How do I reserve the yacht(s) I am interested in?
Once you decide on a time and date, the boat and boarding location please give us a call or send an email. If you have filled out a pricing worksheet please send it to us as it is very helpful. We will then contact you with availability. There are several considerations when reserving a yacht. If you are first to reserve a specific time and date you will be in first hold spot. This will give you time to consider other issues such as food and beverage, scheduling, etc.
If someone else should come along and want the same or overlapping spot the following procedure will rule. The challenging party will sign a charter agreement and place a deposit in escrow. Once that happens the person in first hold has only 24 hours to sign and deposit on the yacht. If both
the charter agreement and deposit are not accomplished within the 24 hours then the challenger gets the yacht. If you want that date you must respond in time or you will lose the time and date. Conversely if you want a spot and it has been reserved by someone else then your signed charter agreement and deposit will serve 24 hour notice to release the yacht.
If you have a long lead time getting monies to vendors then you need to be sensitive to this rule as once a signed charter agreement and deposit are on file nothing will get your time and date back. This protects the charter companies from losing business to indecisive corporate and private event planners. It also allows serious clients the opportunity to lock in their necessary times and dates.
What do you recommend for entertainment?
This is one of the most asked questions and one that I feel needs some high level insight. Entertainment in a yacht is different than at a restaurant or other venue. There is so much to see and do on the yacht that entertainment often goes unused. In other cases guests gather around the entertainment and never take the time to see the sights. Three or four hours goes by very fast on a yacht. Some planners worry that their guests will get bored although I have rarely ever seen this to be the case. With some food, drink and music, whether live or recorded, the event will find a groove and your guests will have a great time.
For seasoned yacht charter groups who are looking for the event to have a new flavor then a band or casino gaming, fortune teller or magician might be just the ticket. We can arrange for many types of entertainment depending on the theme of the event.
The question of entertainment also relates to decorations. Generally few decorations are necessary on the yachts as the yacht itself is elegant and does not need excessive decoration to become presentable. Simple floral decorations are usually sufficient unless a theme party is the attraction. If the question is on decorations or another line item I always recommend redirecting budget into food and/or beverages or more time aboard. Other extras that are popular are photographers, and other keepsakes such as shirts or hats.
How long should my event be?
Most yachts have a three or four hour minimum. Two hours is too short for most events. However if you must do a two hour event and you do not mind paying for three hour minimum that is your choice. The trick to any successful event is "always leave them wanting more." Many parties just get going around three hours and by four hours many guests have danced and are ready to go home or to an "after party" party ashore. Some events are daylong events and usually involve a destination such as Angel Island, Napa or Petaluma. For special event ideas please give us a call as we have done over 1500 events on the bay and have seen what works and what does not work well.
Should I take some motion medication?
I am not a doctor and can not advise your taking of medications. There is no way that I can advise you on this subject so the following is a general guideline provided as informational only. Generally people do not need to take motion medication for a yacht charter. Since the boat is underway for the entire event circumnavigating the Bay it is much smoother than you might think. A good rule of thumb is; "If you get car sick as a passenger in the front seat of a car then motion sickness medication is probably advisable." Otherwise I generally recommend against it as most medications will make you drowsy and I have seen whole groups fall asleep around the boat after mixing motion sickness medication with a couple of drinks. A great homeopathic remedy is fresh ginger. Begin eating a bit about one hour before your event and keep eating it throughout your cruise. You should be just fine. Ginger capsules are also available for the same purpose. If you feel that motion sickness medication is necessary ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
What is the best time of day to go out on the bay?
Day or Night, that is the question. We have such a rich diversity of people and cultures in the Bay that our events run from early in the morning until late at night. The time that is appropriate for your event may not be for the next group. Do not worry about what others do but plan your event to meet your expectations or scheduling needs. Some things to consider are travel times for people you have invites with respect to work or other possible conflicts. Remember that at some times traffic can be quite heavy. Special events may clog some routes such as ball games, fairs or demonstrations.
The daytime is nice as it provides warmth and great views. There are other boats sailing and motoring around and the bay is quite active. The evening is better suited to dancing and cocktailing. The bay at night is also very dramatic with fantastic lighted skyline and bridge views. Think about
what you want for your event and if you have any questions let us know and we will help you decide by discussing the positive aspects of different times of day.
When is money and paperwork due?
Once you have decided on a boat, date and time of day it is important that you lock that date for your event. This requires a signed charter agreement and deposit. Please review question #1 for reservation details. Once your yacht is reserved you can finalize details if you need extra time. Many planners have already figured out their menu, beverage service, decorations and entertainment details at the time of signing. Others want to secure the boat and work out the details at a later date. In any case all details should be finalized two weeks before the charter except for final guest count. Final guest count is due 10 day s prior to the event and the final guest count will determine minimum cost. Final payment is due with final guest count ten days prior. Our charter contract can be viewed here. Our cancellation fees are listed on the charter agreement and are firm policies.
What should guests bring?
There are a few items that guests should bring and a few they should not bring. First the things that are not allowed onboard. These include the usual suspects and a few others including; firearms, fireworks, drugs, alcohol, glitter, confetti, rice (use birdseed for weddings), no open flame devices such as alcohol lamps, oil candles, wax candles, kerosene lanterns, etc.
Items to remember to bring include; camera, sunscreen, hat, jacket, comfortable shoes, ID (you may get carded at the bar), any medications necessary, cell phone if you need to communicate with shore.
