According to an ancient roman phrase ‘To sail is necessary; to live is not necessary’ (Navigare necesse est, vivere non est necesse)… HIR 3 is far from being ready to sail, but the summer season has arrived, and it is time to set sail, but on other people’s boats. Many people think being a skipper is a dream job, but is it really? I have been doing it for 15 years, so now I have decided it is the time to tell the truth about what it’s actually like.
My typical working week in charter during summer months in Croatia looks something like this…
First thing I have to do is get to a marina where the guests chartered the boat from. The most popular charter bases are around Split and getting around Dalmatia in busses on a Saturday during peak season is no picnic. The bus is usually completely full and because of heavy traffic the trip takes much longer than usual, and then the hardest thing is to carry all your luggage from the bus station to the marina which is always quite far away.
When I finally arrive to the marina, I have to go to the charter company’s office and give them my license and check when the boat will be ready for us and meet with my guests. It usually always takes longer for the charter company to service and clean the boat than the guests would like, so I have to keep them entertained while we wait, which means shopping for groceries, lunch, drinks and discussing the weather forecast and the route for the week… When the boat is ready for embarkation, I have to check everything (engine, sails, electrics, instruments, equipment…) and get the responsible technician and do the check-in… and finally we are ready to go!
It’s already late, so we have only a couple of hours to find a suitable anchorage in the vicinity of the charter base because nobody wants to stay in the marina on the first night, but as soon as we sail out of the marina, everyone is much happier, more relaxed and my job is suddenly nice & easy. On the first night we discuss where we can go and what we can do that week. I have to figure out what my guests would like to do, if they like swimming and anchoring, quiet cruise, good restaurants, busy towns, beaches, bars, if they enjoy sailing all day long or they have no idea what they want. Sometimes people won’t listen to recommendations and it’s impossible to explain why some destinations are too far or why it might be a bad idea to anchor in certain bays in strong winds, but others really listen and accept expert advice which makes it all much easier and more enjoyable, not just for me, but usually for everyone on board.
First thing every morning I check the weather forecast and think about what our options for that day are and I discuss it over coffee or breakfast with my guests, so everyone is involved in planning. Of course, I always try to make some recommendations and I am very happy when people take them seriously. Since I always wake up first, the time from my first coffee until our departure passes very slowly, so I use it to check my e-mails, read and of course, take a swim.
We sail for a few hours if there is favorable wind and anchor somewhere nice for a short break to swim and have lunch, and in the afternoon a few more hours of sailing (or motoring) to our final destination. If we are going to a marina, the trick is to do everything you can to arrive as early as possible to get a berth, because they get full very quickly, especially if there is a weather warning in place. When we want to spend the night in a bay at anchor, sometimes in July and August it gets so crowded it is hard even to find a good spot to drop an anchor. Evenings are always the best time for me to relax and enjoy the fact that I am on the boat.
On Friday we have to refuel because we have to return the boat to the charter base with a full tank and during the summer moths this usually means an hour, or even two hours of waiting which is extremely annoying, but there is no way around it. Friday is our last night on the boat and usually nobody wants to return to the marina until the last possible moment. Instead we have to anchor in a bay that is very close to the charter base, so we can come back to the marina before eight o’clock on Saturday morning, do the check-out and leave the boat by nine o’clock latest when it’s time to say goodbye to my guests, run to another charter base and meet my new crew…
Sometimes it’s easy, sometimes it’s not, but the job definitely has some advantages. If you are lucky and get nice people who you can get along with, it is probably the best job in the World… so if you need a skipper, visit my web site: http://crosail.com/
Navigare necesse est, vivere non est necesse.