reached the right place. Check out our 5-step guide to sailing the high seas. We’re breaking it down in list form to make sure you have the most important knowledge on the first steps to sailing. From planning your itinerary (at sea and on dry land) to nautical terms. We’re even tackling the tough-to-answer questions like what to pack for your yacht charter.
Let’s talk safety first. At Zizoo, we provide two options: booking a bareboat charter or the book a skipper option. If you choose the bareboat charter, someone will need to be responsible for navigating the boat. This means this person is also equipped with a valid boating licence. If not, then the book a skipper option is right for you. One of our skippers takes over the responsibility of the boat. We provide all the crew and amenities needed to enjoy a boat holiday without the responsibility of navigating the seas. Keep reading below on how to prepare for your boat holiday.
Sailing the High Seas Arriving at the marina boats in water
Sailing the high seas: Arriving at the marina.

1. Plan Your Sailing the High Seas Itinerary

Now, let’s start on where you are getting started! Deciding which sailing route to take is one of the most important parts of a sailing holiday. So, if you’re sailing a bareboat yacht charter (without a skipper), it is most helpful to arrive at the marina with a travel itinerary in mind. The beauty of a bareboat trip is the freedom to customise your route, essentially, you are your own captain. Now, what can be more glorious and liberating than that?

Along with planning your itinerary, it’s a good idea to plan your meals. This is where you have the opportunity to be really creative. Remember, you are on the water. So, if you are a seafood lover you have hit the jackpot for the freshest variest available. If seafood isn’t quite your taste, no worries, you’ll still have access to the freshest local cuisine. You might end up discovering your new favourite food while cooking in arguably the most beautiful location, the high seas. However, not to forget, it is most important to know in advance where the next grocery or market is. You know how the saying goes, you can never be too prepared.

Sailing the high seas: learning basic nautical terms boat with rope on water
Sailing the high seas: learning basic nautical terms.

2. Learn the Basic Nautical Terms for Sailing

Stand tall and proud on deck and revel in the greatness of the wind in your sails and the sun dancing off of your face. To do so, let’s have you not only looking, but speaking like a captain. Here is our list of basic nautical sailing terms that will have you feeling like an expert in no time. You might even impress your skipper with how much you already have learned.

“Aft” – the front of the boat
“Anchorage” – a beautiful bay, cove or marina to lower anchor for the night
“Bareboat” – a boat charter without a skipper and crew
“Below deck” – where the cabins and galley are located
“Bow” – the back of the boat
“Fender” – the cylindrical bumper used to protect the sides of the boat when mooring
“Galley” – the kitchen
“Helm” – the captain’s steering wheel
“Jibing” – the opposite of tacking, when you turn the stern of the boat through the wind so the wind switches to the other side of the boat
“Lines” – these are no longer ‘ropes’, rather ‘lines’
“Luffing” – when the sails begin to flap and lose their tight stretch, due to changing of direction or loosening the sheets
“Mast” – the long pole holding the sails and rigging
“Mainsail” – the largest sail, set by the stern
“Port” – this is the left side of the boat when you’re facing forward
“Starboard” – this is the right side of the boat when facing forward
“Telltale” – the wind indicator on the sails
“Tacking” – when you turn the bow of the boat through the wind so the wind switches from one side of the boat to the other

Sailing the high seas: learning the sailing basics on a sailboat
Sailing the high seas: learning the sailing basics.

3. Learn the Sailing Basics

If you’re sailing with a skipper, they will explain all the basics after you board, but it’s always useful to be prepared. Since you’ve already learned the basic nautical terms, you will be able to pick up the sailing basics much quicker. Do keep in mind that of course, this is only if you’d like to. The skipper is there for a reason, but it makes the experience much more of an interactive adventure if you’d like to help too! Here are some tips for you and your crew before boarding the boat. Here’s what you should know:

  • How to read the wind and how to use it
  • The mainsail, jib, and genoa
  • Which lines (aka, the sheets) lead to which sails
  • How to operate the winch
  • How to navigate
  • Last, but not least don’t forget to watch the boom!

4. Pack Appropriately for Your Boat Holiday

Packing for a summer sailing holiday is different than its counterpart on dry land. As the saying goes, less is more. Swimwear, t-shirts and shorts, a smart casual outfit, boat-appropriate shoes, and a jumper will be your basic clothing needs. The same goes for what’s on the outside; leave the bulky, hard suitcase at home – a soft duffel bag for storage purposes is best. For when you do hit dry land, be sure to bring an outfit or two for a night out on the town or for an unforgettable dinner by the sea. If you are looking for a more in-depth list, check out our ultimate packing checklist when sailing for a complete guide.

5. Day Trips on Land

You’ll have time to shake off those sea legs too and also explore what dry land has to offer. Best reached by boat, spend a day visiting beautiful seaside towns, secluded islands, and ancient cities. If it’s your first sailing holiday, switching between sea and land will give the best of both worlds! Check out our destination guides to discover what each of our locations has to offer.

Sailing the high seas: the best yacht charter experience girl on boat
Sailing the high seas: the best yacht charter experience.

Now all that’s left for you to do is pick a date, destination, and boat. Did we mention there are over 21,000 to choose from in over 500 destinations worldwide? Start planning your itinerary today. You can also contact our holiday planners. They are experts on vacationing on water. Last, but certainly not least, check out our Super Deals where you have the opportunity to select from our biggest savings your next boat holiday.


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