What to Expect in a Basic Sailing Course

Welcome to Harbor Sailboats Pre-Owned Yacht Brokerage (Academy Yacht Sales). We specialize is representing clean, late model sailboats to our members and the public. As a license and bonded yacht brokerage, we can assist buyers and sellers in all their boating needs. Below represents a sample of our selection of used boats represented through our office. We’re also available to represent a buyer with any boat listed through a California yacht brokerage. If we don’t have it, we will find it for you.

For new Beneteau offerings, see here


Current Inventory of Used Boats

2017 Beneteau Oceanis 37

$179,000 Nancy Jean

2014 Beneteau Oceanis 38

$197,000 Luna Mar

2010 Beneteau Oceanis 34

$99,000 Perspective

2016 Flying Tiger 10m

$55,000 Relapse

1966 Shields 30

$15,000 Envy

2003 Catalina 320

Coming Soon

San Diego Holding Tank Pump Out Locations

Some members have noticed that the Harbor Island West Marina pump out facility now closes at 4pm during the winter and 5pm in the summer. This was put into place by marina staff in order to prevent commercial pump out services from emptying their tanks using the public dock. Unfortunately, this has a small effect on members’ convenience when pumping out but San Diego has several other options listed below.

Most HS boats (not all) are equipped with macerator pumps that will allow you to empty the tank directly overboard only when you’re more than three miles offshore. Please check with the dockmaster before using this feature to refresh on the procedure.


Harbor Island

Harbor Island West Marina

Cabrillo Isle Marina

Shelter Island

Shelter Island Police and Customs Dock

Persons Fuel Dock

Sun Harbor Marina (Pizza Nova Guest Dock)


Glorietta Bay Marina

For more locations and an interactive chart, visit the port website here

Sailing the Heel

There are many indicators we use as sailors to help us navigate the wind. We’re constantly scanning the sails, the tell tails, the mast head fly/wind indicator, the electronics, flags on land, and even other boats. One major but often overlooked indicator however, is the boat’s heel angle. But what does the angle tell us?
The wind is very rarely constant in direction and speed which means the boat can flatten and heel over sporadically even with a constant compass heading. To compensate for these changes and to sail upwind as effectively as possible, simply “Sail the Heel.” Try to find a good heel angle both you and the boat are comfortable with and stick to it. If the boat begins to feel overpowered and the heel angle increases, gradually head up into the wind to reduce the angle but also make sure your jib is trimmed properly as not to luff the sail. The opposite is true if the boat begins to flatten out and feel stalled- simply bear away or turn down to increase power and heel angle but keep in mind these course changes are about 5 degree. When you find the groove your tell tails will all be stream horizontal towards the stern of the boat. As you practice this more and more, you’ll begin to anticipate what the boat is going to do before it ever happens- slight adjustments heading up or heading down will correct for wind variations and help you maintain a constant and very efficient track sailing upwind. Get “in the groove” and stay there by sailing the heel!
The boat pictured is clearly overpowered and needs to head up towards the wind to flatten out. Once flattened out the boat will actually pick up speed (no longer going sideways) and become a more enjoying ride.

Boat Show: The Insiders Guide

Boat Show Time! It’s an excuse to ditch work a little early or bring the family down for a fun afternoon looking at all the new products and technologies, but how can you attend a boat show like a pro? Let us explain.

Boats shows are a huge deal for the industry as there is not a bigger concentration of potential customers to view your product. Insurance companies, clothing, gear, and of course boat dealers roll out the red carpet for 4 days of non stop action. If you own a boat and are looking for new gear or ideas  you will find something to enjoy at a boat show. Right after this blog is published we will be moving into the San Diego Sunroad Boat Show taking place on Harbor Island January 25th-28th, here is how you can get the most out of the show:

Rule #1. Bring shoes that you can easily take on and off and in Southern California, this means flip flops! Without exception, you will be asked to remove your shoes before boarding any of the boats at the show and if you plan to view every boat (over 100) this is going to get annoying if you’re wearing anything other than slip on shoes.

