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With just under 5,000km of coastline and 60 islands on the Atlantic ocean and Mediterranean, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to a Spanish yacht charter. From the sometimes temperamental but fun winds of the Costa Brava the always changing Atlantic coast and islands, there is so much variety to choose from you could never get bored.
Spain has at an illustrious seafaring history from Colombus discovering the Americas for the Spanish Throne to its Armada's attempts to dethrone Queen Elizabeth I, Spanish seafarers have long made history through their campaigns.
On a boat trip off the country's coastlines you'll experience the varied conditions first hand and see exactly why the country has spawned such a dedicated race of seafarers and adventurers. Dealing with the unpredictable weather of the Biscay coast or handling the weather's mood swings as katabatibc winds run off the mountains onto the sea, you'll soon understand why its seafarers felt confident to leave the comfort of coastal sailing and take on the word's oceans.
That said, come summer much of the country's coast and islands' seas are mostly placid. You'll come to appreciate the jewel-blue seas and perfect boating conditions that can only put a broad grin on your face as you reach along the coast. Thanks to its position at the centre of recent world history you'll get to see, feel and taste the culture in its riot of colours and sounds in all the ports you visit. You'll soon fall in love with Spain for all it has to offer!
Where it comes to a Spanish yacht charter the country has one of the most developed marine leisure industries in the world. There are literally hundreds of yacht clubs and marinas along Spain's vast coast, and you will almost certainly find just the perfect yacht charter for your needs.
You will find that there are quite stringent rules around having the right qualifications and paperwork but as long as you have it to hand when you arrive, you'll soon find that yacht chartering in Spain is no more difficult than anywhere else in the world. Charter companies' insurance companies the world over generally set similar rules to those enshrined in law in Spain.
The country's sailing laws are policed by the Garda Civil. If on a bareboat charter do have all your passports, boat license, sailing qualifications, insurance and charter papers to hand as the police do do spot checks on mariners.
With these issues in mind, you'll soon forget yourself as you explore the coastline and/or islands you choose as a base for your charter. Absorb yourself in the food and culture in all the ports and anchorages you visit. Chill out on beaches inaccessible to the all-inclusive holiday crowd. Party at some of the best venues on the planet or relax as you eat tapas through a lazy afternoon. There's so much choice to be had you could do a different Spanish sailing holiday every year and never cover the same ground twice.
There are direct flights from most international airports, let's look at the three main areas:
Girona Airport: Known locally as Girona-Barcelona, it is 300km from Barcelona so unless the flights are prohibitively expensive into Barcelona this is best used for sailing destinations in the northern Costa Brava region.
Barcelona Airport: A major international airport that can be reached from almost anywhere in the world, it has its own train station so you can get (via a connection to Santes station) almost anywhere else in Mediterranean Spain. Use it for accessing the Costa Dorada and the southern Costa Brava. Do be aware that flights into the city can be expensive even in the low season.
Driving direct to Costa Brava: Using the French autoroute network from Normandy then the auto pistas in Spain it is possible to drive to Girona or the northern Costa Brava in 14+ hours from the UK.
Ibiza Airport: This is a well developed international airport and there are direct flights there from much of the UK and most European countries.
Mahon Airport: The capital of Menorca, useful for Balearic Island charters and accessing nearby Mallorca.
Valencia Airport: This is a major holiday airport and serves the Costa Blanca and the southern Costa Dorada.
Alicante Airport: Again, a major holiday airport but useful for accessing the north and south Costa Blanca and Murcia
Cartagena Airport: Fly here for your Costa Calida destinations
Malaga Airport: An important commercial hub, you can fly in from a number of countries outside of Europe as well.
Marbella Airport: Another holiday airport that is well served from much of Europe.
Algeciras Airport: Not quite as well developed as the other two but still caters for international flights and for access to the southern end of the Costa del Sol.
Stretching from the Bay of Roses and the French border in the north to Barcelona in the south, the Costa Brava, the coast of Catalonia is distinctive for its fantastic sailing and independent culture ashore.
Catalonia has recently attempted independence from Spain. Visiting it you'll soon understand the language, culture and economy is that of a different country, and if you burrow beneath the surface you'll likely return saying you've been on holiday to 'Catalonia' - not 'Spain'.
Here you will find weather dominated by the Tramontana mountain wind that can be fierce but cools the land from the fiercest of Mediterranean heat - and leaves the air so clear you could easily see the fine detail of a mountainside castle from two miles off.
