In this article we look at yacht chartering options in the USA for the more inexperienced sailor. We explain the difference between bareboat and flotilla sailing and then focus on sailing in Miami, Florida.
There are two common options for chartering a yacht in the US: bare boating and flotilla sailing. On a flotilla holiday you will travel around the area as a group of boats led by experienced skippers in what are known as ‘lead’ boats. Once you gain enough confidence and experience you usually set off on some ‘free sail’ days, meeting up with the rest of your group for evening meals and activities.
Bare boating is suitable for more experienced sailors and involves sailing the area independently, only returning to base at the conclusion of your holiday.
Flotilla sailing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Some holidaymakers find the group meals and activities can grate a little after a week or so, however they are very useful for inexperienced sailors looking to gain some valuable sailing experience.
If a flotilla holiday doesn’t sound like it would be your bag we would definitely recommend gaining some sailing experience prior to heading out on your own on a bareboat holiday. However, if you pick the appropriate area in which to sail you won’t need to have gained too much experience, which brings us on to…
Miami is one of the best destinations in the US for the inexperienced sailor. The climate is semi-tropical all year round with no extreme weather. The days tend to be sunny and the evenings usually provide some welcome breeze. Winter has the best winds for sailing but the summers are the best time to swim and snorkel. Miami is very well suited to exploration by boat and mooring tends to be straightforward with plenty of spots.
A must-visit whilst in Miami is its South Beach, known locally as ‘SoBe’. South Beach has an extensive range of restaurants and nightclubs, great shopping and a wonderful beach. Many of its clubs and bars are open all day and night.
An altogether more sobering experience is the very moving Holocaust Memorial located in the South Beach area. Miami also has an historically significant Art Deco District boasting over 800 buildings of architectural importance.
If diving is your thing then Key Largo is the place for you. The area is home to two state parks, a national marine sanctuary and a national park making it one of the world’s premier diving locations. Key Largo is also home to the first undersea park in the US.
For those that prefer to catch fish rather than look at them, Islamorada is the place to go. Known as the World’s Sports Fishing Capital, this village of islands offers world-class angling and can be fished directly from your own boat.
More great fishing, restaurants and nightlife can be found in Key Biscayne which is also home to several of the best beaches in America. There is a lot to do here including a visit to the Cape Florida Lighthouse and many park trails which can be explored either by foot or bike.
Jennifer writes regularly on sailing holidays for a range of travel websites and blogs. She also advises several leading yacht chartering companies such as http://www.moorings.com/. She is an experienced sailor, a veteran of many an American sailing vacation and an expert on flotilla and bareboat sailing holidays.