How to accept a yacht from a charter company

Yacht acceptance is a crucial stage, which affects both: the quality of the future voyage and the refund of the security deposit.

First, let’s understand what we want to get from the boat acceptance process.

First of all, as the skipper, you want to be sure that the boat is in proper condition and fully set, so you have everything you need to have a great week with your crew. Secondly, you need to record the current conditions of the boat, so when you check out, you have something to compare with and avoid deposit loss. To do this, you need to note any problems you find, even if they are not critical to your voyage.

So, you have received a checklist from the charter company, which you need to follow to complete an acceptance. We recommend that you compile your list in advance based on this article and use it as a basis, completing the charter as a supplement.


It is best to start with the general condition of the boat and its individual components by checking that they are in good condition. Go on deck, walk around in a circle and check that the railings are in order – they are often loose or torn out. Check the battens – they should not be too loose or swaying, especially nothing should be torn off. Roller furling, hanks, eyelets on sails and the condition of any ropes that are accessible to you. Ropes should not be worn or frayed – if you notice this, feel free to ask for a replacement, it’s much better than having trouble with sails in strong winds.

Check the functioning of the jib and mainsail chases, the carriages should move normally, and there should be no broken or oxidised components. All winches should be tried out, they should turn easily and lock clearly. “Pianos” are also worth checking, try opening and locking latches. The ducks should not be torn out or dangling.

In summary, everything on deck should be intact and in good condition. If you find any external damages, as from knocks, document and report them to the charter office so that you are not blamed for it at handover. It’s just like carsharing.

The cockpit

While we’re still up there, we can check the list of equipment placed in the lockers. As we said before, it is also useful to have a list of tools that are important to you. This will not only help you check that everything is in place but also request any missing items, even if they are not on the checklist. This might include a mooring bag for the moorings, a spare tank of gas, paddles for the dinghy and other small but important items, an absence of which could ruin your trip. Count the cranes, lacking them at the checkout can be quite expensive.

Be sure to check the table, open it and make sure nothing is broken. If it has a remote light, you can find it straight away and check it – it’s a nice element to set the mood at evening moorings, and it’s cool when it’s there and works properly.


Once inside, the first thing to check is that nothing is broken. Particular attention should be paid to the handles on the sides of the gangway and on the ceiling, as well as the portholes. The latter often has protective louvers that often come off or pawls that break off, note this on checkout as it is important for hand-over after the trip. Check that the cooker is working properly and that the suspension mechanics are in order. Walk around the cabins, check doors, locks, handles, nothing should fall off or be loose.

Raise the floorboards and make sure there is no water underneath. Open the floorboards over the keel and check that the paint on the fixing bolts is intact – this is critical as it also indicates no possible leak and protects you from unwarranted claims from the charter company when accepting the boat. The fact is that if you run aground or hit a rock, the paint on the bolts comes off, and by checking it, the charterers will check if you have had any such accidents.

Water, plumbing

Turn on the water pump on the dashboard. Check the water pressure at all taps, including the stern shower – sometimes it can be chafed, and it is better to discover this onshore than after swimming at the anchorage. Very important – with the water supply turned off everywhere, the pump should not run, neither continuously nor intermittently, and if this happens, there is something wrong with it, or there is a leak from the system somewhere, so it has to keep pumping pressure up. If this happens, be sure to contact the charter company for repairs.

The second point that often needs repairing is the manual drains in the lavatories. They should move smoothly, without noise, and there should be no water accumulation in the toilets after draining.


Plug in the shore power. Check that all outlets are working – trust me, if someone has a non-functioning charger in their cabin after the start, you will be the one to question. Go through the cabins and check the lighting, including auxiliary lighting. Same for the wardroom. Turn on all deck lights – running lights forward, aft, mast lights and check that everything is working. Even if you don’t plan to sail at night, the equipment should still work, especially since in yachting no one avoids the unexpected. Check that all instruments, including those in the cockpit, are working.

Switch off the shore power, leaving lights and appliances on. Batteries should be able to hold the load, if the charge drops drastically and especially the undercharge alarm starts sounding – require battery replacement. Waiting for replacements during sailing and using the diesel to recharge frequently is an unpleasant and unnecessary practice.


A standard check consists of checking the oil level, the condition of the cooling system impeller and the alternator belt tension. If you are not an engine’s expert, just ask a representative of the charter company to show you that everything is fine, it’s normal practice, if there are any problems, an expert will spot them.  At the same time, it is good to check the condition of the gearbox by gently incorporating forward and reverse on the moored boat.  Also, check that water is coming out of the aft drain, which means that the water cooling system is working.


If the wind in the marina allows, set the sails and check their condition. There are no tears, the edges are smooth with no tears, and the eyelets are undamaged.

So, we’ve checked all the basics, now we can think of a checklist. Check the availability of key tools and accessories and also think about what you might be missing. It may well be that the charter company can provide it.

Extra set of linen, coffee maker, stern crane, another long mooring line, 220V inverter, Wi-Fi router. If you don’t find what you need at the charter company, you may still be able to buy it at the shop in the marina.

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