Long Term Yacht Charter

Notice: The English version of the following interview was translated into English from the original Russian interview.

Yacht Charter - Sergey Shchekoldin and crew on board- Sergey, we are glad to welcome you to our interview, which is going to be published in the articles section on our website! Among our Russian clients you are the first who does long term Yacht Charters. Your sailing cruises do not last one or two weeks as usual, but several months. Two years ago, you made a 6-weeks Yacht Charters cruise in the Adriatic Sea. Was it your first long term Yacht Charters experience?
Yes, 2008 I charterd a yacht for the first time. This was also my first experience as a skipper. Before that I used to take part in sailing cruises as a crew member. For instance, I did 900 sea miles in 2006. Then I organised a sailing cruise on the private yacht “Andromeda”, on which we sailed 3500 sea miles, starting in the northern Europe and finishing in Marocco.

- Obviously, your first skipper experience was successful. Last year you spent 8 weeks on a chartered yacht in the western Mediterranean. What route did you manage to sail during that time?
We did a great route that time. We started from Sicily to the Lipari Islands, then Capri, Ponsa, Rome, crossing the Thyrrenian Sea to the Maddalena archipelago in the north-west of Sardinia, the straits of Bonifaccio, Ajaccio, Calvi. Then we sailed in the Ligurian Sea to the Cote d’Azur. We visited San Remo, Monaco, Antibes, Iles de Lerins, Saint-Tropez, Iles d’Hyeres, Marseille. Then we sailed through the Gulf of Lion to Barcelona. From the Balearic Islands we saw Majorca and Cabrera before sailing back to Calvi (Sardinia). From there, we sailed to Tunisia and back to the island Pantelleria, the Aegadian Islands, Sicily, Palermo and our finish in Portorosa. We did 2000 sea miles.

- Did you visit every spot you planned or were there any route changes due to weather conditions or other circumstances?
When planning a Yacht Charters cruise, I always take the weather into consideration and leave some days for the “leeway”. If you’ve got some spare days in your plan, you would not need to claim on the circumstances in an unlucky case. So we definitely saw everything we planned. The only thing that I did not reckon with was the lack of yachting infrastructure in the north of Tunisia. There, we had to leave the marina on the same day because of the bad weather. We were moored right at the port entrance, near the filling station. So when the storm started, our boat was in danger to be thrown over to the pontoon by the swell. Unfortunately, there were no free berths in the centre of the marina. We did not want to spend the night in the sea and return to the marina the following morning, so we sailed back to Italy. Although we planned to spend at least three days in Tunisia, we managed to see many spots with taxi in that one day.

- Harmony and we-spirit in the crew are essential for a successful Yacht Charters cruise. Could you tell us some words about your crew? I know that you travel with your family, e.i. your wife and son. Is that right?
Of course! The spirit in our crew helps us to manage our long sailing routes. I always follow some simple rules when forming the crew. The first one is the general will. I never persuade people to come. I just propose it to them.
First of all, I tell my family about my Yacht Charters plans. Then collegues, old friends, fellows from the yacht club and then all the others.
My wife Valentina and my son Mikhail were with me during the whole cruise in 2008. The forth crew member was my old friend. We already sailed together in 2007 and he wanted to visit new countries. Alexander and Irina, a couple, joined us for 10 days. They are easy and relaxed people. When I asked my family and good friends in 2008, there we no enthusiasts among them apart from my wife and son. So I asked some other people as well. And indeed, some of them wanted to try out what I was telling them about.
In 2009, my son was on board during the whole cruise again. We found many people who wanted to join us on our Yacht Charters trip and to get familiar with sailing. We even had to reject some of these “applicants”…
Our crew was not really professional – some of them were for the first time in their lives on board of a sailing yacht. And I am actually not really experienced skipper. But we had a great crew consisting of motivated people who wanted to make this cruise and to learn sailing, to see new countries and islands. We were aged between 30 and 62.

- Do they all like the life on board?
You have to ask them. For me the answer is easy – if they want to do this again, then they defititely like it.

- Can you tell our readers something about your everyday life on board: does every crew member have his own duties?
We do not have passengers. Our crew does shift work. We change the shift at 0, 4, 8, 14 and 20 o’clock. The current shift is responsible for cooking, the next coming shift for cleaning and washing up. Of course, it is of advantage, if there is someone in the crew who likes cooking. But even if not – during our Yacht Charters cruises noone lost weight or became ill.
Entering a harbour, we usually wash the boat on deck and clean the cabins inside. Once in two weeks we wash our clothes.
All in all, nothing special. Important is that everyone tries to be useful.
My crew members also have the opportunity to learn sailing, if they wish so. We always have theory books with us. Once read, the navigating skills can already be practiced.

- Where do you get food provisions and fresh water for such long terms? Were there any times when you lacked something?
We buy food in the supermarkets. When we rent a car, we fill up our fresh water provisions. Until now, we have not had “bread rebellions” on board!

- What about curious or funny stories?
Maybe I don’t have a good sense of humor, but there were no special curiosities. We just had a lot of fun together.
It was not funny, when our Russian flag was stolen from the deck in Norway. There is a sea law saying that a flag shall be put down at sunset. We didn’t do that. As we awaited a strong wind in a small fisher village in Norway, they punished us. In that night we read the story of Mikhail Veller “The Flag”. We did not have a reserve Russian flag with us, so we had to hem it from a Dutch flag.

- You have been to many countries and doubtlessly met different cultures and mentalities. What is your general impression of how Russian yachtsmen are treated in the Mediterranean port towns? Are there any peculiarities you have noted in this regard?
The thing is that I’ve never sailed with an international crew. So I cannot really tell something about the differences between Russian and other yachtsmen. In the ports, we always had a mooring place. Port stuff often asked us about the flag – they thought it was Dutch.

- I know that you have an own blog on the internet with your travel diaries. Please tell our readers about it – what can they find there?
Last year I started my own page in the Live Journal (http://shchsg.livejournal.com/). It was ment for families and friends of our crew members, so they could know about our news during the cruise. I used internet cafes in the ports to publish latest articles and pictures.
Gradually, the page grew. I inserted articles about my sailing trips in the past and articles for those, who may have interest to join us on one of our next routes. I share our experience from the latest Yacht Charters cruises with the readers.
By the way, you will also find broad answers to your questions there.

- Which route have you planned for this season?
We would like to sail in the eastern Mediterranean, e.i. Athens, Ionian Sea, Crete, Cyprus, Israel, Turkey and the Cyclades.

- What are your criteria for choosing the right boat for charter? Apart from its availability for a long term charter, of course!
I just try to charter a boat, which is not older than 3 years.

- Do you have a favourite yacht model?
I like OVNI yachts very much. For expeditions. For leisure Pogo 40. Just a dream. I’ve never sailed with them. Among all Yacht Charters models I haven’t got any favourites until now. I charter a different boat each time, comparing them. I hope to find my favourite model once.

- Our traditional question: what do you always have with you on board?
A small icon, the bible, a laptop with the application MaxSea with the C-Map maps, a set of general and special maps, plotter, binoculars, sail repair tools, storm leiers, bridles, several carabiners, 15 metres of 8 mm line, waterproof clothes, boots, yachting shoes, an electric water boiler and buckwheat. 

- The MORECRUISE team would like to thank you for your trust and wish succsess in your future Yacht Charters trips!

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