The Costa Dorada reaches from the Catalan capital of Barcelona in the north to Pensacola in the south. Again, quintessentially Catalan and not 'Spanish' you'll soon be entranced and bewitched by the separate, independent culture and ways of being of this proud nation.
While the Pyrenees and the Tramontana hit the Mediterranean coast on the northern Costa Brava, the further southwest you go along the Costa Dorada the milder the Tramontana thanks to the distance from the mountains. This can mean it gets a lot hotter than the mountainous regions but the winds are less feisty.
One thing you should absolutely do when exploring this coast is explore the food on offer. Whether Michelin-starred restaurants or small town bistros your tastebuds are in for a treat. You might find bacon and eggs somewhere (though may have to explain the idea to a chef) but it would be an act of silliness to not sit to a table and simply ask for the day's special. You never know what you'll end up trying!
Famed for the party islands of Ibiza, Mallorca (capital Palma De Mallorca )and Menorca, these Catalan islands just off mainland Spain aren't just about partying to a globetrotting DJ. Ibiza was first 'colonised' by hippies in the 1960s and 70s, and for the most part is still very much that - a hideaway and not at an all night a party venue.
For those so inclined you can fill your sailing boat bilges with beer and challenge your liver for a week. The beer is cheap and the parties are 24/7 if that's what you want. The Cafe del Mar won't leave you disappointed, and the dawns are legendary for those with such stamina.
This shouldn't be off-putting for the sailor with a family who wants to be grown up and perhaps wants to enjoy the boating, culture and scenery. There are anchorages where you won't be kept awake all night and plenty of villages near a sandy beach where you will be able to escape from the madness. There is so much more to these islands that you don't have to be young to enjoy them!
Moving south and west out of Catalonia and into Castillian Spain, we now enter The Costa Blanca
Along with a big mix of Europeans on holiday particularly around areas like Benidorm, Alicante and Torrevieja there's plenty more to see here. What about the Moorish castles built during the Grenadine Caliphate and the Misteri d'Elx? What about the world class art? You will find paella by the bucket if you want, but there's better food to be had!
In summer the sailing can be just off the scale with F3-4 breezes .
Literally the 'Hot Coast', the Costa Calida is not just full of beautiful people. With the legendary seafaring city of Cartagena at its centre, the Costa Calida has so much history you could drown in it, escaping the world at home as you see, feel and taste some of the best that Spain has to offer.
With the thousand year old city at its centre and supporting towns to the east and west, this stretch of the Spanish coast has a deep and rich history that has in part been supported with Spain's interests in South America. The Romans got there long before the conquistadors left to find their fortune and today you will bring home memories of an area that is just about as 'Spanish' as you can get.
Its climate is very hot in summer so perhaps better to visit outside the peak season of July/August. That said you will be drawn to its beautiful shores and secluded coves with fantastic people time and again as so many others are.
Before the Costa de la Luz and Perhaps one of the more famous of Spanish holiday escapes for European tourists, there is a lot more to the Costa del Sol than 'Brits abroad'! Though a draw to many tourists, the Costa del Sol capital Malaga is an important international seaport in its own right with direct connections to Africa and South America.
There are tourist hotspots up and down the coast - Torremilinos, Fuengirola and Marbella are all famed package holiday centres with eccentricities loved and parodied in equal measure according to your viewpoint. Picasso was born in Malaga, and if you visit the Old Town you can absorb yourself in his and others' worlds - civilisation began in this region some 3,000 years ago.
There are over 300 days of full sun a year here, so you can expect warm weather and great sailing. You will find hidden beaches and coves that the tourist boats either can't reach or have loaded up and gone home when it's time for dinner. You can choose to be at one with the Anglo-Hispanic culture or apart from it - the choice is yours.
Girona: This is the regional capital of the Costa Brava with a great old town and a busy international airport. It is far inland but a hub from which you can reach Roses, Empuriabrava, and even Barcelona and Sitges with good public transport links.
Palamos: Palamos is the closest yachting hub to Girona, this is a small coastal resort in the Baix Emporda region of the Costa Brava. Use this for getting to the coastal artist's village Cadaques to the north or as far as Barcelona to the south.
Barcelona: This is Spain's second city and absolute capital of Catalonia. With its international airport that has a train station direct into the city (you have to change trains for security reasons mid way) it is a good launching point for the Costa Brava or the Costa Dorada. You can hire for a day or take a crewed catamaran out of the city as well as a longer yacht charter.
