Booking a Charter

Charter Documents

Booking Procedure

  1. Choose your yacht and the dates you’d like to charter
  2. Call the Great Lakes Sailing office to check availability and confirm pricing
  3. A deposit will confirm your yacht and the dates of your choice.  See below for confirmation deposit amounts.
  4. You can pay the deposit with a credit card or we can simply hold the card number for 7 days to allow you to mail a check.
  5. From this webpage you can download all necessary charter documents. They will need to be mailed, faxed or emailed to us at your earliest convenience. Arrival Information is available for you to download to assist with driving directions and preparing for your trip. We can also mail these documents to you.
  6. The balance is due 30 days prior to your charter start date

Short Term Charters

In the interest of our charter fleet owners to best utilize charter time on their boats, we have these guidelines for booking shorter term charters;

In the Spring & Fall:

  • 2 days or more before June 17 or after September 17 = reserve and confirm anytime

In the Prime Season:

  • 4 days or more = reserve and confirm anytime.
  • 3 days = reserve anytime, confirmed 3 weeks prior to sail date.
  • 2 days = reserve anytime, confirm 2 weeks prior to sail date.
  • 1 day = reserve anytime with a deposit but can’t be confirmed until 24 hrs prior.  100% refund if we can’t confirm (if another charter books 2 or more days).  Balance due upon confirmation.

You can make your reservation anytime regardless of the number of days chartered. During the prime season, if you book less than 4 days and a longer term charter books the same boat, we will call to give you the option of moving to a similar size boat or to change dates. If you do not want to change boats or dates you will be given a full refund.  If you book a charter within the above confirmed times, you are confirmed and cancellation policies apply.


We accept Visa, MasterCard and Discover and personal checks. Checks are preferred. We can hold your deposit or balance payment on your credit card for up to 7 days to allow you to mail a check.

Confirmation Deposit

A confirmation deposit is required to confirm your reservation.  The deposit amount is applied as a credit towards your charter balance.  Confirmation deposits can be paid with a credit card or if you pay by check, we can place a hold on the yacht allowing up to 7 days for the check to arrive.  For charters over 13 days in duration, a 30% confirmation deposit is required.

Confirmation  Amounts

  • $1000 for all vessels

Damage Deposit (refundable)

Upon arrival for charter, the charterer is required to pay a refundable Damage Deposit  against any damages or loss that might occur during charter. A temporary hold can be placed on a credit card or we can accept cash, a money order or cashiers check (sorry, no personal checks for Damage Deposits). The Damage Deposit will be refunded to you within 14 days of the charter end pending any damages incurred, if any.  An additional $1000 is required for boats that cruise the waters of the North Channel and Door County, Wisconsin.

Damage Deposit Amount – $1000 (refundable) for all yachts

Damage Waiver Insurance (nonrefundable)

This is a non-refundable, $30/day insurance (not to exceed $300) that protects the charterer against losses and/or damages  that exceed the Damage Deposit amount held.  The yacht’s hull insurance deductible is typically much more than the Damage Deposit held and the Damage Waiver Insurance protects the charterer against this gap in liability.

Cancellation Policy

In our short but very busy sailing season, charter days are in high demand.  When a boat is reserved we often have to tell many other people that it’s unavailable.  We understand that “life happens”.  And this is why we highly recommend that you look into a trip insurance policy.  Trip insurance can be very cheap and very helpful when “life happens”.

Cancellations more than 30 days before your charter start:

  • Your deposit will be applied to another date to charter the current season or to the next charter season on the same boat.
  • If you do not exercise your charter that same season or the end of the next season, your deposit and/or balance will be forfeited.
  • If you have to reschedule your charter again or cancel a second time, your deposit and/or balance will be forfeited.

Cancellations LESS THAN 30 DAYS your charter start:

  • Your total payments (deposit and balance) will be forfeited.
  • If we can rebook the dates previously reserved, we will refund accordingly less a 10% processing fee.


  • We do not consider inclement weather a reason for canceling or rescheduling a charter of more than one day. Weather conditions that some sailors consider inclement, other sailors may view as perfectly acceptable.  With early or late season charters when there are more available yachts and dates, we can be somewhat flexible on this policy and will try to accommodate you as best we can.