Have a Plan. Before entering a show you should scout out the exhibitors online and make a mental list of what you want to see. Do you want to concentrate on the land booths that are selling foul weather gear, anchors, life jackets, insurance, sailing tours, etc, or do you really want to see the new Beneteau Oceanis 38.1 and compare to another brand? Having a plan will help you stay focused and get the most out of the show. Some boat shows will have exhibitors that offer new boats, used boats, and clubs that offer sailing lessons. Most shows will have seminars or on the water activities so make sure you see what applies to you best.

Pack Light. Sort of in line with the golden rule of no shoes, you will want to leave the backpacks and heavy gear at home. Most exhibitors will ask that you leave the larger bags on the dock for fear of zippers and other sharp edges scratching the wood surfaces. One of the sponsors is guaranteed to give you a plastic bag with handles as you enter the show for you to collect brochures and business cards.

Arrive Early. Most boat shows will start on a Thursday and end Sunday evening and as you can imagine the crowds can become pretty massive on the weekends. If you want a more private setting with ample time to get into the details with a rep. then we recommend exploring the boat show the first or second day, you can always come back on the weekend if you need a second look or want to see more.

Keep an Eye on Kids: If you have a child under the age of 12 a life jacket is required while aboard any moving boat, although these boats are not moving it’s encouraged that you bring a life jacket for the young ones. The docks are skinny and the crowds are big so keeping a close eye on the young ones is not to be underrated. This responsibility continues when you get aboard a boat as it will move as people step on and off.

Research. Some people attend boat shows for the fun while others are there to take advantage of special deals. If you do a little homework beforehand you will be able to get into more detailed conversation with the reps. The internet is full of data, videos, opinions, etc. so you can prepare yourself for detailed conversation. Don’t be afraid to call a rep or schedule an appointment weeks before a show as sometime there will be “pre boat show” deals that are even better than the show specials. (we have one!)

Bring a Check Book. This may sound a little aggressive but it’s the honest truth. These boat shows cost the dealers thousands of dollars per boat not including the set up time, break down, marketing dollars and staffing. Some of the larger shows come with a price tag over $100K just to be there. With such a large bill, dealers will create boat show specials in order to recover some of these costs. A lot of the dealers have manufacture backed specials that absolutely expire on Sunday evening so if you’re in the market don’t be afraid to take advantage of the huge savings that are offered at these shows. Think Black Friday for boating!

These are just a few tips on how to best explore a boat show, bottom line is mark your calendar for January 25-28 and come enjoy this lifestyle with us. Harbor Sailboats and SailTime San Diego will be in the water with a new Beneteau Oceanis 31, Oceanis 38.1, Oceanis 41.1, and a Oceanis 45 along with the Beneteau power line of Wellcraft boats in conjunction with South Coast Yachts.

To learn more about the show and to get a sneak peek view of the specials contact Harbor Sailboats today!

Whale Watching in San Diego

The New Year is here and that means whale watching! California Gray Whales are now making their annual migration south from Alaska to the warm-water Baja lagoons to give birth and nurse. Their passage is the longest known mammal migration measuring over 12,000 miles round trip and luckily for us San Diego sailors, that puts us right in line to take in the sights. The entire migration averages 2-3 months.

Harbor Sailboats offers private whale watching tours aboard our fleet of sailboats 28-45 feet. Enjoy an intimate and private setting aboard a luxurious sailboat with a modern design and a professional skipper. Your skipper will try his or her best to get you up close and personal with all the southern California marine life and create and unforgettable experience.

For current members or sailors, the best way to observe the whales aboard your sailboat is to head straight south out of San Diego Bay. There have been times in past years where whales were traveling right along the kelp line, but this is somewhat rare. If you don’t immediately find them, the best strategy is to head towards the Safe Water Buoy (#1) and really begin to look for signs. The whales typically travel in pods of 2-3 so keep your eyes focused for obvious spouts. Did you know Gray Whales have two blowholes? Another trick of the trade is to look for boats grouped together which would otherwise have no reason to really be near each other… These boats are looking at something and chances are this time of year, they’re seeing whales. Once you locate a pod, be mindful to respect the animals and keep your distance as to not disrupt their natural behavior (no closer than 100 yards). The best way to view the whales is to ‘run with them’ meaning to sail parallel in the same direction they are swimming (which should be south). The Grays usually swim at 5 knots so the boat speed vs their speed should pretty close. Remember to take pictures!