How should we dress?
Dress up or dress down. The choice is completely yours. The yacht works well in any event. We have done events where the dress code has ranged from black tie to shorts and flip-flops. You may choose a dress code that is appropriate for your event theme. Generally suggested dress code is included in the invitation to your guests and our office is notified so we can include all your wishes on our charter information form that we use to brief the yacht crew on the specifics of your event.
Can we bring our own food and beverages? Can we have our own caterer?
The answer to this question is almost always no. This is for several reasons. First the food and beverage portion of the charter price includes a profit margin as you would expect from any caterer. Secondly the food service is transparent to the guests. Preparing and serving a successful meal service on a boat requires special considerations and training most caterer's do not have. If the food service turns out to be unsatisfactory the guest assumes it is the fault of the boat company. If it is the fault of another caterer this would not be fair. The boat company wants each guest to leave being a possible
future client. So great effort is placed on food service. To let this critical component rest in the hands of another company that may or may not share the same values in unacceptable. Thirdly the issue of insurance comes into the equation. Who is responsible for tainted food brought aboard by another caterer. How can the boat company be sure that the food was handled and transported
properly. What if another caterer is injured in the boat's galley? Whose insurance covers these and other questions lead to the final consideration of outside catering leading to a flat not allowed.
Wine and champagne can be brought aboard the yacht with pre-approval and the payment of a corkage fee. Beer and spirits can not be supplied by the customer in any case as dictated by ABC liquor license laws.
Where do the boats depart from? Do we have to board and disembark at the same dock?
The disembarkation points are listed on the website and the boats that can use each dock are also indicated. Charters generally begin and end at the same point but do not have to do so. When charters end at a different spot than they begin special consideration must be given to transporting your guests back to their cars or other transportation. Some charters have begun in San Francisco and ended in Napa or Petaluma with bus service to return. Others begin in Sausalito and end in San Francisco. Other
ideas can work but need to be cleared with our office to determine extra docking and remote pricing.
If you start at a yacht's home port and end somewhere else there will generally be a remote docking fee and another fee for yacht time to return to the home port.
What will we see while out on charter?
There is so much to see while out on the bay. I have been out hundreds and hundreds of times and never tire of the different sights. You will see many points of interest depending on your boat's route and the captain's efforts to keep you and your guests comfortable by choosing the calmest areas to cruise. Sights around the bay include; Golden Gate Bridge, Bay Bridge, San Rafael Bridge, Alkatraz, Angel Island, Raccoon Straights, Tiburon, belvedere, Sausalito, Marin Headlands, San Francisco City front, Pacific Bell Ball Park, Treasure Island, Oakland Estuary, Jack London Square, California City and more.
You may see pelicans, seals, sea lions, whales, porpoise, seagulls, ducks of all kinds, great blue and white herons.
You may see sailboats, racing boats, slow boats, ferry boats, container ships, US Coast Guard boats, row boats, kayaks, Hawaiian outrigger canoes and other boats.
Will we have the yacht to ourselves or be sharing with others?
There are different boats that have different options. Generally you will have the yacht to yourself. On larger yachts you may have the whole yacht or elect to have a private deck while another event uses another deck. In some cases you may elect to purchase seats on a public ticketed cruise where you would have your own table or tables. The determination of your event characteristics will be determined by your ideas of what is right for your group and your budget. We are happy to assist you with these decisions and look forward to helping you plan your charter.
What other logistical services (bus, limo, hotel, air) do you provide?
We can help you plan many aspects of your event in addition to the boating portion. Please use our website as a resource for our additional services.
What months do you operate?
We operate all year long. Our charters go rain or shine. Most boats have sufficient indoor space for rain and those that do not will reschedule as noted on the charter agreement for those special circumstances.
What is the US Coast Guard Certification?
It is the law that boats that carry passengers for hire have a US Coast Guard Inspection Certification. There are a few exceptions to this rule such as a six-pack and a demise charter. The number of passengers any boat can carry is determined by the Coast Guard after a stability test. This number has no bearing on comfort but relies solely on stability measurements. Some boats may be certified for many more guests than can comfortably fit on a particular boat. So one of our strengths is advising our clients how many guests can comfortably fit on any boat depending on your charter criteria. If you have a band and/or casino set up your guest count will be reduced.
Guest count includes adults, children, toddlers, infants and newborns equally. Also included in guest count are entertainers and vessel crew. Most boats will have a guest count that reads for example; 149 guests plus 11 crew. This vessel would be limited by law to a maximum of 149 individuals
plus 11 crew. Entertainers are not considered crew. The US Coast Guard is very strict about this and charter operators will not bend these rules and risk losing their permit to operate.
A six-pack charter is a charter on an uninspected vessel that carries up to six guests plus crew. An uninspected vessel can be any size but has not gone through the US Coast Guard inspection process which is quite laborious and expensive. The uninspected vessel is not necessarily unsafe but
has not officially met all the Coast Guard requirements and passed the rigorous inspection.
A demise charter can accommodate up to 12 guests plus the crew that you hire directly. In a demise charter you rent the boat with no crew and you supply the crew. Most companies doing demise charters will supply you with a list of qualified crew including captains and ask that you use their list. Any crew not on that list must first be checked out and included on the boat owners insurance. The demise charter allows a six-pack charter operator to charter to groups of up to 12 guests while staying within US Coast Guard guidelines.
San Francisco Bay Charter Contract