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The Moorings

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Mediterranean:
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Top Yacht
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Australia:
(our winter =
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Ausail

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Bare Boating Exposes You to Wet Funno - it's not a hairpiece, just a bad haircut                back to TTN home page
by Joe Harkins - Mar 17, 99

    Sorry to disappoint some of you, but a bare boat is not a cruise ship full of nudists. On the other hand, given what a bare boat really is and the circumstances, there's no reason you can't go sailing as totally nude as your sunblock lotion rating will allow.

    Bareboating involves renting a fully equipped boat (sail or power) and operating it yourself. Boats range in size from intimate two-person craft to those large enough to host a few dozen passengers. Many of the resources reviewed this week also offer training for the required certification. If you wish, you may hire an optional chef or skipper or complete crew.

    The bareboat concept is especially popular in regions such as the Caribbean, Bahamas, Virgin Islands, Mediterranean and South Pacific where the boating season is long enough to make it an attractive business proposition. Often, the boats available for charter are someone's prized possession that is rented out, usually through a broker, to defray the cost of ownership.

    If you've owned a boat of any size, you no longer think it's funny to hear "
boat" defined as, "a hole in the water into which you pour money." Affordable Yachting is an association of boat owners who rent their boats directly to vacationers in hopes of reducing the size of that hole.

    Charters are not limited to tropical waters. There are summertime operators in Canada and throughout the USA. Some of the best venues are deep in the heartland around the Great Lakes. Even the fjords of Alaska's Inside Passage are bareboatable in season through North Sailing Charter.

    Also, huge inland seas formed behind major dams in Kentucky, Tennessee, California, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, Alabama and elsewhere lend themselves to delightful houseboat cruising. Those are worthy of an entire column and will be covered in next week's Travel The Net.

    Boatz 'n Yachtz offers an impressive overview of bareboating. However, the pages suffer from that old left-to-right scrolling problem. The BVI Vacations site is less detailed but more accessible. The Moorings, working through a network of agents, seems to have the broadest coverage in terms of locations and equipment.

    If you have a lot more patience than I have, the Bareboat Depot promises access to "the world's largest fleet of bareboat sailboats and motor yachts." I hope those who run the operation know more about maritime navigation than the painfully little they apparently know about web site navigation. It's a mess. Maybe the facts are in there somewhere, but I gave up after too many meaningless banners and silly animated graphics without ever finding solid information.

    In contrast, a refreshing sea breeze is found at Wild Cat Sailing Co. The pages are well organized and (almost) free of animated gimmicks. Its Caribbean selection, boasted as the largest of its type in the region, is focused on Trimarans and Catamarans. The sailing school offers lessons for " . . . novice and experienced sailors alike. You can come along as a whole family and have a combined instruction and vacation week keeping everyone happy. Or you can try some serious 'down island' cruising learning the art of celestial navigation and tasting some blue water seamanship along the way."

    One of its competitors, The Catamaran Company, hosts an equally clean and informative web site. There are a number of membership clubs that promise significant bareboat charter savings. I have no information on how well any deliver on their promises but if the Caribbean Cruising Club is typical, the prices seem to be a bargain.

    Bareboat charter operators from around the world are linked from Boat Show. But, since the list is limited to paid advertisers, here's a selection of additional sources by region or country:

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