MultiHulls World, the essentials for catamarans and trimarans
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The editor's focus

Sabbatical year - What if you tried chartering?

Sabbatical year - What if you tried chartering?

The first reflex when envisaging a sabbatical year is always to find a catamaran to charter. But it is not always simple, as there are not many charter companies offering this service. Yet long-term charter is a very advantageous solution...  

Which route, for one year?

Leaving from Europe, the classic route consists of coastal sailing along the European, then African coasts, from June to October, before tackling the Atlantic crossing from November. Then enjoying the West Indies outside the hurricane season before envisaging the return trip via the Azores in May - June, or enjoying the Caribbean until the end of your charter...
In the case of a departure from the West Indies, it is best to discover the south of the archipelago from July to November, as this area is supposed to be further from the track of the hurricanes... then the most beautiful cruising area in the world is yours, from the Bahamas to the Grenadines, via the Virgin Islands and Venezuela. You are spoilt for choice!
Why buy a catamaran to re-sell it, when the aim is only to use the boat over a maximum period of 9 to 12 months. In the case of a purchase then a re-sale, you will have to remember to include all the additional expenses, such as the trips to visit different boats, preparation, maintenance, leasing and of course the re-sale costs. Because after the sabbatical year, you will have to re-sell the catamaran, which takes time and costs money... Depending on the period, these sums vary enormously. In the large panel of the magazine's readers, there are those who have re-sold their boat even before the end of their trip, at the price they bought it for or even more, when they have equipped and maintained it well. But there are also those who have sometimes taken up to two years to re-sell their catamaran...and lost a significant amount of money!  
As regards long-term charter, you must remember that the sum you don't tie up in the deposit when buying your catamaran can be invested advantageously, even if today the returns offered by the banks are not really attractive...  In addition, you don't have to burden yourself with a boat and the cost of a harbour berth, insurance and surveillance before and after your voyage...  All of which is not insignificant. But as there is another side to every coin, you will not have a choice of the boat or its equipment.  

LONG-TERM CHARTER: HOW DOES IT WORK?
The principle is very simple: in return for a sum defined in advance with the charter company, you have the use of a catamaran for a defined period... Roughly, you arrive in Le Marin harbour on 15th August 2010, you take possession of  your Nautitech 40 (for example - see following pages), which is perfectly equipped, fully serviced and ready to go. All you have to do is stow your belongings, stock up with food and leave to visit the Lesser Antilles, until 15th August 2011. During this year, the charter company will ask you to give your position regularly, possibly not to go to certain areas which it considers risky, and to arrange several meetings, planned in advance, to carry out maintenance on the boat. As for the rest, and with the reservation that you use the boat reasonably, it is up to you to live your sabbatical year as you please. On the stated day, all you have to do is return the catamaran's keys to the charter company, carry out a full debriefing and a check of the boat to recover your deposit, then leave to pick up your life ashore again, with your mind full of beautiful images and above all without the worry of having to re-sell your possession.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
The sum depends quite obviously on the type of boat, the duration of the charter, and your departure and arrival points. For one year, count on around 35 to 40,000 euros for a 40-foot catamaran, plus a deposit of around 10,000 euros, depending on the company, which is cashed, then repaid after the end of charter handover. Quite obviously, the deposit and the charter fee will be much higher for a 50-footer. On the other hand, if you charter your catamaran from the Mediterranean, and pick it up at the end of the season, you will be able to obtain a much better price than if you took possession at the beginning of July...
In any case, charter is an economically viable solution, if you consider that in the case of purchase/re-sale, your capital will be tied up for at least two years (you will buy your boat at least 6 months before your departure, and sell it on average in the 6 to 8 months following your return, according to our readers). In addition, you must add insurance, maintenance, the inevitable repairs and the purchase and re-sale expenses.

AND IN THE CASE OF DAMAGE?
It is well-known that when everything is going well, there is never a problem. QED! But what happens in the case of serious damage? A priori, the same as during a ‘classic' charter, as both charter company and customer are insured. Therefore the insurance will take care of the damage, whilst the customer will have to pay the excess from his pocket, unless he has entered into a contract with repurchase of the excess. It remains that the immobilisation of the boat will not be covered by the insurances, and that in no case will a replacement boat be supplied...  Amongst our readers who have chartered catamarans long-term, any damage which occurred was taken into account by the charter company, who had their after-sales service department (or that of the builders) intervene, as quickly as possible. Yet another advantage of long-term charter! Last, but not least, don't engage in long-term charter aboard a boat with several charter seasons under its belt. Leaving aboard a new or recent boat is another guarantee that everything will go well. 
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