Quick Facts about Gray Whales:

What do Gray Whales eat?

Gray whales are bottom feeders- they use their snouts and bodies to dislodge tiny crustaceans and other small organisms off the seafloor. This process stirs up the sea life in which the whale uses its baleen to filter in the food. A piece of gray whale baleen measures approximately 18 inches and is much like the human fingernail in consistency. 

How big are Gray Whales?

Gray whales will grow up to 40 tons, measuring around 50 feet. Female Gray’s usually grow slightly larger than their male counterparts.

How many gray whales exist? Are they endangered?

Current estimates put these whales at about 20,000 worldwide. As a result of major international conservation efforts, California Gray Whales were removed from the Endangered Species List in 1994. Most of the world’s population resides in the Eastern Pacific but gray whales can also be found off the coast of Korea in large numbers. There have even been confirmed sightings in the Atlantic Ocean which suggests old breeding grounds from the 17th-20th century may beginning to be used again by rare Atlantic pods. The only known natural predator to the gray whale is a pod of killer whales.

What is a Gray Whale’s lifespan?

Gray Whales live 50-70 years. The become sexually mature at 8 years of age.

Give Harbor Sailboats  a call to arrange you whale watching tour aboard a new, modern and cleaning sailing yacht!

International Proficiency Certificate

What is an International Proficiency Certificate and how do i get it?

Most Mediterranean and European charter companies require an international proficiency certificate in order to prove a skippers abilities before a Bareboat charter. If you’ve taken your American Sailing Association classes up to Bareboat Cruising you simply fill out an application through the ASA and provide a passport photo. But what if you don’t have ASA certification but have the skills and experienced that is otherwise taught in the ASA program? Well, you have to take ASA 101, 103, and 104 before applying for the International Proficiency Certificate…

“That’s a lot and time and money!!! There has to be another way!!!”

At Harbor Sailboats we offer a 1 day International Proficiency Certificate Challenge for highly qualified sailors to expedite this process.

This unique process is designed for lifelong sailors who regularly charter or own, who hold no ASA certifications, and are now being required to present the American Sailing Association’s International Proficiency Certificate. Highly qualified applicants will spend 1 full day on the water with an ASA instructor (9am-5pm). The sailor’s skills will be tested on a 41’ or larger sailboat with test material including but not limited to boat systems, navigation, boat handling, troubleshooting, safety procedures, anchoring, and knots; all in accordance with ASA 104 Bareboat Chartering standards. After successfully completing the on the water skills assessment, the sailor will then take the ASA 104 written exam. After successfully completing the written exam, the sailor can then apply for the International Proficiency Certificate directly on the ASA’s website to complete the process

Contact us to learn about pricing and prerequisites.

Please Note The Following:

  1. Resume must qualify and be presented 2 weeks ahead of testing date
  2. The sailor must understand the IPC FastTrack is Pass/Fail and nonrefundable.
  3. Testing is to take place on a Weekday Only.

Sailing Vacation in San Diego

Have you always wanted to learn how to sail? Have you also wanted to visit and vacation in San Diego? How about combining the two with a San Diego week-long sailing vacation?! A live-aboard sailing vacation is geared for the sailor who has limited time available but wants to complete an accelerated and comprehensive training program of the ASA curriculum.

San Diego Bay is the perfect instructional venue due to its year round protected waters, mild and predictable weather, and its pure beauty. Between you’re private floating condo (you’re boat!), easy access to beaches, restaurants and all major attractions, you’ll have it all in San Diego. We are located in the Harbor Island West Marina which is just a quick and cheap 5 minute ride from San Diego International Airport and Downtown San Diego (no rental car needed). Harbor Island is conveniently located in central San Diego Bay meaning we are equidistant from the Coronado Bridge and Point Loma which leads out into the Pacific Ocean. 

