Introduction to Bareboat Chartering in the U.S.

Are you a prospective charterer confused about the terminology, legal stuff, and various offers by chartering companies? Here, in this article, we will give you as much possible as info on Bareboat Chartering in the U.S. to put an end to all the confusion. Let’s find out what bareboat chartering really is…

Introduction to Bareboat Chartering in the U.S.

Introduction to Bareboat Chartering in the U.S.

In this article of Sailingyes, we’ve provided an overview of bareboat chartering in the U.S. including legal details and typical procedures. So, by reading this post, you’ll be familiar with what is bareboat sailing and how it differs from other lease contracts.

Formal and Informal Definition

Regarding the law, a bareboat (aka demise) contracting in the U.S. is an agreement to temporarily transfer the ownership of a vessel to a second party. So, you—as the charterer—will oversee the watercraft for the indicted time. During this procedure, you are considered to be the titleholder of the craft and, therefore, you’ll be legally treated as such.

That said, every law-related process will include your name throughout the rental period. If, for instance, you get involved in an accident at some point in the chartering procedure, you’re lawfully the one to be held accountable. So, do not refuse to acknowledge your responsibility—because it’s just not a viable idea.

However, informal usage of the term ‘demise hiring’ refers to a course of action through which you hire a vessel from a business. This is a specific hiring method because you don’t get to have any additional services or amenities—but the craft.

Indeed, you only get the title of the yacht/ship for a marked time. So, neither having a crew nor getting a skipper is included in the contract.

The Legal Distinctions Between Voyage and Bareboat Chartering

Voyage or time agreements allow you to select the route for a seafaring trip while having the skipper and crew on board all the time. This type of agreement won’t put the second party (i.e. you) in charge of the vessel as it would in a demise agreement. By contrast, the first party (i.e. the company or the supervisor) will remain the person-in-charge throughout the trip.

So, the legal otherness here is all about the charges. While a demise leasing shifts all the obligations to the second party, a time deal would not allow any changes in the rights, keeping the current titleholder accountable.

You are just a passenger abroad while involving in a voyage pact, whereas the law will see you the overseer of the craft if you sign a demise renting deal.

Demise Leasing a Ship vs. Yacht

The foremost dissimilarity between hiring a ship and yacht is the purpose. When you opt to hire a ship, the chances are small that your intentions are recreational. That’s while a yacht bareboat charter is always about leisure travel.

When you lease a ship, overall expenses are on you for a certain time. So, the fuel, crew, provision, maintenance, and patch-up costs are officially handed on to you or your company.

By contrast, hiring a yacht may include some slight bonuses such as an already-filled fuel tank along with some minor repairing promises. But this largely depends on the first party (i.e. the business or the vessel supervisor).

While demise agreement is a finance lease, hiring a ship for commercial- or payload-related purposes needs more precise documentation. So, both international financial reporting standards (IFRS 16) and US accounting standards must be taken into account.

Specific Bareboat Sailing Rules in the U.S.

Specific Bareboat Sailing Rules in the U.S.

Skippering a boat is not a complex course of action. You do not need to have a qualification document such as a skipper certificate. But things are not the same when it comes down to demise pacts. In the United States, any person skippering the hired vessel is legally a paid captain—whether or not they receive payments.

So, when traveling as a group with only one person in charge of skippering the craft, inform them of the regulations. Let them know that the law considers them as the person in charge.

This is crucial to be aware of the odds regarding the protocols. Otherwise, one member of the group, the captain, may face a court case in case of any incident and/or accident. This is not fair, especially when all the group members were included in the leasing procedure.

Typical Procedure of Demise Contracting

There are many prospective travelers out there wondering what it would be like to hire a cruiser/yacht. So, the following is dedicated to painting the processes with a broad brush. Mainly, you must undergo three phases right after the arrival. Here’s, however, a brief description of each stage.

We also recommend you to read our guide on the bareboat chartering outside of the US before finalizing any decisions.