Near to Barcelona, Sitges is a far more laid back town but has its own marina that can be a launching point to the south, down the Costa Dorada. The town reflects the more cultured, chilled atmosphere of the region. You can take a day sail from here as well as a full bareboat or skippered hire.
Ibiza Town: This is the party capital of the island and also the main yacht charter location on the island. Party boats and day sails are available from here too.
Mahon: The historic capital of Menorca and a major holiday town in its own right.
Valencia: This is an important coastal town with a busy sailing holiday industry. You can fly in direct and get aboard your boat in relatively quick time.
Denia: To the south of Valencia and almost as close to Alicante, Denia has a busy charter marina.
Alicante: A major holiday jumping off point, it also has a major yacht charter base at its marinas thanks in part due to its central location on the Costa Blanca.
Torrovieja: To the south west of the Costa Blanca, this is easily accessed via Alicante Airport. Being a holiday resort you will also find day sails and day-boat hire available.
Cartagena: This is a major commercial port with a 2,000 year history. With flights direct into the city, you'll find quick access to the marinas in the town.
La Manga: Just to the north of Cartagena and in the lee of Cape Palos is La Manga - thanks to the spit, it has a large protected sailing area in Mar Menor.
Torrovieja: This Costa Blanca town can also be used as a starting point for your Costa Calida sailing holiday.
Malaga: This is another major commercial port with a number of marinas there. It is on the northern edge of the Costa del Sol and is a great starting point for your Costa del Sol sailing holiday.
Benalmádena: An historic old Andalucian town with great beaches and the Tivoli theme park, this has a busy marina that you can access via Malaga or Marbella.
Marbella: A major holiday resort in the middle of the Costa del Sol, it is a good base for a trip north or south depending on what you want to do on your trip.
Puerto Banus: Just to the west of Marbella is Puerto Banus, a seaside town with its shallow bay and large marina.
Sotogrande: To the west of Marbella and within reach of Algeciras/Gibraltar, Sotogrande is a large privately owned development that has a very good marina.
Where it comes to chartering you can hire a motor cruiser, a monohull sailing yacht, Superyacht, or a catamaran. Each have their benefits.
From €100 or so a day up to whatever you can afford, monohull sailing yachts are fun to sail at all points of the wind, whether nose into a building Tramontana or blasting under all canvas downwind this is usually a yacht charter at an affordable price.
Far more luxurious than a sailboat these often have en suite toilets and showers in the staterooms as well as ample entertaining space in the saloon and on deck. They have twin engines to compensate for their lack of windward ability but are great sailing with wind abaft the beam.
Want your own personal cruise ship for you and your group to leave the world behind? Take a fully crewed luxury yacht charter or super yacht charter up the costas. On a crewed yacht charter of this kind you will have far greater range than on other yachts above so a run between Barcelona and Gibraltar - or even over to Morocco is feasible. You will have every need and want catered to as you go.
Whether a motor yacht with cabins or a private boat trip for a fishing trip / blasting up the bay, these are comfortable seagoing boats with a kick of speed should you want to cover a bigger distance on the day or just for the fun of having a 10 metre wide wake and 10 tons of steel from a motor boat flying along at 30 knots!
Very much day boats for fishing and day cruising, RIBs are a lot of fun for a day afloat. They can be very quick and are great should you be in a town on holiday and fancy seeing the coast or finding secluded white sand beaches from another perspective.
When it comes to a yacht charter in Spain you have two choices - bare boat hire or skippered yacht charter. Both have their own advantages.
Fancy going on a sailing holiday yet have no sailing qualifications or lack the confidence to go it alone? A skippered yacht charter gives you the advantage of being able to get afloat without having to invest in getting sailing qualifications before hand. You will pay over €120 a day extra for the skipper, as well as their food and a tip at the end. Sometimes the skippers will also be the yacht owners which means they will show you the best that the area has to offer with their local knowledge.
For those who seek a bit of adventure off their own back without the expense of a paid skipper aboard, a bare boat yacht charter could be just the ticket. You will need sailing qualifications but for that you get to be the author of your own story afloat as you explore the coast and islands of Spain.
If you want to bareboat charter you will need an approved boating qualification.
Below is a list of relevant qualifications:
International Certificate of Competence (ICC): Standard European Qualification for bare boat sailing
ASA 104 Bareboat Sailing Certificate: The American Sailing Associations skipper minimum qualification for hiring bare boat yachts
RYA: The Royal Yachting Association's qualifications (minimum day skipper level) is necessary for bare boat charter hire, it's also worthwhile seeing do you need to have done a VHF radio course as well as some charter boat owners will require this.