During your sailing vacation you will be moved aboard a sailing yacht for the duration of your course which you can provision and stock as needed (think condo!). Typically the first two days of instruction is spent aboard a smaller boat (ASA 101) with the next 2-4 days of instruction taking place aboard your live aboard boat.  Depending on your goals and prior experience, students will book 4-6 days of instruction covering multiple levels of ASA certification. Our most basic sailing vacation is a 4-5 day course that covers ASA 101 day 1 and 2, a break on day 3 to sail or explore San Diego, and then goes onto ASA 103 on days 4-5. Add two more days of instruction for ASA 104 or book the boat for a couple days of sailing on your own! It’s all possible with a customized learn to sail vacation with Harbor Sailboats.

Below is a quick description of each ASA level and students shall be prepared to spend 2 days on each classes level.


ASA Curriculum

ASA 101-Basic Sailing. Able to skipper a sloop-rigged keelboat of approximately 20 to 27 feet in length by day in light to moderate winds (up to 15 knots) and sea conditions. Knowledge of basic sailing terminology, parts and functions, helm commands, basic sail trim, points of sail, buoyage, seamanship and safety including basic navigation rules to avoid collisions and hazards.

ASA 103-Coastal Cruising. Able to skipper a sloop-rigged auxiliary powered keelboat of approximately 25 to 35 feet length by day in moderate winds (up to 20 knots) and sea conditions. Knowledge of cruising sailboat terminology, basic boat systems, auxiliary engine operation, docking procedures, intermediate sail trim, navigation rules, basic coastal navigation, anchoring, weather interpretation, safety and seamanship.

ASA 104-Bareboat Chartering. Learn how to sail a sloop-rigged, auxiliary powered 30′-45′ sailboat during a multi-day cruise upon inland/coastal waters in moderate/heavy winds and sea conditions. Learn about provisioning, boat systems, auxiliary engines, advanced sail trim, coastal navigation, anchoring / mooring, docking, emergency operations, weather, and more.

View description of all sailing vacation courses or call our office for a customized quote. See you on the water!


Difference Between Sailing Club and Fractional Membership

If you’re a current member of Harbor Sailboats or have done some research on us, you probably know we also operate SailTime San Diego, a fractional membership club. What are the differences between Harbor Sailboats (Sailing Club) and SailTime San Diego (Fractional Membership)?

Lets first define what a sailing club is. A sailing club is usually a privately owned organization that offers sailing lessons and or sailboat rentals to non-boat owners. A club will usually operate a fleet of vessels that are located in the same marina and available for charter to the club members. Most clubs will have a one time initiation fee along with annual or monthly minimums and offer discounted charter rates to its members.

A factional membership program like SailTime is similar expect sailors are purchasing a membership (i.e. usage) to a specific boat rather than a fleet of boats like a sailing club. With a factional membership, a boat is typically owned by a single person and the rest of the users are essentially leasing a share of the boat rather than becoming equity partners. This program is similar in concept to a time share or fractional ownership of a yacht but without the nasty commitments and fees associated with those.

Deciding which program to join will depend on how often you plan to sail. If you think you’ll be sailing once a month or less, than a club like Harbor Sailboats is a good option. If you think you’ll be sailing at least once a month and likely more, a SailTime membership will prove a better program. Finally, if you’re going to sail once a week than boat ownership may come attractive to you.

A program like SailTime will have a monthly rate that usually cost more than one charter of an equal boat and less than three charters of that same boat. This is why it will make sense to join a fraction program if you plan on sailing on a more regular basis.

Most new sailors will feel more comfortable joining a club like Harbor Sailboats since they can start with the basics and build their skill levels on various size boats and models before making a bigger commitment to a fractional membership or ownership. The majority of fractional members “graduate” from sailing clubs after they have gotten hooked on the sport and have the confidence to skipper boats with less supervision.

