Yacht Charter: When You Should Consider Docking

Total Croatia News

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Nikolina Demark

Part of the beauty of chartering your own yacht is being able to anchor away from the crowds; however, there are factors to consider when choosing to dock or anchor.

One of the greatest benefits to chartering a private yacht is that you get to go where you want when you want. After years at sea, I also saw that our guests loved the freedom of being able to anchor in bays. It meant waking up to peace, away from the crowds and if people wanted to explore, we typically took them across to shore in our tender. I would say more than 80% of our guests chose to be on anchor for the majority, if not the entirety of the week.

I completely understand this, it’s what I would choose. Imagine waking up and being able to jump into the turquoise waters of the Adriatic first thing in the morning or just sitting in silence with your morning coffee, with nothing but the sound of the sea lapping at the boat and the cicadas’ rhythmic song to keep you company.

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Waking up to this is pretty special.

However, there are times when being in port is more beneficial and this is something that the person in charge of the charter should consider.

Different wants within the group

Sometimes we have groups on board who have conflicting wants – while some would prefer to be completely away from all civilization, others want to be off exploring, walking, hiking or even partying. This happened more often within families or where age ranges were varied.

The crew will go out of their way to appease everyone, but if the boat is anchored too far from the nearest town, driving people in and out at various times of the day is not so convenient. Not only for the crew (they will do it anyway) but for the guests – if the distance is long or the water is choppy it might not be the most pleasant ride.

I watched people give up on their early morning walks or miss out on bike rides because it interfered with breakfast or sailing times, whereas if we were docked, they would have been able to get on and off the boat at their own convenience.


Don’t miss out on seeing such beautiful and charming destinations like this, taken on island Vis

Physical capabilities of the group

While going ashore in the tender seems easy enough, it can be a difficult task for some. We have had people on board with varying physical capabilities, which made it difficult to get in and out of the tender.

Typically, the tender will pull up alongside the boat and while there are stairs from the boat to the tender, it still requires stepping up, on and into the tender. If the water is choppy, it does require a certain level of balance and physicality to manoeuvre oneself into the tender.

I have watched people struggle to get in and out of the tender for a whole week and while the crew will do everything they can to help, it can leave that person feeling uncomfortable.

I have also had guests miss out on visiting destinations altogether because they didn’t trust themselves getting into the tender or even a water-taxi safely. This was a little sad to witness, but it isn’t the crew’s call; so, the person in charge of the charter really should think about the experience of all of their guests. It should be an enjoyable holiday, no one should feel like a burden or miss out on an experience.


Walking down the stairs and climbing into this tender was really difficult for some guests.


You might be thinking – what fears? Well, believe it or not, we have had guests on board who were afraid of deep water and some were afraid of being in the tender at night, yet they were still unwilling to dock. So, it ruled out the chance for them to visit any destinations at night and because we had a couple of days of bad weather (strong winds), they also opted out of going ashore.

This to me is a shame – to visit Croatia for the first time and see almost nothing of the country, not to mention feeling afraid or uncomfortable.


If the weather is bad, but guests still want to go into town, the crew can easily arrange a water-taxi to take guests ashore – which is a more comfortable ride with less chance of arriving drenched. The Captain and crew will do everything they can to make your holiday the trip of a lifetime but I think sometimes people don’t understand everything that entails… if the weather is bad, the Captain will stay on watch all night as there is potential for the anchor to slip – which means sleepless nights and unnecessary stress.

Does it come down to money?

I know money is a taboo subject sometimes, but I really don’t think it should be and now that I don’t work as a full-time hostess I can speak my mind a little more freely.

More often than not, the reason people chose not to go into port was because of the cost. Granted, port fees can range anywhere between €100 – €500 (Hvar town is at the higher end of the spectrum). I don’t think it is necessary to dock in every destination, but if you have a group with any of the above factors, a mixture of docking and anchoring works well for everyone.

I also find it hard to believe that people can spend €15,00 – €30,000 on a yacht for the week and refuse to pay port fees. If you have already spent that kind of money, spending a few extra hundred euros, to ensure that everyone has a wonderful time and feels safe, shouldn’t be an issue.

Are charter agents correctly informing their guests?

It makes me wonder whether certain charter agents correctly inform guests of what to expect, what docking versus anchoring can mean because many guests board with the notion that they definitely don’t want or need, to go into port – when one glance at the group can tell me otherwise.

There are only a few occasions where the captain will make the decision to go into port

The Captain will (or should) only ever make it compulsory to go into port if:

  • The weather conditions make it dangerous not to do so
  • The ship has malfunctions that need tending to
  • The yacht needs water or fuel supplies *this can usually be done during the day, rather than overnight.

Ultimately, anchoring or docking is up to the guests

Ultimately, the decision to anchor or dock lies with the person in charge of the charter. The crew will do everything in their power to make it a memorable experience for everyone but a little thought and empathy for others in the group is required from the person making the call.

A sailing holiday in Croatia is meant to be fun, relaxing or even adventurous, don’t let it turn into a stressful experience just because you want to avoid docking.


Credit: Nikolina Demark; is this really so bad?


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