What is a Bareboat Charter?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2019
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A bareboat charter is the renting of a boat or ship without the crew or captain. The transaction is for the boat only. The renter must provide the captain and crew to operate the boat. The boat owner gives up ownership of the boat for the duration of the bareboat charter and this is the defining characteristic of the bareboat charter. This has become a rising trend in the charter of yachts since 2000.

With the economic difficulties worldwide, it has become less and less practical for an individual to own a personal yacht. The bareboat charter offers the feeling of owning a yacht without the maintenance and on-call crew expenses associated with ownership. There are companies worldwide that specialize in brokering bareboat charter agreements and excel in finding the correct boats at the right expense levels for their clientele.

The main difference between a common yacht rental and a bareboat charter is the inclusion of captain and crew. On a typical rental or lease, the yacht is complete with a qualified crew as well as a captain, all of whom are hired and paid by the boat's owner. The owner also has a say in where the boat will travel and which route it will take. In a bareboat charter, the owner has no say in where the boat will travel or the route taken to reach the destination.


In the United States, there are several laws relating to the bareboat charter, which are unique to agreements made by boat owners and potential charterers. In the case of several people going together on a charter, with one of the individuals assuming the duties of captain, in the unfortunate occurrence of a tragedy or disaster, this person could be held liable in the role of captain. By being liable, the individual could be fined or even jailed under certain circumstance.

When making plans to charter a yacht or boat, the individuals planning the charter must decide if a qualified captain and crew is to be hired or if this duty is to be fulfilled by those making the charter. There are also laws and regulations governing the qualifications of a captain, and these laws require licensing according to the size and travels of the vessel. This requirement can also extend to certain members of the crew such as mechanic and radio operator. When making a bareboat charter, it is wise to have all of the information well before hand.


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