No matter your resume or goals, our organization can accommodate you! Come by the office to learn more about the sailing club, SailTime San Diego, or our boat ownership programs.

What Size Boat Should You Put Into Charter?

A questions we often get is what size Beneteau should I purchase for charter placement? As before, we will answer this question from the perspective of “limited charter” like we do at Harbor Sailboats.

Owners should be purchasing the boat they want to own and sail for the next 5-10 years! Since our club boats charter less than 90 days per years it’s very important that you are owning the boat that best fits the needs of your family first and needs of the club second. That being said, the club will always show you the size range that has the best earning potential and the biggest need, let’s look at a few examples.

The fleet of Beneteau Oceanis 31′-35′ will likely charter more often and in turn generate good revenue to help offset your costs, those size boats also cost less to own and maintain meaning owners in that size range likely see a greater percentage of cost coverage compared to larger boats. That said, if you have a large family the smaller boats will likely be a little cramped for the weekend trips to Mission Bay or Catalina compared to the Beneteau Oceanis 41.1 with a huge cockpit and optional 3 staterooms and 2 heads. Keep in mind that the larger boats may charter less often but their daily rates are much higher than that of the Oceanis 31. Here again, purchase the boat you want to own and the club will make it work!

When considering Charter Placement, we sit down and discuss your goals and needs and try to find the boat that fits you best while not ignoring the needs and revenue potential within the fleet. Harbor Sailboats will never “overcrowd” a size range in fairness to current owners so regardless of your choice, we can still save you thousands of dollars a month compared to private ownership. On average, fleet boats generate enough revenue to cover slip, insurance, and maintenance on an annual basis; this works out to about 50% of you overall cost if you add financing.

Harbor Sailboats is a sub-dealer of Beneteau yachts meaning we have direct access to inventory, ordered boats, options, pricing, etc. Your purchase and placement through Harbor Sailboats makes boat ownership easy and more cost effective. Contact us today to learn why Harbor Sailboats is southern California’s leader in charter ownership.



2018 Oceanis 31 – Three Years Free

Harbor Sailboats has inventoried a brand new 2018 Beneteau Oceanis 31 for sale into the ownership program and it’s ready for immediate delivery. Unlike other fleet boats, this Oceanis 31 will be placed under an extremely rare guarantee program that will pay 100% of the ownership cost for the first 3 years while still delivering liberal sailing time for the owner.

After completing the purchase through Harbor Sailboats, the owner will enter into a 3 year agency agreement that will have the club pay the boats slip rent, insurance, maintenance, and loan payment every single month! Essentially, the only cost for three years is a down payment on a loan (typically 20% or in this case roughly 39k) and Harbor Sailboats will take care of the rest. If a boat owner chooses not to finance, Harbor Sailboats will still make a lease payment equal to what a typical loan payment would be. Today’s typical boat loans are for 20 years, with 20% down, and rates around 5.5%. An owner will enjoy regular sailing on their own yacht while saving thousands of dollars per month and countless hours of management.

After 3 years the owners have the option to keep the boat in the fleet for two more years under the normal 50/50 revenue split, the option to sell through the Harbor Sailboats brokerage, the option to keep privately at the marina or trade in for a new Beneteau!

Under this very special agreement the owner has 42 days per year of reserved usage and unlimited usage when book on the same day. Of the 42 days, 14 of them are available May 15-Septermber 15 with the renaming 28 days available September 16-May 14 .

A little about the boat…

The Beneteau Oceanis 31 is the entry level cruiser in the Oceanis line but don’t let her LOA fool you. The 31′ has an incredible amount of room in the cockpit for the entire family while also delivering a spacious salon and master cabin. Her interior will sleep 4 with one head and shower. The modern design makes short handed sailing simple with all control lines leading aft and top electronics from B&G.

Some delivered option included on this boat.

