Charter Documents

Booking Procedure

  • Boat Availability: Choose your yacht and the dates you’d like to charter. (click here)
  • Call the Great Lakes Sailing office to confirm availability and pricing.
  • A deposit will confirm your yacht and the dates of your choice. See below for confirmation deposit amounts.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The balance is due 60 days prior to your charter start date.
  • Charter Duration: A 5-day minimum is required to reserve & book your dates. (We are currently booking 3-day and 4-day charters for early & late season, and will accept 3-day and 4-day charters during peak season if booked less than 30 days before your sail date.)

Short Term Charters

Our boats are outfitted for extended cruising but we would be happy to do our best to fit in shorter charter requests.  In an effort of honoring shorter charter requests and trying to maximize a short charter season, this is our policy:

For shorter term charters, we will take your information and your credit card number. If a long term charter books over your charter we will give you the option to change dates, change boats or get a full refund of your deposit. Otherwise, if we don’t have any requests for a longer term charter, we will run your credit card for the full amount in the time frame listed below and you are confirmed for the charter.  

Example: You would like a 2 day charter July 17-18. You can call us to book it anytime in advance. We will take your credit card but it won’t be charged until July 3rd (two weeks prior to the charter date). On July 1, someone want’s to book a longer charter during the same time you want to sail. We will take the longer charter request and will give you the option to change dates, change boats or get full refund. But if July 3rd comes around (two weeks prior to your sail date) and your dates are still available, we will charge your card and you are confirmed. 

For 3 day charters, it’s the same example as above but we can confirm you 3-weeks prior to your charter date.  

Short-Term Charters & Confirmation Timeline:

 1 Day (day sail, no overnight) – Call us within a week of so of your intended sailing date for availability. We can only confirm a day sail 2-days from the actual sail date. Your card will be charged two days prior unless you call us to cancel outside of 2 days. 

 2 Day Charter – Reserve anytime. You card will be charged 2 weeks prior to the charter unless someone books more time outside of the 2 week timeframe. 

 3 Days – Reserve any time. Charter is confirmed 3 weeks prior to the charter unless someone books more time outside of the 3 week timeframe .

 4 Days – Reserve any time. Your charter is confirmed when you book.  

If a long term charter (4 days or more) books over your charter we will give you the option to change dates, change boats or get a full refund of your deposit.


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 10 days in duration, a 30% confirmation deposit is required.

Confirmation Amount

$2000 or 50% of Charter Fee (the lesser of)

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

$2000 (refundable) for sailboats or $3000 (refundable) for power boats.

Damage Waiver Insurance (nonrefundable)

This is a non-refundable, $30/day insurance 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


When we confirm your charter, we are telling many other people that the boat you booked is unavailable.  And these boats are owned by individuals who put them in our charter management (much like Airbnb handles condo management).  We owe the money to our boat owners inside the cancellation dates and we told many other people that the boat wasn’t available.  When “life happens” and your vacation plans don’t work out, we have to stick to your cancellation policy.  Trip Insurance is your best bet.

As a company we are doing our best to keep our staff employed and keep the business financially solid. In our short but very busy sailing season, charter days are in high demand and we highly recommend trip insurance. Trip insurance is fairly cheap and comes in very handy when “life happens”.

Deposits are non-refundable and can be applied to future charters in the same season if changes are requested prior to 60 days before your charter. Please note, there is a $250 change fee.

Not rescheduling this season will result in the forfeiture of the deposit and/or balance payment.

If you have to reschedule or cancel your charter a second time, your deposit and/or balance will be forfeited.

Charter Cancellations 60 DAYS OR MORE from your charter date:

  • Your deposit may be applied to another charter date this season or the following season on the same boat.
  • A $250 change fee will be assessed.

Charter Cancellations 60 DAYS OR LESS from your charter date:

  • Your total payments (deposit and balance) will be forfeited.
  • If we can rebook the same dates previously reserved, we will refund accordingly less a 25% 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, Allianz 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 charterso 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 (this may vary depending on what you arranged with the office). 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 of 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. We strongly encourage charterers to be back in the marina by 2:30 pm to allow ample time for lines at the fuel dock and an opportunity for a relaxed and unhurried departure.

The Island Clause

Boats, like everything else in this modern world, are more complicated and are equipped with more amenities and non-essential accoutrements than ever before (flat screen TV, bow thruster, auto pilot, electric winches, etc). It is often impossible for us to predict when these will fail. We do not consider the malfunction of a non-essential component reason for immediate service nor will it automatically constitute a refund or change of boats. Equipment failures happen beyond our control and an experienced boater will understand this and continue to enjoy the sailing experience.

In the event of a breakdown or equipment failure on Beaver Island, Mackinaw Island or any location not readily accessible by car, we do not offer expedited service for repair. It is very, very important that you thoroughly double check your vessels systems (battery charging, rigging, sails, heads, etc) before you leave for a remote location. If you get to an island and then call for service, you may end up waiting several days and compensation may not always be an option. In summary, before you head off to an island, double check your vessel systems. If you find or suspect there’s an issue with your vessel and you are still at a mainland port, we will do everything in our ability to be preventative and expedite the repair but we can’t expedite a repair when you are on an island. Worse case scenario you may have to settle in and stay on the island for a few days awaiting service. This is rare and unlikely but it has happened. So unless you’re ok with this, stay to the mainland.

Lost & Found

Ship Shape – At the end of your charter, check the boat carefully to ensure you have not left any personal belongings behind. It is your responsibility to keep track of your gear and make sure you leave with everything you brought with you. We cannot be responsible for locating or mailing items left behind. 

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 $200 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 $350. You must depart the yacht by 10:00 am 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.

Cleaning Fee

We expect boats to be in a similar condition at the end of your charter as when you arrived. Please be respectful and clean up after yourselves. A dirty boat will result in additional cleaning fees assessed. Our standard cleaning fee is $250. Bugs smashed into the headliner, walls, blinds, upholstery, etc. may result in the loss of your entire deposit if fabric needs replacing. 

Standard Yacht Inventory

Click for a complete list of yacht inventory.

Excessive Engine Hours

Sailing with the wind and weather often results in the most fun, and least amount of stress. We understand that sometimes the wind just doesn’t cooperate. And sometimes itineraries have been set in advance that your crew may insist on sticking with. On average sailors motor between 1-4 hours per day during a trip. We are allotting up to 5 engine hours per day for motoring. Additional hours will be charged $200/hour.  This applies to our powerboats as well. Our charters are intended to see the area at a leisurely pace. If you want to cruise areas that are further away and don’t want to spend the time to get there and back, call us and we’ll arrange to deliver a boat to your starting point.  

To clarify, a 5-day charter is allowed 25 engine hours. It is okay to use more hours some days and fewer hours other days. As long as the end result is less than 25 engine hours (in this example of a 5-day charter), there is no extra fee.

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 $150.

Pets and Smoking (no to both)

  • Pets of any kind are not allowed on any charter vessels in the Great Lakes Sailing Co. fleet.
  • Smoking is prohibited.