There are also many other European national boating qualifications that are accepted here too, it's worthwhile checking these details before hiring.
If you want a skippered boat rental as a charter yacht then you don't need any sailing certification at all, you just turn up and off you go.
The hottest time - and the most expensive time of year are the school holiday months of July and August. If you are limited to these months then be prepared to pay a premium on the boat you are hiring and in the marinas you visit.
The sailing season in the country runs from April to October so it may pay to go earlier or later in the year. The weather is still a lot warmer than in Northern Europe - be prepared to smile in your tee shirt as you see locals bundled up in their winter jackets - but you will find the locals warmer toward you and the marinas cheaper. As a tip, October is better than April as the Mediterranean Sea is still warm from the summer months.
Sea Breezes: Between June to September these onshore breezes build in the morning and get to maximum strength by mid afternoon. Unlike the Aegean for example, these don't usually build to anything too exciting, meaning you can enjoy the best sailing on the Mediterranean with weather to remember.
Tramontana: This is a Northerly mountain wind that drops off the Pyrenees and affects much of the Costa Brava and even the Balearic Islands. If one is blowing - and it can pick up at almost any time of the year - it pays to be under-canvassed than to have too much sail on. This is because the katabatibc winds plummet off the mountains and suddenly increase with virtually no notice. You will see them actually splash when they land! Better be in port if a strong one is forecast.
Galerna: This is a NW wind that also affects northern Spain. It is characterised by stormy, hot air that can blow at 100km/h so again, best to be in port if a strong one hits.
Levanter: This is an E-NE wind that can get quite feisty and funnels through the Strait of Gibraltar - affecting the southern Costa del Sol.
Chubasco: This is a fairly frequent event that can hit almost anywhere in Spain and comes from any direction. Essentially the Chubasco is a thunderstorm that can be over as quickly as it appears.
There's almost a sailing trip for every budget when it comes to chartering. For €120 a day plus (€840 a week) you can take a sailboat monohull out with five other adults. That is going to be cheaper than a week in a hotel for everyone.
Catamarans cost more - expect to pay anything from €500 to €2,000 a day depending on the time in the season.
Motorboats taken on a bareboat basis can cost as little as €500 a day if they have sleeping accommodation - much less if they are day boats.
RIBs can cost as little as €50 for an afternoon.
In each of the examples above you can take on a skipper starting at €150 a day depending on what the vessel is and their required qualifications to sail it.
For Superyachts and Luxury Yachts expect to pay €8,000 a day plus.
As you can see, Mediterranean Spain has so much to offer that you are spoiled for choice when it comes to yacht charter. Whether a clubbing and partying adventure or one for exploring the ancient history of the country, with lots of swimming and scuba diving this is a country that could serve you well time and again as you take sailing holidays from youth to middle and then old age. So what are you waiting for? Book a sailing charter with Borrow A Boat today!
Yacht hire in Spain is legal. As with driving a car there do keep your documents to hand as it is a legal requirement to present your ID, licenses, insurance documents and charter contract on demand by the Marine Police.
You can hire a motorboat, RIB, catamaran or sailboat (Sailing Yacht) on bareboat terms in Spain, or you can hire a skipper to help you. For a luxury yacht or super yacht you will hire the crew and skipper as part of the package.
Consider your budget, sailing experience, whom you are taking sailing and where exactly you wish to go. Have you the sailing qualifications to do the trip? These are all things you need to consider.
This depends on what you want from your trip. If intense heat and crowds appeal to you then July or August are the best times. If a quiet time is more your bag and you don't have kids then September/October could be great as it is cheaper but still warm.
You will typically pay 50% up front on booking the yacht hire and the balance on arrival. You will either pay a security deposit with your credit card on departure or can get insurance covering damage in advance.
If you are at sea and in danger, call MAYDAY on VHF Ch16. If you have a mechanical fault and can make it to/are on a mooring you will be able to phone a help line number given by the yacht charter company.
You should consider do you have the experience to handle the yacht charter you want to book and where do you want to go. Bring warm weather and cool weather clothing if it looks like the weather can be cool as well as warm in Spring and Autumn - but at sea it can be cool on most evenings.
If you are travelling from within the European Union then you will not normally require a visa. Check with the Spanish embassy in advance if you are travelling from a country outside the EU.
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