First Phase

Assuming you’re willing to hire a vessel overseas, this is where you arrive in the region. So, the first phase is more about settling down and planning the next moves. We recommend to check in to the hotel as soon as landing/getting there.

This would allow you to get some rest and then head out on the road to visit the chartering company.

Checking in:

You’ve probably booked a yacht online and you’re only going to check in to the corporation, taking its delivery. But things are not different even if you haven’t reserved a craft in advance. So, at this stage, you’ll let the managers inspect the qualification documents of yours. And after the paperwork is done, you’re officially the new captain of the craft henceforth—until the contract termination.


At this stage, you can transfer the luggage to the deck and unpack them in the cabin(s). This is a vital task as you might not get the chance to make changes later. So, try to settle things down precisely, cherry-picking the right spot for each tool/equipment.

You can also select the beds at this stage and plan for the rooms—if there’s any. If, for any reason, you don’t know what to bring for such a trip, read our packing for a sailing trip on hot and cold days guide.

Money exchanging:

Now that you have successfully emptied your stuff, it’s time to go find a currency exchange store. Cash is always a must-have regarding the bareboat chartering in the U.S. or abroad. As we discussed its importance when indicating the ultimate packing list for a BVI sailing trip there are regions where you can’t use credit cards and/or find ATMs.

So, exchange some currency as soon as you get the chance. But don’t have more than $500 on you while traveling for more safety.



It’s just a cumbersome equivalent for “shopping.” So, technically, you must buy some food and beverage at this point, loading up for the next several on-water days. But as a rule of thumb, it’s always best to carry 20% more food and beverage than you need.

That said, if you’re traveling for 10 days, the provisioning should be enough for 12 days. Drinking water should top the list of necessities as you may not find any resources throughout the trip.


Second Phase

When you feel like the supplies are enough, the legal procedures are taken care of, and the tank is fueled up, it’s time to head out on the water.

For some people, it may take a bit longer to get to the second phase as a number of processes may require more time. So, don’t hurry to get out on the water, and leave the harbor only if you have enough supply and fuel.

Charter and boat briefing:

As the last step onshore, an expert will visit you onboard for boat and charter briefing.

The former is a meeting where you learn specific details about the current yacht that you’re in charge of while getting a chance to ask questions. The latter, however, is a brief explanation of what to expect while cruising around the area as well as some suggestions on where to go and what to do.


Finally, you’re all set up to start the hands-on experiences. At this phase, you’ll need to skipper the boat on your own and manage to navigate it by the book. So, keep the safety requirements in mind all the time and have PFDs and emergency beacons for boats somewhere in reach—just in case the weather conditions went bad.

Third Phase

when your trip comes to an end, you must plan to return the vessel. All companies require you to give the boat/yacht back as soon as the contract terminates. So, delaying the return will leave you with extra expenses.

Checking out:

You must skipper the boat to the marina you’ve started the trip from and give it back to the corporation.

Typical Procedure of Demise Contracting

FAQs About Bareboat Chartering in the United States and Overseas

  • Who’s Responsible for P&I and Hull Insurance?

You, as the person in charge of the boat tenancy, are in charge of the P&I and Hull Insurance.

The former stands for Protection and indemnity insurance and covers open-ended risks such as a carrier’s third-party risks for damage caused to cargo during carriage and war risks. The latter, nevertheless, provides a “hull and machinery” cover.

  • How Many People to Have Onboard?

You are better off without having too many amateurs onboard. However, for a 35- to 42-feet craft, you should have at least one professional/skilled person alongside 3-4 normal passengers.

  • What Boat Size Is Best for an Amateur?

If it’s your first-time bareboat chartering in the U.S. or abroad, opt to get a 35- to 42-feet craft. Any watercraft larger than 42 feet will leave you with excessive tasks whereas the boats smaller than 35 feet would not allow you to experience a real-world on-water trip.

  • Can You Sail a Hired Craft at Night?

No, you cannot. Indeed, all the boat leasing businesses in the USA do not allow the customers to navigate at night. But check with the company to make sure what are the specific regulations.


Reference (s):

Sailing Fundamentals


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