Every now and then I’m asked about the sailing pricing of Let’s Go Sail. It’s a fair question and is best addressed on two fronts, strategy and comparisons.
The idea when starting out seven years ago was of course to earn revenue, but with a twist. The principal objective remains to get people out on the water who have never been, or not lately. I draw certain people who once had a bad experience years ago and want to see if things get any better. At the other end of the spectrum, others sailed as children and didn’t get to continue. Others have heard good things about Let’s Go Sail and want to give it a try. Finally, some people find themselves bored while visiting Williamsburg and find me on Trip Advisor with high ratings.
My research with other sailing captains found that 2 or 2.5 hours is too short a cruise while 4 hours is a bit long for some guests. The settled length of 3 hours works very well on the York River. Ironically, those who whine that it may be too long find themselves afterward saying, “That’s it, only three hours?”
While the wind is free, the slip and the boat come with intrinsic costs, so I can’t give the trip away. So the rates work at $150 for couples, $250 for families and $350 for groups.
What they get is their choice of an Adventure Cruise, Lessons Cruise, History Cruise, Event Cruise, or Boat-Buying Cruise. Adventure includes swimming off the back the boat. Lessons are informal as a precursor to ASA lessons History covers the two Revolutionary War battles near and in Yorktown in 1781. Event embraces birthdays, anniversaries, engagements, weddings and burials-at-sea. Boat-Buying helps sort out the confusion. No extra charge for watching the Navy warships transit the Coleman Bridge. Dolphin-sightings during the warm summer months are also free. The WOW factor is an added bonus.
Sailing Pricing Comparisons
Other operations have different structures. My advice for shoppers is to work out the rate per-person per-hour. For Let’s Go Sail, the per-unit cost for the Couples Cruise is $25 an hour. For the Family Cruise (six people) it’s $13.88. That’s cheap by any measure, but I prefer to keep the rate low so that families can enjoy sailing and the bonding that comes with a family excursion. The Group Cruise works out to $19.44.
Compass Point Sailing in Leonardtown MD has a flat fee of $90 per hour for a 362 Sabre or a 27-foot motorboat. Leonardtown has access to the lower Potomac. A 3-hour cruise runs $180 for up to six people, a good deal to be sure.
Performance Sailing in Wrightsville Beach NC has a 37-foot boat and charges $79 per person for 2 hours minimum. Or $259 for the entire boat, with a maximum of 4 adult guests or 5 adult/child combination guests.Another good deal.
North Star Sailing Charters in Biloxi MS offers graduated rates starting at $190 for 2 people for 2.5 hours, $270 for 4 hours, $375 for 6 hours. The rates rise as you add more people to $250, $350 and $475.
These rates compare favorably to the boat renter apps that have taken on momentum nationwide. getmyboat.com was first and is the biggest, followed by boatsetter.com. Rates are higher, say $500 for a four-hour half-day, because a 15% commission is built in. You’re paying for liability insurance on you, the boat, and the owner, so it’s well worth it. The concept is known as peer-to-peer rental because it’s usually regular guy and gals trying to make a little revenue to offset their costs.
When you go on the rental sites, be sure to narrow the search to sailboats and to hiring a captain. That way, you eliminate the motorboats and people who aren’t licensed to take you out. Why does that matter? Because taking money for a boat rental while accompanying the fare is against USCG rules. You have to be a licensed captain to do that. To work around that problem, the typical owner will take you out for a short demo from the fuel dock or a T-head. When you get back to the dock, he will conduct the transaction and send you on your way without him. All you have to do is watch your depth sounder and be prepared to kiss the dock upon returning. He’ll demo that as well.
My interest in all this is to get people looking at various sizes and classes of sailboats to decide what they really want. The waters are full of couples who underestimated the length and quickly become bored by a too-small boat. Conversely, others get in over their head and have anxiety attacks getting into their assigned slip. The beauty of boat rentals is that you get to experiment before buying. Think of it as dating.
Let’s Go Sail
Check rates and pick a day for a sailboat charter. See reviews on Trip Advisor.
How to Evaluate Sailing Pricing
How much should you pay for a charter sailing trip? Several factors are involved in the pricing structure. Here's a quick consumer guide.
Capt. Bill O'Donovan
Wiliamsburg Charter Sails
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