Trip Insurance

We highly recommend that you get trip insurance.  “Life happens” and we can’t make exceptions to our cancellation policy.

We recommend purchasing trip insurance through Travel Guard or with any other reputable trip insurance company.  Great Lakes Sailing Company will not make exceptions to the cancellation policy for any reason which is why we strongly suggest purchasing trip insurance.

Tipping the Captain / Instructor

If you’ve hired a Captain or Instructor for any amount of time, it’s customary, but not required, to tip your Captain/Instructor after if you feel he or she did a great job.  Just like any service industry job, they make the extra effort to deliver a great service.  And if you feel they did, a tip is always greatly appreciated!

The Care and Feeding of your Captain / Instructor during Charter

It’s important to factor in overnight accommodations for the Captain / Instructor.  It is customary for the Captain to have his/her own stateroom during charter so that they can retreat at the end of the evening to allow your charter group time together.  The Captain can sleep on the converting salon table/berth in the main salon only if the Captain agreed to this prior to.

If you’ve hired a Captain / Instructor for your charter, you are responsible for including the Captain / Instructor into the meal plans.  When provisioning the boat with groceries, the Captains should be factored into meals.  If your charter party decides to eat ashore, it is customary that the Captain’s meal is paid for by the charterer.   It’s never a problem if you’d like to go ashore and have a meal on your own but just make sure the Captain has food aboard to prepare a meal for himself (and don’t forget to fill his water dish!)

Briefings (yacht familiarization)
Charters and briefings start at 9:00 am on the contract start date. The contract states that the charter will start at 9:00 am but you will not leave the dock at 9:00 am. Briefings can take anywhere from 45 minutes – 2.5 hrs. This directly depends how organized the captain and crew are and if the inventory sheet has been completed. We do not rush briefings and will take as much time as needed to completely familiarize you with your yacht.
The amount of time involved in your pre-charter briefing directly depends on the charterer skill level, organization or crew and gear and completion of the inventory sheet. When we have several boats going out the same morning, the crews that are the most organized with their inventories finished will receive priority.

Debriefings (charter end)
Charters end at 4:00 pm on the contract end date. This means you should be off the boat by this time. We will conduct a post-charter debrief when you return to report any problems and count yacht inventory items. Allow 30-45 minutes for our staff to debrief the yacht and allow you and your crew time to unload luggage and to be off the yacht by 4:00 pm.

Yacht Availability
If a yacht becomes unavailable due to events beyond our control, every effort will be made to move your charter to a similar size boat with similar appointments. Week long charters take precedence over shorter duration charters.

Sleep Aboards & Late Departure

  • “Sleep Aboard” allows you to board the yacht the evening before your charter start date.  Sleep Aboard fee is $100 and you can board the yacht anytime after 8:00 pm. In most cases, the yacht is available earlier. Check with our office during the afternoon to see if you can board the yacht earlier than 8pm. The Sleep Aboard does not include a briefing. It simply allows you to board the yacht, settle in and the next morning our staff will perform the briefing.
  • “Late Departure” allows you to stay on board the yacht the evening you return back to our dock on your charter end date. Late departure cost is $200 and cannot be confirmed until 1 day prior to your return date. You must depart the yacht by 8:00 the morning following your return date.

Rates are subject to change without notice. Our general policy is to honor published prices for the calendar year.

Standard Yacht Inventory
Click here for a complete list of yacht inventory.

Fueling & Pump Out
Your final fueling and pump out at the end of charter are paid for by Great Lakes Sailing Co.  You are still required to stop by the pump & fuel dock at the end of your charter and the marina staff will take care of this for you.  If you prefer to not stop by the pump & fuel dock at the end of your charter and would rather come directly to your slip, we will take care of the pump and fuel after you depart for a fee of $50.

Pets and Smoking

  • Pets of any kind are strictly prohibited from all charter vessels in the Great Lakes Sailing Co. fleet.
  • Smoking is prohibited below decks on all boats and must be confined to the aft cockpit area.