  • White Hull w/ Platinum Edition
  • Open Bulkhead in Mahogany
  • Electric Head
  • Roller Furling Main
  • Autopilot, Wind, Speed, GPS, Depth, VHF, Chart Plotter
  • Second Winch for Future Added Spinnaker
  • Bimini
  • All USCG Required Safety Gear
  • All Galley Gear
  • Shore Powered Air Conditioning
  • Fully Delivered Charter Ready
  • ASA Certification for Owner

Sail Away Charter Ready- $181,690

Who is this program right for?

This program is a perfect fit for someone looking to get into boat ownership while not braking the bank. Allow Harbor Sailboats to cover almost 70K worth of expenses while you slowly acclimate yourself to ownership. Perhaps you are retiring in 3 years and this is a way to get ahead of the cost and take full advantage of more free time 3-5 years from now.

Another fit would be a family who wants to own a larger Beneteau one day but is a little intimidated by getting into a 45′ right now. This is an inexpensive way to work towards that goal while building those skills as a family.

Someone who needs help reducing his/her tax liability for 2017 may find this to be an extremely attractive option. We strongly recommend consulting a tax professional but this purchase may qualify for benefits under Section 179. Regardless of your reason, one must first want to own a boat before considering this option. Compared to private ownership, this program is an obvious savings in cost and time.

For all details please contact Beneteau professional Keenan Hirsh by email or call him, 619-417-3303

5 Reasons to Join a Sailing Club

Whether you are a seasoned sailor with decades of experience or a novice just starting your sailing journey, the same hurdles seem to stand in the way when it comes to desired sea time. In the wake of busy personal and professional lives, finding the time, resources and necessary crew sometimes seems like an impossible feat. You could Join a premier sailing club. This strategy helps you sail around those hurdles with ease and gets you on the water as much as you desire! Here’s why:

  1. Relevant Training – Finding a club with training tailored to your specific skill level will open up a world of possibilities by eliminating the “But I don’t know how!” and the “But I’m not certified!” It is important as a sailor to have a strong combination of both certifications and experience. By joining a sailing club with a structured sailing curriculum like ASA, you can check both structured training and time on the water off your list!
  2. Sailing on Demand – A club that provides individualized training is important, but a club that offers both training and a wide variety of well-maintained yachts is essential. Premier sailing clubs offer year-round access to sailboats and give you, the member, more opportunities to get out on the water in your own time. A sailing club gives you the flexibility to book a sail months in advance or just a few minutes before hitting the water
  3. Affordability – Probably the most logical reason for joining a premier sailing club is to enjoy the perks of sailing brand new yachts for pennies on the dollar compared to buying and owning yourself. You can charter a new Beneteau a couple times a month for less money than the slip rent and maintenance would cost a boat owner. This brings up an important aspect of choosing a club; shop around! Tour all the fleets, meet staff members and instructors, and check out the products being offered first hand to really get a good grasp on what you are paying for. Remember, you get what you pay for so do your homework and ask questions. Ask to talk to current members too.
  4. Connection! Connection! Connection! – Being a member of a club gets you exclusive access to what that club offers, including other members! For instance at Harbor Sailboats, we have a “Members Only” forum that can be used for crew sharing opportunities, meet and greets, and much more and is only available to our members. Not to mention, club staff is always willing and ready to assist with a simple phone call or email. Not being able to find crew is a problem of the past!
  5. Tailored plans for Future Endeavors – What are your ultimate sailing goals? Do you dream of chartering in the British Virgin Islands? Do you see yourself owning a yacht one day? As a member of a sailing club, staff can work with you achieve your desired sailing goals. Harbor Sailboats for example holds club sponsored flotillas and in-house ownership opportunities in order to foster and support our members’ sailing dreams.


So what are you waiting for? Join a sailing club!


How To Get Started Sailing

Many Americans have a dream of one day sailing off on their boat, but how do you get started with that dream?

The first step is to take a basic sailing lesson; here at Harbor Sailboats we offer ASA 101 Basic Keelboat. ASA 101 is a two day course where we spend 80% of the time on the water aboard a Capri 22 learning the basics of sailing. Topics include terminology, points of sail, rules of the road, sail trim, docking under sail, man overboard and many others.

After completion of this basic sailing class you’ll have both the skill and the confidence to safely skipper a 22 foot sailboat with friends and family and a certification from the American Sailing Association. From that point, you simply build on those skills by chartering the smaller keelboats until you have enough sea time to enroll into the next level class. At Harbor Sailboats that class is ASA 103 coastal cruising and after completing the 103 class you will now be certified to skipper boats up to 37 feet. At this point you continue to build your resume by chartering the larger 30 to 37 foot sailboats for a day, weekend, or even a week at a time. Take your certifications as far as you desire by enrolling in the next three levels of classes that will certify you to a maximum of 51 feet including catamaran certifications.

If you plan to make San Diego your home base for sailing, a Harbor Sailboats club membership will prove to be a valuable option for you. Members of the sailing club receive substantial discounts on ASA classes, charters, and access to member only charter specials including an annual sailing trip in the Caribbean.

After a year or two of chartering and training you might be ready to buy the sailboat of your dreams and sail off into the sunset!

The Difference Between Renting a Sailboat and Being A Sailing Club Member

The concept of a sailing club membership may be foreign to some people, but what are some of the differences between being a club member and just renting a sailboat for the day?

The direct benefit of a sailing club membership is the discounted rates you receive on both sailing classes and sailboat charters. As a member of the Harbor Sailboats sailing club you can expect to save anywhere from 30% to 50% off the public rental rate. These cost savings really add up even if you only sail a handful of times annually.  Another great benefit of our club membership are the member only specials offered to you. Here, our club members can take advantage of flex time sailing, weekend specials, extended trip specials, and standby specials just to name a few . In addition, new sailors who join the club also receive the ASA 101 Basic Keelboat, complementary, so you can hit the ground running.

The familiarization with the boats and the clubs process is also a big difference between being a member and a public renter. As a member you are more familiar with how the whole process operates in respect to the reservation and boat checkout process. This allows you more time on the water and less time dealing with formalities. As a member of a club like Harbor Sailboats you are also more familiar with the sailing area allowing you to have a more enjoyable time on the water.

The social aspect of a club membership is also a very important consideration. A public renter may not get an invitation to join some of the group activities like opening day, boat shows, group sails, holiday parties, and annual flotillas, just to name a few. The social activities help give your club membership more value and also serve as an environment to meet other like-minded sailors. A very unique feature of Harbor Sailboats is our “members only” forum that serves as a great platform for members to connect and sail together.

These are just a few examples of the difference between being a public renter and having a sailing club membership. If you plan on sailing in San Diego a couple times per year, even if you live out of town, our club membership is the best option for you. We encourage you to learn more, ask us questions and talk to current members to help you decide if it is right for you.

Creating A More Enjoyable Time For Your Crew

Being the skipper comes with a lot of responsibility; you’re responsible for the boat and most importantly responsible for the safety of the crew. Here are a couple tips on how to create a more enjoyable time for your crew while still maintaining safe keeping of the boat and passengers. For the purposes of this blog we will write from the perspective of chartering boats from a club like Harbor Sailboats.

Stay within your skill. It’s very exciting to be certified with ASA 103 and boats up the 37′ but chances are high that you’re not ready for a 37′ boat right out of a 103 class. Stay within your skill level by chartering a boat you feel comfortable on and work your way up in size in small increments. For sailors fresh out of the 103 class this is probably the Catalina 28 or Beneteau 31. Boat handling will become more stressful once you add 4-5 friend/family and being outside your skill level can create and not so enjoyable experience for your crew.

Get to the boat early. Getting to the boat 30-45 minutes before your crew is extremely important and even more so for new sailors. By getting to the boat early you can really get your feet under you and create a better atmosphere for your check out with the dock staff. This allows for a more detailed review of the boat and even a practice docking if you would like. By getting to the boat early your crew will able to step on and go sailing without having to sit through your check out and practice docking.

Prep your crew at the dock. Most likely you and maybe one other crew member are sailors and the rest of the group are friends and family along for a ride. Spending a few extra minutes at the dock explaining how the boat works will go a long way towards making the sail more enjoyable. Show how a winch works, how the boom will swing, how to walk forward in a safe way, and of course demonstrating how the head works are just a few examples.

Keep the boat flat. Getting the boat powered up and heeled over may be fun for a group of sailors (even though its not fast and not good for the boat) but it’s not always fun for a group that is new to boating. New sailors may not understand how the keel will prevent the boat from flipping or know how to properly brace themselves on the high side so it’s extremely important to keep the boat calm and flat. Don’t be afraid to take in a reef or just sail with the main if its a windy day.

These are just a couple example on how to create a more enjoyable time for you crew and improve your skills as a skipper.

Owning a Charter Boat

If you’re a regular charterer at your sailing club or if you rent in exotic destinations like the British Virgin Islands, chances are you’ve been pitched on buying and owning a boat in a rental program. For some, this is the absolute best way of owning a boat and for others this is not the best idea.

Let us explain a little bit of how it works from the perspective of a Sailing Club that’s been doing it since 1969.

The first thing one must understand is what type of charter program are you entering into? Are you doing full time charter, limited charter, owner operated charter, etc? For the purposes of this blog we will speak of limited charter like we do here at Harbor Sailboats. Limited charter is defined by most insurance companies and lenders as chartering less than 90 days per year.

Will I make money owning a boat in the charter fleet? Absolutely not. Limited charter boat ownership is not designed to make its owners money, it is designed to save you money. The goal for our owners at Harbor Sailboats is to cover roughly 50% of their annual cost of ownership while still allowing them to sail their new Beneteau on a regular basis.

How do the financials work? Every club is a little different but here at Harbor Sailboats revenue is split 50/50 between the boat owner and the club. An owner is responsible for the payment of all operating cost like slip rent, insurance, maintenance, loan (just like private ownership) but their portion of the charter revenue goes a long way towards covering those cost. At the end of each month an owner will receive a statement showing expenses (slip rent and maintenance) along with a statement of revenue. Most months an owner will have more revenue than expenses and a nice check from the club will accompany the statement, if this is not the case an owner will bring the balance to zero by writing a check to the club.

How often can I use my boat? It is mutually understood that the boat is part of the club for the main purpose of renting, that being said we want the owners to use their boats! Most of our agreements do not place a limit on owner usage but some owners try to be more active mid-week and off season as to take advantage of the peak rental periods. Use your boat!

What happens with damage? First, all reputable charter companies will have a fleet policy that covers the owner, renters, and the charter company in the event of major damage. For small mistakes, the person who causes the damage pays for the repair up to the boats insurance deductible amount. For example, if a charterer looses a winch handle or chips the bow with the anchor they will be financially responsible for the damage. Harbor Sailboats staff does detailed pre and post sail check outs to ensure all discrepancies are tracked. Normal wear and tear of sails and rigging is considered maintenance and the good charter companies will replace those items before they become a problem for the renter or owner.

How long can I keep a boat in the fleet? New boats enter the Harbor Sailboats fleet with a 5 year term, after 5 years we will look at the shape of the overall fleet a decide if its time to trade the boat in for a new boat, sell, enjoy privately, or keep in the fleet under another 1 year term.

What boats are eligible for charter fleets? Again every club is a little different but here at Harbor Sailboats we bring in new Beneteau sail and powerboats. We’re extremely proud to be a sub-dealer of the Beneteau brand as this gives our customers to best pre and post sale experience. Some clubs across the US will take in late model used boat so if new is not in the budget don’t worry as there is always an option.

Who Performs the Maintenance? The best run clubs across the US will have an in-house maintenance crew that will manage and maintain your boat to the highest standard. Preventative maintenance is key to any boats maintenance schedule but with an in house team these projects get done quicker and get worked around the charter schedule as not to interfere with owner revenue. Having your boat in a managed maintenance program through the charter club saves the owners hours of management and gives a piece of mind that your boat is maintained in top condition.

These are just a few topics on charter boat ownership, if your interested more details please contact Keenan Hirsh.